BCS Bowl Stock Watch for Week 11
The Week 11 BCS standings were released on Sunday night, and even after a mostly vanilla slate of games, they included some jockeying that could prove to have major postseason implications.
Alabama retained its comfortable lead atop the rankings, but Florida State's convincing win over No. 7 Miami sent shockwaves down the BCS list in both directions.
Meanwhile, games between ranked teams like Michigan State's win over Michigan and Texas Tech's loss to Oklahoma State impacted conference races and set certain teams up for a chance to crash the lesser BCS bowls.
But who's stock was affected the most?
Stock Up: Michigan State
Michigan's offense entered Saturday averaging 42.4 points per game. Michigan State held it to six points and minus-48 yards rushing to make the Wolverines' attack look like scum from the FCS.
The result was a noticeable jump in the BCS standings for Sparty, which shot all the way up from No. 22 to No. 17—within spitting distance of SEC powerhouses like Texas A&M and LSU.
Some think that because of its shaky offense, Michigan State has a very defined ceiling. But defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi gives this team a physical identity that allows it to hang with anyone.
"We're going to bully people, and that's the game of football," Narduzzi said after the game, per Diamond Leung of MLive.com. "It's a physical football game, and our kids played their tails off."
MSU continues to control its fate in the Big Ten Legends Division, and with a win at Nebraska in two weeks, it would all but clinch a spot in the conference championship game.
From there, the Spartans would be just 60 minutes of football away from Pasadena, Calif.
Stock Down: Ohio State
Ohio State couldn't have looked more impressive on Saturday, routing Purdue—a team that has always given it trouble—to the tune of 56-0 in West Lafayette.
The Buckeyes, however, were not rewarded with a bump in the BCS standings. In fact, they actually dropped from .8840 to .8720 in the raw numbers, watching the chasm widen between themselves and Florida State at No. 3.
Michigan's loss at Michigan State also hurt the Buckeyes' remaining schedule, as they are no longer guaranteed to play another team in the current BCS Top 25.
Ohio State will need some help to reach the BCS National Championship Game. If Nebraska beats Michigan State in two weeks, there's a chance even the Big Ten title game comes against poor competition.
Stock Unchanged: Florida State and Oregon
Technically, Florida State's stock is up and Oregon's stock is down. On the strength of their 41-14 win over Miami, the Seminoles leapfrogged the Ducks and ended up back in the No. 2 spot behind Alabama.
But don't allow that to mislead you. If both teams finish undefeated, Oregon will almost definitely play for the national championship while Florida State is consigned to a lesser BCS bowl.
According to Bleacher Report BCS guru Sam Chi:
FSU gained .110 in vote shares in the Coaches Poll (interestingly, it took more from Alabama than Oregon) and .133 in the Harris Poll. Support for Oregon, on the other hand, slid by .052 and .095 respectively. But even after all that, the 'Noles are still a distant third to Oregon in both polls.
And there is very little chance the 'Noles can increase their vote shares absent an Oregon loss. None of the Ducks' remaining opponents have a losing record, so the Ducks won't lose much ground even if they manage to win ugly here and there. Conversely, none of FSU's remaining regular-season opponents have a winning record (including 1-8 Idaho), so there's little chance it can impress the voters further.
...The bottom line is that as long as the Ducks maintain their still sizable edge in the polls, there is no likelihood for FSU to finish ahead of them in the final BCS standings. The Seminoles have reached their high-water mark after Saturday's big win over Miami, now they need to get help to stay there.
It's hard to put things any clearer than that. Unless something drastic happens, Oregon still controls its own fate and Florida State doesn't—no matter what the Week 11 rankings say.
Stock Up: Fresno State; Stock Down: Northern Illinois
Like Florida State and Oregon, it's hard to mention one of these two teams without also mentioning the other.
Fresno State and Northern Illinois have intertwined fates. Both are undefeated teams from a non-AQ conference, but only one can likely crash the BCS if they stay unbeaten this year.
Even though NIU looked a little bit better in Week 10—and has consistently been more impressive for the last month or so—Fresno State separated itself in the numbers to increase its lead over the Huskies.
Meanwhile, Michigan State came out of nowhere to hop over the Huskies, and now sits squarely between them and Fresno State at No. 17.
This battle will likely stay close all season and could end in any number of ways. But for now, if both teams finish undefeated, it's looking more and more like Fresno State would be the choice.
Stock Up: Auburn
The computers are starting to fall in love with Auburn, rewarding an easy road win for the Tigers over Arkansas by bumping up their average from .730 to .750.
As a result, the Tigers leapfrogged idle Oklahoma and are now the fourth-highest, one-loss team in the BCS rankings.
That might not seem terribly important, but if Auburn wins out until the Iron Bowl and then plays Alabama close in a loss, the computers' opinion of it would likely still be a very good one.
If Fresno State and Northern Illinois don't qualify for the BCS, that would be another at-large spot available to one of the teams ranked favorably in the standings.
Which BCS bowl wouldn't want Auburn and its massive fanbase coming to town?
Stock Down: Texas Tech
Texas Tech had controlled its own fate before Saturday's beatdown against Oklahoma State, but now the Red Raiders will likely need to win out and get some help if they want to win the conference and play in a BCS bowl.
The Big 12 is shaping up to be a bloodbath this year. In order to win a conference like that, it's imperative to protect home turf. Losing at Oklahoma was one thing, but losing in Lubbock is hard to atone for this season.
"You lose the turnover battle and get outplayed on special teams against a really tough team like that, you're going to have a hard time winning the game," said Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, according to Gina Mizell of The Oklahoman
He's right, but that's the price you pay for starting a true freshman at quarterback.
If Texas Tech's young core of players don't grow up quickly and cut out their mistakes, their hopes of making a BCS bowl are slim to none.