BCS Rankings Breakdown

Breaking down and analyzing the first BCS rankings of 2012.

2012 BCS Analysis

Week 1 ... Oct. 14 

- 2012 CFN Rankings
- 2012 Harris Poll
- 2012 Coaches' Poll
2012 AP Rankings 

- What each team needs to do to play for the title?

BCS Top 25
- Expanded BCS Rankings

1. Alabama
2. Florida
3. Oregon
4. Kansas State
5. Notre Dame
6. LSU
7. South Carolina
8. Oregon State
9. Oklahoma
10. USC
11. Georgia
12. Miss State
13. West Virginia
14. Florida State
15. Rutgers
16. Louisville
17. Texas Tech
18. Texas A&M
19. Clemson
20. Stanford
21. Cincinnati
22. Boise State
23. TCU
24. Iowa State
25. Texas

The Basic Rules

- The top two teams play in the BCS Champ. The natural tie-ins, though, are SEC champ to the Sugar, Big Ten and Pac-12 champs to the Rose, Big 12 to the Fiesta, and ACC champ to the Orange.

- The BCS games that lose their natural tie-ins to the BCS Championship get the first selection of at-large teams. For example, the SEC champion goes to the Sugar Bowl, but if that team finishes No. 1 in the final BCS rankings, then the Sugar Bowl gets its first choice of at-large teams. After those slots are filled, the pecking order goes Fiesta, Sugar, Orange in the selection process.

- Notre Dame is in the BCS if it finishes in the top eight.

- In the computer formulas, the best and the worst rankings for each team are dropped.

- Some bowls ignore the final standings as far as the seedings and pairings.

- The champion of Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West, the Sun Belt, or the WAC will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if one of the teams finishes in the top 12 of the final BCS standings or if one is in the top 16 and ranked ahead of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls. However, no more than one team gets an automatic bid.

- To be eligible for an at-large bid, a team has to have won at least nine regular season games and it has to finish in the top 14.

- Since TCU went to the Rose Bowl last year, the Bowl doesn't have to take a non-AQ at-large team.

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You're only getting two more years of the BCS before the playoff system kicks in and rankings become irrelevant, so soak in all that is this wacky, convoluted system designed to do everything possible to avoid some form of a tournament.

And this year, the potential is there for the system to be in for a whole bunch of fun.

To cut to the chase (and to cut the BS out of the BCS process), the most likely scenario facing us right now is the top two teams in both human polls used in the BCS rankings — the Coaches' and Harris polls — will almost certainly face off in the BCS Championship Game. The humans almost never move teams out of the spots at the very top unless something major happens, so barring a minor miracle, if the winner of an SEC championship between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Florida, and No. 3 Oregon finish the year unbeaten, it probably won't matter what anyone else does.

Unless Notre Dame wins out.

There are always several curveballs, twists and turns thrown into every college football season — last season everything turned upside down when Iowa State stunned Oklahoma State — so it's a bit silly to project and predict exactly what controversies might pop up. But this year appears to be a bit more bizarre than usual with so many teams still in the BCS championship discussion.

Alabama and Florida are up top with one certain to lose at least once — and there's no way, no how the Tide will budge as long as they keep on winning — but No. 5 Notre Dame still has to go on the road to face Oklahoma and USC on the way to closing out one of the toughest schedules in college football. If the Irish go unscathed, and if Oregon doesn't slip, there could be the mother of all controversies (which, technically, is the exact sort of issue the BCS was designed to solve).

But that's getting way ahead of the game. For now, the key to the rankings is the overall pecking order. Because the SEC has won the last six national titles, the league's champion will get every benefit of the doubt. That means No. 2 Florida and No. 12 Mississippi State, both unbeaten, control their own fates more than No. 8 Oregon State or even Notre Dame. Also, because the SEC is held in such high regard, one-loss teams like No. 6 LSU, No. 7 South Carolina and No. 11 Georgia are still knee-deep in the national championship pool.

Florida State, sitting at No. 14, still has a date with Florida to end the regular season, so if the Gators stay hot and the Seminoles can get to 10-1, FSU will still be in the mix when that game kicks off. To a lesser extent, the same goes for No. 19 Clemson, which gets to play South Carolina late in the year.

Sitting at No. 10, one-loss USC can quickly erase the loss to Stanford by beating Oregon on Nov. 3 and rocket up the rankings on the way to the Pac-12 title, while No. 9 Oklahoma is still hovering around despite the loss to Kansas State a few weeks ago.

The Big East is still alive with No. 15 Rutgers, No. 16 Louisville and No. 21 Cincinnati all unbeaten. Like it or not, the Big East is still a BCS conference, and one of those three teams emerges from the pack 12-0, it will be knocking on the door.

