October 23, 2011

BCS analysis: Upsets shake up the Top 10

MORE: Full BCS standings

LSU and Alabama remained first and second in the second set of BCS standings, which were released Sunday night, but losses by Oklahoma and Wisconsin caused a shakeup in the rest of the top 10.

Oklahoma fell from third to ninth after losing to visiting Texas Tech, while Wisconsin dropped from sixth to 16th following a road loss to Michigan State.

The beneficiaries were Oklahoma State (now third, up one spot), Boise State (fourth, up one spot), Clemson (fifth, up two spots) and Stanford (sixth, up two spots). In addition, Clemson and Stanford crept closer to Boise State. Last week, Boise was .0445 points ahead of Clemson and .0543 ahead of Stanford; this week, the Broncos' margin is .0062 ahead of the Tigers and .0178 ahead of the Cardinal.

Here is the second 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. (Last week's rank in parentheses.)
Team HarrisCoachesComp.SOS
1. LSU (1)1st1st3rd10th
2. Alabama (2)2nd2nd2nd45th
3. Oklahoma State (4) 3rd4th1st30th
4. Boise State (5) 5th5th5th42nd
5. Clemson (7)6th6th4th48th
6. Stanford (8)4th3rd9th88th
7. Oregon (10)7th7th12th38th
8. Kansas State (11)10th12th5th84th
9. Oklahoma (3)8th9th 7th T-23rd
10. Arkansas (9) 9th 8th8th34th
11. Mich. State (16) 11th10th15th47th
12. Va. Tech (12)15th15th10thT-23rd
13. S. Carolina (14)14th14th13thT-66th
14. Nebraska (13)13th13th21st29th
Alabama and LSU are off next weekend and meet Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in what is being billed as this season's "Game of the Century." The game also is being billed as a national semifinal of sorts. Last week, Alabama led then-No. 3 Oklahoma by .0218 points; this week, the Tide lead No. 3 Oklahoma State by .0387 points.

An interesting storyline that has developed is that the BCS computers don't seem to think too much of the Big Ten or the Pac-12 - at least not yet. Michigan State is the highest-ranked Big Ten team in the BCS standings at No. 11, but the Spartans' average computer ranking is 15th. Stanford's average computer ranking is ninth, and one-loss Oregon - which is No. 7 in the BCS standings - has an average computer ranking of 12th. One-loss teams Arkansas and Oklahoma are ahead of unbeaten Stanford in the computer rankings. Stanford's poll rankings - third in the coaches' poll and fourth in the Harris poll - are the major reason the Cardinal are sixth in the BCS standings.

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 8]

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

While the computers don't seem to like the Big Ten and Pac-12 teams, they love the Big 12 squads. Oklahoma State is No. 1 in the computers; five computers have the Cowboys No. 1 and the other (Richard Billingsley's) has them No. 2. Kansas State is 10th and 12th in the polls, but the Wildcats have an average computer ranking of fifth, which ties them with Boise State. K-State's computer rankings range from fourth to ninth. K-State plays Oklahoma next weekend.

Alabama is second in the computers; the Tide are fourth in two computers and third in the other two. LSU is third in the computers; the Tigers are ranked first in the Billingsley computer, but they also are third in four of the computers.

Stanford is sixth in the Billingsley computer, but the Cardinal are 21st in the Sagarin Ratings. Oregon is seventh in the Billingsley computer, but the Ducks' other computer rankings are outside the top 10 (they are 12th in four computers and 14th in the other).

Wisconsin, which lost for the first time Saturday on a final-play Hail Mary, is 11th and 12th in the polls, but the Badgers' average computer ranking is 24th. They are 12th in the Billingsley computer but outside the top 25 in Kenneth Massey's computer. Their other four rankings range from 21st to 25th. Two-loss Texas A&M, a Big 12 team, is ranked ahead of Wisconsin in every computer except Billingsley's.

Unbeaten Houston is 17th in this week's standings. The Cougars get a lot of respect from some computers (they are as high as ninth in two of them), less from the pollsters (18th in both polls) and not much at all from the Billingsley computer or the Sagarin Ratings (not in the top 25 in either).

Three-loss Auburn is 23rd in this week's standings. The Tigers are unranked in the polls, but their average computer ranking is 15th, including a high of ninth in the Sagarin Ratings. Each of the three teams that has beaten the Tigers is in the top 10 of this week's BCS standings.

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

This the fourth week all-time that LSU has been at the top of the BCS standings.

Texas is No. 24 this week, which is the Longhorns' 88th time in the standings. That's the most of any school. Florida, which is unranked this week, is second with 85. Virginia Tech is third with 80.

No. 20 Texas Tech, No. 21 Arizona State and No. 22 Georgia moved into the top 25 this week; Arizona State and Georgia moved in despite being idle. No. 22 Georgia Tech, No. 23 Illinois and No. 25 Washington dropped out.

BCS Standings

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

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