October 16, 2011

LSU tops initial BCS standings

MORE: Full BCS standings

Every one has been pointing to the Nov. 5 Alabama-LSU as this season's "Game of the Century," and if the initial set of BCS standings are to be believed, that SEC West showdown indeed will showcase the nation's top two teams.

LSU was atop the first set of standings, which were released Sunday night. Alabama was second, just .0003 points behind the Tigers.

THE BCS: A CLOSER LOOK
Here is the first BCS top 14 of the season, with the school, its spot in the Harris poll, its spot in the coaches' poll and its BCS computer average. We've also included the NCAA's schedule strength, which is not part of the BCS formula.
Team HarrisCoachesComp.SOS
1. LSU1st2nd 3rd11th
2. Alabama2nd3rd2nd 50th
3. Oklahoma3rd 1st 4th 36th
4. Oklahoma State6th6th1stT-28th
5. Boise State5th7th6th33rd
6. Wisconsin4th4th11thT-97th
7. Clemson 8th8th5thT-46th
8. Stanford7th5th8thT-95th
9. Arkansas10th10th8thT-12th
10. Oregon9th8th12th26th
11. Kansas State12th16th7thT-64th
12. Virginia Tech16th14th10thT-15th
13. Nebraska11th11th15thT-2nd
14. South Carolina 13th12th13th63rd
Two teams from the Big 12 were third (Oklahoma) and fourth (Oklahoma State). Presumably, if both remain unbeaten headed into their Dec. 3 "Bedlam Game" at Oklahoma State, a victory in that showdown could be enough for a spot in the title game.

Oklahoma was closer to Alabama (.0218 behind) than Oklahoma State was to OU (.0733 behind).

Four other unbeaten teams were fifth through eighth: Boise State, Wisconsin, Clemson and Stanford. The other two unbeatens nationally are Kansas State, which is 11th, and Houston, which is 19th.

The team atop the initial BCS standings has gone on to play in the national title game six times in the 12-season history, but only twice – Florida State in 1999 and USC in 2004 – has the first No. 1 gone on to wear the crown.

Only one team has started outside the top 10 and gone on to win the title; LSU was 12th in the first standings of the 2003 season and went on to beat Oklahoma for the national title. No. 12 this week is one-loss Virginia Tech. The second-lowest initial ranking for a team that ended up winning it all was Florida, which was 10th in 2008 (Oregon is 10th this week); every other national titlist has started at least as high as sixth.

Boise State is the highest-ranked non-Big Six conference team this week. A non-Big Six team is guaranteed a BCS spot in two ways. One is if it finishes in the top 12; the other is if it is ranked in the top 16 and its ranking is higher than that of a conference champion with an automatic berth. This week, the Broncos are higher than any team from the ACC, Big Ten, Big East and Pac-12.

Under BCS rules, only one non-Big Six team is guaranteed a spot if it meets the criteria. Any others would be at-large candidates. At-large candidates must have at least nine victories and finish in the top 14 in the final BCS standings.

The final BCS standings will be released Dec. 4. Teams first and second in the final standings meet in the BCS national championship game Jan. 9 in New Orleans. LSU has been in the past two title games played in New Orleans.

The three components of the BCS standings are the coaches' poll; the Harris poll, voted on by media members and by former players, coaches and administrators; and six computers. Each of the components counts one-third. The best and worst computer rankings are thrown out, and the sum total of the remaining four is divided by 100 (the maximum possible points) to come up with the BCS' computer rankings percentage.

While strength of schedule isn't a separate BCS standings component, as it was from 1998-2003, all six computers have a strength-of-schedule factor in their rankings.

[Rivals.com experts: What we learned in Week 7]

Some other items of interest from the first set of standings:

The computers like Oklahoma State more than the pollsters. The Cowboys have an average computer ranking of first, but they are sixth in both polls. Oklahoma State is first in four computers and fourth in the other two. Alabama is No. 1 in the Sagarin Ratings and LSU is No. 1 in Richard Billingsley's rankings.

LSU's computer rankings range from first to fifth. Alabama's are first through third, and that's why Alabama is second and LSU third in the computer rankings.

The pollsters love Wisconsin – the Badgers are fourth in both – but the computers seem unimpressed. Wisconsin's computer rankings range from sixth (Sagarin) to 17th (Massey). Overall, the Badgers' average computer ranking is 11th.

Conversely, the computer love Kansas State – average ranking of seventh – but the pollsters aren't impressed. K-State is 12th in the Harris poll and 16th in the coaches' poll. K-State's computer rankings range from sixth through 10th.

Virginia Tech is another team getting a computer bump. The Hokies are 14th and 16th in the polls, but their average computer ranking is 10th.

Michigan State is unranked by two BCS computers, a big reason the one-loss Spartans are 16th in this week's standings. Michigan State plays host to Wisconsin this week.

The Big Ten leads the way with six teams in the top 25, followed by the Big 12 and SEC with five each, the ACC and Pac-12 with three each and the Big East, Conference USA and Mountain West with one each.

This the third time LSU has been at the top of the BCS standings and the first time since 2007. That's fourth-most among SEC schools, behind Florida (seven), Alabama (six) and Tennessee (five). Auburn also has been No. 1 three times.

Texas is No. 24 this week, which is the Longhorns' 87th time in the standings. That's the most of any school. Florida, which is unranked this week, is second with 85.

BCS Standings

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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