BCS Standings 2010: Who Has the Best Odds of Climbing the Rankings?

Colin LobdellContributor IOctober 18, 2010

BCS Standings 2010: Who Has the Best Odds of Climbing the Rankings?

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    Twelve years ago the NCAA gave way to the BCS, thus giving a spot at the college football table to mathematicians and astrophysicists. 

    Their goal: Finding a true National Champion. 

    While fans, journalists, many coaches, and, believe it or not, several mathematicians alike loathe the BCS, it is the system in place. 

    And while they continue to tinker with it, we have a good idea of how the system works at the beginning of each season. 

    With that said, some teams have a better chance to climb the BCS for various reasons, while others can only hope.  After the release of the first BCS rankings, we can see exactly who has the best chance to climb the polls and who doesn’t.

    So which teams have the best chance to climb the polls and who doesn’t?  Let’s take a look.

Those That Can Climb the Polls

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 16:  Mascot Mike the Tiger of the Louisiana State University Tigers performs during the game against the McNeese State Cowboys at Tiger Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    For various reasons these teams have an easier chance to climb the BCS.

    When taking the BCS into account keep in mind these key factors:

    -There are three components to calculating a teams BCS Standing: The Harris Poll, the USA Today Coaches Poll and the Computer Rankings

    -Computer Rankings take up one-third of teams BCS rankings

    -There are six computer rankings and the top and bottom are eliminated from consideration.  The average of the remaining four is then used to calculate a team's computer ranking.

    -Computer rankings do not take into account margin of victory and are based more on strength of schedule.

Auburn/ LSU

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    AUBURN - OCTOBER 16:  Linebacker Daren Bates #25, wide receiver Darvin Adams #89 and running back Onterio McCalebb #23 of the Auburn Tigers celebrate with the crowd after the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 16, 2010
    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    Current BCS Standing: Auburn No. 4, LSU No. 6

    Last Weekend:

    Auburn won a shootout against Arkansas at home 65-43, but was closer than the final score indicated.  LSU slopped through a 32-10 win over FCS McNeese State.

    Upcoming Weekend:

    Both are tied atop the SEC West, where all but one team is ranked.  They play each other in a battle for the top spot in the division in Auburn. 

    Reasons to hope:

    Coming in at fourth and fifth with an upcoming game against each other, both teams have a chance to rise and be in the prime position to win the SEC.  Both teams score very high in the computer rankings as expected, meaning they mainly need to survive a rough conference.

    Reasons to mope:

    It’s unclear if either would be able to leapfrog Boise State.  In addition to needing to knock off each other and keep their Rasputin-like winning streaks alive, they might also need Oklahoma or Oregon to lose.  LSU and Auburn may be cats with nine lives, but too many things may need to fall in place for either Tiger to get into the Title game.  Although keeping the SEC Champ out would be tough.


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    TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 16:  Quarterback Greg McElroy #12 of the Alabama Crimson Tide hands the ball off to Mark Ingram #22 against the Ole Miss Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Imag
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Current BCS Standing: No. 8

    Last Weekend:

    Coming of a loss at South Carolina the previous week that knocked them from the ranks of the unbeaten, Alabama beat Mississippi at home 23-10.

    Upcoming Weekend:

    The Tide travel to Knoxville to take on 2-4 Tennessee.

    Reasons to hope:

    Love ‘em, hate ‘em, the Tide have a schedule to control their own destiny.  Not to mention a possible SEC Championship game.  When was the last time the SEC Champion was held out of the title game?  2005.  With only one loss the Tide are still very much alive in the national championship picture.  Of all the one-loss teams, they currently rank the highest in the BCS Poll.  The two teams above them in the SEC -- LSU and Auburn -- are still on the schedule.

    Reasons to mope:

    Survival.  With plenty of games to impress also comes plenty of games to tumble.  As Kentucky proved to their SEC-counterpart South Carolina there are no gimmes in the rough and ragged SEC.  Although they have a genuine shot to climb, their computer ranking score is relatively low for where they are ranked right now.  There is also a significant drop-off from Michigan State, the team above them, in the BCS Poll.  They may have a more uphill battle than it seems.


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    ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 4: Blaine Gabbert #11 of the University of Missouri Tigers looks to pass against the University of Illinois Fighting Illini during the State Farm Arch Rivalry game on September 4, 2010 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri.
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Current BCS Standing: No. 11

    Last Weekend:

    The Tigers looked impressive upending Texas A&M in College Station 30-9.  Back-to-back solid performances by their defense is drawing praise.

    Upcoming Weekend:

    The Tigers welcome top-ranked Oklahoma to Columbia.  The Sooners have been a thorn in the Tigers' side, but that could be said about a lot of teams.

    Reasons to hope:

    The Tigers are undefeated and have top-ranked Oklahoma coming to Columbia this weekend.  Despite a favorable schedule so far, the Tigers score very well in the computer rankings and only need to please human voters.  They have two opportunities coming in the next two weeks.  After Oklahoma, they face Nebraska in a game that could decide the Big 12 North.

