BCS Busters: Kent State, Boise State and Northern Illinois Jockeying For BCS Bid, Will One Get It?

The Big East, MAC and Boise State have conspired. For the first time in the five-game BCS era, clause 3.B of the BCS selection process:

3. The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, or the Western Athletic Conference will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if either:

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.

Is in play.

Sure, non-AQ teams have qualified for BCS bowls in the past using 3.A, but the cusp of the BCS automatic qualifiers has never bordered on the top 16 like it does as we draw 2012 to a close.

With the Big East champion guaranteed to land outside the top 16 in the final BCS rankings, if a non-AQ conference champion were to appear in the top 16, they’d be given a BCS bowl bid automatically.

And as you’ve more than likely heard, in the seventh and next-to-last BCS standings three non-AQ teams — Kent State, Boise State and Northern Illinois — appeared here as the three highest-ranking non-AQ (i.e. members of the aforementioned conferences) teams, each with a chance to win their conferences:

BCS Standings Week Seven — November 25th

Rank Team BCS Score
16 UCLA Bruins .3304
17 Kent State Golden Flashes .2512
18 Texas Longhorns .2492
19 Michigan Wolverines .2094
20 Boise State Broncos .2030
21 Northern Illinois Huskies .1936

No. 17 Kent State landed just outside of that all-important No. 16 spot. And the gap wasn’t insignificant. Nearly .08 behind No. 16 UCLA is no small margin to make up in one week.

But Kent State has one final push under its belt. The Golden Flashes will take on Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game on Thursday. Could a win over the No. 21 Huskies be enough to push Kent State in? Would they deserve it over Boise State, which seems relegated to secondary status in the line for a non-AQ bid?

To judge that, we took to comparing these three teams. As we have all season with the best of the BCS, we compiled a schedule strength and BCS implications worksheet for the three teams. As a reminder an “important game” is any against a BCS-ranked team or a Sagarin ELO_CHESS top-60 team. Here’s what we found:

BCS No. 17 Kent State Golden Flashes (11-1) SOS: 122

Important games already played:

  • Sagarin No. 41 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-2) SOS: 92 — Won 35-23
  • Sagarin No. 43 Ball State Cardinals (9-3) SOS: 78 — Won 45-43

Important games remaining:

  • BCS No. 21 Northern Illinois Huskies (11-1) SOS: 129 — Nov. 30

BCS No. 20 Boise State Broncos (9-2) SOS: 113

Important games already played:

  • Sagarin No. 36 Michigan State Spartans (6-6) SOS: 29 — Lost 17-13
  • Sagarin No. 44 BYU Cougars (7-5) SOS: 57 — Won 7-6
  • Sagarin No. 45 Frenso State Bulldogs (9-3) SOS: 103 — Won 20-10
  • Sagarin No. 53 San Diego State Aztecs (9-3) SOS: 101 — Lost 21-19

Important games remaining:

  • None

BCS No. 21 Northern Illinois Huskies (11-1) SOS: 129

Important games already played:

  • Sagarin No. 43 Ball State Cardinals (9-3) SOS: 78 — Won 35-23
  • Sagarin No. 49 Toledo Rockets (9-3) SOS: 104 — Won 31-24

Important games remaining:

  • BCS No. 17 Kent State Golden Flashes (11-1) SOS: 122 — Nov. 30

Each team has two wins against an “important” opponent, which indicates that a one-loss Boise State team would have a far better shot at cracking the BCS this year than either Northern Illinois or Kent State, but that’s just not what we’re faced with.

So what happens this week?

By playing each other, Kent State and Northern Illinois will decide the MAC Championship and give us the one team that has a solid chance at a BCS bowl. But it’s not guaranteed if other favorites win out. Here’s why:

Six BCS Computer Standings – BCS Week Seven (November 25)

Team Anderson Billingsley Colley Massey Sagarin Wolfe
Kent State 20 15 15 28 37 15
Boise State 38 24 34 46 45 42
Northern Illinois 23 19 21 31 38 23

The computer support across the board is not as favorable as fans of these teams might hope, despite their one- or two-loss records. That’s a direct result of the lack of schedule strength illustrated in the worksheet.

Colley’s Matrix has a nice tool where you can add and subtract games from his rankings. Using that tool as an indicator, a win for either team, even Kent State, which already enjoys stronger computer support does little.

We added these results with favorites winning key final weekend showdowns. These games are the ones many non-AQ watchers are looking at:

  • Kansas State beats Texas
  • Stanford beats UCLA
  • Florida State beats Georgia Tech
  • Nebraska beats Wisconsin

When adding a Kent State victory to that combination, the Golden Flashes climb two spots in Colley — No. 16 to No. 14. When adding a Northern Illinois victory to that combination, the Huskies climbs five spots — No. 22 to No. 17.

Would a similar small bump across all six computers for either team be enough? It depends. Even with No. 16 UCLA moved out of the way, weaker computer scores could drag down the support of any non-AQ hopeful. It will differ computer to computer. That’s the nature of the BCS computers, but it’s nice to get an early look at the scenarios like this.

