NCF Nation: BCS-reaction-111311
Does Alabama or Oregon have the best argument for playing a rematch against LSU in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game?
If Oklahoma State slips in one of its final two regular-season games -- the Pokes play at Iowa State on Friday and host No. 5 Oklahoma in the Dec. 3 Bedlam game in Stillwater, Okla. -- there might actually be a rematch played in the Jan. 9 title game at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.
After previously undefeated Stanford and Boise State both lost on Saturday, the Ducks made the biggest move in the BCS standings, jumping from No. 7 to No. 4, behind No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 3 Alabama.
The top two teams in the final BCS standings released on Dec. 4 will play for the national championship in New Orleans.
If LSU or Oklahoma State fall between now and then, there are eight one-loss teams waiting in the wings. But it seems that Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma are in the best positions among the one-loss teams.
Oregon blasted then-No. 4 Stanford 53-30 on the road on Saturday night, its ninth consecutive victory since losing to LSU 40-27 in its Sept. 3 opener at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The Ducks host USC on Saturday night and then host rival Oregon State in the Civil War game on Nov. 26. If Oregon wins those games, it would win the Pac-12 North and play the Pac-12 South winner (probably either Arizona State or UCLA) in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 2.
Alabama's only defeat also came against LSU, a 9-6 loss in overtime on Nov. 5. The Crimson Tide rebounded to beat Mississippi State 24-7 on the road on Saturday. The Tide play FCS foe Georgia Southern at home on Saturday and then play at No. 24 Auburn in the Nov. 26 Iron Bowl game.
The Sooners, who moved up one spot from No. 6 to No. 5 in the BCS standings, didn't play on Saturday. The Sooners play at No. 25 Baylor on Saturday and host Iowa State on Nov. 26 before meeting the Pokes in the Bedlam game. Oklahoma's only defeat this season was a 41-38 loss to Texas Tech at home on Oct. 22.
Arkansas moved up two spots to No. 6 in the BCS standings, but the Razorbacks will probably have to beat LSU in Baton Rouge, La., on Nov. 25 and have Alabama lose another game to be a factor in the BCS title race.
The Razorbacks lost at Alabama 38-14 on Sept. 24 and it's hard to imagine them jumping the Tide in the BCS standings -- even if they beat LSU in their regular-season finale.
Boise State fell from No. 5 to No. 10 in the BCS standings, one spot ahead of undefeated Houston. But it seems to be only a matter of time until the Cougars jump the Broncos, as long as they keep winning. The Cougars might still play three teams with winning records. Houston hosts SMU on Saturday and plays at Tulsa on Nov. 25.
The Cougars also might play No. 20 Southern Miss in the Dec. 3 Conference USA championship game.
For the second straight week, the ACC has two teams ranked in the top 10 of the BCS standings: No. 7 Clemson and No. 8 Virginia Tech. Florida State made its first appearance of the season, sneaking in at No. 25, and Georgia Tech has fallen out.
It's outstanding for the ACC to have this kind of representation at the top of the BCS standings, and the league will benefit even more from it if these two teams wind up meeting again in the ACC championship game on Dec. 3 in Charlotte, N.C. Clemson has already clinched the Atlantic Division and Virginia Tech has the lead in the Coastal Division race. For the ACC to feature two top-10 teams in its ACC title game would be a major boost in the relevance, image and nationwide interest in the game. And there's little doubt college football fans can expect a better performance from the Hokies than what they saw in the regular season matchup, which Clemson won, 23-3.
For those wondering if Boise State's loss can help the ACC get its first at-large bid to a BCS bowl, ESPN.com's experts still have other teams standing in the way. ESPN's BCS guru, Brad Edwards, doesn't even have Clemson or Virginia Tech listed anywhere besides the Discover Orange Bowl in his latest BCS pecking order . The Fiesta Bowl gets an at-large bid, and Edwards' top candidates are Stanford, Michigan and Nebraska. In the Sugar Bowl, Edwards lists Houston, followed by Southern Miss, TCU and West Virginia. There are reasons for all of this, and the selection process is part of it.
Some background and explanation from Edwards for you:
Because the Big East champ is not going to be ranked in the top 16, the highest-ranked non-AQ conference champion that ends up in the top 16 will get an automatic BCS bid. Houston is now at the front of the line following Boise State's loss, but Southern Miss still has the opportunity to take them out in the Conference USA championship game.
TCU is also still alive, as the Horned Frogs will almost certainly end up winning the Mountain West. This is why even though Boise might end the season ranked ahead of several or all of these teams, the Broncos won't get a BCS bid, because they won't be a league champion.