    Reasons to mope:

    Despite their steady climb, many still aren’t sold on the Tigers.  They have yet to play a ranked team and then facing teams like Oklahoma and Nebraska in back-to-back weeks is a tall order.  The opportunity to shoot up the rankings is there, but Missouri hasn’t beaten Oklahoma since 1998.


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    PALO ALTO, CA - OCTOBER 09:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal drops back to pass the ball against the USC Trojans at Stanford Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Current BCS Standing: No. 12

    Last Weekend:

    The Cardinal had a bye this week after winning on a last-second field goal the previous week against USC.

    Upcoming Weekend:

    Stanford plays Washington State at home. 

    Reasons to hope:

    For where they are ranked, Stanford scores well in the computer rankings.  They also have a favorable schedule.  Finishing with one loss is a great possibility and they are in the driver's seat to finish second in the Pac-10, which appears to be a two-bid BCS conference.

    Reasons to mope:

    While the Pac-10 has depth -- only one team is completely out of the conference race -- most of the depth is in the middle-tier.  Only one ranked opponent, Arizona, is on the remaining schedule. They are still haunted by losing a 21-3 lead at Oregon and without a conference championship game don't have a great chance of impressing voters late.

Oklahoma State

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    STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 5: Running back Kendall Hunter #24 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys carries the ball six yards as Rennie Curran #35 of the Georgia Bulldogs tries to stop him during the fourth quarter of the game at Boone Pickens Stadium on Septemb
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Current BCS Standing: No. 14

    Last Weekend:

    The Cowboys won at Texas Tech 34-17 in a game they led 21-0 after the first quarter.  It was the Pokes first win in Lubbock in 66 years.

    Upcoming Weekend:

    The Cowboys welcome Nebraska who is coming off a disappointing loss to Texas.

    Reasons to hope:

    They have opportunity with Nebraska, Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma remaining on the schedule, all of which rank in the Top 25 in the BCS.  They score better than three teams in the Top 10 in the computer rankings, despite not facing a ranked opponent yet, so impressing human polls with key wins is what they need. 

    Reasons to mope:

    The Cowboys still don’t play defense.  Although the opportunity exists to climb, after watching them barely nudge Texas A&M at home, not to mention inching by Troy early in the season, it appears that many Big 12 teams could get into a shootout with them and win if they get the ball last.  Of all the undefeated teams in the country, the Cowboys rank lowest in the BCS meaning they have the longest way to climb.  They can’t afford slip-ups, in addition to likely needing some help even though, like Oklahoma, they control their own destiny in the Big 12 South.

Those With the Worst Odds of Climbing the Polls

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    FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 16:  TCU Horned Frogs fans fill the stands as TCU takes to the field against the BYU Cougars at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas.  TCU beat BYU 31-3.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Even if these teams get the job done on the field, they still won't make it much further in the BCS without a lot of help.

    Sure, some of these teams will feel slighted, but that's the system.

Boise State

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    BOISE, ID - SEPTEMBER 25:  Linebacker Billy Derome #25 of the Boise State Broncos leads his team onto the field before the game against the Oregon State Beavers at Bronco Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty I
    Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

    Current BCS Standing: No. 3

    Last Weekend:

    Boise State blanked San Jose State 48-0 for their second shutout in three weeks.

    Upcoming Weekend:

    The Broncos don't play this weekend, but then host La. Tech the following Tuesday.

    Reasons to hope:

    Coming in at third, they only need one team to lose.  Looking at their schedule they should finish undefeated.  They actually score better than Oregon, a spot above them, in the computer rankings so we’ll just some help in the human polls, namely a loss by another team.  Virginia Tech, the team they opened the season against, is rallying with a five-game winning streak and may contend for the ACC title.

    Reasons to mope:

    The losses of Oregon State and Nevada really appeared to hurt the Broncos in the BCS.  Unless Nevada gets back in the polls, they may not face another ranked opponent the rest of the season hurting their strength of schedule and, in process, their computer ranking.  Boise State’s only hope is to cross their fingers for an Oklahoma or Oregon loss, but even then some teams, with a more impressive remaining schedule, may be able to overtake them.


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    FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 16:  Head coach Gary Patterson of the TCU Horned Frogs takes to the field with offensive guard Josh Vernon #78 and tackle Zach Roth #70 against the BYU Cougars at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Current BCS Standing: No. 5

    Last Weekend:

    The Horned Frogs beat BYU by four touchdowns, 31-3.

    Upcoming Weekend:

    TCU hosts Air Force, the top rushing team in the country, who is coming of their first conference loss.

    Reasons to hope:

    TCU doesn't trail fourth-ranked Auburn by much in the BCS Standings.  While their computer ranking isn't the best in the standings, it is firm enough that if they were to move up in the human polls it might not cost them.