Of course, if any of the favorites are upset — namely losses by BCS No. 13 Florida State or No. 12 Nebraska — the road will be clearer and we might get that non-AQ team in the BCS despite the computers’ relative cynical look at Kent State and Northern Illinois’s 11-1 records. We’ll just have to see how it plays out.

With nearly all BCS spots guaranteed and Notre Dame sitting at home knowing they’re on their way to the BCS title game, many worried for a drama-free weekend. But fear not — drama we will have on the final weekend.

Houston’s Loss Re-Energizes Non-AQ Conference Qualifying Race

With Houston’s upset loss to Southern Miss in the C-USA Championship Game, the race for the automatic bid to the BCS given to the highest-ranking non-AQ conference champion has been thrown into relative disarray.

The BCS selection procedures stipulate that a non-AQ conference champion that finishes in the top 16 in the final BCS standings will be afforded an automatic bid to a BCS bowl. In last week’s BCS standings, however, the highest ranking conference champion of a non-AQ conference, TCU, was outside of the top 16.

Boise State and Houston were ranked far higher, but because neither will be conference champion, neither can claim the automatic bid. Both can still be chosen as at-large teams.

If TCU enters the top 16 on the final weekend, the Horned Frogs will be BCS bowl bound for the third straight season.

USA Today Coaches’ Poll Week 10: LSU Unanimously Claims No. 1 Spot

Little surprise as LSU takes control of the Coaches’ Poll after its victory over Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Alabama slides just to No. 4, leaving the possibility for rematch open, although things will have to fall the Tide’s way for that to happen.

Stanford moves into the No. 2 spot among the coaches, staying ahead of Oklahoma State in the process.

Virginia Tech and Clemson rejoin the top 10, and undefeated Houston finds itself at a comfy No. 11, ahead of Penn State at No. 12.

USA Today Coaches’ Poll – November 6

Rank Team Votes Share of Vote
1 LSU Tigers 1475 1.000
2 Stanford Cardinal 1378 .934
3 Oklahoma State Cowboys 1359 .921
4 Alabama Crimson Tide 1286 .872
5 Boise State Broncos 1242 .842
6 Oregon Ducks 1180 .800
7 Oklahoma Sooners 1141 .774
8 Arkansas Razorbacks 1075 .729
9 Virginia Tech Hokies 955 .647
10 Clemson Tigers 946 .623
11 Houston Cougars 828 .641
12 Penn State Nittany Lions 799 .542

Projected BCS Standings: LSU, Oklahoma State Lead the Way in Fourth BCS Rankings of 2011

We got the game we’ve been waiting for all season, but did we get the clarity we thought we’d find?

LSU escaped Saturday night with a 9-6 win over Alabama in what many were calling the “Game of the Century,” but for those looking to see a definitive end to the speculation about what could happen at the end of the season, we just didn’t get it.

LSU will appear at the top of tomorrow’s BCS standings as it has in the previous three weeks, that’s for certain. But how far down will Alabama fall? The reality is, not far. And yes, we’re on our way to another year of BCS controversy and debate. The possibility remains strong for a rematch of Saturday night’s thriller in the BCS title game. But, of course a few things have to go a certain way for that to enter the conversation, but its becoming more and more real.

In the meantime, the teams that will stand in between LSU at No. 1 and Alabama will have plenty to say about what happens next.

Oklahoma State will see the results of a thrilling victory Saturday night over Kansas State and its hard work so far this season and will find themselves sitting pretty at No. 2. The Cowboys’ computer scores tomorrow will absolutely secure them the second spot. Stanford is likely to remain right behind the Cowboys on the strength of huge support from the Harris and Coaches’ polls, likely in that No. 3 spot.

Boise State, who was behind the Cowboys and the Cardinal in last week’s standings might be disappointed with the results come Sunday night. Don’t be surprised if the Tide land right ahead of the Broncos at No. 4, leaving Boise State stagnant at No. 5 even though they won convincingly Saturday against UNLV.

Is that fair? It’s hard to make an unbiased argument either way, but the BCS will likely act as such tomorrow.

Oklahoma and Arkansas are sure to finish right behind the top five, with the Razorbacks grinning after an impressive victory over South Carolina, which is sure to boost their already strong support in both the computers and human polls. The Sooners and Razorbacks will be bunched together quite tightly come tomorrow.

Further down the standings, you’ll find one-loss teams like Oregon, Clemson and Virginia Tech trying to hold off surprising Houston, who will in all likelihood make its first-ever appearance in the BCS top 12.

Thus starts the final stretch of the BCS season. We’re headed for debate, punditry and likely outcry from somebody. How will it all shake out in these next four weekends? We’re about to find out.

Remember, we’ll be here to take you through all of it, starting with tomorrow’s releases of the human polls, computer rankings and BCS. Follow along all day tomorrow @BCSKnowHow and right here to stay up to the second with projections, mathematical breakdowns of all of the computers, human polls and everything in between. Then follow along this week as we break down scenarios and implications.

