Here's this week's list of who's in, who's out, and who has some work to do. Surprisingly, with 5 weeks to go, I can already declare one conference as settled (although not officially). it's probably not surprising that it's the WAC. This week, I'm also starting to look at what bowls will have open slots, and how they might fill them.
It does seem like there's more teams moving off of the In/Out lists and to the Bubble than normal, but some of that is going to happen. There were a couple of teams (Michigan, Tulsa) with really bad losses last week. I suspect every year there's a couple of teams that just collapse down the stretch. Just remember, if it's not in bold, it isn't official yet. Even if you only need to beat San Jose State.
WAC: (3 slots)
In: Boise State, Idaho, Fresno State, Nevada
Out: Hawaii, San Jose State, Utah State, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech.
(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
Out: Maryland, North Carolina State, Virginia
Bubble: North Carolina - They need 7 total wins, and Duke and N.C. State would do that. If they play as well as they're capable of, they'll make it.
Duke - They need 1 win out of 4 games. Even though there are no easy wins on the schedule, it would seem likely that they can do that.
Florida State - 2 wins needed, which means either at Clemson or at Wake Forest. (Taking Maryland as a given, which may be a mistake.) Like Duke, it seems that they could accomplish that.
Wake Forest - If they'd held on against Miami, I'd like their chances. But they need 2 out of 3 from at Georgia Tech, Florida State, and at Duke. I don't know if their offense can keep up with those guys.
(BCS: Unlikely, I think. Miami could wind up back in the top 14 if they win out, but they would probably be behind USC and the Penn St./Ohio St. winner. Even if they're not, I'm really not sure that the Fiesta Bowl would take a 10-2 Miami ahead of an unbeaten Boise State.)
Big East: (6 slots)
In: Cincinnati, Pitt, Rutgers, USF, West Virginia
Bubble: Connecticut: Another painful loss, and now they're in trouble. They need 2 out of their last 4, which means one from road games at Cincinnati and Notre Dame, or USF at home. It's certainly achievable, but it's going to be difficult.
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. No one would have any interest in Cincinnati or Pitt as an at-large, and no one else can get into the top 14.)
Big 10: (7 slots)
In: Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin
Out: Illinois, Purdue
Bubble: Michigan State: You have a losing record at this point, you get on the bubble. They only need to beat Western Michigan and Purdue, so I still think they'll get it done.
Michigan: You lose to Illinois, you get on the bubble. They probably should beat Purdue this week, but if they don't they're in big trouble with Wisconsin and Ohio State left.
Indiana: Now they need to pull off an upset - for the whole game. They may have taken their best shot already.
(BCS: As it stands now, a pretty good chance. An 11-1 Penn State would be very attractive, and a 10-2 Ohio State might be as well. 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. 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 A&M, Texas Tech
Out: Baylor, Colorado
Bubble: Iowa State: And there goes the momentum. They still just need to beat Colorado next week, which I think they will do.
Kansas State: They need 2 of the last 3, which could happen. And if it's the right 2, they'd win the division. But they haven't beaten a good team yet. (Texas A&M doesn't count that week.) I don't expect them to get it done.
(BCS: Not unless Texas loses in the Big 12 championship game. Oklahoma State's the highest ranked team and even if they made it back to the top 14, wouldn't be an attractive pick.)
Pac-10: (6 slots)
In: Arizona, California, Oregon, Oregon State, USC
Out: Washington State
Bubble: Stanford: They looked pretty good last game, 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: Need to beat UCLA and upset someone, probably Arizona. Doesn't look great at this moment.
UCLA: Will need to beat both Washington and Arizona State. That's not impossible, but they're 0-5 in the conference so far.
Washington: Even with an assumed win over Wazzu, they have Cal and Oregon State 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: In my opinion, it looks pretty likely. USC is still USC, and the bowl would probably get more buzz than they would with Boise or TCU. Of course, based on last week's game, they could easily lose again, which should drop them out of the top 14.)
SEC: (9 slots)
In: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, South Carolina, Tennessee
Bubble: Arkansas: Just has to take care of Troy and Mississippi State. You'd expect them to, but stranger things have happened.
Mississippi: Still have Northern Arizona but also need to beat Tennessee or win at Mississippi State. I expect them to do the latter, but they're clearly not at their best right now.
