Well, crud. Despite all of the upheaval in the college football football landscape this weekend, the Frogs actually LOST a spot in the BCS rankings, falling to 20th. Compounding matters, with a bye week coming up and the teams right behind us having games, we need a few more upsets to fall in our favor. Of course, nothing will matter until Houston drops a game, so all of our worries may be moot anyway. Here's a breakdown:
The Good. With Michigan dispatching Nebraska pretty handily and giving them their third loss, we probably don't have to worry about them moving ahead of us, although they're sitting in our rearview mirror at 21st. Clemson's, 17th, pretty convincing loss to North Carolina State gives them a pretty small margin for error, too. With games against #12 South Carolina and #5 Virginia Tech coming up, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would expect the Tigers to emerge from that slate unscathed. Conversely, South Carolina is ranked right above the Tigers, so with a loss they could drop behind us as well. Bottom line, I think it's safe to say we're gaining a spot no matter that outcome.
Michigan State and the winner of Penn State/Wisconsin this weekend will be meeting in the Big Ten Championship, so it's likely one of those teams would drop behind us after that, though they all sit in front of us at present at 19th, 16th and 14th, respective. Best case is probably #19 Penn State beating #16 Wisconsin then losing to the #14 Spartans the following weekend. But Michigan State has a tricky one at Northwestern this weekend and, with the Legends Division wrapped up, it's easy to see them falling asleep a bit. #15 Michigan can't win the Legends and still has to play at Ohio State but, although they will be convincingly favored, they haven't beaten them too often in the 2000s, so that's definitely one to keep your eye on.
And then there's #13 Georgia who, after dropping their first two games, has gone on an absolute tear, reeling off 9 straight to win the SEC East. Presuming they're simply lambs for the Bama/LSU slaughter in that game, they'll enter Selection Sunday with an extra loss, although beating #23 Georgia Tech this weekend is most certainly not a given. The Dawgs are a team to watch closely as they could finish anywhere from 11-2 and in the Sugar Bowl to 9-4 and in the Chic Fila. With 3 losses, here's to thinking Georgia Tech will stay behind us, even if they win Saturday.
Another positive is West Virginia not making it into the rankings this week. They're probably the last team out, but with games remaining against unranked Pitt and USF, it's hard to imagine a 3 loss Big East team jumping into the top 20, although I wouldn't rule it out as I'll bring up later.
Lastly, we all owe Reggie Bush a HUGE debt of gratitude for taking bribes while at USC, thus making them ineligible for bowl consideration this year. If they were, we'd be at 21.
So, to recap, we will likely gain a spot due to the Clemson/SC game, will likely gain one, and possibly two, once the Big Ten shakes out and could very well gain another once Georgia finishes their season. All things being equal, we SHOULD be able to sneak into the top 16 although it's not near as much of a certainty as I hoped it would be earlier today.
The Bad. Baylor's win over Oklahoma has turned out to be an absolute dagger as it boosted the Bears to #18 and only dropped OU to #9. If the Bears win their remaining games against Tech and #25 UT, they will stay ahead of us and could find themselves BCS Bowl eligible, believe it or not. UT and Tech both lost this weekend, so that won't help their SOS, but dont' underestimate the allure of Robert Griffin, Heisman contender reborn, to mess with the minds of the voters and their love of shiny things. I hoped OU would drop further, but it looks like they are going to stay up as the top ranked 2 loss team in the country. Even if they lose to #4 Oklahoma State, I can't see them falling below 20th.
Also bad is the re-emerging of #22 Notre Dame. Even with 3 losses, if they beat #6 Stanford this weekend, combined with our bye, you can probably kiss our spot in the rankings goodbye.
Things also weren't improved when #8 Houston easily cruised past SMU in their Gameday debut, although we were all pretty foolish to expect a different outcome. Tulsa didn't crack the rankings this week, but they're our last, best hope to kill the Cougars hopes.
The worst news of all, though, is the timing of our bye week. Non-AQ teams on the cusp typically disappear during a bye week as the voters basically use it as an excuse to irrationally punish them. This makes me extremely nervous seeing as how all of the teams surrounding us have game to be played, and in many cases two more. Is it entirely possible that the voters will set our ceiling at 17 in order to avoid having a 2 loss non-AQ BCS participant? If you say no, you clearly aren't familiar with how the system works.
I'll be honest guys, this was kind of a gut punch. Picking up 3 spots was going to be hard; picking up 4 with two weeks to go and only one game remaining to be played may prove to be impossible. Nothing happens without Houston losing, but I kind of hoped we'd at least make it a discussion. Our best cases are going to be as such:
- #12 South Carolina beats #17 Clemson, who then falls to #5 Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship, although that USC loss SHOULD do the trick.
- #18 Baylor loses to Tech or #25 Texas. It hurts, but we're going to have to root for those assholes.
- #19 Penn State beats #16 Wisconsin, and then loses to #14 Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship.
- #15 Michigan loses to UR Ohio State this weekend in Ann Arbor.
- #13 Georgia loses to #23 Georgia Tech AND the SEC Championship. I'm not sure one loss or the other guarantees us anything.
That's five potential spots, which would be one more than we need. A lot of "Ifs" there. I'm keeping my hopes up because, at this point, why wouldn't I? But I probably wouldn't book your flights to New Orleans QUITE yet.
Here are the games to keep an eye on this weekend. Consider this your Movement Watch.
#25 UT @ aggy. 7:00PM. ESPN. Just because, one of these teams has to lose.
#8 Houston @ Tulsa. 11:00AM. Fox Sports SW.
Pitt @ West Virginia. 6:00PM. ESPN.
#13 Georgia @ #23 Georgia Tech. 11:00AM. ESPN.
Michigan State @ Northwestern. 11:00AM. BTN.
#19 Penn State @ #16 Wisconsin. 2:30PM. ESPN.
Texas Tech vs. #18 Baylor @ Jerryworld. 6:00PM. Fox Sports SW.
#17 Clemson @ #12 South Carolina. 6:45PM. ESPN.
#22 Notre Dame @ #6 Stanford. 7:00PM. ABC.