Remember, the Fiesta is going to use the final at-large pick. Once it gets to the Sugar, there will be two teams left on the board: the non-AQ qualifier and the Big East champion. Unless that Big East champ is West Virginia, the Sugar is likely to take the BCS buster.
It's all about the at-large berth.
The Big Ten is out of the national title picture, so the league's primary interest with every new set of BCS standings is its chance for a seventh consecutive at-large berth.
Michigan State leads the Big Ten's contingent in the latest BCS standings, rising to No. 15 after its impressive road win against Iowa. While the Spartans received a BCS standings bump, their best -- and most likely only -- path to a BCS bowl is to win the league title game Dec. 3 in Indianapolis. A third Michigan State loss, either in the regular season or in the league title game, probably takes the Spartans out of at-large contention.
Penn State and Wisconsin also are teams that most likely would only reach a BCS game by winning the Big Ten championship. The Leaders division title could come down to the Lions-Badgers matchup Nov. 26 in Madison, and both teams already have two losses. A third loss -- either in the regular season or in the Big Ten championship game -- most likely removes these teams from the at-large mix.
Penn State fell to No. 21 in the BCS standings following its loss to Nebraska, while Wisconsin moved up to No. 16 after its win at Minnesota.
The two Big Ten teams with arguably the best chance for an at-large berth are Nebraska and Michigan. Why is this? It's quite possible a 10-2 team that doesn't reach the league title game gets an at-large berth ahead of a three-loss title game loser. Either the Wolverines or Huskers will take their third loss Saturday at Michigan Stadium, but the winner has a chance to finish at 10-2. Even if Michigan State goes to the title game, a 10-2 Nebraska or a 10-2 Michigan would be in decent shape for at-large selection, as long as it finishes in the top 14 of the final BCS standings. Nebraska most certainly would finish in the top 14, and Michigan would have a good chance to do so as well.
Nebraska moved up to No. 16 in the BCS standings with its win at Penn State, while Michigan rose to No. 18 with its win at Illinois.
While all the Big Ten teams still are hurt by their computer rankings, the squads are helped by the human voters in both the coaches' and Harris polls.
The Big Ten's at-large hopes benefited from Stanford's loss to Oregon, as it's now more likely only one Pac-12 team will earn a BCS berth. Boise State's loss to TCU also helps the Big Ten, but it's still likely Boise State or undefeated Houston earns an automatic berth by finishing in the top 12.
Oregon is rated fourth in the latest BCS standings, behind LSU, Oklahoma State and Alabama.
That makes the Ducks, ranked seventh last week, the second-ranked 1-loss team behind the Crimson Tide. Oklahoma is No. 5, the third 1-loss team. The Sooners were ahead of the Ducks last week.
The human polls and the computers match, by the way, all the way through the top-six teams. Oregon and Oklahoma are tied for fourth with the computers.
LSU and Oklahoma State are again tied for No. 1 in the computer polls.
Stanford fell from fourth to No. 9 in the BCS standings. No other Pac-12 team is in the top-25. USC, ranked 18th in the AP poll, isn't eligible for the BCS standings due to NCAA sanctions.
Oregon is 0.0344 behind Alabama. That's fairly substantial. For comparison's sake, LSU is .0291 ahead of Oklahoma State.
The Ducks should get a boost from playing USC on Saturday while Alabama plays Georgia Southern, an FCS team. On the downside for Oregon, it won't get a lift from the Pac-12 championship game. The South Division winner is certain to be unranked.
In other words, it seems likely Oregon would finish behind Alabama in the BCS standings unless poll voters promote the Ducks ahead of the Crimson Tide, which doesn't seem likely.
There really are no surprises in this week's BCS standings. If Oregon wins out, it's still going to need some help to get to the title game.
This is a scenario Big East fans have become all too familiar with -- no team in the BCS standings.
After West Virginia upset No. 23 Cincinnati 24-21 on Saturday, the Big East had nobody in the latest standings, released Sunday night. The Mountaineers are ranked No. 22 in the Harris poll and No. 23 in the coaches poll, so their computer average is clearly holding them back from being in the BCS standings.
If they win out, the should get back into the Top 25. If Cincinnati wins out, the Bearcats should get back in, too. Those are big ifs in a conference that has seven teams with five or more wins.
But right now, Conference USA and the Mountain West each have two teams in the Top 25, while the Big East has none. Boise State dropped to No. 10 after its loss to TCU; Houston moved up to No. 11; the Horned Frogs moved into the standings at No. 19 and Southern Miss was at No. 20.
Not only did all three teams ranked in the top 10 of the BCS standings win but two received some help going forward.
