Road to the BCS Championship, Week 10

Mind the gaps.

We still have a large gap in the BCS standings between the top three teams (LSU, Alabama, and Oklahoma State) and No. 4 Stanford for exactly the same reasons as last week. Voters love the SEC squads, while the computers still love Oklahoma State and the Big 12 as a whole.

Stanford and Boise State are almost even, with another big gap to No. 6 Oklahoma. There is yet another big gap after OU before No. 7 Arkansas. As of right now, that makes the Sooners the most likely one-loss team to make the title game should we have no more than one undefeated AQ conference champion. They'd have the head-to-head win over Oklahoma State, which means voters would overwhelm any computer edge the Cowboys had.

A one-loss Stanford and Oregon would have a hard time passing up Oklahoma because the computer polls absolutely hate the Pac-12 this year. The one-loss Pac-12 champ would have to have a substantial edge in the human voting to pull it off, because the tiebreaking algorithms would favor the Big 12 champ.

What about everyone's favorite non-AQ program?

Boise State is in an interesting position. The Broncos' computer rank climbed quite a bit this week, and it's only partially due to Clemson losing. BSU was ahead of Clemson anyway in three of the six computer polls last week. No. 4 Boise is two spots ahead of Stanford this week in the computers, though Oklahoma made a big leap after beating Kansas State to land between them at No. 5.

It's not difficult to see a one-loss Big 12 champ ahead of the Broncos in the computer polls, which means they'd need the voters to be unanimous in their support to play for the national title. The computers could rank an undefeated Boise over even an undefeated Stanford, but the humans wouldn't allow the Broncos to go to the national title game over the Cardinal in that situation. In other words, Boise's best shot is to have Oregon beat Stanford and for the Big 12 champ to have two losses. Good luck with that.

Computer confusion.

I can't recall in past years a situation when the computer polls disagreed this much. A great example is the pair of CUSA teams who find themselves in the BCS rankings. Two of the algorithms have Houston unranked, while two of them have the Cougars in the top ten. Half have Southern Miss ranked between 19-21, while the other three exclude USM entirely.

The Big Ten also causes a bit of controversy. Michigan spans from No. 11 to unranked. Penn State stretches from 14 to 21. Michigan State goes from 12 to 24. Only Wisconsin has any measure of consensus among the CPUs, as its ranked No. 20 by Billingsley but is unranked by the rest.

Among the SEC squads, Arkansas and Auburn are quite disagreed upon as well. The Hogs' ranks go from 7 to 16, while the Tigers' ranks go from 11 to 22.

LSU-Alabama rematch odds: 10%

I give the rematch scenario a better chance than last week thanks to Clemson and Kansas State losing. Any time undefeated teams fall, the chances of the SEC's giants facing off for the national title increase.

I still don't give it a large chance because the teams still haven't played. The single biggest prerequisite for a rematch is a close game between the two titans. The last time we came close to a national title game rematch was in 2006 when Ohio State beat Michigan in the regular season by only three points. LSU and Alabama will need a similar outcome to have any chance at playing twice. If the winner takes the game by more than one score, the rematch possibility will hardly even be worth monitoring.

Who the winner is will also be an important point. I still contend that the rematch's best shot will be if LSU loses closely. It's because the game is in Tuscaloosa and because LSU has the better non-conference wins. Penn State is winning a lot more than anyone expected, but with WVU re-entering the polls this week, LSU still has the upper hand there.

It's worth noting that the computers have the two one-loss SEC teams (Arkansas and South Carolina) well behind one-loss Oklahoma. The Gamecocks are also behind one-loss Kansas State and Clemson too. The point here is not to analyze those two teams' futures, but to show that the computers will probably not be in support of a rematch. One-loss LSU or Alabama would certainly be ahead of any one-loss Pac-12 teams in the computers, but they might not be ahead of Boise State or a one-loss Clemson. They almost certainly won't be ahead of a one-loss Big 12 champ.

In short, it will take a large, precedent-overturning change among the human voters to make a rematch happen in anything but a disaster scenario. Even if the humans narrowly vote the LSU-Alabama loser at No. 2, if Oklahoma or Oklahoma State is that close No. 3, the Big 12 champ will most likely leverage its computer poll edge to play for the title.

And plus, if Bama loses this weekend and Arkansas beats LSU, the second round of this weekend's pairing is dead right there anyway. We're a ways off from a rematch being imminent.

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