BCS Buster Power Rankings: 2012 Week 8 Rankings

The only remaining undefeated team among the non-AQ conferences had no chance of blemishing its record this weekend, as the Bobcats enjoyed their bye week sporting a 7-0 record. Ohio entered the first BCS standings of the season at #27, ranked one spot ahead of Big Ten leader Michigan.

Could the Bobcats bust the BCS? First, they need the Big Ten to continue beating up on itself. Or they need more results like MAC rival Toledo’s upset of no-longer-undefeated Cincinnati to reduce the Big East’s profile.

Of course, they also need teams like Boise State to stop garnering such attention despite the loss on their record. The Mountain West leader was the top-ranked BCS Buster hopeful in the initial rankings of the season, entering the top 25 at #22. If the Broncos keep winning — which they did on Saturday, beating UNLV at home — they’ll continue to climb. And we must always keep in mind not just the top 12 automatic clause but the top-16 ranking with a finish ahead of a BCS-conference champion.

Lurking in wait are a couple of other conference leaders. #30 Western Kentucky fell to #40 Louisiana-Monroe in a Sun Belt shakedown game. The WarHawks, who knocked off Arkansas and pushed Auburn and Baylor to the brink, remain a media darling and would move closer to the top 25 with another winning streak.

Then there’s Louisiana Tech, who beat teams from the Big Ten (Illinois) and ACC (Virginia) on the road before a missed two-point conversion proved the difference in a 59-57 loss to Texas A&M in Shreveport. The WAC leader got back to winning ways in a big way and remained the FBS leader in scoring.

The current BCS standings gave us an interesting look at how it might work out that 16 is the magic number instead of 12, as in every prior Busting of the BCS. Boise leads the pack at #21; they currently sit just ahead of Michigan in the standings, the highest-ranked Big Ten team.

But Ohio entered the top 25 this week at #24, two spots behind Michigan and one spot ahead of surging Wisconsin.

If either Big Ten powerhouse wins out, the point will be moot… especially since Michigan just survived against a Michigan State team that bested the Broncos in the season opener.

But there is another way. Louisville continues to merely survive as it stays undefeated. Cincinnati already proved vulnerable. A two- or three-loss Big East champion could still happen. And that champion would likely rank below any no- or one-loss non-AQ team, if things continue projecting as they have all season.

Will any of this count for anything come December? That’s something which may always be unpredictable in college football. Things change quickly, and that final BCS formula is always the trickiest… but we can at least get a bearing on where teams might stand in the pecking order, which we’ll do again this week with another installment of the BCS Buster Power Rankings…

1. OHIO BOBCATS (MAC/7-0)

  • CURRENT BCS POSITION: 24th (0.0533)
  • LAST GAME: W 34-28 v. Akron (10/13)
  • NEXT GAME: @ Miami (Ohio)

The Bobcats took a well-earned rest this weekend and left the battle for their MAC rivals. Frank Solich’s team has advanced to 7-0 in sometimes-shaky fashion, but they are still undefeated — and that’s something no other mid-major can say in FBS football at this point. While most of the preseason ink on this team was devoted to QB Tyler (son of Mickey) Tettleton, the key force in Ohio’s offense this year has been RB Beau Blankenship. With an average of just under 136 rushing yards per game, Blankenship is the 3rd-ranked running back in the nation. Matt Weller also bring one of the dozen best kicking legs in the country to the team, adding another weapon. The offense doesn’t turn over the ball, the defense generates a lot of pressure on passing downs, and while the team is spectacular at few things they are more than merely competent at pretty much everything. They’ll have to start ramping up their intensity for full games, though… especially with two other MAC rivals starting to impress pollsters with big result after big result.

 

2. LOUISIANA TECH BULLDOGS (WAC/6-1)

  • CURRENT BCS POSITION: 29th (0.0373)
  • LAST WEEK: W 70-28 v. Idaho
  • NEXT WEEK: @ New Mexico State

Louisiana Tech got back to their winning ways last weekend, crushing an Idaho team that is about to be left behind, clinging to nominal I-A status once the WAC dissolves after this season. They beat the Vandals so badly down in Ruston that Idaho fired head coach Robb Akey midway through its season. And, after West Virginia’s Geno Smith tossed his first interception of the season, Bulldog QB Colby Cameron supplanted the former Heisman front-runner for a new NCAA record — most pass attempts in a season without a pick. (Cameron is now at 275 attempts and counting; he and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron are the only two I-A quarterbacks who have yet to throw an interception in 2012.) The Bulldogs are on the cusp of the BCS top 25, but they need a few things to start happening — namely, Illinois and Virginia need to stop dragging down their strength of schedule with loss after loss, Texas A&M needs to get back to winning ways after losing a home game to LSU, and the teams above them in the BCS standings need to keep losing.

