November 07, 2010
In a perfect world, the Doc would be given carte blanche to publicly torch the Bowl Championship Series in effigy and institute the elaborate, double-elimination battle royal of his dreams. But we live in the world we live in, so each Sunday the Doc looks at what the new BCS numbers mean for the rest of the season. Rooting interest: Chaos. Always chaos.
• Status quo. There's no movement at the top for the first time this year: Slots 1-4 are the same as last week. Auburn and Oregon still control their own fates: Three games apiece stand between a Tiger-Duck showdown in the most defense-averse BCS title game ever. TCU and Boise State are now openly jockeying for the second championship position if one of the top two falls, with virtually no chance of being caught from behind now that Alabama and Oklahoma have been bounced from contention.
• The TCU-Boise gap is widening. Last week, the Horned Frogs moved ahead of Boise State by a sliver thanks to the computers, eking out a minuscule advantage of less than one one-hundredth of a point (.891 to .882). This week, the Frogs' total annihilation of Utah bumped their standing across the board – they jumped the Broncos in both human polls and jumped Oregon in the computers – and has them sitting closer to Auburn at No. 2 (–0.38) than Boise at No. 4 (+0.57). Every computer poll has TCU in its top three; only one has BSU higher than fifth, and it's scrapped from the Broncos' average as the high score.
The good news for Boise State is that this is probably as wide as the Frogs' advantage is going to get: Whatever tiny boost TCU might get by beating a very respectable San Diego State outfit next weekend will be immediately negated by a season-ending date with Mountain West laughingstock New Mexico. The bad news is that Boise's "marquee" game, against No. 21 Nevada on Nov. 26, isn't likely to carry enough cachet to push the Broncos to completely close the gap. The standing assumption here is that TCU is going to have to lose, which means a lot of voodoo dolls pointed at Fort Worth for the Aztecs' visit on Saturday.
• There's no hope for the Big Ten. Wisconsin is in good standing in the human polls, courtesy of wins over Ohio State and Iowa, but the Badgers are no higher than eight in any of the computers and won't be making any big moves with wins over Indiana, Michigan and Northwestern. Ohio State can notch its best win of the year in two weeks against Iowa, but considering their current standing, the Buckeyes will still be lucky just to crack the top 10 in the computers by the final standings are released a month from now. The computers like Michigan State the most, but the humans like the Spartans the least, and they're not going anywhere against Purdue and Penn State, anyway.
All four undefeated teams at the top could bite the dust over the next four weeks and still land in front of the highest-ranked Big Ten team. Not that the Rose Bowl is a bad consolation, but parity isn't all it's cracked up to be.
• Fun fact of the week. Alabama's average computer rank is 11th after Saturday's loss at LSU, up from 15th before the defeat.
• For chaos' sake. The status quo is pretty chaotic – there will be no end to the standard griping if TCU and Boise, both respected with top 10 nods in the preseason and in every subsequent poll throughout the season, are snubbed with perfect records – but it's fairly par for the course. The Broncos and Horned Frogs were snubbed last year with perfect records, just like Boise and Utah in both 2008 and the Long Long Ago of 2004. The difference this year is the preseason hype for the underdogs, which has made them viable contenders by osmosis. But leaving the Mountain West and WAC champs in the cold for undefeated SEC and Pac-10 champs is still business as usual.
The torch-and-pitchfork scenario is if Auburn and/or Oregon loses down the stretch. Not only are TCU and Boise in position to battle it out with no really fair way to discern between them; the same scenario would also open the door to a one-loss Big 12 champion (Nebraska or Oklahoma State), SEC champion (Auburn or LSU) or Pac-10 champion (Oregon) to launch their own campaigns based on strength of schedule and precedent for leaving the mid-major acts at the door. Simply put, there's no scenario that puts Boise or TCU in the championship game without igniting a storm of one variety or another, and if it comes down to Boise and TCU getting the golden tickets, the calls for bona fide Reform shouldn't be far behind.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.