Passing the eye test
Two of the six computer rankings used in the Bowl Championship Series formula rate LSU as the best team in college football.
Obviously, those hard drives and keyboards haven't watched the Tigers try to operate their offense in the closing seconds of a game.
The other four computer rankings used in the BCS formula rate Oklahoma as the No. 1 team in the land.
Those computers were apparently rebooting when the Sooners struggled to beat teams like Utah State, Air Force and Cincinnati earlier this season.
How do the computer rankings stack up against an eye test as we hit college football's stretch run to the Jan. 10 BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz.?
Here's one man's opinion:
1. Oklahoma (6-0, 2-0 Big 12)
Computer average: 1
Eye test ranking: 5
The Sooners are No. 1 in four computer rankings -- Colley Matrix, Massey, Sagarin and Wolfe.
Oklahoma has looked like the best team in the country for eight quarters, when it was demolishing Florida State 47-17 on Sept. 11 and Iowa State 52-0 on Saturday. But the Sooners struggled in beating Utah State by seven points, Air Force by three, Cincinnati by two and Texas by eight.
2. Oregon (6-0, 3-0 Pac-10)
Computer average: 8
Eye test ranking: 1
The Ducks are No. 2 in Jeff Sagarin's ratings, but No. 7 or worse in the other five computer rankings. Oregon has the country's best offense, averaging 54.3 points per game, and routed then-No. 9 Stanford 52-31 on Oct. 2. The Ducks won three nonconference games by a combined score of 189-13, but play only one more game against a ranked team -- at No. 18 Arizona on Nov. 26.
3. Boise State (6-0, 2-0 WAC)
Computer average: 7
Eye test ranking: 2
The Broncos have played two games against teams from BCS conferences, beating No. 25 Virginia Tech 33-30 on Labor Day night and Oregon State 37-24 at home on Sept. 25. They won each of their four other games by 43 points or more, but those opponents have a combined record of 8-19. Boise State's schedule strength won't get much better, so it will probably face an uphill climb in getting into the top two spots in the BCS standings.
4. Auburn (7-0, 4-0 SEC)
Computer average: 3
Eye test ranking: 3
Auburn fans are already worried that they'll suffer the same fate they did in 2004, when the Tigers finished 12-0 but were left out of the BCS National Championship Game. As long as Auburn keeps winning, there's virtually no chance it will be left out this season. The Tigers have already defeated three teams ranked in the Top 25 of the BCS standings (No. 24 Mississippi State, No. 21 South Carolina and No. 23 Arkansas), and they'll play No. 6 LSU on Saturday and No. 8 Alabama on Nov. 26.
5. TCU (7-0, 3-0 Mountain West)
Computer average: 5
Eye test ranking: 4
At season's end, TCU might have essentially the same résumé as Boise State, as long as the Horned Frogs defeat No. 9 Utah on the road on Nov. 6. The Horned Frogs beat Oregon State 30-21 on Sept. 4 and have dominated inferior competition since, winning their past three games by a combined score of 103-3.
6. LSU (7-0, 4-0 SEC)
Computer average: 2
Eye test ranking: 7
The Tigers are undefeated and have played one of the country's tougher schedules, but they've looked far from perfect in doing it. LSU escaped with a 16-14 victory over Tennessee on Oct. 2, only after the Volunteers were penalized for having 13 defensive players on the field, giving the Tigers one more shot at the end zone. Then the Tigers needed a fake field goal to set up their winning touchdown in a 33-29 win at Florida on Oct. 9. But if LSU wins out, and defeats No. 4 Auburn on the road on Saturday and No. 8 Alabama at home on Nov. 6, it's hard to imagine it wouldn't finish in the top two of the final BCS standings.
7. Michigan State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten)
Computer average: 4
Eye test ranking: 9
The Spartans are off to their best start since 1966, but their BCS résumé looks paper thin. Michigan State has one high-quality victory, beating No. 13 Wisconsin 34-24 at home on Oct. 2. The Spartans' early season victories over Notre Dame and Michigan aren't as good as they once looked, and their other nonconference wins came against Western Michigan, Florida Atlantic and FCS foe Northern Colorado. They still play at No. 15 Iowa on Oct. 30, but don't play No. 10 Ohio State during the regular season.
8. Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC)
Computer average: 12
Eye test ranking: 6
The defending BCS national champions are ranked No. 10 or worse in five of the six computer rankings, after losing at South Carolina 35-21 two weeks ago. Still, Alabama probably has the best chance among one-loss teams of reaching the BCS National Championship Game, as long as it keeps winning. The Tide still play two teams ranked ahead of them in the BCS standings -- at No. 6 LSU on Nov. 6 and home against No. 4 Auburn on Nov. 26.
Ranking the BCS conferences after seven weeks of the 2010 college football season:
Six SEC teams were included in the Top 25 of the initial BCS standings -- No. 4 Auburn, No. 6 LSU, No. 8 Alabama, No. 21 South Carolina, No. 23 Arkansas and No. 24 Mississippi State.
Auburn walloped the Razorbacks 65-43 at home, setting up an SEC West showdown against LSU at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. Defending BCS national champion Alabama rebounded to beat Ole Miss 23-10 at home, and Kentucky upset South Carolina 31-28. Florida has lost three consecutive regular-season games for the first time since 1988, after falling to Mississippi State 10-7 at home.
ESPN Stats & Info: Conference Rankings
|Conference||AP Rank||Computers Rank||Rating|
|• ESPN Stats & Info blog|
The Big 12 also had six teams in the Top 25 of the BCS standings -- No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 11 Missouri, No. 14 Oklahoma State, No. 16 Nebraska, No. 19 Texas and No. 22 Kansas State.
The Sooners hammered Iowa State 52-0 at home, and undefeated Missouri and Oklahoma State picked up impressive road victories. The Tigers won 30-9 at Texas A&M; the Pokes won 34-17 at Texas Tech. Missouri hosts the Sooners on Saturday, and the Pokes host the Cornhuskers, who are coming off a 20-13 loss to Texas.
3. Big Ten
There are four Big Ten teams in the Top 25 of the BCS standings -- No. 7 Michigan State, No. 10 Ohio State, No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 15 Iowa -- and it looks to be a four-team race in the conference.
Wisconsin upset then-No. 1 Ohio State 31-18 on Saturday, leaving Michigan State as the last unbeaten team in the Big Ten. The Spartans are a half-game ahead of Iowa and Purdue in the league standings. The Hawkeyes host Wisconsin on Saturday in a game that might go a long way in helping determine the Big Ten race.
The Pac-10 continues to take its lumps with only three teams -- No. 2 Oregon, No. 12 Stanford and No. 18 Arizona -- ranked in the initial BCS standings.
The Ducks are No. 1 in the human polls and host UCLA on Thursday night. Washington upset Oregon State 35-34 on Saturday night, knocking the Beavers out of the national rankings. The Huskies play at Arizona on Saturday.
No. 17 Florida State and No. 25 Virginia Tech are the only ACC teams in the Top 25 of the BCS standings, and those teams have also taken control of their respective divisions.
The Hokies, who opened the season by losing two games in six days, have won five straight contests. Virginia Tech routed Wake Forest 52-21 on Saturday to move to 5-2, 3-0 in the Coastal Division. The Hokies are one game ahead of Georgia Tech, Miami and North Carolina in the loss column.
The Seminoles' only loss was on the road at Oklahoma, and they are 6-1, 4-0 in the Atlantic Division. The Seminoles beat Boston College 24-19 on Saturday and play at NC State on Oct. 28.
6. Big East
No. 20 West Virginia is the only Big East team in the BCS Top 25, after the Mountaineers beat South Florida 20-6 at home on Thursday night.
At least defending Big East champion Cincinnati and preseason favorite Pittsburgh are showing signs of life. The Bearcats beat Louisville 35-27 on Friday night, and the Panthers routed Syracuse 45-14 on the road on Saturday.
On the mark: Prolific passers
1. Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Jones set an OU single-game record for accuracy among quarterbacks with at least 25 attempts, completing 30 of 34 passes for 334 yards with three touchdowns in a 52-0 rout of Iowa State.
