Inside the Rankings: Learning to Love Notre Dame, and the Last of the BCS Busters Has Life

Bob Levey

Also: The computers are pretty high on Florida, and Texas A&M is moving up the rankings like it beat Alabama or something

NOTRE DAME RETURNS TO GLORY (IN THE COMPUTERS)
The Fighting Irish are back to their rightful place atop the college football world -- if by "the college football world" you mean a set of computers almost universally loathed by the college football world. Yes, the chips love Notre Dame football almost as much as Lou Holtz, with the Irish almost sweeping the machines. (Richard Billingsley and Anderson & Hester are the holdouts; they have Notre Dame at No. 2.) At the moment, this is not a major threat to Oregon or Kansas State -- the Irish trail the Ducks by 0.0101 with the hardest Oregon games ahead of them. But it's worth keeping an eye on.

They kind of like Florida, as well
Probably because they can't see the margins of victory against teams like Missouri and Lousiana-Lafayette or Louisiana or whatever you people in that state call them. The chips still have the Gators at No. 3 overall, ahead of Oregon(!), Alabama (!), Georgia and everyone else. I've always thought of Will Muschamp as a man who was one with technology. Or something.

Louisiana Tech is not thoroughly, completely, absolutely dead. Yet
There's still the most outside of outside chances that the Bulldogs could get in through the Top 16-higher than an AQ champ loophole now that Louisville lost to Syracuse. But they're still going to need a whole lot of help to get there. Right now, Tech is No. 20, which means they have to climb four spots on the strength of their wins over Utah State and San Jose State. Those teams are fine WAC teams (both are 8-2 overall), but Tech is going to need some teams ahead of them to lose and teams behind them to stay behind them to get to No. 20.

The other issue is what happens in Louisville-Rutgers at the end of the year. Louisville is now No. 19 and Rutgers is No. 22. The laws of poll dynamics would tell you that Louisville will stay ahead of Louisiana Tech if they both win out, unless there's some sort of groundswell of support for Tech that inspires pollsters to fudge a little bit. (Or if something causes Louisiana Tech to close the gap a little bit; right now, the computers favor the Bulldogs over the Cardinals, though I'm not sure that would hold after a win against Rutgers.) If Rutgers wins, it might be more doable -- and could drop Louisville past the Bulldogs -- but that would only help if Rutgers doesn't move ahead of Louisiana Tech on the strength of that win.

Winner of the Week: Texas A&M
Easily. The Aggies zoomed up seven spots after the upset of Alabama, cracking the Top 10 and putting themselves in the conversation for an at-large BCS berth. It's still an uphill climb; they're tied with South Carolina and trail three other teams that would like to be the second SEC school selected in the BCS. But if A&M can keep this little burst of momentum going and increase their stock price a little more, the Fiesta Bowl would probably welcome an opportunity to take an old Big 12 team for their game.

Loser of the Week: Louisville
Again, little debate. The Cardinals dropped 10 spots after losing to Syracuse and lost the cachet that they had built up despite their Big East affiliation. That also probably made them a touch less attractive to the BCS boosters, which means Louisville is almost certainly headed to the Orange Bowl to face Florida State. that is, if they can beat Rutgers first.

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