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BCS (Bob's College Summary)
By Bob Cunningham
October 21, 2003
 

The first real BCS poll of the season came out this week, and while there are some obvious differences when compared to my humble rankings, an obvious pattern emerges -- Oklahoma, Miami and Virginia Tech will each determine its own destiny.

In my systematically inclined poll, the trick is determining which of the 1-loss teams deserve to be ranked the highest. As I struggle with that lofty task -- there were 24 schools sporting one defeat going into last week's schedule -- it dawned on me that I need to devise a system of sorts. And so, here's my step-by-step "procedure" for ranking teams with the same number of defeats, in order of criteria: 1) head-to-head results (when and where applicable); 2) overall strength of conference/schedule, and 3) quality of conqueror (how good is the team that beat the subject squad?).

Of course, I have to factor in things like locations of losses (losing at home is, obviously, worse) and less tangible factors like the general perception of how well a team is performing. It's far from simple, but it sure is fun.

So with all that to digest, please accept my latest top 10:

Bob's Top 10

1. OKLAHOMA (7-0) No easy road to the Sugar Bowl -- games against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech still loom, plus the conference championship game.
2. MIAMI (7-0) The Canes' regular season run may be about over -- it's going to be tough for them to win at Blacksburg next week.
3. VIRGINIA TECH (7-0) Must be careful not to get caught looking ahead when it travels to West Virginia for a Wednesday night clash.
4. TCU (7-0) Playing just well enough to stay unscathed -- Frogs figure to stumble at least once over the next four weeks.
5. NORTHERN ILLINOIS (7-0) Severe tests the next two weeks, at Bowling Green and at home against Ball State. Can't believe I'm writing this stuff about the MAC!
6. USC (6-1) A scenario for USC to play in the Sugar Bowl -- VTech beats Miami, then loses to Virginia in season finale as Troy wins out.
7. LSU (6-1) Talented Tigers still control own destiny toward trip to BCS bowl -- but SEC's brutal schedule is a landmine every week.
8. GEORGIA (6-1) Desperately wants another shot at LSU in SEC Title Game, but Auburn or even Ole Miss might foil those plans.
9. FLORIDA STATE (6-1) Among the country's finest teams? Nah, I probably went overboard last week. But surviving at Virginia does show resiliency.
10. WASHINGTON STATE (6-1) Like Pac-10 rival USC, Cougars just an OT road loss from perfect. Must avoid letdown against Oregon State before meeting Trojans.
Also considered: The entire Big-10 -- let's see... Purdue beat Wisconsin, which beat Ohio State, which beat Bowling Green, which beat Purdue. Iowa lost to Michigan State, which lost to... Louisiana Tech? At home? I'm definitely confused now.

2003 PREDICTION RECORDS:
Straight-Up -- 40-20 (67%)
Against-The-Spread -- 29-31 (48%)

LAST WEEK: 8-0 Straight-Up, 5-3 Against-The-Spread

Week 9 Schedule (the top games of the week)

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 22

No. 3 Virginia Tech (-12 1/2) 37, at West Virginia 20 -- Think the Hokies might get caught looking ahead to next week's showdown with Miami? Think again, because West Virginia was an upset winner at Blacksburg last season, 21-18, and the Hokies have undoubtedly vowed revenge ever since.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23

Georgia Tech (+2 1/2) 23, Maryland 20 -- Tough to tell which Yellowjackets team will show, but at home on national TV, I'll take the slight dogs against the Terps, who have won five in a row after starting 0-2. Tech had won four straight in this series at home before Maryland's 20-17 win in 2001. Terps rolled last season at home.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25

Michigan 31, Purdue (+4 1/2) 28 -- I stop short of picking the Boilermakers straight-up because, well, it's just too atraditional a choice. But in the last nine meetings, Michigan has won seven but is just 3-5-1 against the spread. Wolverines unbeaten at home this season, Boilermakers 2-0 on the road against decent teams Wake Forest and Wisconsin. Line opened at 6 1/2 points.

Bowling Green (-4) 35, No. 5 Northern Illinois 27 -- BG beat Purdue this season on the road -- I'm impressed by that. NIU falls because its conference slate is surprisingly staunch, and it can't/won't win them all.

Texas A&M (+6) 29, Oklahoma State 26 -- My upset pick for this week, because the Cowboys were so sky-high in their 51-49 thriller win over Texas Tech last week that's there's nowhere to go but down... especially considering the Pokes' anticipated clash with No. 1 Oklahoma next week.

No. 7 LSU (-3 1/2) 20, Auburn 13 -- Wouldn't surprise me if Auburn covered and still lost, because this one is likely to be close throughout. But LSU is ultra-tough at home, and unlikely to stumble twice there this season. Auburn cruised last season at home, 31-7, but LSU won last meeting at Baton Rouge in 2001.

No. 10 Washington State (-8) 38, Oregon State 20 -- Wazzou's chances of being flat the week prior to squaring off with USC would be more pronounced if Oregon State wasn't such a doggone good team. At home, the Cougars should pull away. Last meeting was at Spokane in 2001, won by the Cougars, 34-27.