Oklahoma may be the consensus No. 1 in preseason polls, but on the strength of computer rankings, Alabama will open the 2011 season as the top team in the simulated BCS standings.
Using the same methodology as we've done in the past four seasons, we put together two human polls (Coaches Poll and AP Poll, replacing the Harris Poll), three of the six BCS computer rankings and the median ranking of 34 computers for our simulated BCS standings.
The Tide came out on top thanks to their superior computer scores (No. 1 in Sagarin, No. 3 in Massey and No. 2 in median rankings), whereas the Sooners' edge in the two human polls isn't enough to offset their middling computer scores. Oregon checks in as a close third, ranking third in both human polls and in the top 3 in all four computer rankings used.
In all, a record eight SEC teams are in the preseason top 25, followed by five teams from the Big 12 and four from the Big Ten. The Big East barely squeezed into the top 25, with West Virginia checking in at No. 24. Two non-BCS teams are also in the top 25 as Mountain West members Boise State (No. 5) and TCU (No. 11) will make another run to crash the BCS party.
Per BCS's rules, USC is not included in the rankings because the Trojans are serving the second year of their two-year bowl ban.