Wednesday, September 9, 2009

USC Makes Its Move Up BCS Standings

Oklahoma's loss as expected dropped the Sooners out of the top 10, but the team that made the most of the first weekend is USC.

In the latest BCS standings (as simulated by the Guru), the Trojans vaulted past Texas into the No. 2 spot. In fact, USC has a pretty healthy margin on the Longhorns and may threaten Florida at No. 1 with a victory at Ohio State on Saturday.

The Trojans are currently third in the two polls, but are ranked first (Sagarin), second (Massey MOV) and third (Billingsley) in the three BCS computers that have released its ratings. Among 38 computer rankings, USC has a median ranking of 2.

Brigham Young moved into the top 10, but did not jump as high as first projected, settling in at No. 8. Despite good computer rankings (No. 3 on Sagarin, No. 4 on Billingsley), the Cougars are hurt by their standings in the polls, checking in at No. 9 in the AP Poll, and No. 12 in the Coaches Poll.

This is very damaging news for BYU's national title aspirations. What's appalling about the always-dubious Coaches Poll is not just BYU's placement (at No. 12 after essentially a road win vs. then-No. 3 Oklahoma?) but the total votes it received, which accounts for one third of the BCS formula.

BYU got 96% of the points of No. 5 Oklahoma State in the AP Poll, meaning that the Cougars really aren't that far off from being in the top 5. But in the Coaches Poll, they received only 66% of the points of No. 5 Penn State, meaning that unless teams ahead of the Cougars start losing, they might have a hard time making up the deficit. And of course, the AP Poll is not in the BCS standings, but the Coaches Poll is.

BYU is, however, one spot ahead of Boise State, in a race for the lone guaranteed spot for a non-BCS conference team. The Cougars' victory over OU stole Boise's thunder, whose home win over Oregon paled in comparison. The Broncos are still ahead of BYU in the Coaches Poll, but the weakness of their remaining schedule will catch up to them (at least in the computers) should both teams stay undefeated.

With BYU, Boise State, TCU (No. 14) and Utah (No. 15) all in the top 15, the debate over BCS's automatic qualification process will be further intensified. These four Coalition teams (three from the Mountain West) are ahead of the highest rated ACC (Virginia Tech at No. 16) and Big East (Cincinnati at No. 20) teams.

Notre Dame checks in at No. 23, getting its perch solely on the strength of poll numbers. The Irish are ranked Nos. 35, 37 and 56 on the three BCS computers with a median ranking of No. 30 on other computers. As its schedule isn't exactly murderers' row, Notre Dame's BCS chances will be heavily influenced by how much the pollsters fall for its yesteryear mystique.

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