LSU didn't need any help, as it entered the weekend No. 1 in the standings and stayed there after a 42-9 win over Western Kentucky. But Alabama and Arkansas watched as two teams in front of them went down.
With Boise State and Stanford losing, we are inching closer to a potential rematch between LSU and Alabama in the national championship and Arkansas is still knocking on the BCS door.
The talk of an SEC rematch seemed so unlikely weeks ago, now it's very much a possibility. Despite Alabama's sluggish performance against Mississippi State, the Tide stayed right at No. 3 in the standings. The feeling was that a Stanford win over Oregon would knock the Tide out of the top three. But Oregon became Alabama's best friend with its upset performance.
Alabama is still hovering right around third in the human polls and is third in the computer polls. Now, if the Tide and the Tigers win out, a rematch won't seem so far fetched.
As for the Razorbacks, their 49-7 win over Tennessee has them sitting pretty at No. 6 in the BCS standings. After getting bumped down a notch last week, the Hogs are right in the middle of the BCS talk. And there's a chance Arkansas could slide into the national championship with some help.
If Arkansas wins out (that means beating LSU on the road) and ends up in the SEC championship game, the Hogs could make it to the big game with a win in Atlanta. Arkansas, who got some computer love by ranking sixth, needed Stanford and Boise State lose to even begin to think about a national championship run. There is still a lot of work to be done from Arkansas and beyond, but those losses Saturday will help.
Also, we might be in for a rematch whether we like it or not. And we don't mean LSU-Alabama. No, we're talking about LSU-Oregon. If the Ducks win out, there's a chance they could get their chance at redemption against an LSU team that beat them at the beginning of the year.
It will be interesting to see what voters think about that rematch compared to an SEC one.
The Cougars are now in line for a BCS berth after Boise State lost to TCU on Saturday. Houston is No. 11 in the latest BCS standings, released Sunday night, putting it in position to earn the first BCS bid in school and Conference USA history. Though Boise State remains ahead of Houston at No. 10, the automatic berth given to a non-AQ that finishes in the top 12 only goes to a conference champion.
Should Houston win out, the Cougars would be almost certain of getting that berth. Boise State could win out, but it is no longer the favorite to win the Mountain West. That is now TCU, which jumped into the BCS standings at No. 19 off its big victory in Boise. Southern Miss, on a collision course to play Houston in the Conference USA title game, is ranked No. 20.
The final stretch of the season will not be a cakewalk for Houston (10-0, 6-0). The Cougars play SMU (6-4, 4-2) on Saturday with College GameDay headed to town, and then travel to play at Tulsa (7-3, 6-0) on Friday, Nov. 25, to close out the regular season. Then there is the conference championship game to win as well. But given the way Case Keenum and the offense are playing right now, the Cougars should be favored to win their final stretch of games.
Boise State is still in position to get an at-large berth in the BCS, but the likelihood of that happening is slim simply because the games would most likely choose a team from one of the automatic qualifying conferences. No one-loss non-AQ has ever made it into a BCS game.
Oklahoma's national title hopes got two big breaks Saturday.
Boise State and Stanford both broke down and lost on their home fields — just like the Sooners did last month.
So here Oklahoma sits at a tidy No. 5 in the latest BCS standings, with a date against No. 2 Oklahoma State coming into focus.
The biggest problem?
The two teams ahead of the Sooners have only one blemish: A loss to the nation's No. 1 team, LSU.
Would a victory over Oklahoma State on Dec. 3 in the de facto Big 12 title game slingshot the Sooners into the national championship game?
Ultimately, it's going to depend on voters, who make up two-thirds of the BCS standings. The Sooners are strong in the computers — they're in the top five in five of the six computer rankings (and sixth in the other) and below both Alabama and Oregon in just three. Oklahoma State is No. 1 in three of the computer rankings.
Oklahoma's best hope? A voter mutiny against a rematch between LSU and Oregon (LSU won 40-27 in Dallas on Sept. 3) or Alabama and LSU (LSU won in overtime in Tuscaloosa, 9-6) and an impressive closing stanza for voters to remember the Sooners before coaches cast their ballots in the USA Today poll and before Harris poll voters send their ballots in.
Oklahoma, if it wins out, would have an impressive five victories over top-25 teams. Oregon would have two. Alabama would have four.
The Sooners, though, will have difficulty outrunning that Texas Tech loss, which gets worse and worse by the week. The Red Raiders have lost five of six games, and have been outscored 159-33 in losses to Iowa State, Texas and Oklahoma State.
Call it a fluke if you want, but championship teams don't have fluke losses. It could cost Oklahoma a shot at the title.
That is, unless the Sooners win out and voters say Alabama and Oregon don't deserve another chance to knock off Les Miles' team.