Gabbert helped the Tigers remain unbeaten, throwing for 361 yards with three touchdowns on 31-for-47 passing in a 30-9 victory at Texas A&M. 3. Matt Barkley, Southern California
Barkley threw five touchdowns in a game for the second time this season, while completing 25 of 37 attempts for 352 yards in a 48-14 rout of California. 4. Mike Hartline, Kentucky
Hartline completed 32 of 42 attempts for a career-high 349 yards with four touchdowns in a 31-28 upset of South Carolina, including the winning 24-yard touchdown to Randall Cobb with 1:15 to go. 5. Dominique Davis, East Carolina
The Boston College transfer threw for 376 yards with two touchdowns on 37-for-53 passing, leading the Pirates to a 33-27 upset of rival NC State.
Off the mark: Home flops
The Jayhawks allowed 460 yards of offense in a 59-7 loss to rival Kansas State, losing to a Bill Snyder-coached team for the 14th time in the past 15 such meetings.
The Cornhuskers mustered only 202 yards of offense and had 10 penalties in a 20-13 loss to Texas. 3. Texas A&M
The Aggies lost their third straight game, after rushing for 57 yards with eight penalties in a 21-point loss to the Tigers. 4. Florida
The Gators fell to Mississippi State 10-7 at the Swamp, losing consecutive home games for the first time since 2003 and losing to the Bulldogs at home for the first time since 1965. 5. Texas Tech
The Red Raiders lost to Oklahoma State 34-17 at home, the Pokes' first victory in Lubbock since 1944.
On the mark: Gaining ground
1. Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State
The freshman ran for 191 yards with two touchdowns on 24 carries, leading the Aztecs to their first victory over a ranked opponent in 14 years, 27-25 over Air Force.
Murray ran 20 times for 112 yards with two touchdowns and caught a pass for another score, giving him 58 career touchdowns, the most by any Sooners player. 3. John Clay, Wisconsin
Clay and teammate James White ran over Ohio State's defense, combining to run for 179 yards with three touchdowns on 38 carries in a 31-18 upset of the No. 1 Buckeyes. 4. Cam Newton, Auburn
The Tigers' quarterback keeps punishing opponents with his legs, running 25 times for 188 yards with three touchdowns in a 65-43 win over Arkansas. He also completed 10 of 14 passes for 140 yards with one score. 5. Adam Robinson, Iowa
Robinson had at least 100 rushing yards with two touchdowns for the third time this season, finishing with 143 yards and two scores in a 38-28 victory at Michigan.
Off the mark: Blowing big leads
1. Ball State
The Cardinals squandered a 28-7 lead in a 41-38 overtime loss to Eastern Michigan, the Eagles' first victory in 19 games.
The Gamecocks' SEC East title hopes were dealt a blow after they blew a 28-10 lead in the second half of their loss at Kentucky. 3. Army
The Black Knights wasted a golden opportunity to move within one game of being bowl eligible, after blowing a 17-3 lead in a 23-20 overtime loss to Rutgers. 4. Western Kentucky
The Hilltoppers had a 24-7 lead over Louisiana-Monroe, before losing 35-30 for their 26th defeat in a row. 5. Kent State
The Golden Flashes blew a 21-7 lead by allowing 27 straight points in the second half of a 34-21 loss at Toledo, their fourth loss in five games.
On the mark: Big-play WRs
1. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
Blackmon set career-high totals in receptions (10) and receiving yards (207) and scored a touchdown, helping the Pokes beat Texas Tech.
Jones caught seven passes for 198 yards with two touchdowns in a 44-10 win at Virginia, after coming into the game with 12 receptions this season. 3. Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
Broyles caught 15 passes for 182 yards with one touchdown against the Cyclones, his fourth game with 10 catches or more this season. 4. Chris Matthews, Kentucky
The juco transfer caught 12 passes for 177 yards against South Carolina, including a 38-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. 5. Jermaine Kearse, Washington
Kearse caught nine passes for 146 yards with four touchdowns, including two in overtime, in the Huskies' 35-34 upset of Oregon State.