BCS Implications: Just win? Baby, that might not be enough for Buckeyes
Alabama thumped the worst team in FBS, Georgia State, and still controls its fate regarding the National Championship Game, though LSU looks like scary competition on Nov.9. After that, it looks like the Pac-12 and ACC champions are next in line. It is becoming clear that Ohio State sits fourth in line right now.
Clemson will play two FCS teams this season, but with two nonconference games against strong SEC teams, the Tigers still will have a strong computer profile. They probably will beat out Ohio State if both run the table. If Ohio State and Florida State each runs the table, who will be ranked higher is a toss-up right now. It would be surprising for an undefeated Pac-12 champion to end up behind Ohio State. The Buckeyes really, really need the Big Ten as a whole (and Michigan in particular) to start getting respect from the voters.
There is an undefeated team, however, whose NCG hopes are slim to none. Louisville, even with Heisman candidate Teddy Bridgewater, just does not have the schedule to make the NCG. In fact, the Cardinals have one of the absolute worst schedules in the country according to more than one computer. To put this in perspective, their computer numbers will be worse than Boise State’s were back in their WAC years. Louisville might be a very good team, but even a one-loss team from most other automatic-qualifier conferences would make the NCG before the Cardinals do.
With Utah State losing to BYU (and losing dynamic quarterback Chuckie Keeton for the season), the non-AQ race is pretty simple. It’s Fresno State’s to lose, though it is not inconceivable that Northern Illinois jumps ahead late in the season. If Fresno loses a game, the race is wide open. Boise State could be around the edge of the top 16 if it wins out. Any one of the top four MAC teams (Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, Ball State and Ohio) also will probably be right around the top 16 if it wins out. Northern Illinois should easily be in the top 16 if it is undefeated and would probably even crack the top 12.
I erred last week when I said that the Harris would debut this week. Harris is coming out a week later than usual this year, so it will debut next week. Remember, the BCS cares only about how many votes a team gets, not what place a team is in.
Ohio State lost some ground to Clemson in the coaches poll, but it wasn’t because the Buckeyes looked bad or even because Clemson looked good. Florida State seems to have drawn a significant number of voters away from the Buckeyes with its massive blowout of Maryland. Ohio State is still No.3 on a majority of ballots but seems to be as low as sixth on many of them. We could speculate on the reasons why, but the fact of the matter is that a good chunk of voters have the Buckeyes much lower than the average dictates.
The voters did respect Northwestern’s and Washington’s close losses to good teams and did not punish them so much, which is bad news for the non-AQs trying to slide up spots when teams in front of them lose. Both Fresno State and Northern Illinois did gain votes, though, so this week was not a total loss for non-AQs. Also, Ball State’s blowout of Virginia earned it some respect and two votes in the poll. That will get it recognition and could be big for the MAC going forward.
Sagarin continues to dislike Ohio State and the Big Ten in general, but his rankings still have some very weird results. LSU is still ahead of Georgia, though the Bulldogs were finally passed by Clemson. But Fresno State is still behind Rutgers and well behind Boise State, even with a better strength of schedule than those two. His rankings are usually unbiased by now or next week, but some things are definitely strange right now. Anderson's rankings will be very fluid for the next few weeks, but they are still important because of his unique conference rankings, which affect each team’s SOS in his system.
Ohio State got a good jump in Billingsley, as expected. Billingsley still has Kent State ranked relatively high based on last season, which was great for Northern Illinois, which is up to 12th while Fresno State is down at 31st. That could be big down the stretch. Massey‘s rankings, even his SOS column, are still very volatile this early. Massey's right-most Final SOS column is the one to keep an eye on, though, as it should start to solidify within a few weeks. Colley is still very volatile but is beginning to take shape. He is very high on the top four MAC teams right now, something definitely worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
The Buckeyes are fourth in the pecking order for the second NCG spot, behind Oregon-Stanford and Clemson. It is time for Buckeyes fans to realize that Ohio State needs more than to just run the table. The Buckeyes need a loss from at least two of the following teams: Alabama, Clemson and the Pac-12 champion. Florida State won’t necessarily jump the Buckeyes if both run the table, but the Seminoles are gaining a bit in that rear-view mirror.
As far as Ohio and Bowling Green sit, they are in relatively good position. They both know that they are putting themselves squarely in the mix if they run the table. All they need is for Fresno State to lose one game, and Fresno still has to most likely face Boise State again in the MWC championship game. Bowling Green travels to Mississippi State this week. That is a must-win game for the Falcons. If they lose, their BCS dreams are done. But if they win, expect them to pick up a few votes in the polls, which will be good news for all of the MAC teams that hope to reach the top 16.
Week 7 implications
Louisville hosts Rutgers on Thursday night in the Cardinals' first real challenge of the season (though Ohio is not a bad team, to be fair). This game is big for non-AQs across the board. First of all, a Louisville loss probably comes close to sealing the non-AQ threshold at top 16 instead of top 12. Also, Fresno State beat Rutgers to start the season, and the Bulldogs (and the Mountain West in general) could definitely use the good press that will come with having beaten the team that beat Louisville.
On Saturday, Missouri travels to a injury-hampered Georgia team. The Tigers got very lucky with their cross-divisional schedule and could take a strong lead in the SEC East race with a win. Across the nation, we are getting into conference play where every game is big and has conference-title implications. We only have two games between ranked teams (LSU-Florida and Oregon-Washington), but there are a lot of other ranked teams facing dangerous conference foes this week. Michigan, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Stanford and Northwestern all play strong teams on the road. It’s weeks like this where we can begin to see madness in college football and to know whether this season will be chalk like 2009 or mayhem like 2007.