First off, thanks for all the nice comments last week. I'm glad folks find this useful.
2 things I forgot to include last week. First is just a note of how many bowl slots each conference has. This doesn't count the 4 at-large BCS berths. It also doesn't include Notre Dame, which usually gets one of the Big East's spots (there's also a chance the Cotton Bowl could take them instead of an SEC team). Right now, the ACC will definitely have problems filling its slots, but the other BCS conferences look more or less OK.
The second new thing is my analysis about whether each conference can get one of the at-large BCS slots. There's still a lot that can change about this, but I can give you my best guess right now, which isn't too great for the Broncos.
WAC (3 slots):
In: Boise State, Idaho, Fresno State, Nevada
Out: Hawaii, San Jose State, Utah State, New Mexico State
Bubble: Louisiana Tech - I almost put them out, but it’d be dull to have no bubble teams in the WAC. But they need to win at Idaho & Fresno, and they just lost at Utah frickin’ State. They’re staying home.
(BCS: Boise should win all of their remaining games and end up in the top 8. At that point, lots of other factors come into play.)
ACC (9 slots) :
In: Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia Tech
Bubble: Wake Forest – They need 2 wins, and they probably should beat Florida State and Duke. (And it’s the ACC, they could always pull an upset.) The best chance of these, but it’s still not wonderful odds.
Florida State – 3 wins needed. At this point, I have no idea if they’re any good or not. The Wake Forest game could wind up as a win-and-you’re-in matchup.
Duke – They need 2 wins, and they’re hot at the moment. There are 3 winnable games on the schedule (at Virginia, at North Carolina, and Wake Forest), but on the other hand, this is Duke.
North Carolina – Since they beat 2 1-AA teams, they need 7 total wins, which means at least one upset. It wouldn’t shock me, but neither would losing to Duke.
Virginia – First place in the division didn’t last long. They need 3 wins, and 4 of their 5 games are against teams on the "In" list. Since it’s the ACC, that might be a good sign.
North Carolina State – Another team that needs 7 wins, and outside of beating Pittsburgh, they haven’t shown that they’re capable of that.
(BCS: Hard to say. If everything goes as it should (in the ACC? Hah!), then there would be 2 ACC teams in the top 14, and they could get an at-large. What works against them is the pick order, which goes Orange, Fiesta, Sugar. The Orange will already have an ACC team. The Fiesta could, but may not want a 10-2 Virginia Tech team that has to travel across the country. Miami may have a better chance, but they’re not currently in the top 14. And the Sugar will be stuck with taking Cincinnati, who nobody really wants. If they can cut a deal to get the Fiesta to take the Big East champ, then I think there’s a much better chance the Sugar takes an ACC team.)
Big East (6 slots):
In: Cincinnati, Pitt, West Virginia
Bubble: USF: Has the collapse begun? They still just need to beat Louisville and one other team.
Connecticut: Tough loss to West Virginia. They should be OK, though, needing 2 wins with home games against Rutgers, Syracuse and USF left.
Rutgers: Beating Army didn’t prove much. They need 2 wins, but have Syracuse & Louisville left (though all on the road). They really should make it.
Syracuse: Still hanging around, they'd need wins against Rutgers at home, and Louisville and UConn on the road. None of those would be a shock, but all 3 is probably asking too much.
(BCS: No chance. If they get 2 teams in the top 14, that will mean somebody beat Cincinnati, so Pitt or West Virginia would get the automatic berth, and nobody wants an 11-1 Cincinnati.)
Big 10 (7 slots):
In: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin
Out: Illinois, Purdue
Bubble: Indiana: Now they need to pull off an upset. Wisconsin is probably their best chance, but beating Iowa this week would make a lot of other people happy.
(BCS: As it stands now, a pretty good chance. An 11-1 Penn State would be very attractive. Also, if Iowa winds up in the NCG, the Rose Bowl has shown it will take whatever Big 10 team it can get its hands on to replace them. The combination to hope for is for Iowa to beat Ohio State, and Ohio State to beat Penn State, which would probably keep both teams out of the top 14, and not eligible as at-large picks.)
Big 12 (8 slots):
In: Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech
Out: Baylor, Colorado
Bubble: Iowa State: Huge win this week, but they’re not getting 8 turnovers again. Texas A&M might not be as easy as I thought, although they still play Colorado too. I think they’re almost certainly in, but better safe than sorry
Texas A&M: I guess they haven’t given up. All they need to do is beat Baylor and Colorado, and apparently they can do that if they’re trying.
Kansas State: I goofed last week and forgot they need to get to 7 wins. Nobody in the division is a world-beater, so it could happen, but I think it’s a long shot.
(BCS: Not without a big upset. Oklahoma State is the only team close to the top 14, and they still have to play Texas and Oklahoma. In all likelihood, the Big 12 will not have a second team available to be picked.)
Pac-10 (6 slots):
In: Arizona, California, Oregon, Oregon State, USC
Out: Washington State
Bubble: Stanford: They looked pretty good last week, but still have to beat Cal or Notre Dame. They do seem to be too good of a team not to get 1 more win this year.