 

3. BOISE STATE BRONCOS (MWC/6-1)

  • CURRENT BCS POSITION: 21st (0.2070)
  • LAST WEEK: W 32-7 v. UNLV
  • NEXT WEEK: @ Wyoming

It almost feels wrong, doesn’t it? The Kellen Moore-led Broncos of the past two seasons were among the most dominant Broncos teams in the school’s history, yet losses (to Nevada in 2010 and TCU in 2011) kept Boise State out of the BCS bowls. In both cases, the losses came down to a single missed field goal — by Kyle Brotzman in 2010, by Dan Goodale in 2011 — that gave the system a firewall to keep out Chris Petersen’s crew. Climbing again in this week’s BCS standings, Boise State has a real chance this season to reach the big time despite a loss… with a much greener team than those that missed out the past two seasons. Just five spots separate the Broncos from a likely qualifying spot; just nine separate them from a guaranteed spot. This year’s squad is killing it on defense… just like they always have, ranking among the top 5 defenses in each of the past two years. If anything, they too are less potent than years past. But this year it just may be enough for the soon-to-be Big East contender.

 

4. TOLEDO ROCKETS (MAC/7-1)

  • CURRENT BCS POSITION: 31st (0.0219)
  • LAST GAME: W 29-23 v. Cincinnati
  • NEXT GAME: @ Buffalo

The Rockets pulled off the “upset” of the weekend, knocking off undefeated Cincinnati in the Glass Bowl. In the process they have vaulted up the BCS standings to #31, earning votes in both human polls and in three of the six computers. Toledo has been a giant-killer at home, their win over the Bearcats putting the Rockets at 4-1 all-time against top 25 teams in their home stadium. The team lost a lot of firepower in the offseason, with do-it-all dynamo Eric Page graduating after last season and head coach Tim Beckman taking the same post (and a bunch of his staff) in the Big Ten at Illinois. They still have to fend off Northern Illinois to reach the MAC Championship; the two teams square off in Illinois on November 14 in a divisional semifinal of sorts. But Toledo is right back in MAC contention despite their offseason setbacks, and no team had a larger climb up the BCS standings this week (an 11-spot rise from 42nd in the inaugural standings of 2012) after their upset. Toledo has the hot hand of the Buster contenders at this moment.

5. TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE (C-USA/7-1)

  • CURRENT BCS POSITION: 33rd (0.0093)
  • LAST GAME: W 28-24 v. Rice
  • NEXT GAME: @ Arkansas

If only Tulsa had won at Iowa State in September, we might be talking about them as the team best postured to crash the establishment party. The Golden Hurricane are the only team in Conference USA even remotely decent this season, and they even scheduled an October contest against an SEC opponent to better position themselves for contention. Unfortunately for Tulsa this season, that team is an Arkansas crew that has already been exposed by both Louisiana-Monroe and by Rutgers in interleague play. Even with a win, the combined misadventures of this year’s C-USA lineup coupled with the misadventures of the Razorbacks will keep even a 12-1 C-USA champion Tulsa team from challenging those teams above them in the pecking order.

 

6. NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES (MAC/7-1)

  • CURRENT BCS POSITION: 37th (0.0040)
  • LAST GAME: W 37-7 @ Akron
  • NEXT GAME: @ Western Michigan

Under Dave Doeren, the Huskies have taken that extra step defensively that they never seemed to manage under Jerry Kill. Yet, even more than Tulsa, NIU is left to rue a result against an Iowa school that will keep them out of meaningful contention. An 18-17 loss to the Hawkeyes in the season opener at Soldier Field means that Northern Illinois can only improve its standing and hope to knock off both Toledo and Ohio to claim the MAC championship. Non-conference wins against Army at West Point, and at home over Kansas, are not going to provide the kind of credibility that would lead voters to worm this Huskies crew into a coveted BCS position… even if they do go 12-1.

 

7. LOUISIANA-MONROE WARHAWKS (SUN BELT/5-2)

  • CURRENT BCS POSITION: TBD
  • LAST GAME: W 43-42 (OT) @ Western Kentucky
  • NEXT GAME: v. South Alabama

The WarHawks survived overtime on the road against the Hilltoppers, pulling off another thriller with a two-point conversion by Kolton Browning. The victory, coupled with state rival Louisiana-Lafayette’s loss at North Texas last Tuesday, means that Louisiana-Monroe is now the only undefeated team left in Sun Belt Conference play. While those two blemishes on their record — to Auburn and Baylor — were quality losses (the latter more than the former), they are two too many for a Sun Belt squad to break through the BCS barriers this season. But as the league increases its profile in 2012, the potential exists for one of its teams to reach the promised land in future years.

 

NEXT IN LINE: Kent State (MAC/6-1), Utah State (WAC/6-2), UCF (C-USA/5-2), Nevada (MWC/6-2), Western Kentucky (Sun Belt/5-2)

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3 Comments

  1. Remember, teams must only reach the top 12 — or the top 16 if a BCS-conference champion is ranked lower — to invoke the automatic qualifying spot for non-AQ teams. The top-8 stipulation is Notre Dame-specific. So while 8 might be out of reach, 16 is well within grasp of several teams. Then it would just be a matter of hoping the Big Ten, or ACC, or Big East imploding…

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