College Football

BCS Bowl Stock Watch for Week 10

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistOctober 28, 2013

BCS Bowl Stock Watch for Week 10

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    The second edition of the BCS rankings were released on Sunday night, shedding insight into which teams have done the most and which teams have done the least to improve their postseason profiles.

    Week 9 was nothing like Week 8 in terms of upsets and shakeups, so the rankings look far more familiar than their debut last Sunday, but there was still some minor movement worth noting.

    From Oregon jumping Florida State to Ohio State jockeying for position in the Top Five, the Week 10 BCS rankings release did not lack for postseason implications.

    Whose stock has moved up or down the most?

    Let's take a look.

Stock Up: South Carolina

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    South Carolina, which appeared destined to fall out of the Top 25 midway through Saturday's game at Missouri, engineered a thrilling comeback win over the Tigers and ascended all the way to No. 14.

    More importantly, the Gamecocks avoided falling three games back in the SEC East race and hold a vital win against their biggest competition.

    It won't be easy, but with Clemson still left on its schedule, South Carolina could win out and find itself ranked favorably in the final polls. Head coach Steve Spurrier, though, wants his team to take things one game at a time.

    "Hopefully, our players know that we're not any big, powerful, mighty team, and pretty much anybody can beat us," said Spurrier, according to Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com. "We gotta get ready to play."

    That "one game at a time" mentality will be put to the test against Mississippi State this week. The Bulldogs are slowly rounding into form, so South Carolina can't get caught looking ahead.

Stock Down: UCLA

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    Schedule-makers did the Bruins no favors in asking them to travel from Palo Alto to Eugene in back-to-back weeks, leaving UCLA with two conference losses in four games.

    But head coach Jim Mora is not making any excuses, and he is not content with moral victories.

    "We didn't come up here to play [Oregon] close," Mora said, according to Arash Markazi of ESPN.com. "We came up here to win the game and we didn't...I told the guys we played hard but playing hard is not enough."

    The loss didn't bury UCLA's BCS chances, but it did all but eliminate any margin of error for the Bruins the rest of this season.

    UCLA controls its own fate. Should it win out, it will play in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but with Arizona, Washington, Arizona State and USC all left on the schedule, running the table will not be easy.

    The Bruins did well to start the season 5-0, but now they have some work to do.

Stock Up: Ohio State

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    That's more like it.

    Ohio State finally looked the part of a legitimate BCS title contender, breaking all sorts of offensive records in a 63-14 demolition of Penn State.

    The win was a refreshing sign of life from the Buckeyes, who had struggled against Big Ten teams like Iowa and Northwestern in recent weeks while Alabama, Oregon and Florida State were steamrolling better competition.

    As a result, the Buckeyes jumped .0287 in the BCS rankings. That may not seem like a lot, but if nothing else, it's a step in the right direction and a reminder that style points still matter.

    Now, Ohio State needs to build on its momentum.

Stock Down: Miami

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    In winning a close game over Wake Forest on Saturday, the Hurricanes remained undefeated and technically kept their BCS title (and at-large) hopes intact.

    As alluded to earlier, however, style points are still important. Now that Miami has flirted with disaster in back-to-back weeks, its style points are basically Nowzik-ian.

    If Miami beats Florida State next weekend, none of this matters. All will be forgiven and then some.

    On the other hand, if the 'Canes get a Seminoles beatdown like Clemson did, voters will not be so eager and willing to forgive them. Games like this past week's have set Miami up for a potential big fall.

Stock Up: Northern Illinois

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    Northern Illinois won its 21st consecutive conference game on Saturday, beating Eastern Michigan in convincing fashion, 59-20.

    The Huskies didn't gain much ground on Fresno State for the right to be a non-automatic qualifier in the BCS, but they did look the part of a much stronger team and might have a chance to overtake Fresno State soon.

    In a weird bit of dissonance, the "real" rankings of USA Today's Jeff Sagarin have NIU all the way down at No. 51, but the rankings used in the BCS formula have the Huskies up at No. 3.

    It never hurts to have computers on your side.

Stock Down: Fresno State

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    On the flip side of Northern Illinois' equation, Fresno State was also able to remain undefeated in a non-automatic qualifier league, but it hardly looked the part of a BCS contender.

    The Bulldogs needed overtime to beat a not-that-good San Diego State team, and it wasn't the first time this season they've struggled against inferior competition.

    Fresno State's two best wins—against Rutgers and Boise State—both look much worse in hindsight, as neither of those programs are nearly as good as they were in 2012.

    Even if Fresno State finishes the year undefeated, it will be a struggle for it to keep Northern Illinois at bay and land a spot in the final BCS.

Stock Up: Oregon

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    It wasn't exactly a shock, but Oregon took all of one week to leapfrog Florida State and settle into the No. 2 spot in the rankings.

    The Ducks looked beatable for the first time all season in the first half against UCLA, pushing fans in Tallahassee, Columbus and Waco onto the edge of their seats. But they made a very good UCLA team look bad in the second half and reminded those same fans why 2013 might not be their year.

    Of course, none of this matters should Oregon come up short against Stanford on Thursday, Nov. 7. That and the (potential) conference championship are the games that will likely decide the Ducks' season.

    For now, Oregon is officially in line to get a shot at Alabama.

Stock Down: Missouri

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    This one comes with an asterisk.

    Missouri's stock is obviously in worse shape than it was last week, when it was still undefeated and had risen all the way to No. 5. But the Tigers are still in an OK place.

    South Carolina is a quality opponent to lose to, and Missouri still controls its own fate in the SEC East. It doesn't have to hope for other teams to be upset; so as long as it takes care of its own business, Mizzou will make a BCS bowl.

    In that regard, the Tigers are in the same spot today that they were a week ago. The only differences are that they can't win a national title now, and they have a much smaller margin for error.

Stock Up: Stanford

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    Stanford's defense shut down Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks on Saturday night in Corvallis, making America's best quarterback-wide receiver duo look like just another pair of guys.

    As a result, despite already having been dealt an upset loss, the Cardinal jumped into the No. 5 spot of the BCS rankings, still ahead of undefeated Baylor.

    It's hard to say if that will stick by the end of the season. Stanford might well be the better team, but as Baylor's schedule gets harder, voters will find out more and more about the Bears' legitimacy.

    If the Bears are undefeated at year's end, who's to say if Stanford would be able to hold them off and slip into a potential national title game?

    All we know is the now, and the now says Stanford is sitting pretty.

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