Week 9 2013 BCS Rankings: Who Will Rise or Fall Before Season's End?
The first edition of the 2013 BCS standings have been released for this college football season, the start of an eight-week stretch of chaos and mayhem as each and every win, loss and close result will have its own impact on future rankings.
In case you haven't seen the first set of standings, they look like this:
2. Florida State
4. Ohio State
7. Miami (Fla.)
10. Texas Tech
14. Virginia Tech
16. Texas A&M
17. Fresno State
18. Northern Illinois
19. Oklahoma State
21. South Carolina
25. Oregon State
These standings show things would look if the season ended now, but it doesn't. Teams are sure to rise up or fall mightily from their current spot in the rankings, but who will do what?
Scroll through the slides to see our predictions of teams sure to rise or fall before the regular season ends in December.
Rise: UCF Knights
Current BCS ranking: 23rd
Why they will rise: As the front-runner to get the American Athletic Conference's undeserving automatic BCS bid, UCF (5-1, 2-0) is currently the lowest-rated team that would be playing in one of the big-payday games if the pairings came out now.
The "worst" team in terms of its BCS ranking has traditionally come out of what used to be the Big East Conference, as Louisville was No. 21 last season. West Virginia was No. 23 the year before and Connecticut was unranked when it made it three years ago.
Assuming the Knights win out, which is very likely since they face their two toughest opponents (Houston and Rutgers) at home, they will continue to move up in the human polls. Whether they can enhance their computer rankings will depend on how impressive the computers think their wins are over all of the bad teams remaining on their schedule, but it's an almost certainty that if UCF is the AAC qualifier to the BCS it will be so from a higher ranking.
Fall: Florida State Seminoles
Current BCS ranking: Second
Why they will fall: Florida State (6-0, 4-0 ACC) is the only one of the 10 remaining unbeatens who can't just fall back on the old adage of "win and everything will take care of itself." In reality, the Seminoles not only need to keep winning, but hope several of their closest competitors falter.
Why? Because while FSU is crushing it in the computer rankings, the remainder of their schedule—ACC title game notwithstanding—is far inferior to other BCS title-game candidates. The Nov. 2 game against Miami (Fla.) is the only one left against a BCS-ranked opponent, and that's at home.
Florida could be back in there by the time the teams meet Nov. 30 in Gainseville, but between then and now other contenders will be gaining ground on FSU thanks to tougher schedules, and at least one will pass the Seminoles by Dec. 8's final standings.
Rise: Northern Illinois Huskies
Current BCS ranking: 18th
Why they will rise: Northern Illinois (7-0, 3-0 Mid-American) has everything you'd want from a team outside the AQ conferences that's fighting to get to play with the big boys. The Huskies are undefeated, have road wins over two BCS conference opponents—winning by three at Iowa and by 31 at Purdue—and feature an electric star in dual-threat quarterback Jordan Lynch.
What the Huskies don't have working for them are many rating-improving games left, if any. They host Ball State (6-1) next month, but their other four regular-season opponents are a combined 6-23. NIU should get a decent ratings boost from beating Buffalo, Bowling Green or Ohio (all currently 5-2) in the MAC title game, but will that be enough to bump them high enough to get invited to the party?
It happened last year, when the Huskies got a late boost it the ratings to finish high enough to earn an Orange Bowl bid, and that history shows if NIU keeps winning, it will keep moving up the rankings again this year.
Fall: Missouri Tigers
Current BCS ranking: Fifth
Why they will fall: More than for any other reason, Missouri (7-0, 3-0 SEC) is going to drop in the BCS because that's the more likely scenario than moving up. Other than having someone above them lose, the Tigers probably can't beef their numbers up enough to keep moving up just on their own merits.
There's also the fact that Missouri is playing so far above expectations that some sort of return-to-earth setback could happen at any turn on the remaining schedule. Mizzou gets South Carolina and Texas A&M at home, but if this past weekend was any indication, just being at home doesn't mean diddly in the SEC.
Even with a loss, though, the Tigers would win the SEC East and could find themselves getting into a BCS bowl as a nice-looking at-large selection. The SEC is almost a lock to get one of those each year, and Mizzou is in line for that selection this time around.