Georgia: Has a 1-AA left but also needs a win from Auburn, Kentucky or Georgia Tech. They probably should get 1 win, but there isn't a gimmie in that group.
Mississippi State: OK, they're losing to Alabama. But beating Arkansas and Ole Miss will be enough, and I guess there's a chance it could happen.
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, UCF
Out: Memphis, Rice, Tulane
Bubble: East Carolina: Just have to beat UAB or Tulsa. Shouldn't be a problem.
Southern Miss: Only need 1 more win, but there are no easy games left. Not ready to count Tulsa yet.
SMU: All they need now is to beat Rice and Tulane. That doesn't look too difficult.
Tulsa: Their season's going south in a hurry, and they'll need to beat at least one good team to get 6 wins.
UTEP: This team just makes no sense at all. The schedule still isn't too bad, but for them, that probably isn't a good sign.
UAB: Not very likely, but if they beat Florida Atlantic and Memphis, then they just need to upset East Carolina or UCF. I guess it could happen.
(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: Kent State, Bowling Green & Western Michigan are all in if they can just beat the 4 really bad teams. Toledo was, but they managed to lose to Miami, so now they're definitely in danger. And Buffalo needs to win out, which won't be easy.
Mountain West: (5 slots)
In: BYU, TCU, Utah, Air Force
Out: New Mexico, UNLV
Bubble: 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: They need to win out at this point, and they're 0-5 in conference. Not seeing it.
San Diego State: They barely got by winless New Mexico, but it counts. I don't expect them to get the 2 wins they need, though.
(BCS: If TCU wins out, they are likely to be ahead of Boise State and the presumptive pick.)
Sun Belt: (1 slot)
In: Louisiana-Monroe, Troy, MTSU
Out: Arkansas State, FAU, FIU, North Texas, Western Kentucky
Bubble: Louisiana-Lafayette: They lost to both of the Florida teams, which is not good, and they still need 2 wins with only Arkansas State and the top 3 teams left. But they beat Kansas State. Go figure.
Obviously, this is still subject to change, but at the moment I'd predict 4 open bowl slots. 2 of them are the Eaglebank Bowl's slots (9th ACC team and Army), but there are deals with the MAC and Conference USA for backups.
The other 2 depend on how the BCS slots work out. I'm guessing there will be 6 eligible Pac-10 teams and 5 from the Mountain West, so if either of those conferences gets a BCS at-large, there will be an open slot. And if the Pac-10 has an open slot, it would be in the Poinsettia Bowl, where the WAC is the backup - but if Boise is in a BCS game, there will not be a WAC team available. I'm assuming that the open slot for the MWC would be the Humaritarian, because they're not going to have any future relationship with them.
As for filling those slots, it's unlikely that there will be any 7-5 teams from BCS conferences available, and you can't take 6-6 teams ahead of any teams with a winning record, and there will probably be some 7-5 teams from the MAC or the Sun Belt out there. Idaho vs, Louisiana-Monroe, anybody?
And now, this week's list of important bubble games:
Washington at UCLA: Elimination game. Loser has no realistic shot.
Purdue at Michigan: Michigan's probably out if they lose this. And Purdue's better than Illinois.
Colorado State at UNLV: Winner can keep the dreams of Boise and Albuquerque alive.
Duke at North Carolina: Winner's in good shape, loser is middle-of-the-road
Western Michigan at Michigan State: Absolute must-win for the Spartans.
Florida State at Clemson: Seminoles win this, all they have to do is beat Maryland.
Wake Forest at Georgia Tech: If Wake wins, the good thing for the ACC is that they can qualify without beating both Duke and Florida State. The bad thing is that Georgia Tech is the only ACC team left that anybody respects.
Wisconsin at Indiana: Can the Hoosiers recover from last week? They'd better.
Kansas at Kansas St.: Wildcats need wins wherever they can get them. And if they lose this, it's time to start asking questions about the Jayhawks.
South Carolina at Arkansas: Win here would virtually clinch qualification for the Razorbacks.
UTEP at Tulane: Slow week in Conference USA, but UTEP can lose to anybody.
Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas State: Probably the easiest game left for the Ragin' Cajuns. If they don't win, it's just about over.
Ohio State at Penn State: It's time to start including games that are likely to affect which conferences get the BCS at-large bids, and this game should clarify which Big 10 team is a real candidate.