Road Starts Rocky

Initial BCS standings bring more questions than answers

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Oct. 14, 2007

By Jerry Palm

Special To


BCS Standings


Jerry runs the web sites and and a analyst. E-mail here!

The first release of the BCS standings usually brings more questions than answers.  This year is no exception.


Last year, when the first BCS ratings came out, Ohio State was No. 1, which is right where we expected them to be. Well, the Buckeyes are back on top again, but this time it took a significant amount of chaos to put them there.


So far this season seven teams ranked in the top five at game time have lost, with six coming in the last three weeks.  Last week, No. 1 and No. 2 lost on the same day for the first time since 1996.




It's that kind of carnage that has opened the door for Ohio State, which has yet to play anyone of note and could go the rest of the season without facing a ranked opponent.  In spite of that, it appears that the Buckeyes are the only team that controls its own destiny in the BCS.  If Ohio State wins out and wins by the margins voters like, it will get another shot at winning the BCS title.


The picture isn't nearly as clear for anyone else.  Two names we are not used to seeing near the top of the rankings occupy the next two spots.  USF is the darling of the BCS computers, with No. 1 rankings in five of the six rating systems used.  The voters have yet to get bullish on the Bulls though.  USF is much closer to No. 4 Oklahoma in the Harris and coaches' polls than it is to No. 2 Boston College.


That might lead you to believe that the Eagles control their own destiny, but I don't believe they do.  Perhaps voters will leave them where they are if they continue to win.  Certainly, winning at Virginia Tech on Oct. 25 would impress people, but there isn't anyone left on the schedule after that game that provides any buzz.


Primarily, my concern for USF and BC is the teams chasing them, specifically LSU.  The BCS has experienced nearly every form of chaos and controversy available to it, but one exception is a team with one loss finishing ahead of an undefeated, major conference school.  However, if the Tigers run the table, given the schedule they have to play to do that, I think voters would give serious consideration to LSU.  The Tigers would also be a very strong team in the computers, but it would take the will of the voters to make this happen.


Note that I am not lumping Ohio State in with USF and BC in this scenario.  Even though the Buckeyes may play the weakest schedule of the three, they are a college football blue blood. Ohio State could go undefeated and only play one opponent that was ranked at the time it played them, and that is Purdue, which was No. 20 when it faced the Buckeyes on Oct. 6. Of its remaining five opponents, only Michigan is currently ranked in either BCS poll (No. 25 in Harris).


Farther off in the distance is USC, which starts its trek for the title at No. 14 in this week's standings. The lowest rated team in the first BCS release of a season to work its way up to the title game was LSU in 2003, which was No. 12 in the first release that year. Ironically, that's the year USC finished first in the polls, but missed the title game. The Trojans still have games with Cal, Oregon and Arizona State, all on the road.  If - and the way it has played the last two weeks, that's a big if - USC actually gets to 11-1, it could be the highest rated one-loss team.


You'll notice that I'm not as high on Oklahoma, which has a big lead over LSU for the No. 4 spot in the polls this week.  The Sooners' problem is that they have no games left with anyone of significance, at least not until the Big 12 title game.  By then, LSU and/or USC could have passed them, but more importantly, it will be hard for them to gain ground on either BC or USF by beating relatively pedestrian opponents.


There are others still in the hunt.  There are the undefeated, but unnoticed, like Arizona State and Kansas, and highly rated one-loss teams like Oregon, West Virginia and South Carolina.  All they need is to keep winning and hope that this season hasn't used up its allotment of chaos.