Battling on the bubble
With three games left in the regular season, defending ACC champion Georgia Tech and defending Big 12 champion Texas are fighting for their postseason lives.
Teams such as Georgia, Oregon State, Pittsburgh and Washington, which came into the season with lofty aspirations, still haven't won six games, which is the required total for playing in a bowl game.
Meanwhile, upstarts such as Army, Louisville, Miami (Ohio) and Toledo are waiting in the wings and waiting to steal a bowl invitation from a BCS conference that can't fill its allotment.
Here's how the bowl picture stacks up for each conference:
ACCBowl spots: 8
Bowl-eligible teams (6): Florida State, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia Tech
On the bubble (3): Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech
Eliminated (3): Duke, Virginia, Wake Forest
The ACC might end up with nine bowl-eligible teams, if Boston College (5-5), Clemson (5-5) and Georgia Tech (5-5) win one more game each. The Eagles, who have won three games in a row, host Virginia on Saturday and play at Syracuse; the Tigers play at Wake Forest and host South Carolina; and the Yellow Jackets host Duke and play at Georgia. If the ACC ends up with nine bowl-eligible teams, one might be sent to the Kraft Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, which might not have a Pac-10 team available.
Big 12Bowl spots: 8
Bowl-eligible teams (7): Baylor, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M
On the bubble (4): Colorado, Iowa State, Texas, Texas Tech
Eliminated (1): Kansas
Texas Tech (5-5) has the best chance of becoming the Big 12's eighth bowl-eligible team. The Red Raiders need one more victory and close the regular season with nonconference games against FCS foe Weber State and Houston. Texas (4-6), which has lost six of its last seven games, will have to beat Florida Atlantic and Texas A&M to finish 6-6. Iowa State (5-6) would have to beat No. 15 Missouri on Saturday, and Colorado (4-6) would have to beat Kansas State and Nebraska to get to 6-6.
Big EastBowl spots: 6
Bowl-eligible teams (3): South Florida, Syracuse, West Virginia
On the bubble (5): Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Rutgers
There's still a lot to shake out in the final three weeks of the Big East season. Every team has at least three losses, and every team but Cincinnati has won at least four games. Connecticut (5-4), Louisville (5-5) and Pitt (5-4) each need one more victory and Rutgers (4-5) two more to become bowl-eligible. If Notre Dame wins one more game (against Army in New York or at Southern California), the Big East could lose its spot in the Champs Sports Bowl, possibly leaving one or two of its teams looking for a postseason home.
Big TenBowl spots: 8
Bowl-eligible teams (7): Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin
On the bubble (3): Illinois, Indiana, Purdue
Eliminated (1): Minnesota
The Big Ten championship is still up for grabs with two weeks to play, and there's possibly one more bowl spot up for grabs, too. Illinois (5-5) hurt its postseason chances with back-to-back losses to Michigan and Minnesota, and now it will have to win one of its last two games to finish 6-6. The Illini play at Northwestern on Saturday and at Fresno State on Dec. 3. Purdue (4-6) and Indiana (4-6) have to win their last two games to go bowling. The Boilermakers play at Michigan State on Saturday and Indiana hosts Penn State, before they play each other on Nov. 27. If Illinois or the Indiana-Purdue winner doesn't win six games, the Big Ten won't be able to fill its spot in the Little Caesar's Bowl (if two of its teams play in BCS bowls).
Conference USABowl spots: 6
Bowl-eligible teams (5): Central Florida, East Carolina, Southern Miss, Tulsa, UTEP
On the bubble (4): Houston, Marshall, SMU, Tulane
Eliminated (3): Memphis, Rice, UAB
Two games on Saturday might go a long way in determining which other Conference USA teams will become bowl-eligible. Marshall (4-6) plays at SMU (5-5), which has lost three of its last four games to fall into bubble trouble. Houston (5-5) closes the regular season with consecutive road games at Southern Miss and Texas Tech and will have to win at least one to go bowling. Tulane (4-6) hosts Central Florida and plays at Marshall and will have to win both to finish 6-6.
