Jerry runs the web sites CollegeRPI.com and CollegeBCS.com and a CSTV.com analyst. E-mail here!
With the top contenders for the BCS title game having a relatively easy week (Kansas at OklahomaState is the best chance for an upset), the focus shifts to the rest of the BCS bowls.
The ACC champion goes to the Orange Bowl and Boston College, Clemson, Virginia and Virginia Tech all control their own destinies for that title. They also all have challenging games this weekend.
BC visits Maryland looking to rebound from its first loss of the season. Clemson hosts Wake Forest to decide which team is No. 2 in the Atlantic division, for now. Virginia Tech, unsure about who will be under center, welcomes Florida State, the team that just handed the Eagles that first loss. And finally, Virginia is the visitor for Miami's last game at the Orange Bowl.
That set of games will be of great interest to Hawai'i and especially BoiseState. If a non-BCS conference champion finishes ahead of a BCS conference champion, it only has to be in the Top 16 to be guaranteed a BCS bowl berth instead of the Top 12. The ACC is the most likely league to provide a low-rated champion. Hawai'i will probably get to 12 anyway if it finishes 12-0, but BoiseState at 11-1 has virtually no chance. Getting into the Top 16 is more realistic for the Broncos.
Hawai'i gets its first relative test of the season when it hosts Fresno State. The Bulldogs will be the first team the Warriors have faced that is ranked in the top 80 - of either division. The only FBS (I-A) team Hawai'i has faced so far that is ranked in the top 100 is No. 93 Louisiana Tech, which took the Warriors to overtime before falling at home.
BoiseState has crept up to 20th in the BCS ratings, but don't expect a whole lot of upward movement in the next two weeks. Whatever gains the Broncos make in the polls could be offset by their computer rankings after they face the two lowest-rated teams in Division I-A, Utah State and Idaho. At least the starters should get a lot of rest before the trip to Hawai'i.
The Big East is another league that may provide a low-rated champion, but it's less likely. Right now, West Virginia is flying high at No. 7, but the league leader is No. 13 Connecticut. The Huskies have a tough assignment at Cincinnati, which is 2-0 against ranked opponents this year. If UConn loses to Cincy but wins out after that, including a win over West Virginia, it's uncertain how high the Huskies will climb in the rankings. The best bet for the WAC hopefuls would be for a 2-loss champion in this league, and that would require a few upsets.
Michigan has resurrected its season by winning eight straight after an 0-2 start. The Wolverines play a meaningless game at Wisconsin this week, at least as far as the Big Ten championship is concerned. That will be decided next week when OhioState visits Ann Arbor, whether or not either team wins this week. However, the Wolverines have to beat the Badgers to have any chance to be considered for a BCS at-large bid.
If LSU wins the SEC championship, the race for a potential BCS at-large spot in that league is pretty interesting, since it has no shortage of candidates. Georgia is in the best position because it could win out, finish 10-2 and not have to risk its position in the SEC championship game. Tennessee is in control in the East division by virtue of its win over the Bulldogs this season. No. 15 Florida would also qualify for the at-large pool at 9-3, assuming it did not have to play for the SEC title. No. 18 Auburn needs a miracle to get to the SEC title game, but by winning out, the Tigers would be 9-3 and easily into the at-large pool, as well. Auburn travels to Georgia this week and the loser's BCS hopes will be pretty much over.
Finally, USC hopes to stay in the race to be a BCS at-large team when it visits Cal. The Trojans are only ranked 17th in the BCS at the moment, but a win over the slumping Bears, followed by wins at Arizona State and at home against UCLA, would put them comfortably into the Top 12 and make them eligible for selection by a BCS bowl.