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Week 15 BCS Projections: Where Do the Huskies Stand?

The final in-season BCS standings are released tonight. Just seven days and one game stands between Northern Illinois and a potential second consecutive trip to a BCS bowl. Where will the Huskies be tonight when standings are revealed?


Can you believe it?  Tonight, the BCS will release the next-to-last edition of its standings -- EVER.  What should you expect in tonight's release?  Let's take a look...

Quick primer: BCS standings are comprised of three elements.  One-third is the coaches' poll, one-third is the other human poll (Harris), and one-third is the composite of the six computer polls.

To get a team's final BCS number, you first half to get each team's percentage of possible total points in each of the three elements.  For example, if Florida State was a unanimous #1 in the coaches' poll, it would receive 100% of the possible points -- or 1.000.  This week, they were #1 in all but four ballots, so they received 99.74% of the possible points -- or 0.9974.  It can vary week-to-week depending on how many human voters turn in their ballots, but this week, the coaches' poll had 1,550 total possible points, while the Harris Poll had 2,625 total possible points.

In the six computer polls, the top and bottom ranking are dropped, and the middle four are used.  A team can get a maximum of 100 points.  Teams get 25 points for first place, 24 for second and so on.  If a team is ranked first in all of the computer polls that count, then they receive 100 points, which is 100% of the total possible points -- or 1.000.

When all three percentages for a team are determined, they're added together and then divided by three to get the team's final BCS average.

We already know two of the three elements for this week's BCS standings, because the two human polls have already been released today.  The following table shows how the teams stack up after those polls are converted into "BCS points".

Rank Team USAT BCS Harris BCS Total BCS
1 Florida St. 0.9974 0.9970 1.9944
2 Ohio St. 0.9432 0.9478 1.8910
3 Auburn 0.9271 0.9227 1.8498
4 Alabama 0.8600 0.8617 1.7217
5 Missouri 0.8484 0.8499 1.6893
6 Oklahoma St. 0.8052 0.7935 1.5987
7 South Carolina 0.7097 0.7013 1.4110
8 Baylor 0.7097 0.6773 1.3870
9 Stanford 0.6671 0.7135 1.3806
10 Michigan St. 0.6690 0.6697 1.3387
11 Clemson 0.5503 0.5501 1.1004
12 Oregon 0.5439 0.5326 1.0765
13 Arizona St. 0.4935 0.4865 0.9800
14 LSU 0.4645 0.4792 0.9437
15 Oklahoma 0.4258 0.3966 0.8224
16 Louisville 0.4032 0.3859 0.7891
17 Northern Illinois 0.3529 0.4206 0.7735
18 Central Florida 0.3690 0.3684 0.7374
19 UCLA 0.3052 0.2968 0.6020
20 Duke 0.2594 0.2362 0.4956
21 Wisconsin 0.1716 0.1848 0.3564
22 Fresno St. 0.1387 0.1630 0.3017
23 Texas A&M 0.0781 0.1105 0.1886
24 Cincinnati 0.1077 0.0541 0.1618
25 Texas 0.0961 0.0636 0.1597

As you can see, Northern Illinois is 17th.  This is outside the "top 16" requirement for potentially receiving an automatic berth to the BCS, but they are ahead of Central Florida (18th).  In fact, the Huskies are doing better in the human polls than they had been in recent weeks.  Last week, NIU actually trailed UCF when you combined the results of the two human polls.  So, the above results should do nothing to hurt the Huskies chances to make a BCS bowl.

The key here, as it has been for the last few weeks, is how the computers treat Northern Illinois and Central Florida.  Last week, Northern Illinois earned 73 of a possible 100 points in the computers.  In the rankings that counted, they were 6th, 8th, 8th and 9th.  On the other hand, Central Florida earned just 35 of 100 possible points and were ranked 16th, 17th, 17th and 19th in the polls that were used.

Given that both teams won this week against opponents with poor records, it would be reasonable to expect both teams' rankings to go down somewhat in the computers.  NIU is also hurt somewhat by Toledo's loss to Akron -- but they are also helped immensely by Iowa's huge win over Nebraska.  In other words, there's nothing here to indicate that there would be a large swing in either team's favor.

Central Florida would need to see a swing of 42 points in the computers in order to overtake Northern Illinois.  While NIU may lose ground in the computers to Michigan State, South Carolina and Stanford (each of whom defeated good opponents this week), it shouldn't be anywhere near enough to push them below UCF.

Now, the question becomes "Will NIU remain in the top 16?"  I believe the answer is yes.  Only two teams ahead of NIU in last week's BCS standings (Clemson, Alabama) lost this week, and neither of those teams is dropping below NIU, so forget that.  But what about the teams below the Huskies?  #15 Wisconsin lost.  So did #16 Fresno State.  #17 LSU barely beat a terrible Arkansas team at home.  #18 Oklahoma and #20 Louisville did not play.  #21 Texas A&M and #25 Notre Dame also lost.

The only potential concern would be #22 UCLA, who beat #23 USC rather handily, and #24 Duke.  However, both are far enough behind Northern Illinois that the Huskies should be safe.  Further, UCLA does not play next week, and Duke is a heavy underdog in their ACC Championship Game against Florida State.

My official prediction?

Northern Illinois remains at #14 in the BCS.  I also predict that their lead over Central Florida (0.1256 last week) will decrease slightly but remain in the 0.0750-0.1250 range.

We'll know the truth in a few hours...