Inside the BCS Standings: How Missouri Helped Florida State Beat Oregon, and Billingsley's Return

Streeter Lecka

A look at what's driving the BCS standings in Week 8

Florida State beats Oregon for No. 2. This isn't terribly important right now, though it could be in a few weeks if the pattern holds. The reason is pretty simple: The computers love the Seminoles right now. FSU averages No. 1 among the chips, where three of the six sets place them. The others put the 'Noles at No. 2 and No. 5. (More on that shortly.)

That's enough to give Florida State a lead of .9348 to .9320, which isn't much this early on. (It's really not much ever, but particularly not when most of these teams have five or six more games left.) Brad Edwards tells ESPN that Oregon will eventually move past Florida State if both remain undefeated, and I think that's a pretty safe bet. Do I expect that to prevent Oregon fans from losing their minds over the next few days? No, I don't.

Some of the blame for Oregon's plight actually falls on Missouri, believe it or not. The Tigers are ranked ahead of the Ducks in all but one of the computers, which puts Oregon at No. 4 in all but one of the computers. Missouri, I think, is a more interesting case in terms of whether Oregon can move past them. But if Missouri plays Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, one of those two is going to be eliminated and give Oregon its spot. I don't think that will lock Oregon out. But it might keep an undefeated Florida State or Ohio State from getting into the title bout.

What is it with Clemson? And other notes. Among the most bizarre rankings for me continues to be Clemson at No. 9 in the BCS, ranking in the Top 10 in both human polls and clocking an average of No. 9 in the computers. That puts them ahead of Miami (FL) and Baylor, which strikes me as insane. There's really not that much on Clemson's resume, so I would expect them to at least take a hit among the chips, but no such luck.

Auburn is No. 7 among the computers, which to me shows some of the bias among human voters. There's no reason the Tigers shouldn't be higher than they are in the human polls, especially since they are behind the team they just beat on the road in both of the human surveys. I don't know if I'd go as high as No. 7 -- the computers tend to be overexuberant early about teams that card tough wins in the first half of the season -- but they should be higher than they are in the human polls. The computers and the humans basically cancel each other out and put Auburn right about where they should be.

Northern Illinois already has the computer numbers it needs to get into the BCS, but the humans are holding it back. I wonder if that might change in the near future, as the schedule continues to be lackluster, but NIU is likely to keep ringing up wins and moving up in the polls.

This could shape up into an interesting battle between Fresno State and Northern Illinois for the highest-ranked non-AQ team; right now, the Bulldogs are more lightly regarded by the computers than by the humans, and their schedule could be affected by whether and against whom they make up a postponed/canceled game at Colorado. (Though, in fairness, they would almost have to try to find an opponent worse than Colorado. A bye week might weaken the strength of schedule less than playing the Buffaloes.) Fresno is only one place ahead of Northern Illinois, though they have a pretty health lead in points.

No. 25 Oregon State is the only team getting into the poll based solely on the computers, not that it really matters. Humans are still holding the loss to Eastern Washington against the Beavers, but they will start to take notice of Oregon State if it keeps winning against a season-ending slate that includes Stanford, Southern Cal, at Arizona State, Washington and at Oregon. Which is to say that Oregon State continuing to win isn't likely.

Billingsley Watch: For those of you who haven't visited this site too often in the past, you might not be familiar with my fascination with Richard Billingsley's computer. That fascination springs from the fact that his computer lives in a very special land that often appears to be an alternate universe. The rule calling for the first and last rankings to be thrown out should be called the Billingsley Rule, because it deals with Billingsley so often.

For example, Billingsley's computer has Florida State ranked fifth. No other computer has them lower than second. Instead, Oregon is second (which isn't too unreasonable) and Ohio State is third -- the highest ranking among any of the computers and more generous than the humans. Fourth is ... Stanford? Really, Stanford?

We can all quibble with whether Miami (FL) deserves its Top 10 ranking -- I'm dubious -- but Billingsley goes too far in the other direction, slotting the Hurricanes at No. 21. Well below UCF. And one spot below Michigan. The other computers might see Auburn as the seventh-best team in the country on average, but not Billingsley -- the Tigers land at 17th. Which is right in the neighborhood of the human pollsters, but only because the human pollsters are stubborn, and computers are supposed to be less biased. Virginia Tech is ranked by all the humans and computers ... except Billingsley's.

And there are also teams that are a bit overrated. Oklahoma is eighth. I'll repeat that, because I barely believe it myself and I wrote it: Oklahoma is ranked eighth by Billingsley. LSU, meanwhile, is ninth -- the highest by two and six places above the Tigers' computer average. Rounding out the Bizarro Top 10 is Northern Illinois. (Actually, he's not the worst on the Huskies. That would go to Jeff Sagarin, who has them fifth.) And Billingsley loves the American Athletic Conference, which sports the No. 13 UCF Knights and the No. 15 Louisville Cardinals. Really.

Some of this is likely because it's early, and the entirely resume-based computers are going to sometimes be unconventional early in the season. But when you have the teams that play for the national championship being influenced a guy who's rankings are so often terribly skewed, even by the computers' standards, you have one reason why people aren't going to be that sad to see the BCS go.

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