Sunday, October 14, 2012

Look Who's Busting the BCS

Wow, Florida came out ahead of Oregon for No. 2 in this season's first official BCS standings.

This is only shocking and relevant if you're extremely uninformed about the BCS. In reality the exact positions of the top few teams bear very little consequence, since the season isn't even halfway over. We pretty much covered everything in yesterday's projections, where each of the top 15 teams were pegged at no more than 1 spot off the actual rankings.

The early-season standings are more helpful in terms of revealing two things: 1) The teams that are truly eliminated from the national title race; and 2) the teams that are in the running for the four at-large berths in each year's BCS bowls.

Since we've already dealt with item 1 ad nauseum and will come back to it nearly every week going forward, let's focus on item 2 this time. And to do that, we need to pay more attention to the bottom of the standings than the top.

We'd have to look at not just at the official standings, but the COMPLETE official standings, where the Guru ranks teams past No. 25. You'll find that four non-AQ teams are ranked in the top 31, each with a shot at earning the automatic bid given to the top non-AQ champion ranked in the top 16.

It's No. 16 and not No. 12 for now, thanks to the NCAA jail time Ohio State is serving and the weakness of the rest of the Big Ten. The highest-ranked B1G team is Northwestern, at No. 28, marking the first time in history that not a single team from college football's oldest conference is ranked in the BCS standings.

But the No. 16 threshold for the non-AQ bid is far from a certainty, and No. 29 Michigan is the team that holds the key. The Wolverines are ranked Nos. 25 and 26 in the coaches and Harris polls,
respectively, but they will have the best chance to rapidly move up. Their two losses this season are to teams currently ranked No. 1 and No. 5, so don't be surprised if Michigan ends up ahead of the highest non-AQ team in as few as two weeks by defeating Michigan State and Nebraska in succession.


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