Projected BCS: NIU yo-yos back out of BCS bowl spot ... for now

UPDATE (12:45 p.m. ET): The coaches poll is out and it's bad news for NIU.  Kind of. The current BCS projection has them 17th, but only .005 behind No. 15 UCLA.  Yes, you read that right.  No. 15.  Nebraska has fallen to 16th, wedged in that tight space between the two.

The Huskies only had a 95 point lead over UCLA.  That means to catch UCLA, based on my current computer ranking projections, they would need to have a 291 point lead over the Bruins in the Harris poll to pass them.  That's an average of a 2.5 spot difference per voter.

Passing Nebraska might now be easier.  Again, based on my current computer projections, NIU would need a 394 point margin over the Huskers to pass them in the BCS.

And if the computers projections are closer for NIU, then they need less juice in the polls.  One spot in a computer that matters, going either direction, is the equivalent of 29 Harris poll points.

FIRST UPDATE: Sagarin's ratings came out.  UCLA was one spot lower than projected, so for now, Northern Illinois is listed 16th.  That's how close this is.  We'll have a better idea if that move is permanent when the Coaches Poll comes out. 

Current math based on posted computer projections: NIU needs to be the mathematical equivalent of 227 points ahead in the Harris poll and 120 points up in the Coaches Poll.  That is roughly the same as saying NIU has to be two spots ahead of UCLA on every ballot cast in both polls. 

Unlike in previous weeks, we will not see the Harris poll in advance of the official BCS announcement, so the last real data expected today is the coaches' poll.

ORIGINAL POST: The projected BCS ratings are up, and Northern Illinois is listed 17th and just short of a BCS berth.

I still show UCLA just ahead of them.  The Bruins' computer average doesn't figure to suffer much this week despite a loss to Stanford.

The projected difference in the average is 5.75 spots in UCLA's favor.  To make up that ground, NIU needs to be ahead of UCLA by the mathematical equivalent of 255 points in the Harris poll and 135 points clear in the Coaches Poll.

It is possible that voters could also move Nebraska down after the world-class beating the Huskers took on Saturday night from Wisconsin.  However, like UCLA, I don't expect too much damage to Nebraska's computer ranking.  I project the computer ranking difference between the Huskers and Huskies to be 7.25.  That means NIU would have to be the mathematical equivalent of 301 points ahead of Nebraska in the Harris poll and 200 points in front in the Coaches Poll.

Obviously, if the computer projections are off and NIU is actually closer to either team, then they need to make up less in the polls.  If they are 0.25 closer in the computer average than I predict, you can subtract 29 from the Harris poll difference or 15 from the Coaches Poll difference.

So, NIU and Oklahoma (which gets the BCS spot if the Huskies don't qualify) still have nervous mornings ahead.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Jerry Palm started writing about sports on the Internet right after Al Gore invented it. He was the first to bring RPI out in the open and is one of the pioneers of predicting the March Madness bracket.... Full Bio

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