Mid-American ConferenceBowl spots: 3
Bowl-eligible teams (5): Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois, Ohio, Temple, Toledo
On the bubble (2): Kent State, Western Michigan
Eliminated (6): Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan
It might be a bonanza postseason for the MAC, especially if BCS conferences like the Big Ten and Pac-10 can't fill their bowl allotments. Kent State plays at Western Michigan on Saturday in a postseason elimination game. The Broncos play at Bowling Green in their regular-season finale.
Mountain West ConferenceBowl spots: 5
Bowl-eligible teams (4): Air Force, San Diego State, TCU, Utah
On the bubble (1): BYU
Eliminated (4): Colorado State, New Mexico, UNLV, Wyoming
BYU (5-5) has won three games in a row and only has to defeat woebegone New Mexico on Saturday to qualify for a bowl game. If No. 3 TCU plays in a BCS bowl game -- it closes the regular season at New Mexico on Nov. 27 -- the MWC will be one team short of filling its bowl allotment. The New Mexico Bowl would be left without an MWC participant.
Pac-10Bowl spots: 6
Bowl-eligible teams (3): Arizona, Oregon, Stanford
On the bubble (4): California, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington
Eliminated (2): Arizona State, USC (not eligible), Washington State
If Oregon plays in the BCS National Championship Game and Stanford goes to the Rose Bowl, the Pac-10 might not be able to fill three of its bowl slots. California (5-5) must defeat either Stanford or Washington at home to go bowling. Oregon State (4-5) has lost three of its last four games, including a 31-14 loss to Washington State on Saturday. The Beavers will have to win two of their last three games: USC (home), Stanford (road) and Oregon (home). UCLA (4-5) will have to win two of its last three games, too, and Washington (3-6) will have to win three in a row to finish 6-6. The Pac-10's dearth of bowl-eligible teams might create vacancies in the Kraft Hunger Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl and Sun Bowl.
SECBowl spots: 9
Bowl-eligible teams (8): Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina
On the bubble (3): Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee
Eliminated (1): Vanderbilt
The SEC might have too many or too few bowl teams when the regular season ends in two weeks. Georgia (5-6) must beat rival Georgia Tech on Nov. 27 to finish 6-6. Tennessee (4-6) has won back-to-back games over Memphis and Ole Miss and can still finish 6-6. The Volunteers play at Vanderbilt on Saturday and then host Kentucky, which has lost to Tennessee in 25 straight seasons. Ole Miss (4-6) would have to defeat LSU and Mississippi State to go bowling.
Sun Belt ConferenceBowl spots: 2
Bowl-eligible teams: None
On the bubble (6): Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, Troy
Eliminated (3): Louisiana-Lafayette, North Texas, Western Kentucky
Every Sun Belt team has at least four losses, and Arkansas State (4-6), Louisiana-Monroe (4-6) and Middle Tennessee (3-6) would have to win out to get to 6-6. Troy (5-4) has to win once more to go bowling and has games left against South Carolina (road), Western Kentucky (home) and Florida Atlantic (road). Florida International (4-5) has to win twice and plays three games against teams with losing records. Florida Atlantic (4-5) has to win twice and plays Texas (road), Middle Tennessee (road) and Troy (home).
Western Athletic ConferenceBowl spots: 4
Bowl-eligible teams (4): Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada
On the bubble (3): Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Utah State
Eliminated (2): New Mexico State, San Jose State
If Boise State plays in a BCS bowl game, the WAC will probably end up one team short of filling its bowl slots. Louisiana Tech (4-6), Idaho (4-6) and Utah State (4-6) will have to win out to qualify for a bowl game. The Bulldogs play at San Jose State and host Nevada; the Aggies host Idaho and play at Boise State; and the Vandals play at Utah State and Fresno State and host San Jose State. Idaho will have to finish 7-6 to go bowling because it plays 13 games.
