Thanks to USC's latest loss, things might not be so dire for Boise State
TCU's resounding 55--28 victory over Utah virtually ended Boise State's hopes for an automatic BCS bid—one spot is reserved for the highest-ranked team from outside the six power conferences if it finishes in the top 12—and in the process the Horned Frogs made believers of Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "I've been a head coach for five years, and that's the best team I've faced," Whittingham said of No. 4 TCU, which has the fourth-ranked offense and defense in the country.
But the news was not all bad for the Broncos last Saturday night. That's because USC, a prime candidate for one of the four BCS at-large bids, was throttled at home by Stanford 55--21. The Trojans allowed the most points in the 121-year history of their program, but more important was what the loss did to their BCS ranking. A team from a BCS conference has to finish in the top 14 to get an at-large bid; USC is 18th.
Ohio State became the first team to clinch a BCS berth, and the Big Ten figures to get a second bid, with Iowa or Penn State. But here's more good news for Boise: As much as the at-large selections are about TV ratings and ticket sales, no conference can receive more than two invitations. Who would get the second Big Ten bid? The Nittany Lions, who had to rally to beat Indiana at home last Saturday, were the beneficiaries of some curious voting last week, jumping from 17th to 12th in both the coaches' and the Harris polls. Penn State is now 14th in the BCS rankings, one spot behind the Hawkeyes. Both teams have two losses, but Iowa won the head-to-head meeting 21--10 at Beaver Stadium on Sept. 26.
If Boise State fans are looking for somebody to root for, they should think about getting in Oklahoma's corner. With four losses, the Sooners won't be going to a BCS bowl this season, but they can have a say in who does. Oklahoma State is 12th in the BCS rankings. Winning out would put the Cowboys at 10--2 and make them an attractive option for an at-large bid. But winning out would also mean beating Oklahoma in Norman on Nov. 28.
With selection day set for Dec. 6, here is SI's projected BCS lineup:
Title game: Alabama vs. Texas
Rose: Ohio State vs. Oregon
Fiesta: Iowa vs. Boise State
Sugar: Florida vs. Pittsburgh