Wednesday, October 13, 2010
First BCS could be historic
By Brad Edwards Special to ESPN.com
If it felt like it had been a while, that's only because it really had been.
Alabama's loss Saturday at South Carolina was the first time a No. 1 team had lost a non-championship (SEC or BCS) game since Texas' dramatic defeat at Texas Tech on Nov. 1, 2008.
As a result, when the first BCS standings of 2010 are revealed Sunday, it's possible the top five might be without an SEC team for the first time since the end of 2005. Not coincidentally, that was the last season an SEC team didn't take home the crystal football as national champion.
In addition to possibly being SEC-free, the initial BCS top five is also likely to include both Boise State and TCU -- teams that would've ranked first and third, respectively, if the BCS standings had been revealed this week. No team from a non-AQ conference has cracked the top three of the official BCS standings, so expect to see history made in that regard Sunday.
ESPN's Brad Edwards has projected what the BCS standings would look like if they were released today. According to his projections, consensus No. 3 Boise State would be on top -- and consensus No. 1 Ohio State would be fifth.
1. Boise State
5. Ohio State
9. Michigan State
The goal of all national title contenders, of course, is to be ranked in the top two at the end of the regular season, which will be quite difficult for Boise State, even if the Broncos manage to debut in the No. 1 position.
BSU is the only team that ranks top three in both the polls (third) and BCS computers (second), but there is speculation that it has already hit a glass ceiling in the coaches' poll, and those computer numbers are likely to decline because of a schedule that gets weaker in the second half of the season.
The same cannot be said for Ohio State, which is a solid No. 1 in both polls but could be as low as fourth in the initial BCS standings because it's considered to be the 10th-best team by the computers. With remaining road games against Wisconsin and Iowa, the Buckeyes will see their schedule strength improve over the next seven weeks, likely boosting them comfortably into the BCS top two, provided they stay unbeaten.
After a 2009 season that was relatively uneventful at the top of the BCS standings, Alabama's loss has generated excitement over the possibility of a chaotic 2010. And each time another undefeated goes down, that excitement will continue to grow.
Games to watch this weekend
OSU's game at Wisconsin is one of a few matchups that could have a profound effect on the national championship race. An Ohio State loss would be the second in as many weeks for the top team in the polls and would likely send Oregon into the No. 1 spot for the first time in program history.
In Lincoln, Neb., a suddenly potent Cornhuskers offense should get its biggest test of the season from Texas, which could play spoiler to the Big 12's dream conference title game between undefeated rivals Nebraska and Oklahoma. And in Auburn, the Tigers hope to avoid their first loss of the season when they play Ryan Mallett and Arkansas.
Brad Edwards coordinates college football research for ESPN and is an analyst for "College GameDay" on ESPN Radio each Saturday throughout the season.