All together now: "S-E-C! S-E-C!" (This is facetious, for anyone who takes it too seriously.) Auburn rides a sweep of the computers and a narrowing of the margin in the human polls to No. 1 this week, passing Oregon in a step that will mean nothing practical if both win out. The deciding factor seems to be Boise dropping out of the Top 3 in the human polls -- following the loss against Nevada -- with most of the Broncos' first-place votes going to the Tigers. Not that the Tigers took first by an overwhelming margin; the score was 0.9779-0.9777. Nevada will accept your thank-you notes, Tiger fans.
6. Ohio State
8. Michigan State
Yes, Boise fell all the way out of the Top 10. (To 11th.) And with the Broncos out of the way, TCU moves into the third spot, and No. 4 Stanford is a good bit behind. Oregon and the Frogs split all but one of the two and three votes, with Jeff Sagarin voting Arkansas third and TCU sixth for reasons passing understanding. (The only poll to have TCU at No. 2 is -- who else? -- Richard Billingsley.)
These standings are already deciding some things. Oklahoma will represent the Big XII South in the conference's last championship game, which sets up an old-school match-up with Nebraska in a fitting finale. (Fitting in part because the break-up of the Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry likely helped lead to the league's demise.) Barring something bizarre happening in the next six days, Wisconsin will represent the Big Ten in the BCS.
Which helps us figure out the projected bowl match-ups this week. I tweaked one thing with the Big East finally getting a ranked team: Because the ranked team (West Virginia) is not the team that controls its own destiny (Connecticut), I went with the Huskies for now. Otherwise, I again chose conference champions based on the highest ranking for now.
BCS National Championship Game: Oregon vs. Auburn
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. TCU
Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs. Ohio State
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Stanford
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Connecticut
TCU gets the non-AQ bid to the Rose Bowl, much to Gordon Gee's chagrin. The Sugar Bowl now takes Arkansas to replace Auburn, though we should note that there's technically nothing to keep them from taking LSU -- so there's a potential for the upset there. The wording of the BCS contract is opaque, but after discussing it with colleagues here at SB Nation, it appears that Stanford is locked into the BCS if it stays at No. 4. That leaves the Cardinal and Connecticut on the board, which should be an easy pick for the Orange Bowl. The Fiesta has to match Oklahoma with the Huskies, giving us an opportunity to see what new and creative ways Bob Stoops can find to lose a BCS bowl to a lesser opponent.
Other SEC teams: Alabama's loss in the Iron Bowl knocks it down five spots, from No. 11 to No. 16. Remember, this is for losing by one point to the No. 1 team in the country. If that had happened to Boise, some media establishments would be screaming bloody murder. South Carolina wins by a wide margin and drops a spot for the second straight week. (Not that it really matters; the Gamecocks have to win the SEC Championship one to get into the BCS anyway. But it is slightly annoying.) Mississippi State rebounds three places to No. 22.
Our friend Billingsley is only the high or low vote for a dozen teams this week -- leaving out instances in which he ties with more than one voter -- but some of them are notable: Oklahoma at No. 12, four spots lower than the next most-skeptical computer; No. 5 Boise State, which rings in at No. 11 in the next-highest computers and No. 10 among the more Bronco-friendly humans; and No. 17 Missouri, which is No. 11 according to the next lowest rankings. All the overranked teams: TCU, Wisconsin (tie), Boise State, Virginia Tech, Nevada (tie), Utah, Northern Illinois (only computer to rank). Underranked: Oregon, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas A&M and South Carolina (tie).
So you can make the case that last week proved that the system works. But when Richard Billingsley is still part of that system, it's a very hard claim to make with a straight face.