So enjoy this wild-and-crazy BCS journey over the next several weeks and don't get too crazy trying to figure out what has to happen for each team. Just when you think you have it figure out, it's almost certainly going to change.

Three key things to keep in mind when looking at the initial BCS rankings:

1) It's all about the humans. The computers had Virginia Tech No. 1 in the 2007 final BCS rankings, and that meant a fat load of jack squat when it came time to the actual national title matchup with LSU and Ohio State getting the nod. The computers count for a third of the rankings, while the humans account for the other two-thirds. In other words, if The Man doesn't want Louisville playing for the national title, Louisville isn't playing for the national title.

2) Don't get into a twist over the computer rankings are over the first few weeks. Many of the formulas kick into gear once the entire season is over, so the difference between the second-to-last computer rankings and the final ones could be night and day. Basically, the first half of the season doesn't matter at all according to some of the formulas.

3) The AP poll is meaningless. Many major media outlets still use and reference the AP rankings, but the Coaches' poll counts for a third, and the ever-mysterious Harris Poll counts for the other third of the human equation. Those are the ones to focus on and scrutinize.

1. Alabama 6-0 BCS Score: 0.976

It's an easy equation for Alabama – win and you're in. Or, lose one and you're still probably in. However, the computers could throw a wrench into those plans. No. 3 according to the computers, that might not change too much considering the Tide doesn't play any of the killers from the East, and remember, LSU and future opponents are already in the equation in some of the formulas. Anderson & Hester as Alabama ranked fifth – they're going to be in for a fun, fun week of e-mails.

Predicted Wins: at Tennessee, Mississippi State, at LSU, Texas A&M, Western Carolina, Auburn, SEC championship
Predicted Losses: None
Predicted Final Record: 13-0
Predicted Bowl: BCS championship
Loss Alert: at Tennessee, Mississippi State, at LSU, Texas A&M

2. Florida 6-0 BCS Score: 0.909

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that the Gators are ranked second, and actually, it wouldn't be out of place to be No. 1 considering the wins over LSU and Texas A&M. The computers are huge fans and like the body of work so far with three of the formulas ranking Will Muschamp's bunch No. 2 and Anderson & Hester giving up the No. 1 spot. The humans aren't as sold with the Harris Poll putting the Gators fourth and the Coaches checking them in at No. 5, but it doesn't really matter because the formula is simple. Go 13-0 and go down the road to play in Miami.

Predicted Wins: South Carolina, Missouri, Louisiana-Lafayette, Jacksonville State, at Florida State
Predicted Losses: Georgia, SEC championship
Predicted Final Record: 11-2
Predicted Bowl: Sugar
Loss Alert: South Carolina, Georgia, at Florida State

3. Oregon 6-0 BCS Score: 0.899

Relax … RELAX. Being No. 3 doesn't matter in any way, shape or form. Alabama or Florida has to lose at some point, at the very least the two will play in the SEC championship, so as long as the Ducks win out and go 13-0, they're almost a mortal lock to play for the national title. The humans aren't likely to push anyone else up to No. 2 unless Notre Dame wins and wins big at Oklahoma and USC, and the computers are going to come around. However, Oregon is No. 6 according to the techies with Peter Wolfe turning the lights out with a No. 10 ranking.

Predicted Wins: at Arizona State, Colorado, at California, Stanford, at Oregon State, Pac-12 championship
Predicted Losses: at USC
Predicted Final Record: 12-1
Predicted Bowl: Rose Bowl
Loss Alert: at Arizona State, at USC, Stanford, at Oregon State

4. Kansas State 6-0 BCS Score: 0.896

The Wildcats are in a nice spot, but they're going to need a little bit of help. However, in the first rankings they're really, really, really close to being No. 3 only 0.003 behind Oregon. The computers aren't quite sold, but a No. 4 ranking isn't all that bad with five of the six formulas putting Bill Snyder's club fourth or higher, Peter Wolfe putting it No. 1, and the low ranking a not bad No. 5 from Colley Matrix. No. 3 in the Coaches' Poll and No. 4 in the Harris, Kansas State is knocking on the door, but it might get shoved out of the way if Notre Dame keeps winning and it needs Oregon to lose to have a shot at jumping into the top two.

Predicted Wins: Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, at TCU, at Baylor
Predicted Losses: at West Virginia, Texas
Predicted Final Record: 10-2
Predicted Bowl: Sugar
Loss Alert: at West Virginia, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, at TCU, Texas

5. Notre Dame 6-0 BCS Score: 0.877

This is going to be a fun ride. Two computer formulas already have the Irish No. 1, Richard Billingsley has them No. 2, and overall they're second behind Florida and in a position to move up. The big jump from five could come with wins at Oklahoma and USC. If Notre Dame can do that, it'll likely push its way into the top four and could even shove out Oregon at No. 3 depending on how impressive the victories are. At No. 5 in the human polls and still not that far behind the mix, there's plenty of time to move up.

