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BCS standings give Boise State stark reality check

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Boise State got a reminder this week about how its conference schedule hurts it in the BCS standings when the Broncos debuted at No. 3 in the first official release Sunday.

College football
Column
Dennis Dodd Dennis Dodd
The establishment must be reeling after seeing the lastest polls, but it better get with the times. Read >>

Had the BCS released its ratings last week, the Broncos would have been at the top. And this was a pretty good week for them. Then-No. 1 Ohio State lost to Wisconsin, and didn't look very competitive doing it. That allowed Boise State to move up to a pretty solid No. 2 in the polls.

Also, Nebraska lost to Texas, thanks to a group of receivers that rubbed the lucky butter before the game. The Cornhuskers had been gaining fast on Boise State, but after dropping everything in sight on the field, they dropped out of sight in the polls and the BCS.

But unfortunately for the Broncos, they had to play a conference game against San Jose State (1-5), one of the 20 worst teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Boise did what it had to do, and no more. Coach Chris Peterson called off the dogs at halftime in a 48-0 win. Voters seemed perfectly happy with that result, but the computers couldn't stomach it. The Broncos dropped from the computer rankings from second to seventh. They were jumped by Auburn (beat Arkansas), Michigan State (beat Illinois), TCU (won over BYU) and Missouri (won at Texas A&M).

Oddly enough, Boise wasn't jumped by Oregon, which had the week off. But the Ducks, who lost a spot in the computer rankings, are close enough to Boise State that their substantial poll margin pushes them ahead overall.

One thing that did not hurt the Broncos this week was Nevada's loss to Hawaii. People think it would have helped the Broncos for the Wolf Pack to be undefeated when they played each other on Nov. 27, but I think that's vastly overrated. It's not like Nevada had done anything to wow voters yet, and the Wolf Pack weren't going to get a chance before the Boise game. Even if the Broncos beat an undefeated Nevada, voters would have dismissed it as Nevada just not being as good as its record.

Hawaii is on Boise State's schedule too, so from a strength-of-schedule perspective, the Nevada game is a wash.

BCS Standings
School Rating
1. Oklahoma .9215
2. Oregon .8921
3. Boise State .8898
4. Auburn .8641
5. TCU .8573

On the other hand, Oklahoma ends up in the top spot of the BCS rankings because of very strong computer rankings. The Sooners are third in one poll and fourth in the other, but they are the top-rated computer team. Since teams even with or ahead of them in the polls are so far down the computer list, Oklahoma's overall score is good enough for the top BCS ranking. For now.

Oklahoma does not control its own destiny in the BCS chase though. Oregon does, because of its superior poll position. The other teams that are in the driver's seat are Auburn and LSU of the SEC. However, they play in what is widely regarded as the best conference, and I believe if one of those two does finish 13-0, voters and the computers will regard it as the top team. Other than that, I would not expect any majors to pass each other in the polls. However, Boise, TCU and Utah need to keep watching their backs.

Another factor in the varied computer rankings is that we still have 10 undefeated teams, which is a high number. As the season goes on and they start weeding out the pretenders, the computer rankings will get closer to the poll rankings and the poll rankings will go back to dominating the BCS formula. The polls are more stable and reliable, which is why it's more important to pay attention to poll position than the computers at this time of the season.

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