First BCS standings hold few surprises

Texas sits ninth, but blame that on the computers

October 16, 2006|By Mike Huguenin | Mike Huguenin,ORLANDO SENTINEL

The first Bowl Championship Series standings of the season, released yesterday, held no real surprises.

Certainly, the top three spots were as expected: Unbeaten Ohio State is No. 1, followed by unbeaten Southern California and unbeaten Michigan.

The two Big East unbeatens - West Virginia and Louisville - are fifth and seventh, respectively. Two one-loss Southeastern Conference teams - No. 4 Auburn and No. 6 Florida - keep the Big East teams from being higher.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that reigning national champion Texas is ninth. The polls love the Longhorns, who are fifth in the Harris Interactive and USA Today coaches' polls. But the computers don't like the Longhorns, whose cumulative computer rank was only 15th.

USC is helped by its computer standing, ranking No. 1, with Michigan second and Ohio State third. West Virginia is fourth in both polls, but the Mountaineers are 14th in the computer rankings. West Virginia is ranked fifth by one computer, but one has it 22nd and another 17th.

The three components of the 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 other four are averaged to come up with the BCS' computer number. While strength of schedule isn't a separate BCS component, all six computers have a strength-of-schedule factor in their rankings.

The final BCS standings are released Dec. 3. Teams first and second in the final standings meet in the BCS national championship game Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz.

Two non-BCS league schools are in the top 25: Boise State at 15th and Tulsa at 25th. A non-BCS league team that finishes in the top 12 is guaranteed a BCS berth. The computers love Boise, with the Broncos 11th in the computer component. The Broncos are 17th (coaches) and 18th (Harris) in the polls.

Unbeaten Rutgers is 16th in the standings, thanks to a ranking of ninth in the computer component; that's the highest of any Big East team. The Scarlet Knights (6-0) are 19th in both polls.

Five unbeatens have a legitimate shot at the title game: Louisville, Michigan, Ohio State, USC and West Virginia. Louisville hosts West Virginia on Nov. 2, and Michigan is at Ohio State on Nov. 18. USC, which has won its past three games by 19 total points, still has to play California, Notre Dame and Oregon - all in the top 14 of the BCS standings.

What all that means is one-loss teams in the current BCS top 10 still have title dreams.

Talking points

We're going to take the results of two Saturday upsets and use them as discussion points. First, 19-point underdog Indiana shocked No. 15 Iowa, 31-28, in Bloomington in the Big Ten. Second, 13 1/2 -point underdog Vanderbilt stunned No. 16 Georgia, 24-22, spoiling the Bulldogs' homecoming, in the SEC.

So, which viewpoint do you hold?

1. This just goes to show you that the Big Ten and SEC are overrated; top programs like Georgia and Iowa losing to bottom-feeders, such as Vanderbilt and Indiana, is disgraceful.

2. This just goes to show you that the Big Ten and SEC are supremely strong top to bottom; teams such as Vanderbilt and Indiana - among the worst in their leagues - can pull big upsets. In other words, there's no such thing as a sure win in the Big Ten and SEC.

We'll go with No .2.

Grid bits

It hasn't been a good past few months for Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. First, starting quarterback Rhett Bomar was booted from the team in early August, dropping the Sooners from national-title contenders to title hopefuls in the Big 12 South. Then, the Sooners got, uh, jobbed by Pacific-10 referees in a 34-33 loss at Oregon on Sept. 16. Then, Oklahoma was overpowered in the second half by Texas in a 28-10 loss last week. Finally, All-America running back Adrian Peterson was lost for the season with a collarbone injury in Saturday's rout of Iowa State. "I'm still not even trying to think about an offense without him, but I guess it is reality," Sooners wide receiver Malcolm Kelly said. ...

Georgia has lost two in a row - two in a row at home - and a mediocre offense is the reason. The Bulldogs have scored 55 points in the past two games, but that's misleading. Two touchdowns came from special teams, and another came on an interception return. The Bulldogs are 88th in the nation in total offense (311.1 yards per game) and have been held under 300 yards four times. Georgia has scored 16 offensive touchdowns. Eight came in wins over Alabama Birmingham and Division I-AA Western Kentucky. That means the Bulldogs have scored eight in their other five games. And the only elite team in that quintet was Tennessee; the others were South Carolina, Colorado, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Considering three teams with good defenses remain on the schedule - Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech - we'd be biting our nails if we were Bulldogs fans. ...

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