    Reasons to mope:

    There has to be a level of cynicism, not just at TCU but Boise State as well, that voters will keep them from getting to the title game.  TCU was actually leapfrogged by Oklahoma in the polls last week after the Sooners beat Iowa State.  Of the two, Boise State and TCU, it also appears TCU trails Boise State.  Meaning if one of them got in, it wouldn’t be TCU. Their chances of overtaking the SEC Champion are very slim meaning they would need a lot of top teams to fall.  TCU has one game left at Utah to really impact polls, but that probably won’t be enough.

Michigan State

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    ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 09: Edwin Baker #4 of the Michigan State Spartans scores on a 61 yard touchdown in the second quarter during the game against the Michigan Wolverines during the game on October 9, 2010 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Th
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Current BCS Standing: No. 7

    Last Weekend:

    The Spartans took down Illinois at home 26-6.

    Upcoming Weekend:

    They travel to 5-1 Northwestern in what some are calling a potential trap.

    Reasons to hope:

    The Spartans could go undefeated.  Despite not playing Ohio State, they score well in the computer rankings and, at seventh, don’t need as many teams to slip as some other contenders below them.

    Reasons to mope:

    Of all the undefeated teams in the Top 10, they rank the second-lowest to Utah.  Despite having the fourth-best computer ranking score, the human polls are hurting them.  Some may see the absence of Ohio State on their schedule as a blessing, but in the Spartans case it actually hurts them.  Only one game against a ranked opponent, Iowa, is left.  Of all the undefeated teams in the Top 10 right now, you’d have to say Michigan State would be least likely to play in the National Title if all of them finished undefeated.


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    FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 14:  Quarterback Jordan Wynn #3 of the Utah Utes looks to pass the ball in the second quarter of the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martine
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Current BCS Standing: No. 9

    Last Weekend:

    The Utes beat last-place Wyoming 30-6 in Laramie.

    Upcoming Weekend:

    The 2-5 Colorado State Rams travel to Utah coming off a 43-10 win over UNLV.

    Reasons to hope:

    They could go undefeated.  They still have a game against TCU that could make a big impression on the polls and computer rankings.

    Reasons to mope:

    It’s doubtful the Utes will climb much in the computer rankings.  The only computer ranking that may work in their favor is the Richard Billingsley ranking, which takes into account recent performance, but the top and bottom computer rankings are dropped from consideration when calculating the average computer ranking.  With one game against TCU left to really impress voters and computer rankings alike, the Utes have no leeway for slip-ups.  Still, they will rely heavily on the human polls, but it’s doubtful that will be enough to push them into title game without a lot of help. 

West Virginia (Big East)

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers in action against the Louisiana State University Tigers at Tiger Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Current BCS Standing: No. 20

    Last Weekend:

    The Bulls of South Florida traveled to Blacksburg and a 20-6 loss was the result.

    Upcoming Weekend:

    The Mountaineers host 4-2 Syracuse who may be finding themselves.

    Reasons to hope:

    They could win the Big East, thus earning the automatic bid to the BCS.

    Reasons to mope:

    Their only shot is the automatic bid.  This isn’t grounded to West Virginia, but the entire Big East.  Currently, West Virginia is the only team from the Big East in the Top 25. 

Florida State

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    MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 9: Jermaine Thomas #38 pats Christian Ponder #7 on the head as he is held by Andrew Datko #67 of the Florida State Seminoles after scoring a touchdown against the Miami Hurricanes on October 9, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florid
    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Current BCS Standing: No. 17

    Last Weekend:

    The Seminoles won their fifth straight beating Boston College 24-19.

    Upcoming Weekend:

    They travel to 5-2 NC State who sits in second place behind them in the ACC Atlantic Division.

    Reasons to hope:

    The Seminoles could run the table in the ACC and get the automatic bid.  Ever since an abysmal loss to Oklahoma, the Seminoles have been one of the more impressive teams in college football.

    Reasons to mope:

    Currently ranked at 17 in the BCS, their only shot to get into the BCS is the ACC Championship.  Despite the rebound, Oklahoma may have been their only real shot to impact the polls.  The ACC appears to be down and doesn’t provide much of a chance for the ‘Noles to really improve their ranking.

Ohio State

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    MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 16: Head coach Jim Tressel of the Ohio State Buckeyes tries to encourage his team including Jermale Hines #7 against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/G
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Current BCS Standing: No. 10

    Last Weekend:

    Coming into the game ranked number one, the Buckeyes fell in Madison 31-18

    Upcoming Weekend:

    Ohio State hosts 4-2 Purdue who actually sits above them in the Big Ten Standings at 2-0

    Reasons to hope:

    They could win their remaining games and, with some help, could win the Big Ten.

    Reasons to mope:

    The loss to Wisconsin was a killer.  Their only shot at the national title was to run through the Big Ten undefeated.  Now they may be third in line in their own conference behind Michigan State and Wisconsin.  The Buckeyes don’t score well in the computer rankings and may be on the outside looking in at the BCS party.