The final BCS rankings of the year will take place on Dec. 5, after the championship games are played and the winners are decided. The top two teams will meet in the BCS Championship game, while the top 25 teams hope to end up in a good January bowl game.
While some teams have their place in the top positions locked up, others will be trying to claw their way back in. Connecticut will try and avoid becoming a team that gets a BCS bowl bid despite being unranked and West Virginia will be hoping they remain the only Big East team in the top 25.
Even though the Big Ten Conference is finished playing, Wisconsin will be hoping that the computers don't suddenly change their minds and put a different one-loss team above them. The following 15 bold predictions may or may not happen, but if they did they would change things around big time.
Perhaps this is not overly bold, as many are seeing this coming. Oregon should have no trouble beating rival Oregon State, and while Auburn will have a tougher opponent in South Carolina, they should be able to win as well. This means that TCU, as the mid-major, will be playing the usual mid-major role of running the table yet having to be satisfied with a different bowl game.
After their loss to James Madison, most people likely wrote off both Virginia Tech and Boise State, given that VT had just lost to an FCS school. However, ten straight wins and running the table in the ACC after a win against Florida State will help the computers forget about that and as a result, they'll finally crawl their way back into the top 10, where they had not been since the preseason rankings.
Most writers are not thrilled with putting mid-major teams high in the rankings even if they have a solid winning record. When the computers do it, however, one has to take notice.
Boise State and Nevada will win their games this week to remain in the top 25, but after a win, Hawaii might squeeze in as well. They are 25th in the coaches poll and might be able to squeeze in to the 24th or 25th spot in other rankings. Arizona's loss to Arizona State has opened up one top 25 spot. Meanwhile, other stronger conferences won't be able to keep more than one or two teams in.
The Big 12 Conference is one of the toughest ones to pinpoint where teams will go as a result of the top five teams having identical conference records. Texas A&M's out of conference loss puts them fifth, but either Nebraska or Oklahoma could fall to fourth in the conference just like that.
Let's say Oklahoma wins against the Cornhuskers. Nebraska will likely stay in the top 20, but will fall completely out of the January bowl picture. Texas A&M has accepted a January bowl game (I thought they, if any team, would be the odd one out), so this would really rub it in.
Wisconsin will win the Big Ten and go to the Rose Bowl, presumably against TCU. But, there will still be concerns up until the rankings are posted, given the final Big Ten standings. There will be grumblings about Ohio State or Michigan State gaining a few votes and possibly jumping them, depending on the outcome of other matchups.
The rumors will be unfounded, but you know they'll pop up just to stir controversy.
When this many bowls are played and so many teams qualify, being one of the few odd ones out hurts doubly so. Now that Arizona State has upset Arizona, and is mandated to play in a bowl game. The PAC-10 have five invites but fewer then five teams with winning records, so the MAC was taking over a couple spots. With this win, one of them, be it Toledo, Temple, or Ohio, will be out.
As for the final polling, Northern Illinois should be able to remain in the top 25.
Losing one's last game of the season will do that to you. Not only are they out of the BCS Bowl picture now, but they're likely be facing an ACC team with a .500 record in a bowl game. That's anywhere but Boise State wanted to be a few weeks ago.
No one expected only one ACC team to be in the top 25. It's usually a tough conference, and there were two in the top 11 last year. Alas, Miami and NC State couldn't win games when they were ranked, and a loss against Virginia Tech in the championship will most likely knock Florida State out of the top 25. Good thing ACC fans have basketball to watch.
Two teams that will not be playing this weekend will switch places. Why? I'm not really sure. Some voters will see that Michigan State has one loss to a tough team, Arkansas has two losses to tough teams, and push up the Spartans a spot in their own rankings, which may cause the computer to do so. Arkansas fans will be annoyed by this, and I can't blame them. They'll still get a BCS bowl though, so I wouldn't worry about this.
As crazy as this sounds, the fact they got invited to the Cotton Bowl over Oklahoma State and Missouri will help them gain a spot or two. People will see this and think they must be better than these other teams, causing a few votes to sway and a hop over Nevada if nothing else.
With Arizona falling out of the top 25, that will make way for Mississippi State to be the lone team with four losses in the top 25. Looks like being in the SEC does have its advantages. They seem to be a tough team and people have respect for them, even though they're fifth in their section of the conference.
Several weeks back, Boise State fell down one spot in the rankings because they had an off week. In these final rankings, Nevada will play one more conference game while the teams in between them, Alabama and Texas A&M, will be off. As such, Nevada will drop.
Confused by that? So am I. Just the nature of the BCS rankings.
Will the BCS computers put an 8-4 team, presuming they win, into the top 25 just because they happen to be conference champs? I say no, personally, though it is always possible.
Oklahoma will not only shoot past Michigan State after a win, but past Arkansas as well to claim the number six spot in the BCS rankings. They'll have a BCS bowl bid, yet will be in good company with at least two other 2+ loss teams.
Really? A major conference with no one in the top 25?
Yes. All it would take is an upset of 23rd-ranked West Virginia, and while Rutgers was struggled this season, they did beat Connecticut. Needless to say, they should be glad that they'll get TCU in 2012; they need a top 10 team in their conference sooner rather than later.
The worst part about no top 25 rankings? They still have to put the conference champion in a BCS bowl, which will likely mean a four-loss team in one of the five main games. That's a tough pill to swallow.