Rise: Fresno State Bulldogs
Current BCS ranking: 17th
Why they will rise: See Northern Illinois' reasons, but sub in the Mountain West for the Mid-American Conference.
Fresno State(6-0, 3-0) isn't as well regarded nationally as NIU is, but does have the perfect record, the big wins (over Rutgers and league rival Boise State, both by one point) and the superstar quarterback in gunslinger Derek Carr. None of the Bulldogs' remaining regular-season foes are that difficult, other than maybe a November trip to Wyoming, so most of their ratings rise would probably come from a possible rematch with Boise in the Mountain West title game.
Fresno State would be in a much more favorable overall position had their September trip to Colorado not been canceled due to flooding, and as a result the Bulldogs only have 11 games on their schedule. Even with that, though, history has shown that Fresno State should move up if it continues to win.
Fall: Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes
Current BCS ranking: Seventh
Why they will fall: Miami (6-0, 2-0 ACC) just barely remained in the BCS picture with a narrow win at North Carolina on Thursday, but while it won it also looked vulnerable and ripe to be beaten. If that happens, it will be during the early November double dip of at Florida State and home against Virginia Tech.
The Hurricanes could lose both, actually. But all it will take is one of those to knock them down the rankings, while losing to Virginia Tech would also keep them from playing for the ACC title and another game with Florida State.
Miami doesn't appear to have the pedigree and resume to get into the BCS with just one loss, and that one loss (even if it's against a strong opponent) will likely knock the Hurricanes down the rankings.
Rise: LSU Tigers
Current BCS ranking: 13th
Why they will rise: Besides being LSU (6-2, 3-2 SEC), which might be a computer code that translates to "will always be rated high, regardless of the record" in English, the remaining schedule and the craziness of the SEC this year leave a lot of opportunity to move up.
The Tigers play Alabama and Texas A&M still, and with a week off in between, so its entirely likely they could win both of those games and be back in consideration for a BCS at-large slot.
Winning one of them is probably all it will take to move up, as LSU is already the highest rated of the two-loss teams and has the added benefit of being in the SEC, which tends to always fare well both with computer rankings and voter preferences.
Fall: Texas Tech Red Raiders
Current BCS ranking: 10th
Why they will fall: Texas Tech (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) is doing far better than anyone could have expected for a team that had its previous coach, Tommy Tuberville, jump ship for a gig (Cincinnati) that couldn't be considered better than a lateral move.
But the Red Raiders still have all of the meat of their schedule to go, and with back-to-back games at Oklahoma and at home against Oklahoma State next up, they could be outside the top 20 in two weeks' time.
The Big 12 is probably the fourth-best conference among the automatic qualifiers, behind the SEC, Pac-12 and ACC, and as a result any losses by their teams tend to drop them more than those by teams in higher-rated conferences.
Rise: Baylor Bears
Current BCS ranking: 8th
Why they will rise: See Texas Tech's reasons, but reverse them.
Baylor (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) has also not played any of its toughest foes yet, but unlike Texas Tech the Bears get Oklahoma at home and face Texas Tech in a neutral site game at Cowboys Stadium, and have a bye before the first test and nine days between that one and the second test.
There's also the fact that Baylor is ranked rather low, comparatively, for an unbeaten team from an AQ conference. Continual winning will shoot them up the rankings, possibly into top=two consideration.
If the Bears can continue to win (not necessarily every game, maybe all but one) and also continue to put up the scores they've had to this point, expect their computer ratings to improve, thus moving them further up the standings.
Fall: UCLA Bruins
Current BCS ranking: 12th
Why they will fall: UCLA (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) did not look like a top-level team in its loss to Stanford on Saturday, and that can't all be because of Stanford. Because of that, the Bruins might be doubting themselves heading into the second half of the Pac-12 North power two-step, a trip to Oregon.
Facing those two back-to-back is something teams might not be able to recover from. Just ask Washington, which lost by three at Stanford, then by 21 at home to Oregon, and followed that up with a listless 53-24 loss at Arizona State this past weekend.
UCLA is probably still going to win the Pac-12's South Division, and thus will get another game against Stanford, Oregon or even Oregon State in the conference title game. But by that time the Bruins might be too far down the BCS standings to be able to rise enough at the end and get an at-large selection. UCLA needs to win the league to get in.