Despite its commanding lead in the human polls, Florida has dropped to No. 4 in the latest BCS standings (simulated). The Gators are now not even the highest ranked team in the SEC, falling behind No. 3 Alabama. Texas keeps a slim lead ahead of the Tide at No. 2, while USC has ascended to the top spot with a sizable lead.
Let's cut to the chase, what's happening with the Gators?
With four computers ratings (out of six) already available, the placements in the standings are fairly stable. That the Gators are No. 4 is purely the product of their early-season cupcake schedule.
Florida is No. 5 in Billingsley (and typically the most likely to produce an outlier), the highest of the four computer rankings. It's 20th in Sagarin, 35th (and no points) in Colley and 533rd(!) in Massey. In contrast, USC is ranked 1st, 1st, 13th and 12th by those computers, respectively.
Before you Gator fans go nuts about these computers, relax. It's early in the season and the computers are likely to produce some strange results because of the lack of data. What should worry Florida is that it's becoming obvious that it has no margin for error. Because of the weakness of the schedule, one loss might, and probably will, doom the Gators' repeat championship hopes.
Florida is in a very similar position that USC was in last year. The Trojans opened the season No. 1 and likely would've stayed there by going undefeated. But a late-September loss at Oregon State sank USC, which never made it back above No. 5 the rest of the season, despite every other BCS contender losing at least one game - and all after USC did.
As long as the Gators remain unbeaten, they should have no trouble moving their way back into the top two slots. But since the SEC is not particularly tough this season, that Florida misses both Alabama and Ole Miss in the regular season, plus Florida's two other nonconference foes - Florida International and Florida State (which needed a last-minute TD to fend off I-AA Jacksonville State to avoid going 0-2) are not exactly awe-inspiring, the computers won't be favoring the Gators, that much is certain.
In short, the soft schedule will work both ways for the Gators - it paves a smoother path to the BCS title game, but it will also obliterate their chances with just one stumble.
Moving on down the rankings, Boise State has regained the inside track among non-BCS teams for the one guaranteed spot (if any of them finished among the top 12), checking in at No. 7, ahead of No. 9 BYU. The Cougars have a tougher schedule than the Broncos on paper, but given the recent performances of Florida State and Utah, that may not be the case in reality. These two teams will be in a see-saw battle all season long if they both remain unbeaten.
The team that made the quantum leap this week is Houston, coming off a 45-35 upset at Oklahoma State. These Cougars moved up from No. 52 to No. 21. And don't look now, Conference USA is now nipping at the heels the Big East. Cincinnati, the top ranked team in the Big East, is just one spot ahead of Houston, which has a schedule strong enough to make things interesting should it go through the season unbeaten.
And finally, the loss to Michigan greatly imperils Notre Dame's chances of stealing a BCS bid (never mind the national championship, that was just crazy talk from Granny Holtz). Barring an upset win over USC, there is about no chance for the Irish to get a BCS spot. Notre Dame needs to finish in the top 8 to be guaranteed a spot, and top 14 to be eligible. With few votes, no computer points, and a just one ranked team left on their schedule, the Irish have very little margin for error. And without a BCS bid, Charlie Weis' five-year internship may finally be over.