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TCU bucks Broncos from BCS No. 3 ... for now


The BCS ratings are out this week and TCU has jumped Boise State for No. 3. As I write this, I am certain there is panic in the streets of Boise. I should turn on the news and see if the city is burning to the ground. Oh, wait -- that's what they do in Morgantown. I do know that the residents of Boise have set fire to my e-mail inbox (film at 11).

That move would be important if this were the last week of the season. TCU instead of Boise State would be automatically qualified for a BCS at-large berth. There is no certainty that the other would get chosen out of the goodness of some BCS bowl's heart. In fact, I think it's pretty unlikely that there will be two non-majors in the BCS this year.

So, the TCU-Boise battle is important, but it's not done. Boise still has a very healthy lead in the polls, and if that doesn't change, I believe TCU's stay ahead of the Broncos is temporary.

Boise State still has the meat of the conference schedule ahead of it. It plays its top three contenders in the next four weeks. TCU will play Utah next week (and let's not forget the fifth-rated Utes in this battle) and San Diego State after that, but finish with 0-8 New Mexico. By the time it's all said and done, the computer ratings battle between TCU and Boise figures to be pretty close. I think it's actually a slight edge to Boise, but how teams like Virginia Tech and Baylor finish will have a say in it.

If the polls stay the way they are now, TCU will have to have a huge computer lead over Boise to finish ahead -- like it does at the moment. But TCU is about as high as it can get in the computers -- even with a win over Utah -- and Boise still has a lot of room to go up.

College Football
Dennis Dodd Dennis Dodd
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As for the voters, you would think a win over a top five team in Utah would give them a boost. In most cases, it would, but you have to remember why Boise is ahead of TCU to begin with. People voted the Broncos ahead because they beat TCU last year in the Fiesta Bowl. That's a stupid reason -- nothing is less relevant in college sports than last year -- but that's why they are where they are. Beating Utah won't change that.

Actually, Utah might have a better chance of catching Boise than TCU does because it does not have that albatross hanging around its neck. Voters might be more willing to move Utah ahead of Boise State than TCU. Utah is not a very good computer team though, so the voters really have to get on board with the Utes for them to finish ahead of Boise.

This wasn't the only position swap of the week. Oregon moved past Auburn for the top spot in the rankings. Beating USC made quite an impression on the computers. Oregon went from being the eighth-rated team to No. 2 in the computer rankings. That was enough to move the Ducks to the top overall.

Of course, Auburn and Oregon are simply fighting over which color uniform each gets to wear in Glendale. And in Oregon's case, their wardrobe is so stocked, I'm not sure the ranking matters to them.

Behind Utah is a long line of one-loss teams, starting with Alabama. Many say the Tide control their own destiny for the BCS title game. Even though I think Alabama would be the choice of voters over undefeated Boise State and TCU or Utah, I don't think it's necessarily a slam dunk. Voters are giving these non-majors more respect than ever. Maybe this is the year they give one of them a shot.


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