16 September 2008

BYU In Line to Bust BCS

(From BCS Guru)

Fresno State's loss to Wisconsin eliminated one of the potential contenders fighting for a BCS bowl berth. But three weeks into the season, a handful of non-BCS conference teams still have a reasonably good chance to bust the BCS, headed by Brigham Young, fresh off a 59-0 conquest of UCLA.

USC solidified its hold on the No. 1 spot in the latest unofficial BCS standings. The Trojans, after trouncing then-No. 5 Ohio State, 35-3, dominated both the AP and coaches polls. Oklahoma ascended to the second spot in the polls, but it's Georgia now occupying the No. 2 BCS ranking.

Despite their lackluster 14-7 win over South Carolina and subsequent drop in the polls, the Bulldogs jumped back into the second spot because margin of victory cannot be considered by BCS computers. (This is an issue the Guru will deal extensively in the coming weeks.) Georgia's superior computer ratings were enough to vault it over the Sooners, who are now No. 3, followed by Florida, last week's No. 2 but idle this past weekend.

Missouri, LSU, Wisconsin, Auburn, Texas and Alabama round out the top 10.

Just outside of the top 10 sits Brigham Young, which jumped up six spots to No. 11. The Cougars are also 11th in the coaches poll and 7th in two BCS computers.

This scenario bodes well for BYU, which will try to win its first BCS bowl berth in school history. The Cougars leapfrogged East Carolina, which sits at No. 15 after a 28-24 victory over Tulane. Two other Mountain West members also cracked the top 25, with Utah at No. 18 and Texas Christian at No. 23.

As long as BYU remains undefeated, there would be almost no foreseeable circumstances that could keep it from getting a BCS berth. Because of the strength of the MWC - which just went 4-0 against the Pac-10 last Saturday - it's nearly impossible for ECU to get by BYU in either the polls or the computers. In fact, if both BYU and Utah remain unbeaten when they face each other in the season finale, the winner of that Nov. 22 game will certainly earn a BCS bowl berth, even if the Pirates go 13-0 and win the Conference USA title.

A BCS berth, meanwhile, is about all Ohio State has to play for after its drubbing by USC at the Coliseum. The Buckeyes fell to No. 16 in the BCS standings, and, with too many unbeaten teams still ahead of them and the weakness of the Big Ten, a return to a third consecutive BCS title game is just about out of the question. As it is, five SEC teams and four Big 12 teams are currently ranked ahead of Ohio State.

One team that currently sits in the BCS netherworld but worth keeping an eye on is No. 41 Notre Dame. After their 35-17 win over Michigan last week, the Irish are 2-0 and probably seven or eight wins away from a BCS bowl berth. The schedule is quite favorable for Notre Dame this year, with only the season finale at USC a no-win situation. The Irish are guaranteed a BCS bowl berth if they finish in the top 8 of the final BCS standings, and a top-14 finish makes them eligible - and nearly impossible to pass up - for a BCS bowl.

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