Odds and ends about this week's edition of the BCS standings.
Baylor vs. Stanford is irrelevant. Right now. Don't read too much into the fact that undefeated Baylor currently sits one spot behind one-loss Stanford, at least at the moment. Baylor is four spots behind the Cardinal in the computers, which accounts for how the Bears can be ahead of them in the human polls and behind them in the BCS. Both teams have a relatively difficult slate, but Baylor's is more difficult, which will help with the computers as well as the humans, and might last longer, which will help with the humans. Baylor's remaining schedule: Oklahoma, Texas Tech, at Oklahoma State, at TCU, Texas. Stanford: Oregon, at Southern Cal, California, Notre Dame. And then a potential Pac-12 title.
That's where things could get tricky for the Bears, though. If Stanford beats Oregon and Baylor beats Oklahoma, could the Cardinal get a bump and wind up ahead of the Bears in the human polls? I think that's a real concern. And if a one-loss Stanford ends up in the title game -- which, granted, would take a couple more losses by top-ranked teams -- and Baylor is left out, expect a small degree of protests. And a lawsuit, because this is Ken Starr we're talking about.
Texas A&M at No. 15 is slightly more relevant. The Aggies are still probably third or fourth in line (at best) for the "other" SEC spot in the BCS. But barring a bizarre turn of circumstances, they won't even be eligible for an at-large berth if they wind up below No. 14 in the standings. The culprit right now is, as with most things in the BCS, the computers. Given that Texas A&M played UTEP this week, their standing with the chips imploded, going from No. 14 last week to No. 21 this week. The only computer ranking that didn't downgrade the Aggies was Billingsley, which is not exactly a vote that should instill much confidence.
The plight of the Aggies might not be quite so bad, though. Mississippi State is next, followed two weeks later by a game at LSU and at Missouri. If the Aggies beat all of those teams, they'll climb in both the human and computer polls. If they lose both of the meetings with ranked teams, there's not going to be any need to consider their role in the BCS. If they split ... that's a harder egg to crack. But the Aggies would probably still have enough juice to get to No. 14.
As for the rest of the SEC, it's pretty sedate. Missouri moves up one spot. Auburn jumps Oklahoma to end up in the Top 10. South Carolina moved up two spots to No. 12, which makes them a fringe-y at-large team if Auburn loses to Georgia and the Sugar Bowl follows its recent tradition of not taking the SEC Championship Game loser, which is really only likely if Missouri loses. Of course, if Auburn wins and Missouri loses before early December, South Carolina would go to the SEC Championship Game, which would probably be just as well with them. LSU stays put at No. 13, because Les Miles is the only one who's calm when the world goes bananas around him.
This Week in Billingsley. And it's an early start for our critique of Richard Billingsley's demented machine this week, as the peculiar chips see Florida State, No. 1 in every other computer poll, as the fourth-best team in the country. Behind Alabama (understandable), Oregon (okay), and ... Ohio State? I thought computer polls were supposed to emphasize strength of schedule, not make a mockery of the concept.
Billingsley is one of the lowest ranks on Baylor, though not the worst. He puts the Bears at No. 11; Kenneth Massey has them at 12th. Overall, the average there is No. 9, so it's really not that egregious.
Auburn, on the other hand, ends up at No. 14. That would be seven spots lower than the computer average and five spots lower than the next-most-skeptical computer. Among the teams ahead of the Tigers? Northern Illinois and -- I couldn't make this up if I wanted to -- Notre Dame. Yes, that Notre Dame, which is actually overranked in all the computers -- but not that badly. (Still, he's not the worst on NIU, which checks in at fourth in Jeff Sagarin's numbers.)
The 10th-place ranking for LSU doesn't look that suspect, even if it is eight places higher than the computer average, though the eighth-place finish for the Gamecocks is, um, a bit high. And defense does not appear to be something that Billingsley cares for, giving that Michigan State comes in 21st on his poll, which is eight spots lower than the computer average and five clear of the next-lowest computer poll.
Arizona State isn't ranked, nor is Wisconsin -- though the Badgers aren't in the Top 25 across the board among the computers, while Arizona State is ranked 17th on average. Billingsley also is the only computer to rank Texas Tech at all, putting the Red Raiders at No. 23.
But you know what? At least he has UCF one spot ahead of Louisville.