MSU at No. 10 in BCS Standings; What does it mean?

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Spartans are No. 10 in the BCS Standings heading into the Big Ten Championship Game, ranked No. 9 in Coaches Poll, No. 10 in Harris Poll and No. 11 in computers.

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*NOTE: We want to promote discussion and debate here. Don't pollute this debate with tinfoil hat conspiracies about the Big Ten already set to screw MSU or suspensions to Ohio State players or whatever. You make everyone look bad and don't provide anything useful to the discussion.

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BCS Harris Poll USA Today Computer Rankings

RK TEAM AVG PVS RK PTS % RK PTS % AVG A&H RB CM KM JS PW %
1 Florida State .9948 2 1 2617 .9970 1 1546 .9974 1 1 1 4 2 1 1 .990
2 Ohio State .9503 3 2 2488 .9478 2 1462 .9432 2 2 2 2 1 3 2 .960
3 Auburn .9233 4 3 2422 .9227 3 1437 .9271 3 3 3 1 3 6 3 .920
4 Alabama .8539 1 4 2262 .8617 4 1333 .8600 4 5 4 8 4 7 4 .840
5 Missouri .8428 5 5 2231 .8499 5 1315 .8484 5 4 5 3 7 8 5 .830
6 Oklahoma State .7629 7 6 2083 .7935 6 1248 .8052 9 8 7 9 15 5 11 .690
7 Stanford .7069 8 7 1873 .7135 10 1034 .6671 7 7 6 6 8 10 9 .740
8 South Carolina .7037 10 8 1841 .7013 7 1100 .7097 8 10 10 7 10 4 7 .700
9 Baylor .6623 9 9 1778 .6773 7 1100 .7097 12 9 8 11 13 12 12 .600
10 Michigan State .6529 11 10 1758 .6697 9 1037 .6690 11 12 13 10 9 11 8 .620
11 Arizona State .5833 12 13 1277 .4865 13 765 .4935 6 6 11 5 6 9 6 .770
12 Oregon .5321 13 12 1398 .5326 12 843 .5439 13 11 14 12 12 15 14 .520
13 Clemson .5201 6 11 1444 .5501 11 853 .5503 14 16 12 15 14 16 13 .460
14 Northern Illinois .4812 14 15 1104 .4206 18 547 .3529 10 18 9 13 5 2 10 .670
15 LSU .4213 17 14 1258 .4792 14 720 .4645 17 20 18 19 16 18 17 .320
16 UCF .3858 19 18 967 .3684 17 572 .3690 16 15 15 16 19 14 16 .420
17 Oklahoma .3808 18 16 1041 .3966 15 660 .4258 17 14 16 17 25 20 19 .320
18 UCLA .3506 22 19 779 .2968 19 473 .3052 15 13 19 14 11 17 15 .450
19 Louisville .2630 20 17 1013 .3859 16 625 .4032 28 NR 17 NR NR NR NR .000
20 Duke .2252 24 20 620 .2362 20 402 .2594 21 24 20 18 NR 19 23 .180
21 Wisconsin .1988 15 21 485 .1848 21 266 .1716 20 21 22 21 18 13 20 .240
22 Georgia .1143 NR 25 148 .0564 NR 41 .0265 19 19 NR 20 17 21 18 .260
23 Fresno State .1006 16 22 428 .1630 22 215 .1387 28 NR NR NR NR NR NR .000
24 Texas A&M .0995 21 23 290 .1105 25 121 .0781 23 NR 24 25 22 22 21 .110
25 Texas .0666 NR 24 167 .0636 24 149 .0961 25 22 21 NR NR NR NR .040

College Gameday will be in Indianapolis. If MSU beats Ohio State, it goes to the Rose Bowl. We know this.

If MSU loses, it needs to stay in the top 14, and, assuming OSU would go to the national championship, the Rose Bowl likely would want to pick a Big Ten team as a replacement for the 100th game, which means MSU if it's eligible. In order to be eligible, MSU can probably only afford a respectable loss. Still, MSU's .653 rating at No. 10 is significantly ahead of LSU's .421 rating at No. 15.

As far as rooting interests in that scenario, you want Florida State over Duke (so Duke doesn't steal a spot), Texas over Baylor (to knock Baylor back), Oklahoma State over Oklahoma (to knock the Sooners back and give auto-bid to Cowboys), Bowling Green over Northern Illinois (to open the auto-bid NIU has), Stanford over Arizona State (to knock ASU back and secure auto-bid for Cardinal, who are ahead of MSU). As far as Auburn vs. Missouri, an Auburn win could knock Missouri far back, but a Missouri win would secure the title spot for OSU, so it may not be a huge difference.

There are 10 spots. Six go to BCS conference winners, one is set to go to NIU, and one will likely go to Alabama. That leaves two spots.

Oregon and Clemson are looking for an at-large bid without playing. MSU's gap ahead of them is also somewhat significant.  The Ducks have some OK wins, like MSU, but a bad loss to Arizona, have struggled in recent weeks and a comment about not caring about the Rose Bowl could deter the bowls. If Ohio State is in the national championship, Oregon can't go to the Rose Bowl to face Stanford, so that would hurt them. Clemson has two blowout losses and one OK win over a then-healthy but now 8-4 Georgia.

The Big Ten ties to the Rose Bowl and ability to travel likely mean they would take MSU, if the Spartans are there. The team that could get screwed the most in all of this would be 11-1 Baylor if they beat Texas. They're not appealing because they don't travel well, though their resume isn't all that impressive, either.

In the end, there is a lot of football to be played. Beat Ohio State, and you don't have to worry about any of it.

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