Weekly BCS Briefing: Week Three

TUCSON AZ - SEPTEMBER 18: Wide receiver Richard Morrison #14 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates with teammates after the Wildcats blocked a first quarter punt from the Iowa Hawkeyes during the college football game at Arizona Stadium on September 18 2010 in Tucson Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Wildcats leaped up 10 spots in the latest simulated BCS rankings.

There weren't a whole lot of radical changes in the BCS simulation from Week Two to Week Three, which suggests that the computer rankings are finally beginning to settle down somewhat. I think by the time the Harris Poll is first released next Sunday, we'll start to be able to hone in on where everyone stands in the BCS chase.

48 teams qualified this week to make it onto my BCS ranking spreadsheet, which means that they were receiving votes in either the Coaches Poll or AP Poll (used in lieu of the Harris Poll for one additional week), or that they were ranked in the Top 25 in one of the the computer rankings. Only 35.4% of the teams saw their ranking fluctuate by 5 spots or more, and only 29.4% of those were in the Top 25.

The rankings are available, after the jump...

Instant Reactions

  • Three teams split #1 rankings in either human polls or computer rankings: Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma. Not surprisingly, those three teams are ranked 1-2-3 at the top of the simulated BCS rankings.
  • The computers love Texas, but the Longhorns appear to have got the boost this week from playing Texas Tech, whom the computers also valued quite highly. Texas' average computer ranking jumped from 6.5 to 1.5 in the course of the past week.
  • The humans and the computers were both impressed by Arizona's win over Iowa.
  • I think that the Alabama-Florida game and the OU-Texas game in Week Five will effectively set up the front runners for the BCS Championship Game for the stretch run. Big week for college football.
  • An opening would emerge for another team to immediately sneak in as a front runner (Ohio State most likely) if Alabama loses at Arkansas this week, and then beats Florida at home the following week. Buckeye fans should root for that scenario.

The Elite

Teams in this category are either ranked #1 or #2 or they are within a cluster of teams that does not trail 2nd place by more than 0.05 points.

Well Within Striking Distance

There is a pretty significant gap between TCU and Oregon in the rankings this week, but Oregon and Nebraska are both being penalized for playing some not-so-good teams thus far. Both Oregon and Nebraska have substantial conference games upcoming and therefore they should be considered "well within striking distance". However, you may notice that Boise State is in this cluster of teams and I did not include them. That is because their strength of schedule will continue to fall as they go into conference play, and they'll be hurt in the computer polls. For me to put Boise State in this group would require a significant shakeup at the top, or some WAC team really standing out by the end of the year as a "tough game". You could also label this group "the contenders".

Need Some Help

This group of teams has enough clout with the human voters and the computer rankings right now to be able to make up some ground by the end of the season. However, they'll also likely need some help with a combination of losses by teams ranked ahead of them, as many wins as possible by other teams on their schedule, and winning out. Simply put, these teams are far enough in the hole that they'll need to run the table to make it to the title game. Auburn and Arkansas get thrown in this group because they'll certainly have some big games (Alabama, South Carolina, LSU, and vs. each other) that would help them shoot up the rankings faster than some of the teams they're clustered around.

Long Shots

Stanford and Utah will need a lot more help than the likes of Wisconsin, LSU, and Boise State to get to the top. They are sitting too much in the hole at this point, even compared to the teams in the above group, and unlike Arkansas and Auburn, they don't have the high profile games that would shoot them quickly up the rankings.

Extreme Long Shots

These teams have a bit of a statistical edge at this point over the "best of the rest" - undefeated teams that haven't proved a whole lot against any good teams this year - the likes of West Virginia, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, and Kansas State. These teams would need a crazy year like 2007 when a 2 loss LSU team faced a 1 loss Ohio State team for the national title. Under such a scenario, they'd also need BCS busters like Boise State and TCU to lose once, as those teams are finally being viewed as legitimate enough to compete for a title, by virtue of their rankings.


Week 4-5 Games Ranked By Average Simulated BCS Points

By using the BCS simulated rankings, we can see that there are a lot of good matchups over the next couple weeks that should go a long way towards sorting out the college football landscape. In Week 4, there are 11 Top 48 matchups, including the much anticipated journey of #1 Alabama to Fayetteville, Arkansas to play the Hogs. This is followed up by 10 such matchups in week 5 including 3 absolute blockbusters (provided nobody loses beforehand) in Florida at Alabama, the Red River Rivalry, and Stanford at Oregon.

0.8646  #4 Florida at #1 Alabama (week 5)
0.8276  #2 Texas vs. #3 Oklahoma in Dallas (week 5)
0.6745  #1 Alabama at #17 Arkansas (week 4)
0.5462  #14 Stanford at #8 Oregon (week 5)
0.4453  #13 South Carolina at #16 Auburn (week 4)
0.3950  #31 Oregon State at #6 Boise State (week 4)
0.3475  #22 West Virginia at #10 LSU (week 4)
0.3314  #8 Oregon at #43 Arizona State (week 4)
0.3083  #11 Wisconsin at #25 Michigan State (week 5)
0.2496  #42 California at #12 Arizona (week 4)
0.2153  #14 Stanford at #45 Notre Dame (week 4)
0.2157  #19 Penn State at #20 Iowa (week 5)
0.1106  #40 Temple at #19 Penn State (week 4)
0.1076  #21 Miami (FL) at #34 Pittsburgh (week 4)
0.1032  #21 Miami (FL) at #37 Clemson (week 5)
0.0647  #41 Texas A&M at #24 Oklahoma State (week 5)
0.0166  #32 NC State at #36 Georgia Tech (week 4)
0.0147  #43 Arizona State at #31 Oregon State (week 5)
0.0126  #44 Virginia Tech at #32 NC State (week 5)
0.0016  #44 Virginia Tech at #38 Boston College (week 4)
0.0015  #45 Notre Dame at #38 Boston College (week 5)

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