Here are this week's Gus Rankings. Notre Dame holds a sizable advantage over #2 Ohio State. Stanford finds itself at #3 after their win over Oregon, Nebraska sits at #4 and Alabama is at #5.
At the bottom of the spectrum, Southern Mississippi charges to a one point edge over Akron. Since Southern Mississippi finishes with 7-loss Memphis, Akron finishes with 3-loss Toledo, and Massachusetts ends with 6-loss Central Michigan, the Golden Eagles seem to be in line to take the title of worst FBS team.
At this stage of the game, it's fun to project whom Gus would place into each of the BCS game. The bowl lineup is as follows:
National Championship Game - BCS #1 vs. BCS #2
Rose Bowl - Ben Ten Conference Champion vs. Pac-12 Conference Champion
Fiesta Bowl - Big 12 Conference Champion vs. At-large
Sugar Bowl - SEC Champion vs. At-large
Orange Bowl - ACC Champion vs. At-large
Note that the Big East Conference champion does not automatically qualify for a particular bowl, so they can be viewed as a mandatory at-large.
Should a conference champion qualify for the National Championship game from a conference that is tied to another bowl, that bowl gets first choice on replacing that team from the eligible pool of teams. If both teams are conference champions, the #1 BCS team is replaced first.
In 2013, at-large spots are filled in the following order: Fiesta, Sugar, Orange
Conference champions are determined by the highest spot on the Gus Rankings should any discrepancies arise.
So that gives us the Gus BCS:
National Championship Game: Notre Dame (At-large) vs. Stanford (Pac-12 champion)
Rose Bowl: Nebraska (Big 10 Champion) vs. Oregon (At-large replacement for Stanford)
Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State (Big 12 champion) vs. Florida (At-large)
Sugar Bowl: Alabama (SEC champion) vs. Clemson (At-large)
Orange Bowl: Florida State (ACC champion) vs. Rutgers (Big East champion)
Notice that Clemson is higher than Florida State in the Gus Rankings but cannot win the ACC as they are not in the ACC Championship Game. But not a bad slate! As far as my two cents, I think we end up seeing the following-- we'll see how things can change over the next two weeks:
National Championship Game: Notre Dame vs. Alabama
Rose Bowl: Nebraska vs. Stanford
Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State vs. Oregon
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. Clemson
Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Rutgers
A few notes:
- I think Florida State beats Florida this weekend in Tallahassee. That should eliminate Florida from BCS consideration.
- Stanford beating UCLA two weeks in a row would be impressive; should that not happen, Stanford will be out of the BCS (well, they could lose next week, Oregon State could beat Oregon, then Stanford could come back and beat UCLA in the Pac-12 title game). The real issue for the Fiesta Bowl is if Oregon makes it to the Rose Bowl. Let's say they want to take a big name to offset the less-than-big-name of Kansas State; Oregon fits that role beautifully and they'd take Oregon in a heartbeat if they could. On top of that, they should be able to since they choose from the at-large pool first. Only the Sugar Bowl would likely have the chance to beat them to Oregon, but that doesn't really make sense for anyone involved for Oregon to end up in New Orleans.
But the Fiesta Bowl can't take Oregon if they end up as Pac-12 champions. There shouldn't be any SEC teams left at that point; one will likely be in the title game, and the Sugar Bowl will get the first replacement pick and likely take another SEC team. Conferences can't have any more than two teams, so that eliminates Texas A&M. Oklahoma would be an interesting pick for a rematch with Kansas State, and I wouldn't normally think them to do that...but who is left? Clemson to Tempe? Rutgers? Oregon State would have three losses in this scenario so they're out, Texas would as well. This scenario probably won't happen but it's definitely feasible...that would be an interesting decision to make. If I had to guess, I'd probably say Oklahoma, but the Fiesta Bowl folks can't be liking that too much. They just can't expect Clemson to draw across the country, and you can say the same for Rutgers in light of the UConn experience a few years ago.
- I suppose you could make the argument for a two-loss Georgia (or maybe Florida) team in the Sugar Bowl instead of LSU. Georgia would have made the SEC title game and had a better in-conference record, but (1) LSU is the home-state team and (2) it's not like the Sugar Bowl has looked to find the best remaining teams to fill their slots in the past (see: Michigan, 12 months ago).