College Football Rankings: Breaking Down the Cases for BCS At-Large Bids
The BCS rankings are used to determine college football's national champion. It also provides the formula for filling in the remainder of the BCS games.
Teams like the Alabama Crimson Tide are never happy to be left out of the big game, but the Boise State Broncos and Houston Cougars benefit greatly from getting any BCS spot.
The rules guarantee that certain teams not in BCS conferences will get an automatic berth so long as they can win out. They will be included in this slideshow since their inclusion in the BCS would reduce the number of at-large spots.
Texas Christian University
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Texas Christian University notched a huge win in defeating the Boise State Broncos. By doing so, TCU catapulted itself into the BCS discussion.
If the Horned Frogs earn a bid, it will be of the automatic variety.
According to BCS rules, TCU will earn a bid if it can finish in the Top 16 of the BCS rankings, win its conference and be ranked ahead of an automatic-bid conference winner.
TCU's remaining two games are against teams with a combined record of 5-13. Two wins would leave the Horned Frogs as the only undefeated team in the Mountain West Conference.
Additionally, they are currently ranked No. 19, which is higher than any Big East team, since none are ranked.
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Case Keenum is compiling Heisman-like numbers but against inferior competition in Conference USA. His story could generate some hype, but we are only three years removed from Colt Brennan's dismal performance in the 2008 Sugar Bowl.
Houston leads the nation in passing and scoring, but it will end the season without having played a ranked team. The Cougars' limited national profile and conference affiliation further damage their case.
However, if the Cougars can run the table, they are not likely to be leapfrogged by any teams. Therefore, they will finish the season with a Top-12 BCS ranking, which would require the BCS to extend an offer.
Michigan State Spartans
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The Michigan State Spartans are in control of the Big Ten Legends Division. They would probably meet the Wisconsin Badgers in the inaugural conference championship game with a trip to the Rose Bowl at stake.
If MSU is unsuccessful, it could possibly be skipped over for another Big Ten team because it would have three losses. It seems unfair, but Nebraska or Michigan (whom they beat earlier in the season) could sneak into Michigan State's spot.
Spartan Nation travels well and will purchase all allotted tickets. Additionally, the team boasts a possible first-round pick in Jerel Worthy, and LeVeon Bell is ready for a breakout national game.
That may be enough to entice the committees, but it is improbable with three losses.
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The Wisconsin Badgers will face the same dilemma as the Michigan State Spartans if they are unable to grab the automatic berth. Although, they still have to beat a resilient Penn State team to reach the Big Ten Championship Game.
The Badgers' feeble attempt at an offseason schedule will surely hurt them. Yet, their offense is as explosive as anyone's, as evinced by its average of 46.5 points per game.
Wisconsin is another large Big Ten school with a fervent fanbase.
The bowl committees will take this into account, but the Badgers lack the star power of some of the other schools on this list. Russell Wilson and Montee Ball have put up large numbers but would fail a national recognition test.
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The Michigan Wolverines will be looking to overtake the prior two teams on this list and secure a spot in a BCS game.
Michigan still has a lot of work to do with the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Ohio State Buckeyes coming to Ann Arbor over the next couple weeks. If they can win both, the Wolverines will be sitting at 10-2 and have a somewhat compelling argument for a spot.
Michigan has a national phenom in Denard Robinson. His numbers have suffered this year, but he is the most explosive player in the country.
In addition, Michigan is a national brand like Notre Dame or Texas. It would spark interest and easily sell its ticket allotment.
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The Oregon Ducks ended the Stanford Cardinal's hope for reaching the Pac-12 Championship Game and the BCS National Championship Game as well. Oregon may lose to USC, but it will not have any trouble with the Oregon State Beavers and will advance to the conference championship game.
An issue for Stanford is that it has only beaten one (as of now) ranked team, USC—and the Trojans aren't even allowed in the BCS rankings. Many people will shout that Stanford is undeserving based on that alone.
Still, the Cardinal have one-time and possibly current Heisman front-runner Andrew Luck. However, considering their inability to sell out their own stadium until the past couple years, it may be difficult to choose them unless they are staying in California.
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Oklahoma Sooners fans may not appreciate this, but the Sooners will not be able to defeat the Oklahoma State Cowboys without wide receiver Ryan Broyles. The Cowboys have too much firepower, and the home crowd will be ready to rock.
As a result, any BCS game will rely solely on an at-large bid. OU's resume is relatively impressive since it has three wins over ranked opponents.
When their loyal fan base and national prestige is taken into account, the Sooners stand a great chance of being selected for the BCS despite the impending loss to the Cowboys.
Virginia Tech Hokies
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The Virginia Tech Hokies are gearing up for another shot at the ACC title. However, this year appears to belong to Clemson, and for the sake of argument, let's assume the Hokies lose the title game.
That will presumably drop them to 11-2, with a recent victory over Georgia Tech being their signature win.
The Hokies have had trouble in the past selling out their ticket allotment for BCS games. When coupled with its weak conference and non-conference scheduling, Virginia Tech will not be able to garner an at-large bid.
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The Arkansas Razorbacks may not need an at-large bid if they can somehow upset No. 1 LSU. It may not be impossible, but it's highly improbable, so their fate will likely rest with an at-large bid.
Assuming they lose, the Razorbacks will have a 10-2 record while playing in the normally highly competitive SEC. Although, it appears that the SEC, like all of college football, is down this year and really only has the two dominant teams (LSU and Alabama).
At the end of the season, the Razorbacks will only have one win over a ranked opponent, and Arkansas does not receive the national attention of other programs on this list.
Arkansas will have a difficult time locking up a spot in the BCS.
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The Georgia Bulldogs are the most likely opponent for the LSU Tigers in the SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs don't stand much of a chance, so let's look at their at-large credentials.
If they can get past Georgia Tech in the last regular season game, they will come into the SEC Championship Game with only two losses (both of which are to ranked opponents). Georgia currently only has one win over a ranked opponent, and beating Tech would probably drop the Yellow Jackets from the rankings.
However, Georgia is another team with a "national brand." A decent showing against LSU matched with the Bulldogs' hot streak in the preceding 10 games may be enough to push them over the top.
Alabama Crimson Tide
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It seems unnecessary to waste a slide on the Alabama Crimson Tide for this article. However, since they will not be selected for the BCS National Championship Game, the Tide will have to settle for an at-large bid.
Alabama's resume is not as impressive as one would think, since it will only have two wins over ranked opponents at season's end. The SEC has failed to provide the normal competition that traditionally occurs in college football's premier conference.
Alabama does not need the ranked wins to secure its spot. With only one loss and an extremely fervent fanbase, the Tide will find themselves in one of the BCS games.