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Initial BCS Rankings Explained (with Logic)

While it's true that there will be a four-game playoff in college football soon enough, we still have two more seasons of life with the BCS. Fear not, I say! For anyone who greets each weekly release of the BCS rankings with a resounding "huh?", I give you a foolproof explanation of how they have been reached. Of course, I will be referencing the pure wisdom that exists throughout the polling process and the infallibility of all of the computer rankings. On to the logic!

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

1. Team: Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0)

Reason for being ranked this high: Isn't this a no-brainer? Alabama, last season's winner of the MNCG (the "M" is for "Mythical") has cruised to an undefeated record thus far, with no close calls to speak of. In addition, despite being one of 12 remaining undefeated teams, the Crimson Tide have the following items working in their favor:

  • They play in the SEC, which for all intents and purposes is the NFL "lite"; furthermore, they play in the Western division, which for all intents and purposes is the NFL "lite-plus".
  • They own marquee wins against, I mean, make that Western Kentucky.
  • People seem to think Nick Saban's a good coach. Go figure.
  • SEC Speed!

2. Team: Florida Gators (6-0)

Reason for being ranked this high: There are several theories at work here. It could be that Florida, of all undefeated teams, has the best win of anyone out there with a victory over LSU... It could be because the computers love Florida more than any other team out there... However, I'll just go ahead and say it's because of Brent Pease. Who's gonna argue with that?

Reason they aren't ranked higher: I had to think about this one, because I think Florida has a pretty good argument for being ranked #1 at this time. The answer? Human voters don't want to vote for Florida that much because they weren't ranked very high in the preseason polls, which, of course, is the most valid measure ever in the entire world. Oh, and nobody outside of the Gainesville really likes Florida anyway.

3. Team: Oregon Ducks (6-0)

Reason for being ranked this high: Remember when everyone thought this was the year that USC regained its stranglehold over the rest of the Pac-12? It turns out that no one thought to ask the Ducks if that would be okay. Oregon has completely dominated its competition so far, including a 49-0 embarrassment of then-ranked Arizona. Human voters are big fans of the Ducks.

Reason they aren't ranked higher: While the Coaches and Harris poll voters love Oregon, the computers don't seem to be as impressed. Remember this about computers: they are cold, lifeless bundles of circuits with no eyes and therefore cannot be blinded (in the most literal sense) by the Ducks' endless, horrendous combinations of uniform colors.

4. Team: Kansas State Wildcats (6-0)

Reason for being ranked this high: The Wildcats are truly one of the biggest surprises of the season so far (raise your hand if you assumed last year's 10-3 team was a total fluke). Armed with a resume that includes a big win over Oklahoma, both the pollsters and computers seem to be loving these upstarts from Manhattan, Kansas (it is a real place...just look on the map).

Reason they aren't ranked higher: I'm pretty sure that if any pollsters were to actually read this article, they would have raised their hands a couple of seconds ago.

5. Team: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-0)

Reason for being ranked this high: Given the year-in and year-out hype surrounding the perennially underachieving Irish, I'm actually shocked they aren't ranked even higher than this.

Reason they aren't ranked higher: Everybody is probably just waiting for the underachievement to begin. Plus, ranking them at the top now would ruin the potential for a "Rudy" kind of ending to the season.

6. Team: LSU Tigers (6-1)

Reason for being ranked this high: Remember that thing about NFL "lite-plus"? Yeah, it applies to LSU too. It certainly is more important than the fact that six (not counting Ohio State) undefeated teams are ranked lower than the Tigers. (By the way, in case anyone is wondering why Mississippi State, also of the SEC West, is not in the Top Ten of the BCS, it's because teams from Mississippi don't really count in that division. Don't you know the rules?)

Reason they aren't ranked higher: Don't forget that the team that beat LSU hails from the inferior SEC East...if that loss had come at the hands of Alabama, I'd be picking LSU to win the MNCG right now (playing against the Tide of course).

7. Team: South Carolina Gamecocks (6-1)

Reason for being ranked this high: Speaking of the SEC East, here's the Gamecocks, fresh off of their first loss to none other than LSU. And like the Tigers, South Carolina is ranked ahead of six unbeaten teams. The reason? Simple...the SEC East may be inferior to the West, but, c''s still the SEC!

Reason they aren't ranked higher: Close geographic proximity to the ACC.

8. Team: Oregon State Beavers (5-0)

Reason for being ranked this high: If Kansas State's early success is surprising, then the Beavers' success is downright shocking. Among their marquee wins are victories against Wisconsin and UCLA, as well as eclipsing the seven point mark against BYU.

Reason they aren't ranked higher: Due to Hurricane Isaac, Oregon State has only played five games. It's questionable, had they played mighty Nicholls State, whether they would still be undefeated.

9. Team: Oklahoma Sooners (4-1)

Reason for being ranked this high: What would the BCS Top Ten be without the Sooners? Oklahoma has managed to move ahead of five unbeaten teams for the following reasons:

  • They beat what was then the AP's #15 team (Texas)
  • They are a "traditional power"
  • They do not belong to the Big East or MAC, are not Ohio State, and are not from Mississippi

Reason they aren't ranked higher: Hmm...let's see:

  • The Sooners lost to what was then the AP's #15 team (Kansas State)
  • Traditional power or not, they certainly aren't from the SEC
  • They've only played five games, and I'm pretty sure they didn't have to deal with any hurricanes...

10. Team: USC Trojans (5-1)

Reason for being ranked this high: Aside from having the benefit of a lofty preseason ranking, USC benefits from the one thing that's almost as good as being in the SEC...which is being USC. Hooray for name brand recognition!

Reason they aren't ranked higher: Losing to a bunch of nerds, aka Stanford, that doesn't even have Andrew Luck anymore? Not cool.

Just missed the Top 10: Georgia Bulldogs

Reason they aren't ranked higher: Penance for their loss to Boise State last year.