Arizona State: 2 wins needed, 3 non-USC/Oregon games, but they didn’t impress last week and needed a break to win the week before. I think one of Arizona St/UCLA will make it, and would lean towards the Sun Devils right now.
UCLA: Will need to win 2 out of 3 from Oregon State, Washington and Arizona State. They could succeed, but that’s not what I would expect.
Washington: Even with an assumed win over Wazzu, they have Cal and Oregon at home, and UCLA on the road, needing 2 wins. They're a good story, but I don't think they're getting to a bowl.
(BCS: Depends on the USC-Oregon game. If Oregon wins, USC will still be in the top 14, and would be a very attractive at-large pick. If USC wins, Oregon would probably drop out, although they might move back in later in the season. But a 10-2 Oregon won’t be that attractive, and they’ve been passed over by the BCS bowls before.)
SEC (9 slots):
In: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, South Carolina
Out: Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
Bubble: Georgia: Has a 1-AA left but also needs a win from Florida, Auburn, Kentucky or Georgia Tech. They certainly should get 1 win, but there isn't a gimmie in that group.
Tennessee: Needs 3 wins, but has Memphis, Vandy and Kentucky left. If they can get over the Alabama loss, they should be able to get it done.
Arkansas: Just has to take care of 2 OOC games and Mississippi State. It shouldn’t be a problem, although the Troy game could be dicey.
Independents (2+ slots):
In: Navy, Notre Dame
Bubble: Army: North Texas and VMI should be no problem, but they still need one more from Air Force or Navy. After watching them play Rutgers, I have serious doubts.
(BCS: If Notre Dame wins out, they might be in the top 14. It’s hard to be sure. If they are, they would almost certainly be an at-large pick. And will lose badly.)
Conference USA (5 slots):
In: Houston, Marshall
Out: Memphis, Rice, Tulane, UAB
Bubble: Tulsa/East Carolina: If they win the games they should win, they’ll be in. And they could do more than that.
Southern Miss: Only need 1 more win, but there are no easy games left,
UCF: Just need to beat Tulane and UAB, but haven’t beaten anyone good yet.
UTEP: If they can play the weak teams as well as they played Houston and Tulsa, they’ll get the 3 wins they need.
SMU: Not really sure how good they are, and they’ll need to beat Tulsa, Marshall or UTEP to get to 6. Just don’t know right now.
(BCS: If Houston wins out and TCU and Boise both lose…they’ll probably be passed by Utah anyway.)
MAC (3 slots):
In: Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Temple
Out: Akron, Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Miami
Bubble: Toledo and Western Michigan just need to beat the 4 terrible teams (combined 2-28) to get in, so they’re probably fine. Bowling Green and Kent State need 1 more win than that, which is still probably enough to get it done. Buffalo still has a chance, but needs to get some decent wins.
Mountain West (5 slots):
In: BYU, TCU, Utah
Out: New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Bubble: Air Force: They need 2 out of 3 against Colorado State, Army, and UNLV. That shouldn't pose a major problem.
Wyoming: If they don't pull off an upset, they need to win at San Diego St. and Colorado St. That's doable, but not easy. Best bet for a fifth team, though.
Colorado State: Need 3 wins, including either Air Force or Wyoming. If they can’t beat San Diego State…
San Diego State: I still don’t think it’s that likely, but there’s at least a possible path to 6 wins now.
(BCS: If TCU wins out, they are likely to be ahead of Boise State and the presumptive non-AQ pick.)
Sun Belt (1 slot):
In: Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Troy
Out: Arkansas State, FAU, FIU, North Texas, Western Kentucky
Bubble: MTSU: Beating Western Kentucky doesn’t tell you much about a team, but it still counts. They need 2 wins, and it’s likely they’ll get them.
To summarize the BCS question, right now I’d put the likelihood of getting an at-large bid as follows:
2. Pac-10 (IOW, I really expect Oregon to win)
4. Big 10
7. Big 12
8. Notre Dame
9. Big East
10. Conference USA
And the most important games of this weekend for the bowl bubble:
N.C. State at Florida State, Duke at Virginia: Nobody’s ever really out in the ACC until they get to 7, but the losers of these games will be in big trouble.
SMU at Tulsa: Mustangs need to find an upset somewhere, Tulsa needs to get back on track.
Iowa State at Texas A&M: The winner will either be in or very close, and the loser will still have a good shot. But these both feel like teams that could go into a tailspin at any moment.
UCLA at Oregon State: Bruins could really use the upset here.
Air Force at Colorado State: Colorado State winning would really muddle up the middle of the MWC.
Rutgers at Connecticut: Winner is in very good shape, but the loser will still have a strong chance.
Louisiana Tech at Idaho: Must-win to for the Bulldogs to have any chance
UAB at UTEP: Upsets are great, can UTEP beat someone they’re supposed to beat?
Marshall at UCF: It’d be nice for UCF to get a quality win.
Western Michigan at Kent State: Kind of doubt either one will actually get to play in a bowl, but winning this would pretty much wrap up eligibility.
Cal at Arizona State: If the Sun Devils drop this, they’re probably looking at a 4-game losing streak, which doesn’t bode well.
Nebraska at Baylor, Missouri at Colorado: I have Missouri and Nebraska in, but they do need to actually win these types of games.