'Billingsley, we just won another game out there! Did you notice?'
First of all, apologies for the lateness of this post. It's been a bit slow around here this weekend, mostly because both of us were traveling, though my trip to the state Democratic convention just shows that there is a bipartisan disdain in this state for allowing people to watch college football. (I've already missed one weekend this year for the Republican gathering this year, in case you were wondering.)
That said, let's still take a look at a few of the notable things about the BCS rankings released Sunday evening. Because there are a few notable things to pick over this morning.
3 Oklahoma State
5 Boise State
9 South Carolina
The full BCS rankings can be found here.
The thing that might leap out to you if you've been paying attention is that Boise State is no longer No. 4 -- something that was the case when the first set of rankings were released, but changed last week after Oklahoma lost to Texas Tech. This is the start of a phenomenon we've been waiting for since before the first set of standings were released: the passing of Boise by teams that are playing marquee opponents and beginning to pass up the Broncos in part because of moves in the computer polls.
And the chips did, in fact, do the Broncos in in the race for No. 4. Stanford jumped three spots in the computer average this week, but didn't move at all in the human surveys. The difference (.0093) is relatively small right now, but it only figures to grow in the coming weeks. And Boise kind of fell a de facto two spots because Clemson lost to Georgia Tech BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. (That might be overstating the case a bit, but only because I wanted to go ahead and laugh at Clemson.)
As for the top three: The machines still love Oklahoma State a lot, with the Cowboys taking all but one of the No. 1 votes among the chips -- and that's Richard Billingsley, about whom we will have much more to say in a moment. But LSU has closed the gap with Alabama in the computers, going to a tie for No. 2 in the overall average. Of course, that really doesn't matter with the two facing each other in the comingweekend, but it's an interesting note.
The big losers are Clemson (must ... stop ... la--hahahahahahaha) and Kansas State, who both tumble clear out of the Top 10 after losing their undefeated status this weekend. Joining them are Nebraska and South Carolina, which has apparently figured out how to translate its "drag everyone down in the muck and beat them there" strategy to the polls. I'm somewhat surprised to see South Carolina there, but I will be more surprised if they remain there after this weekend's game against Arkansas.
Now to the bowl-seeding exercise. First, I'd like to repeat that this is meant to be a snapshot -- not a prediction. The top-ranked team in each conference is slotted as the conference champion for the purpose of this exercise, and the only games I call are head-to-heads, again with the highest-ranked team winning. That's to try to eliminate the "I think this will happen" factor from the bowl seedings, which I find to be a bit presumptuous. So, to reiterate, this is a rolling portrait that emerges over time, not necessarily what I definitely think will happen as the rankings unfold.
BCS National Championship Game: LSU vs. Oklahoma State
Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Nebraska
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Oregon
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Boise State
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. West Virginia
Most of this remains the same as it was last week. I still think the Sugar's replacement for LSU is to quickly snap up Alabama, while the Fiesta takes Oklahoma to fill in for Oklahoma State. Stanford and Nebraska, who moved past losing Michigan State in this week's poll to take our so-far Big Ten championship, get automatically paired in the Rose Bowl. The Fiesta takes Oregon both to set up an intriguing matchup and to avoid the remaining teams that are locked into the bowls -- Boise State, which has been to the Fiesta Bowl twice in the last five seasons and is losing its novelty as a BCS team, and West Virginia, which lucks into the bowl matchup simply by winning the dismal Big East.
The Sugar takes Boise both to set up a blue-blood-vs.-nouveau-riche game and to avoid the ratings stink bomb that is West Virginia, which instead will play a game to find out whether nearby cows should fear for their ability to stand upright or nearby couches should be hidden to avoid incineration. All of these games look like close contests, except for maybe the Orange Bowl -- as usual. How's that whole automatically take the ACC champion thing working out for ya?
And now it's time for everyone's favorite examination of one of our computer "voters": Richard Billingsley. Sure, everybody's machine has got its quirks -- which is why computers shouldn't be a factor in this formula. But that decision's already been made, so let's instead look at the unique number and quality of quirks that Billingsley's machine churns out.
The first notable vote is on Oregon, which turns up at No. 7 according to Billingsley's machine, a full six spots higher than any other computer ranking in the system. South Carolina is No. 14, which I'm not going to complain about too much because I largely agree with it.
The earliest truly bizarre exclusion is Houston -- and that was an exclusion. Even Sagarin's computer, the other curmudgeon vis a vis the Cougars, finally puts UH in the rankings at 23 this week. No other computer has them lower than 13th, and two sets of chips put Houston at No. 8. I doubt the Cougars are the eighth-best or eighth most accomplished team in the nation, but they're also not worthy of being left out of the Top 25 entirely.
Michigan State, which lost by three touchdowns to Nebraska, is ranked 12th. That's a drop of a whopping two places from last week -- before the Spartans had laid a 21-point egg on the field in Lincoln. The next-most-generous machine has Michigan State at 20, and Sagarin has them at 24.
Billingsley does not rank Georgia at all -- anywhere! The Dawgs are at least 19th in the next-lowest poll, and is ranked at No. 15 according to two other machines. But Billingsley's machine is apparently still ready to fire Mark Richt.
But that computer loves Arizona State -- which is three spots higher here than on any other computers' "ballot." It's also really high on Wisconsin, which lands at No. 20 despite not being ranked by any other set of chips. Texas is unranked; the Horns are at least 17th on every other computer ranking, though I'm inclined to lean more toward Billingsley on that one.
Sometimes, his computer gets it right, though that is more than outweighed by doing stupid things like leaving off undefeated Houston. Hey, somebody's got to go to make sure Notre Dame is still in the Top 25.