What the BCS Top 25 standings would look like ahead of Week 11 of college football

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Week 10 saw four top-15 teams lose, several other unranked upsets and major shake ups heading into the final few weeks of the regular season. The newest College Football Playoff rankings will be released on Tuesday night, but what would the field look like if the BCS system still existed?

BCS rankings ahead of Week 11

  1. Georgia Bulldogs (9-0)
  2. Alabama Crimson Tide (8-1)
  3. Cincinnati Bearcats (9-0)
  4. Oklahoma Sooners (9-0)
  5. Ohio State Buckeyes (8-1)
  6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-1)
  7. Michigan Wolverines (8-1)
  8. Michigan State Spartans (8-1)
  9. Oregon Ducks (8-1)
  10. Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-1)
  11. Texas A&M Aggies (7-2)
  12. Ole Miss Rebels (7-2) 
  13. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-1)
  14. Iowa Hawkeyes (7-2)
  15. UTSA Roadrunners (9-0)
  16. BYU Cougars (8-2)
  17. Wisconsin Badgers (6-3)
  18. Baylor Bears (7-2)
  19. Auburn Tigers (6-3)
  20. Houston Cougars (8-1)
  21. Penn State Nittany Lions (6-3)
  22. NC State Wolfpack (7-2)
  23. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (8-1)
  24. Purdue Boilermakers (6-3)
  25. Pittsburgh Panthers (7-2)

Cincinnati struggled for the third consecutive week, narrowly escaping a now 3-6 Tulsa team 28-20. While Alabama also struggled to beat LSU 20-14, the Crimson Tide jumped the Bearcats in the rankings. If the BCS still ruled college football and the national championship game was set today, it would feature two SEC teams. 

Georgia has its place in the SEC Championship Game locked up and Alabama is the favorite to play them, so this matchup will likely happen in early December.

Big Ten tops SEC with seven teams

With seven teams in the rankings, the Big Ten took over sole possession of having the most teams featured. The SEC has five teams, the Big 12 and the ACC each have three, and Oregon is the lone Pac-12 representative. There are four Group of Five teams in the rankings plus independents BYU and Notre Dame. 

The biggest movers were Baylor and Auburn. Both teams dropped six spots after Baylor fell 30-28 to an unranked TCU team, and Auburn lost 20-3 to Texas A&M. Wisconsin jumped up four spots, and their resume continues to improve. They have won five straight games after starting the season 1-3, and their losses are to ranked Notre Dame, Michigan and Penn State. They hold two ranked wins (according to the BCS) over Purdue and Iowa.

Once again, the computers do not like Oregon after they had difficulties with a bad Washington team last weekend. They are ninth in the BCS simulation despite being No. 5 in the AP Poll this week. They were No. 4 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, and they will find out their new spot on Tuesday night. 

Purdue and Pittsburgh joined the rankings this week, while SMU and Kentucky fell out. 

From BCS to CFP

Prior to the current CFP system, college football was governed by the BCS, whose final rankings were computer generated, and two teams faced off in the national championship to conclude the season. The system also created matchups for four additional prestigious bowl games: the Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. 

The BCS formula used a number of factors to produce its list. There were three components to the rankings, with a mix of human and computer generated thoughts: the Harris Poll, the Coaches Poll and the computer rankings. All three parts were weighted equally. 

The Harris and Coaches Polls had values assigned to each spot in reverse order. For example, in the Harris Poll of 25 teams, the top team receives 25 points, the second team receives 24 points, etc. The Coaches Poll had a similar scoring system, although there were fewer voters involved.

The third part, the computer rankings, included six additional polls: Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin’s USA Today and Peter Wolfe. In the end, the final values assigned to each team in the three categories are averaged, and the BCS rankings were produced.

Beginning in 2014, the CFP replaced the BCS. Two semifinal games are played around New Year’s Day, and the games take place on a rotating basis at six of the country’s top bowls – the Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. The two winners advance to the College Football Playoff National Championship. That game is played on a Monday night in the second week of January.

The CFP selection process is more subjective than the BCS, as the teams are decided upon by 13 people and there is no longer a strict computer component. The selection committee is composed of athletic directors, former coaches and student-athletes, and others in the college administration world. The current chair of the committee is Gary Barta, the athletic director at Iowa.

“The selection committee ranks the teams based on the members’ evaluation of the teams’ performance on the field, using conference championships won, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, and comparison of results against common opponents to decide among teams that are comparable,” the website says.

Additionally, there is a board of governors made up of presidents and chancellors from the 10 FBS conferences plus Notre Dame which governs the administrative actions of the CFP.

Alabama is the reigning national champion and holds the most CFP wins at eight. In total, the SEC and the ACC each have eight playoff appearances, driven largely by Alabama and Clemson’s near-constant presence at the top in recent years. Technically, all FBS teams have equal access to the playoff; there are no automatic qualifiers. 

College football remains the only college sport in the country without an officially NCAA-sanctioned championship. At its core, the CFP is really a television contract currently owned by ESPN.