Notre Dame won't be No. 1 in the first official BCS standings, when it's unveiled Sunday night on ESPN. But for better or for worse, it'll be the No. 1 topic for the remainder of the season until (or if) it finally loses a game.
After getting a favorable review ruling to defeat Stanford in overtime, the Fighting Irish will debut in the top five in the first official standings, after placing sixth in last week's simulated standings. They will be ranked first in possibly four of the six computers. But for the time being, that won't be enough to get them into the top two of the standings.
As per our analysis last week, the SEC champion with not more than one loss is likely going to earn a spot in the BCS title game, with the possible exception of Texas A&M. That means Alabama, Florida, LSU, South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi State all still more or less control their own destiny.
After that, things get a bit murky. The Ducks appear to have the inside track to the title game should they remain unbeaten, but that's not assured. The Big 12 is down to one unbeaten team, and that team - Kansas State - will have its toughest test yet next week when it visits West Virginia, which was shellacked by Texas Tech in its first loss of the season.
Unbeaten Oregon State, recovering one-loss teams Oklahoma and USC are still in the thick of things, as is possibly one of the three unbeaten Big East teams (Rutgers, Louisville and Cincinnati). It's less certain for Florida State, playing in a weak ACC. What's certain is that the storied Big Ten won't be a factor at all this season and in fact, the B1G most likely will be shut out of the official BCS standings for the first time in history.
With the Big Ten out of sight, out of mind, Boise State only needs to be in the top 16 of the final standings to earn an automatic BCS bowl berth. And after Louisiana Tech's heartbreaking 59-57 loss to Texas A&M, the Broncos' only non-AQ competition has been removed.
Boise State has a fairly benign schedule for an 11-1 finish. The Broncos' toughest test? The season finale at Nevada, their one-time WAC nemesis now relocated to the Mountain West. The Wolf Pack cost their old conference millions when they upset Boise State in 2010. They'll have a chance to do it again to their new conference.
This week's top 15 projections:
1. Alabama, 2. Oregon, 3. Florida, 4. Notre Dame, 5. Kansas State, 6. LSU, 7. South Carolina, 8. Oklahoma, 9. Oregon State, 10. Georgia, 11. USC, 12. West Virginia, 13. Mississippi State, 14. Florida State, 15. Rutgers.
(FULL ARTICLE @ SB NATION)