In NCAA football, nothing matters more than the Bowl Conference Series rankings, which will come out for the first time on Oct. 16.
Teams live and die by the highly controversial ranking system, which continues to perpetually be bashed. However, regardless of what some people may think and say should happen, the BCS gets the final ruling on which teams will be bowl eligible at the end of the 2011 season.
It’s nearly impossible to predict what the rankings will look like by season's end, but the first edition of the rankings should be pretty predictable after Week 6.
The formula is one-third coaches' poll, one-third Harris poll, and one-third computer rankings.
Here are three teams that will find themselves in the top 25 when the 2011 rankings debut.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish bounced back from a 0-2 start to find themselves at 3-2 with a favorable matchup against the Air Force Falcons in Week 6.
As of this writing, the Fighting Irish are currently up 42-16 at the half, and if they keep their foot on the pedal, they’ll get an extended look from the BCS.
If it wasn’t for a meltdown against the Michigan Wolverines in Week 2, the Irish would be a ranked team right now. However, their second straight loss caused much doubt about Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish rebounded with a huge 31-13 win over then-No. 15 ranked Michigan State in a must-win game. Two wins over Pittsburgh and Purdue put the Irish back in the loop for a potential bowl game.
The Irish are a dangerous team, don’t let their 0-2 start fool you.
Everything was going great at Michigan State until they were decimated by the Fighting Irish at South Bend.
The Spartans were 2-0 and had only allowed six points going into the game against Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish played like they needed the win. The Spartans running game was completely shut down by the Irish, and the Spartans fell to 2-1 and lost their No. 15 ranking in the AP Poll.
Since that game, the Spartans have played even more lights out defense. They have yet to allow more than a touchdown outside the Notre Dame game. Against Ohio State last weekend, the Spartans didn’t allow any points until the Buckeyes scored with 10 seconds left in the game.
The Spartans have the second-lowest points allowed per game average in the country, as they’ve only allowed 20 points in their four wins.
Michigan State starts a terrifying stretch on Oct. 15 against No. 12 Michigan, followed by Wisconsin and Nebraska, both top 15 teams.
However, with no game to play this week, the Spartans will let others hash everything out and earn a place in the BCS rankings.
The Houston Cougars boast the best passing offense in college football, a stat which will come as a surprise to many.
The Conference USA member has already collected as many wins as they did in 2010 with five, which was mostly due to an injury to star QB Case Keenum. Three of their games have been decided by a touchdown or less, but the Cougars have finished the job every time.
This season, Keenum has racked up over 2,000 yards and 14 TDs in only five games, and is on pace to break the Division I record for most career passing yards and TDs.
Keenum, Kevin Kolb’s successor in Houston, trails the yards record held by Hawaii’s Timmy Chang by 1,481 yards, and former Texas Tech Red Raider Graham Harrell by 13 TDs.
Basically, Houston is just making up ground for their drop in the rankings without Keenum. The Cougars are up against East Carolina tonight at 7 p.m ET.
After the Cougars defeat the Pirates tonight, they will have locked up a spot in the BCS rankings.