Got all that? Hope so.

Here’s what the BCS standing will likely look like when they are released tomorrow at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN:

Projected BCS Standings – BCS Week Four (November 6th)

Rank Team
1 LSU Tigers
2 Oklahoma State Cowboys
3 Stanford Cardinal
4 Alabama Crimson Tide
5 Boise State Broncos
6 Oklahoma Sooners
7 Arkansas Razorbacks
8 Oregon Ducks
9 Clemson Tigers
10 Virginia Tech Hokies
11 Houston Cougars
12 South Carolina Gamecocks

USA Today Coaches’ Poll Week Nine: Top Five Unchanged as LSU Remains No. 1

Little movement in this week’s Coaches’ Poll at the top, as LSU and Alabama continue to lead the way in preparation for their epic showdown next weekend.

Stanford keeps the No. 3 spot.

USA Today Coaches’ Poll – October 30

Rank Team Votes Share of Vote
1 LSU Tigers 1457 .988
2 Alabama Crimson Tide 1434 .972
3 Stanford Cardinal 1323 .897
4 Oklahoma State Cowboys 1314 .891
5 Boise State Broncos 1237 .837
6 Oregon Ducks 1175 .797
7 Oklahoma Sooners 1117 .757
8 Arkansas Razorbacks 1046 .709
9 Nebraska Cornhuskers 973 .660
10 South Carolina Gamecocks 919 .623
11 Virginia Tech Hokies 871 .591
12 Clemson Tigers 779 .528

Projected BCS Standings: Stanford Claims Spot in Top Four in Third BCS Rankings of 2011

Remember a few weeks ago when we thought we’d have undefeated teams to spare come November?

Well for two straight weeks now, we’ve had two high-profile undefeated teams drop out of the ranks of the spotless, and just in time to ready the nation for the game to end all games, next week’s forever anticipated Alabama-LSU.

The biggest statement of the week might have come from one of the teams to have dropped off that list last week, Oklahoma, but for now the Sooners are still on the outside looking in at the BCS picture.

Beside the dynamic duo of the Tigers and Crimson Tide, however, there remain a few others still in the elite group. Oklahoma State had little trouble verifying its No. 3 BCS ranking from last week, dispensing with Baylor, and Stanford survived a test at USC.

Who’s going to be most rewarded tomorrow? Don’t be surprised if it’s Stanford.

USC, although unranked by the human elements because of its NCAA sanctions, was ranked highly by the computers, the factor the Cardinal had a severe lacking in coming into the weekend. The Trojans were in the top-15 in the computer rankings and that kind of strong victory can do wonders.

The Cardinal will likely jump past Boise State this week, but will still trail the LSU-Alabama-Oklahoma State trio we saw last week at the top of the polls.

The Broncos will be hard pressed to stay ahead of the Cardinal, but with plenty of intrigue to come, anything can happen in the always-crazy BCS.

Plenty of scenarios surround the Alabama-LSU showdown next weekend, but for now, we’ll leave those discussions for the next few days, and just leave you to ponder the BCS rankings due tomorrow.

It might be a confusing few weeks, but we’ll be here to take you through all of it, starting with tomorrow’s releases of the human polls, computer rankings and BCS. Follow along all day tomorrow @BCSKnowHow and right here to stay up to the second with projections, mathematical breakdowns of all of the computers, human polls and everything in between.

Got all that? Hope so.

Here’s what the BCS standing will likely look like when they are released tomorrow at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN:

Projected BCS Standings – BCS Week Three (October 30)

Rank Team
1 LSU Tigers
2 Alabama Crimson Tide
3 Oklahoma State Cowboys
4 Stanford Cardinal
5 Boise State Broncos
6 Oklahoma Sooners
7 Oregon Ducks
8 Arkansas Razorbacks
9 Virginia Tech Hokies
10 South Carolina Gamecocks
11 Nebraska Cornhuskers
12 Clemson Tigers

Harris Interactive Poll Week Eight: Oklahoma State Jumps to No. 3

Oklahoma and Wisconsin’s loses bring a shake up to the Harris Poll, although LSU and Alabama continue to shine at the top of the rankings.

Stanford and Oklahoma St. boost their profiles in the Harris, as expected, coming in at No. 3 and No. 4.

Harris Interactive College Football Poll – October 23rd

Rank Team Votes Share of Vote
1 LSU Tigers 2854 .993
2 Alabama Crimson Tide 2777 .966
2 Oklahoma State Cowboys 2559 .890
4 Stanford Cardinal 2523 .878
5 Boise State Broncos 2410 .838
6 Clemson Tigers 2346 .816
7 Oregon Ducks 2136 .743
8 Oklahoma Sooners 1866 .649
9 Arkansas Razorbacks 1851 .644
10 Kansas State Wildcats 1764 .614
11 Michigan State Spartan 1760 .612
12 Wisconsin Badgers 1731 .602