Ranking the BCS conferences after 11 weeks of the season:
ESPN Stats & Info: Conference Rankings
|Conference||AP Rank||Computers Rank||Rating|
|• ESPN Stats & Info blog|
Six SEC teams are ranked in the top 21 of the BCS standings: No. 2 Auburn, No. 5 LSU, No. 11 Alabama, No. 13 Arkansas, No. 17 South Carolina and No. 21 Mississippi State. But unless Auburn plays in the BCS Championship Game, the league might not be guaranteed two spots in BCS bowl games for the first time in a while.
2. Big Ten
There are four Big Ten teams -- No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 9 Ohio State, No. 12 Michigan State and No. 20 Iowa -- ranked in the top 20 of the BCS standings. Northwestern and Michigan are just outside the Top 25. Don't be surprised if two Big Ten teams play in BCS bowl games.
3. Big 12
Five Big 12 teams are included in the BCS rankings: No. 8 Nebraska, No. 10 Oklahoma State, No. 14 Oklahoma, No. 15 Missouri and No. 19 Texas A&M. The league isn't as top heavy as it was in the recent past, but there's more overall depth, even with Texas and Texas Tech struggling.
The league boasts two teams in the top six of the BCS standings: No. 1 Oregon and No. 6 Stanford. But No. 22 Arizona is the only other Pac-10 team in the BCS standings, and the league might come up woefully short of filling its bowl slots.
No. 16 Virginia Tech has risen from the ashes of an 0-2 start to take control of the ACC's Coastal Division. No. 25 Florida State is in a three-way tie in the loss column with Maryland and NC State for first place in the Atlantic Division, and No. 24 Miami is starting to show signs of life, too.
6. Big East
Each of the league's eight teams has at least three losses and more than half have lost at least four games. Syracuse is the league's highest rated team in the BCS standings, and the Orange trail Pittsburgh by one game in the loss column of the league standings.
On the mark: Precision passers
1. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
Weeden completed 29 of 43 passes for 409 yards with one touchdown, helping the Cowboys end a 12-year losing streak to Texas with a 33-16 victory in Austin.
2. Dominique Davis, East Carolina
The Boston College transfer threw touchdowns to five different receivers while completing 26 of 41 passes for 331 yards in a 54-42 win at UAB.
3. Dan Persa, Northwestern
The junior threw for 318 yards on 32-for-43 passing and accounted for three touchdowns, including the game winner to Demetrius Fields with 1:22 left in a 21-17 upset of Iowa.
4. Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Jones had his sixth 300-yard game of the season, throwing for 317 yards with a season-high five touchdowns on 22-for-29 passing in a 45-7 rout of Texas Tech.
5. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
Gabbert was a big dual threat in the Tigers' 38-28 victory over Kansas State, completing 17 of 25 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns and running 14 times for 89 yards with one score.
Off the mark: Hot-seat coaches
1. Mike Locksley, New Mexico
The Lobos are 1-9 after losing 48-23 at Air Force, dropping Locksley's record to 2-20 in two seasons.
2. Bill Lynch, Indiana
The Hoosiers fell to 0-6 in Big Ten play after losing 83-20 to Wisconsin, which scored its most points in 95 seasons.
The Illini lost to Minnesota 38-34, ending the Gophers' nine-game losing streak and putting Illinois' bowl hopes in jeopardy.
4. Dennis Erickson, Arizona State
The Sun Devils have lost six of their last eight games, after losing to Stanford, 17-13.
5. Rickey Bustle, Louisiana-Lafayette
The not-so-Ragin' Cajuns lost their sixth game in a row, falling 24-23 at Florida Atlantic.
On the mark: Ground-gaining RBs
1. Jordan Todman, Connecticut
Todman carried the load in the Huskies' 30-28 victory over Big East-leading Pittsburgh, running 37 times for 222 yards.
2. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
The Gamecocks' sensational freshman ran 40 times for 212 yards with three touchdowns, helping South Carolina win its first SEC East title with a 36-14 win at Florida.
3. Dan Herron, Ohio State
Affectionately known as "Boom," Herron delivered the boom in the Buckeyes' 38-14 victory over Penn State, running 21 times for 190 yards with one touchdown.
4. Randall Cobb, Kentucky
The Wildcats' Mr. Everything ran 10 times for a career-high 170 yards with two touchdowns and had 229 all-purpose yards in a 38-20 win over Vanderbilt.
5. Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M
Gray ran 28 times for 137 yards and scored four touchdowns -- three of them in the second half -- in the Aggies' 42-30 victory at Baylor.
Off the mark: Offensive offenses
The Utes scored one touchdown in losses to TCU and Notre Dame, after averaging 45.2 points in their first eight victories.
2. North Carolina
The Tar Heels had six turnovers -- four interceptions -- in a 26-10 loss to Virginia Tech.
The Gators had five penalties and no first downs and punted five times in the first quarter of its loss to South Carolina. It didn't get any better from there.
4. Oregon State
The Beavers had three turnovers and went 2-for-10 on third down in a 31-14 loss to Washington State, which ended the Cougars' 16-game losing streak in Pac-10 games.
The Bulls had 144 yards of offense, seven penalties and four turnovers in a 20-3 loss to Ball State.
On the mark: Big-play WRs
1. Torrey Smith, Maryland
Smith caught seven passes for 157 yards with one touchdown, helping the surprising Terps move to 7-3 with a 42-23 win at Virginia.
2. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
Blackmon had nine receptions for 145 yards at Texas, including a 67-yard touchdown, his 16th of the season, which is most in the country. He had at least 125 receiving yards in each of his nine games.
3. Owen Spencer, NC State
Spencer caught seven passes for 138 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown early in the second half of a 38-3 rout of Wake Forest.
4. Justin Hunter, Tennessee
Hunter and fellow freshman Tyler Bray give Volunteers fans hope for the future, after they connected on three passes for 114 yards with two touchdowns in a 52-14 rout of Ole Miss.
5. Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
Broyles had eight catches for 119 yards with three touchdowns against Texas Tech, setting OU records for career receptions, touchdowns and catches in a season.
Off the mark: Defenseless defenses
The Hoosiers allowed 598 yards and 11 touchdowns in their 83-20 loss at Wisconsin.
2. Colorado State
BYU went 12-for-13 on third down and 1-for-1 on fourth down in a 49-10 rout of the Rams.
3. Texas Tech
The Red Raiders were ripped for 562 yards -- 246 rushing and 316 passing -- in their 45-7 loss to Oklahoma.
The Trojans gave up 668 yards of offense, including 448 rushing yards and 31 points in the second quarter of a 52-35 loss to Florida International.
The Longhorns allowed 532 yards of offense, including 409 passing, in their fourth consecutive home loss.
On the mark: Special specialists
1. Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
Hopkins kicked a career-long, 55-yard field goal as time expired to defeat Clemson 13-10, a week after he missed a field goal that would have beaten North Carolina.
The Ducks cornerback returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown, helping his team drop California, 15-13. He tied a Pac-10 record with his fourth punt return for a touchdown this season.
3. Coryell Judie, Texas A&M
The Aggies cornerback returned a kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown in a 42-30 victory over Baylor, a week after returning one 100 yards for a score in a win over Oklahoma.
4. Maikon Bonani, South Florida
Bonani went 3-for-4 on field goals, including a 37-yarder in overtime to lift the Bulls to a 24-21 victory over Louisville.
5. Ross Krautman, Syracuse
Krautman kicked a 48-yard field goal in the third quarter and kicked a 24-yarder with 1:07 left, lifting the Orange to a 13-10 victory at Rutgers. Syracuse is guaranteed its first winning season in nine years.