BCS Bowl Stock Watch for Week 13

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2013

BCS Bowl Stock Watch for Week 13

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    The Week 13 BCS rankings were released on Sunday night, and though there wasn't a major amount of movement, some significant developments still emerged.

    Week 12 was an exciting one, but at the end of the day, it was also rather chalky. Near-upset bids were thwarted by Auburn and Central Florida, leaving Stanford as the only team among the top 22 from last week's BCS standings that lost.

    But even in spite of all the favorites who won, some teams made important advances in the rankings, while others were losers as a result of those climbs.

    Who made out the best and who made out the worst? Here's a quick look.

Stock Up: Michigan State

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    Michigan State all but clinched a spot in the Big Ten championship game this past Saturday, beating Nebraska convincingly in Lincoln to advance to No. 13 in the BCS rankings.

    In order to not win the Big Ten Legends Division, Sparty would need to lose both of its remaining games (at Northwestern, vs. Minnesota) and Minnesota would need to beat Wisconsin this Saturday, neither of which seems likely.

    If it does indeed advance to the conference championship, Michigan State would be 60 minutes of good football away from advancing to the Rose Bowl. That's a pretty straightforward path to the BCS.

    Even if it doesn't win the conference, Michigan State has looked impressive enough that it might have an outside shot at an at-large bid. If the Spartans played Ohio State close for the Big Ten title in Indianapolis, but lost in a nail-biter, it would be hard to argue against them making, say, the Orange Bowl.

    Unless, of course, you were arguing for Wisconsin.

Stock Down: Stanford

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    Entering the week, Stanford controlled its own destiny in the Pac-12, and even had an outsider's chance at crashing the BCS National Championship Game.

    With Saturday night's loss at Southern Cal, however, both of those things are no longer the case. Stanford is unlikely to play for the Pac-12 Championship, forfeiting its shot at the Rose Bowl, and would need some help to win a BCS at-large bid.

    Stanford has no one to blame but itself, though—specifically its offense, which squandered another fantastic effort from Shayne Skov and the Cardinal's world-beating defense.

    "We just didn't make enough plays [sic] offensively," said head coach David Shaw, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). "That's not going to win on the road in this conference."

    With home games remaining against Cal and Notre Dame, Stanford should still be able to finish the year 10-2, although the latter will be tricky against an Irish team that's scored some quality wins this season.

    Even then, though, Stanford would need some help to make a BCS bowl.

Stock Up/Down: Baylor/Ohio State

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    Ohio State held off Baylor—technically—in the rankings and retained the No. 3 spot behind Alabama and Florida State.

    That's the good news.

    Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Baylor closed the margin between them considerably, now checking in just .001 points back at No. 4. If the Bears win at Oklahoma State on Saturday, they will certainly end up in third, and the margin could be significant.

    That wouldn't necessarily damn Ohio State for the entire season. Now that Michigan State is climbing the rankings, there's a chance the Buckeyes' strength of schedule at the end of the season could get a boost.

    In fact, according to B/R's Sam Chi, the Spartans' ability to run the table down the stretch could eventually make "all the difference" in the pencil-thin race between the Buckeyes and Bears.

    But those are just hypotheticals. For now, Baylor made considerable strides in catching up to Ohio State. If Alabama or Florida State slips up, Ohio State could be poised to be the first beneficiary.

    This will be worth watching the rest of the way.

Stock Up: Auburn

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    On the heels of its Hail Mary win over Georgia, Auburn moved up to No. 6 in the BCS rankings, extending its lead over Clemson and moving even closer behind Oregon, as the second-highest one-loss team in the country.

    The Tigers are actually within spitting distance of the Ducks, and while not entirely likely, it doesn't seem inconceivable for them to eventually flip-flop.

    Auburn is already favored by the computers—which have the Tigers tied for third with Baylor—and Auburn still has chances to score two huge wins over Alabama—in their scheduled season finale and potentially in the SEC Championship Game. Wins there by the Tigers would shine a very positive light on Auburn's profile.

    But that is looking too far into the future. For now, Auburn's stock is up simply by virtue of not having gone down. It may not have been pretty, but the Tigers cleared a major hurdle this past Saturday.

    That alone deserves some credit.

Stock Down: Louisville

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    Louisville didn't make a huge impression with the computers after beating Houston over the weekend, moving up a negligible amount, from No. 28 to No. 26, despite a win over its best remaining competition.

    As a result, the Cardinals actually dropped from No. 20 to No. 21 in the overall rankings, and it's not clear where they will find the strength to move up. Any pipe dream they might have harbored of getting an at-large bid to the BCS—which was farfetched to begin with—is almost officially dead.

    But the real reason that Louisville's stock is down had nothing to do with its own play. Central Florida almost gave away a game at Temple, needing an amazing game-winning catch from J.J. Worton to avoid opening a door for the Cardinal to win the AAC.

    For a second, it looked like Louisville might have caught a break. Instead, it still needs the Knights to lose two of their next three games against inferior competition.

    Otherwise, Teddy Bridgewater's final game will likely be the Russell Athletic Bowl. 

Stock Up/Down: Northern Illinois, Fresno State

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    Northern Illinois took a sizable bite out of the gap between it and Fresno State in the BCS average rankings by cutting last week's .0812 margin to just .0405—essentially splitting that number in half.

    The Huskies did so on the strength of an impressive win over Ball State, even though the final score of 48-27 was not indicative of how close that game was. Still, the Cardinals were the best team on NIU's schedule, and it was able to survive.

    The computers bumped Northern Illinois up a significant amount after the game, improving the Huskies to No. 12 while Fresno State is at No. 16. Last week, the two teams were tied.

    But without more support from the USA Today Coaches Poll, NIU might struggle to ever overtake the Bulldogs, provided both go undefeated.

    The former will have to make a big statement again this week in a road game against Toledo, the last quality team left on its schedule. It also had better hope some coaches are watching.