Recently, we saw Kansas State leapfrog the Oregon Ducks for the No. 3 spot in the BCS Standings. The Wildcats made their move following a thrashing of the 13th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers on the road. Fourth to third is not a big move, but it is significant; with two SEC teams at the top of the rankings, the third-place team is actually the squad most likely to play in the BCS Championship game.
Now, this Saturday, Notre Dame is hoping to duplicate the Kansas State move. Go on the road and beat a ranked opponent, then hope the computers and the voters see it fit to move you up in the rankings. Surely if beating the 13th ranked team is good, beating the eighth ranked team is better. If the Wildcats got a boost for handing West Virginia their second loss in a row; perhaps the same is in order for the Irish.
Yes, kind of.
The move up by Kansas State is about a lot more than the two spots. It's about their BCS number. Entering the West Virginia game, the Wildcats sat at .8963, a mere .0030 behind the Oregon Ducks. After last weekend's games, the Ducks fell to .8966 and the Wildcats moved up to .9111. That's what created the drop for the Oregon.
So, to keep talking real numbers, the Irish would need a .0455 jump to get above Oregon for fourth place and a .0600 to get ahead of the Wildcats. That number, of course, assumes that both Oregon and Kansas State are not upwardly mobile targets that the Irish are hunting.
For Oregon, a team that fell on their own after thrashing Arizona State, playing Colorado could help close the distance separating them and Notre Dame. However, Kansas State, taking on a 14th-ranked Texas Tech, is not likely to see their number dive.
Assuming everyone wins, of course.
For Notre Dame fans, yes, it is nice to imagine a jump akin to the Wildcats' vault over the Ducks. However, given the circumstances, it's not particularly likely, even with a high caliber opponent like Oklahoma. The Fighting Irish are not as tight to the group; the distance between Kansas State and Alabama is smaller than the distance between the Irish and the Wildcats.
We've talked numbers, but let's mention the most critical part of the equation: on field performance. Kansas State helped elevate themselves by thrashing the Mountaineers. Their human poll standings improved, even as they were jumped by Florida in the USA Today Poll. For the Irish to see a jump that puts leapfrogging Oregon and Kansas State within the realm of possibilities, they will have to be incredibly impressive against the Sooners.
Moving into the Top Five is relatively easy when compared to how hard it is to move within the Top Five as all teams stay undefeated. Florida pulled it off in the Coaches' Poll by crushing a Top 10-ranked South Carolina. Kansas State did the same in the BCS Standings by blowing the doors off a Top 15 West Virginia team. If Notre Dame wants to move up, they'd have to do the same against a Top 10 Oklahoma team.
That's probably not going to happen.
The Irish will certainly see a bump should they beat the Sooners. They'll likely get more of a numerical increase than the Wildcats got for beating West Virginia; however, given their standings, leapfrogging Oregon and Kansas State to take the third spot just is not likely.