Wildcats join Huskers in BCS standings

The Big Ten again has two teams in the BCS standings, and its top team is inching closer to the top 14 for at-large consideration.

Nebraska, fresh off a comeback win at Michigan State, continued its climb up the standings. The Huskers are ranked No. 16. That's what they are ranked in the USA Today coaches' and Harris polls, and they are No. 14 in the computer average. Two of the six computers used for the average have Nebraska ranked No. 12.

If the Cornhuskers finish in the top 14, they will be eligible for a BCS at-large selection, and their huge, dedicated fan base would make them an appealing team to a BCS game. However, to be eligible for an at-large would mean Nebraska would not win the Big Ten title and go to the Rose Bowl. A three-loss Huskers team would probably have a tough time finishing in the top 14, especially with no more ranked teams on the schedule. The Big Ten's streak of seven straight at-large BCS bids still appears to be coming to an end.

But at least the league has a second team in the standings this week after getting shut out in the initial standings and having just Nebraska in last week. The new team in is Northwestern at No. 24.

The 7-2 Wildcats are ranked No. 21 in the coaches' poll and 24th by the Harris voters. They are not as well-liked by the computers, which have Northwestern No. 27. Only two of the six computers have Pat Fitzgerald's team in the Top 25, with the highest ranking being No. 21.

Could Northwestern win out, finish 10-2 and make the top 14? It appears to be a difficult proposition, though a win this week at Michigan could raise the Wildcats' profile. The team also could suffer from not being viewed as one of the Big Ten's signature brands, thus making it not as attractive as an at-large team ranked near the bottom of the top 14.