Inside the Rankings: Oregon Could Move Soon and the Computers Despise the ACC

Otto Kitsinger III

Also: The chips do like the Pac-12, but the odds for a Boise State BCS game are still pretty long

Oregon could pass Notre Dame as soon as next week. Kansas State might take longer. It looks very likely that the Ducks will be ahead of the Irish if both win next week. The difference between the two is only .0011 right now. Oregon goes to Los Angeles this weekend to play Southern Cal while Notre Dame has a home game with Pitt. The humans will likely continue to have Oregon ahead of Notre Dame, so all the Ducks need is to narrow the margin in the computers a bit. The difference between Southern Cal and Pitt might just do it. But Kansas State is considerably further ahead of Oregon and has a challenging enough game against Oklahoma State, a team that broke into the BCS standings again this week.

BCS busters might be busted. Ohio's loss to Miami (OH) over the weekend pretty much took out whatever small chance the Bobcats had of crashing the parties. With Louisiana Tech just now cracking the Top 25 and still low in the computers, the Bulldogs are probably too far out of things to make one of the big-money games. That leaves Boise State, which still faces an uphill climb to get into a BCS bowl. We remind you of the rules for a mid-major team to make it to the BCS, because the talking heads tend to short-hand them and cause confusion. From the rules:

A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or,
B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.

The first is going to be very hard. Boise is 19th, and the coaches (17) and computers (23) both have them a fair stretch from the Top 12. Of their last four games, only two are against teams that hold winning records right now: San Diego State (6-3) and Nevada (6-3). So the schedule does them no favors.

Nor does Louisville being ranked No. 10 right now -- the Big East champions always used to be a fair chance to make the second way into the BCS work if the Broncos could crack the Top 16. If the ACC Atlantic champion loses to its SEC rival, it could end up as low as No. 17. If whoever wins the demolition derby that is the ACC Coastal then wins it "all" in the ACC Championship Game, it's a near certainty that No. 16 is all the Broncos will need.

The best hopes still rest with the B1G, but even that presents some problems. Take Nebraska, the only ranked B1G team in the BCS. (I'll pause to let you finish laughing at that.) Wins against Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin in the B1GCG might give the No. 20 Huskers a chance to get to No. 16 or above and end up higher than Boise. And Wisconsin still faces Penn State, Ohio State and (likely) Nebraska in the B1GCG. Could that get them to No. 16 if they win? Probably not. But it's anybody's guess. The Broncos are going to have to wait until the end of the season to know for sure.

Movin' on up. There are a number of teams that made impressive moves up the board this week, and a couple of them are in the SEC. Georgia went from No. 10 to No. 6 after defeating Florida. (The counterpoint to that one, of course, is that Florida fell from No. 2 to No. 7.) South Carolina clocks in at No. 8 after being No. 13 the week before. Louisville leaped six spots to end up at No. 10 this time. Clemson moved up five spots to land at No. 13. Texas A&M is up four at No. 16. Nebraska wasn't even ranked last week and now stands at No. 20.

ACC: DOES NOT COMPUTE. The computers really, really don't like what few ACC teams are getting into the rankings, at least not in comparison to the humans. Florida State, which gets a hefty boost from the humans' No. 7 consensus ranking, is only at No. 9 in the rankings because the computers despise the Seminoles. The computer average is No. 21; they're not even ranked in the Top 25 by Jeff Sagarin's machine, and Colley Matrix's No. 12 ranking is the only one that has FSU in the Top 15. Clemson is no better; ranked No. 9 by the humans, they tie Florida State for 21st in the computers and are unranked by two machines (Sagarin and Kenneth Massey).

Chips heart Pac-12 (mostly). On the other hand, the machines seem to have very few problems with the westernmost conference. Oregon State fell to 13th among the human voters after their first loss, but the computers were more kind; the Beavers stayed at No. 11 overall largely because the chips peg them at No. 8. Only two computers -- Sagarin and Richard Billingsley -- leave Oregon State out of the Top 10. Stanford is No. 14 or No. 15, depending on the poll, with voters; the Cardinal are ranked No. 11 among the computers.

The biggest difference involves Arizona. The Wildcats aren't ranked in either human poll but are 14th in the computers, pushing them all the way to No. 22 overall. None of the computers leave Arizona out, and only one (Peter Wolfe) leaves them outside the Top 15. The only Pac-12 teams exempt from this are obviously Oregon and, oddly enough, Southern Cal. The Trojans are only 19th in the computers, which which isn't that far behind the No. 16 and No. 17 spots they hold in the human polls.

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