Predicted Wins: BYU, Pitt, at Boston College, Wake Forest, at USC
Predicted Losses: at Oklahoma
Predicted Final Record: 11-1
Predicted Bowl: BCS championship
Loss Alert: at Oklahoma, at USC

6. LSU 6-1 BCS Score: 0.752

As the best of the one-loss teams, LSU is in a position to play for the national title by winning out. If the Tigers beat Alabama, they'll move up off the human polls from the No. 6 spot up into the top three, and then the debates will start. A 12-1 SEC champion LSU is on top of the one-loss pecking order by a huge margin, but it'll take Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame to lose to be assured of a spot. Making this ranking all the more impressive is the No. 17 ranking from Anderson & Hester, No. 12 from Colley Matrix, No. 11 from Kenneth Massey and No. 9 overall.

Predicted Wins: at Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, at Arkansas
Predicted Losses: Alabama
Predicted Final Record: 10-2
Predicted Bowl: Outback
Loss Alert: at Texas A&M, Alabama, Mississippi State

7. South Carolina 6-1 BCS Score: 0.693

That loss to LSU really, really hurt. It's going to take a win over Florida this week to potentially jump the Tigers and it's going to take an SEC championship to be in the BCS title discussion. In the end, with the No. 7 ranking, and even with the respect from the computers with the No. 10 spot from Kenneth Massey the low one on the pole, the Gamecocks could be the Arkansas of last year, topping out somewhere in the top five but not getting a BCS bid because of two SEC teams ranked higher.

Predicted Wins: Tennessee, Arkansas, Wofford, at Clemson
Predicted Losses: at Florida
Predicted Final Record: 10-2
Predicted Bowl: Capital One
Loss Alert: at Florida, Tennessee, at Clemson

8. Oregon State 5-0 BCS Score: 0.691

This was a huge, impressive debut for a Beaver team that few thought would even be in the mix for a winning season. The computers are happier than the humans with a No. 5 ranking including a No. 4 spot from Anderson & Hester and Colley Matrix and the low just a No. 9 ranking from Richard Billingsley. The No. 10 spot from the Harris Poll and the No. 11 ranking from the Coaches are actually positives – there's plenty of room to move up in a big hurry.

Predicted Wins: Utah, California, Nicholls State
Predicted Losses: at Washington, Arizona State, at Stanford, Oregon
Predicted Final Record: 8-4
Predicted Bowl: Alamo
Loss Alert: at Washington, Arizona State, at Stanford, Oregon

9. Oklahoma 4-1 BCS Score: 0.666

This can't be too much of a shocker, but it's probably a bit of a disappointment after the blowout win over Texas. The computers are less than impressed with three rankings of ten or lower, but Kenneth Massey and Peter Wolfe have the Sooners No. 6. Fortunately, there are lots and lots of opportunities to rise up with big showdowns against West Virginia and Notre Dame getting the national spotlight. Ninth in the Harris and seventh according to the coaches, there's space to move up, but it might take Kansas State to lose twice and a few SEC upsets to get within range.

Predicted Wins: Kansas, Notre Dame, at Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma State, at TCU
Predicted Losses: at West Virginia
Predicted Final Record: 10-2
Predicted Bowl: Fiesta
Loss Alert: Notre Dame, at Iowa State, Oklahoma State, at TCU

10. USC 5-1 BCS Score: 0.596

This was a tough first ranking, but with potentially two dates against Oregon to go along with big battles with Notre Dame, Arizona State and UCLA, the Trojans are in decent shape. The No. 15 ranking from the computers won't go any lower – three formulas have USC 17th or worse – and there's wiggle room in the Harris after starting out No. 11. It's all up to the showdowns. One win over Oregon on November 3rd, and no gaffes, and the spotlight will be on.

Predicted Wins: Colorado, at Arizona, Oregon, Arizona State, at UCLA
Predicted Losses: Notre Dame, Pac-12 championship
Predicted Final Record: 10-3
Predicted Bowl: Fiesta
Loss Alert: at Arizona, Oregon, Arizona State, at UCLA, Notre Dame

11. Georgia (5-1) .498
12. Mississippi State (6-0) .428
13. West Virginia (5-10) .479
14. Florida State (6-1) .428
15. Rutgers (6-0) .408
16. Louisville (6-0) .406
17. Texas Tech (5-1) .357
18. Texas A&M (5-1) .338
19. Clemson (5-1) .334
20. Stanford (4-2) .265
21. Cincinnati (5-0) .248
22. Boise State (5-1) .198
23. TCU (5-1) .138
24. Iowa State (4-2) .114
25. Texas (4-2) .064

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