So, the first BCS rankings of the season come out on Sunday evening. What should you expect as a Big Ten fan?
Pain. Jealousy. Anger. Sadness. Emptiness. Big Ten football.
The BCS projection site BCSKnowHow.com doesn't list a single Big Ten team in its Top 16 of last week's simulated BCS rankings. And why should it? The only team in the conference that would have a shot at inclusion there is Ohio State, and we don't need to get into that mess again.
Past that, it's bleak—and maybe even bleaker than you'd think.
According to Jeff Sagarin's "ELO Chess" rankings—the ones the BCS uses—only Michigan State is even in the Top 25, and that's at No. 25 (which would be bumped up to 24th with Ohio State not in the mix).
Meanwhile, the Billingsley BCS rankings—which frequently get bounced as outliers—have Michigan State at 15th, jumping seven spots after beating No. 111 Indiana by four points...because that makes all sorts of sense. Michigan comes in at No. 18. That'll get spiked.
The Anderson and Hester rankings mirror Sagarin's in placing Michigan State at No. 25, the highest of all bowl-eligible Big Ten teams. Similarly, the Colley Matrix puts the Spartans at 26th—or 25th once the Buckeyes are taken out. Ohio State ranks fifth in the A&H system and third in Colley's, in case Buckeye fans wanted a reason to cry.
The Massey ratings have Michigan State up at 16th, which, barring a home loss to Iowa (yeesh), should be enough to get the Spartans in the Top 25 of the BCS computer rankings.
Peter Wolfe, meanwhile, does not publish his ratings before the initial BCS rankings are compiled and released.
Folks, that's it. And even a semi-borderline Top 25 BCS computer profile for the Spartans is hardly enough to secure a spot in the actual BCS rankings. Remember, the computer rankings count for only a third of the overall BCS profile. The coaches' poll is also counted, and as it stands right now, MSU is all the way down at 30th in that poll, receiving only 27 votes (which puts it between Northwestern and Ohio).
As the Harris Poll goes, Michigan State is also unranked this week, but at No. 27—and enough teams are playing tough competition ahead of MSU that a win over Iowa should be enough to push it into the Top 25.
"But this is all very Spartan-centric," fans of other Big Ten teams are probably thinking. Folks, nobody else in the conference is even close. There is nothing your team can do to get into the Top 25 discussion this week. Sorry.
So, here's what Big Ten fans should expect if Michigan State can beat Iowa: a ranking somewhere between No. 23 and No. 27 in the initial BCS rankings. It's by no means a guarantee that MSU gets into the Top 25, but it's literally the only shot the Big Ten has this week.
Holy lord this conference is terrible.