November 27, 2011

No surprise: LSU, 'Bama solidly atop BCS

MORE: Full BCS standings

A season that has had a large number of twists and turns and a ton of excitement is ending not with a bang but with a whimper.

At least in terms of the BCS.

To no one's surprise, LSU and Alabama remained first and second in this week's BCS standings. And the Tigers and Tide are so far ahead of everyone else that LSU almost certainly can survive a loss to Georgia in the SEC championship game and still play for the national tile.

Oklahoma State is third, but the Cowboys are .1288 points behind LSU. Oklahoma State is almost as far behind LSU as it is ahead of No. 6 Houston.

THE BCS: A CLOSER LOOK
Here is the seventh 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)1st1stT-1st3rd
2. Alabama (2)2nd2nd2ndT-29th
3. Okla. State (4)5th5th3rdT-22nd
4. Stanford (6)3rd4th4th59th
5. Virginia Tech (5)4th3rdT-10th27th
6. Houston (8)6th6th8th87th
7. Boise State (7)8th8th9th11th
8. Arkansas (3) 9th 10th T-6th39th
9. Oregon (10)7th7thT-10th17th
10. Oklahoma (9)10th11th 5thT-12th
11. Kansas St. (11)15th15thT-6th15th
12. S. Carolina (12)14th13th12th T-29th
13. Mich. State (14)11th9th16th 65th
14. Georgia (13)12th14th14th50th
In short, unless the human pollsters in the BCS drop LSU five or six spots if the Tigers were to lose to Georgia, Alabama and LSU will stage a rematch of their Nov. 5 game in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 9 in New Orleans.

While there is no intrigue in terms of the title game, there is at least some intrigue among the potential BCS at-large entrants. A team has to have nine wins and be among the top 14 teams in the final BCS standings, which will be released next Sunday, to be eligible for an at-large bid.

Stanford (11-1) seemingly is an at-large lock. Michigan finished its regular season Saturday with a 40-34 victory over Ohio State that pushed its record to 10-2. But the Wolverines actually dropped a spot in the BCS standings, from 15th to 16th, and their drop likely worries BCS bowl organizers. Michigan is a natural for an at-large bid - a national program with a huge fan base that buys tickets and turns on TV sets. Good news for Michigan - and bowl organizers - is that the three teams immediately ahead of the Wolverines play on Saturday. No. 13 Michigan State meets No. 15 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, and No. 14 Georgia meets LSU in the SEC's title game.

No. 11 Kansas State (9-2), which finishes with Iowa State, is another potential at-large pick because Wildcats fans buy tickets and travel extremely well.

Houston (12-0), the nation's only unbeaten team other than LSU, moved up two spots, to sixth. Houston is guaranteed a BCS bid should it beat Southern Miss (10-2), which is 24th in the BCS standings, in Saturday's Conference USA title game.

A non-Big Six team that is a conference champion 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. The Big East has an automatic selection, and the league's only ranked team is West Virginia, which is 23rd this week and seems unlikely to get into the top 20.

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. It's unlikely that a non-Big Six team is going to be selected with an at-large pick, though Boise State (10-1), which finishes with woeful New Mexico, could be a fallback selection.

TCU (9-2), which finishes with two-win UNLV, already has clinched the Mountain West title and is another potential at-large candidate. The Horned Frogs are 18th in the BCS this week. TCU is 17th in both polls and has an average computer ranking of 18th. The computer ranking is the issue, as it seems doubtful that a win over UNLV would be enough to propel TCU into the top 16.

The final BCS standings will be released next Sunday. 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, winning both.

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: College football's Week 13 Winners and losers]

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

LSU is No. 1 in each of the six computers used by the BCS. Alabama is second in four of them, and Oklahoma State is second in the other two.

Virginia Tech dropped a spot in the BCS despite beating a Virginia team that went into last week's game with an 8-3 record. The Hokies' average computer ranking is 10th, a three-spot drop from last week, and their rankings range from eighth to 18th.

Houston is sixth in both polls, and the Cougars' average computer ranking climbed to eighth from 12th last week after their win over Tulsa. Their computer rankings range from fifth to 12th.

The Big 12 leads the way with six teams in the top 25. The Big Ten and SEC have five each; each of the SEC's is in the top 14, while each of the Big Ten's are between 13th and 22nd. The ACC, Conference USA, Mountain West and Pac-12 have two each, and the Big Eats has one.

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

Texas is No. 22 this week, which is the Longhorns' 93rd time in the standings. That's the most of any school. Virginia Tech and Florida, which is unranked this week, are tied in second with 85.

No. 23 West Virginia, No. 24 Southern Miss and No. 25 Missouri moved into the top 25 this week; No. 22 Notre Dame, No. 23 Georgia Tech and No. 24 Auburn 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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