Back when the BCS formula was a convoluted jumble of computers and "quality win" bonuses, the release of the season's first standings was a highly anticipated event. You never knew what the machine might spit out.
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Now that the human polls (Harris and coaches) comprise 66 percent of the recipe, the results are fairly predictable, which is why it was no surprise to see 7-0 Texas, 7-0 Alabama and 8-0 Penn State mirror their 1-2-3 poll rankings in the BCS standings released Sunday. Any discrepancies after that can be attributed to a common theme among the six BCS computer ratings. That is: The computers are less forgiving than the voters when it comes to bad losses and weak schedules.
No. 5 USC (5-1) and No. 10 Florida (5-1) were ranked notably lower by the computers than by the pollsters. The Trojans are 4/5 in the human polls (AP and coaches, respectively) versus 10th in the computers, the Gators 6/7 versus 12th. Both lost to unranked foes, Oregon State and Ole Miss. On the other hand, Georgia, whose sole defeat was to No. 2 Alabama, came in slightly higher in the computers (seventh) than the polls (ninth). Remember, margin of victory plays no role in the BCS' computer ratings.
No. 8 Texas Tech (7-0), meanwhile, came in 4.5 spots lower in the computers, which can be attributed to a schedule of foes that includes two FCS teams and five FBS teams with a combined 12-21 record. That will inevitably change the next few weeks when the Red Raiders face Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma State.
You might also see some considerable changes as soon as this week. Note that the Nos. 2 through 8 teams all play on the road next weekend, three of them against Top 25 foes.
One thing to keep in mind when assessing the BCS standings is that in most cases, the computers will come to more closely resemble the polls as the season grows deeper and more data comes in to play. That said, the notion of "good" losses versus "bad" losses should not be overlooked. Last season, Virginia Tech finished third in the final BCS standings versus fifth and sixth in the two polls in large part because the Hokies' two losses came to 11-2 LSU and 10-3 Boston College.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Sunday's release is that two non-BCS teams, 8-0 Utah and 6-0 Boise State, are already within the top-12 threshold needed for a guaranteed berth (though only one such berth is available). TCU (7-1), at 14th, is not far off.
Generally, these teams suffer from the opposite fate of a Texas Tech in that their computer ratings inevitably tail off the deeper they get into their conference schedules. However, the Mountain West is strong enough this year that if either the Utes or Horned Frogs win out, they would almost assuredly finish in the top 12 and would likely finish ahead of Boise State if it, too, went undefeated.
On a related note, remember that a non-BCS berth is also guaranteed if one such team finishes in the top 16 and ahead of one of the six BCS conference champions. Currently no ACC team sits in the top 16, and the highest Big East team, USF, is 16th.