Time to dip our toes into a midweek mailbag. Would it surprise you that it jammed up with one overriding question:
Why is TCU ranked higher than Boise State?
Lots of Broncos fans are angry about the human polls and BCS standings, which have TCU at No. 3 and Boise State at No. 4. Both teams won impressively last week, but TCU beat No. 5 Utah on the road. That is my way of explaining why TCU jumped ahead in the human polls. I know Boise State fans want an explanation based on stats or something else, but I can only give you my best guess. I still have Boise State ahead. I think both are so even right now that I have no reason to move TCU ahead at this point.
As for the computer rankings, each one takes into account a different formula. Only one, Colley Matrix, publishes its formula. Each one does account for strength of schedule. The Anderson & Hester ranking puts a heavy emphasis on strength of conference. But other than those nuggets, most of everything else about how the computer rankings are done are kept a secret for proprietary reasons.
A few more common questions: If Alabama and Oregon both lose, then yes -- Boise State and TCU would be the next likely candidates to meet in the BCS national title game should they win out.
Bowl projections: If a non-AQ team makes it into the BCS national title game against a Big Ten or Pac-10 team, then the Rose Bowl is NOT required to take an at-large non-AQ team. Also, teams are not slotted into their respective bowl games based on conference order of finish. Greg in Fort Worth asked about LSU. If both LSU and Alabama are available for the Capital One Bowl, then I am betting Orlando goes with the Tide even though they lost head to head. Why? LSU was here last year, and the Capital One Bowl would jump at the chance to have the defending national champions. Alabama has not played in the game since 1995.
Same for the Big Ten. If Ohio State and Iowa are both available, I am betting the Capital One Bowl goes with the Buckeyes even if they lose to the Hawkeyes. Ohio State has not been to the game since 1996.
Now on to some questions:
Pam in Meridian, Idaho, writes: Andrea, do you REALLY think that Utah was worthy of their No. 5 position when they played TCU? After all they only played a very mediocre Pitt early in the season. Isn't TCU given a little too much credit here for blowing out Utah?
Andrea Adelson writes: Where would you have liked an undefeated Utah team to be placed, at No. 15 based on its schedule? Utah was obviously not up to the challenge, and TCU deserves every ounce of credit it goes for going on the road to beat an undefeated team by 40 points.
Andy in Hattiesburg, Miss., writes: What are your opinions on the Southern Miss Golden Eagles this year? I mean, they are only a couple of points away from being 8-1.. Besides huge penalties an inconsistent play, what are the keys to finishing 3-0 against UCF, Houston, and Tulsa. Can it be done? If not, where do you see this team next year?
Adelson writes: Southern Miss is a confounding team to me. I thought the Golden Eagles would be a serious threat to UCF, but a few of their losses have me scratching my head. You cannot discount the penalties and inconsistent play, because those are usually the difference between really good and really bad teams. It obviously has hurt that DeAndre Brown has been out. Don't forget the offensive line is young. The defense has been a disappointment with nine starters returning -- they are giving up 26 points a game. Keys to win -- don't turn the ball over, and find a way to control the ball against UCF, Houston and Tulsa, three teams that have the ability to score in bunches. As for next year, let's see how this season finishes up.
Barry Nelson in Bastrop, Texas, writes: I as a viewer want to see TCU and Boise State matched up against top teams in the BCS. If Oregon and Auburn finish out undefeated, I would imagine that they will be in the National championship game. ... We need to push the entities that choose the bowls to match up both Boise and TCU with the No. 5 and 6 teams respectively. I will not watch a TCU and Boise State game. I would watch TCU play LSU or someone with one loss. And the same goes for Boise State. Allow these teams to prove themselves, and allow us as viewers to root for that underdog.
Adelson writes: Conference tie-ins preclude a No. 5 or No. 6 playing Boise State or TCU, but we get your drift. And wholeheartedly agree.
Sean Jeffries in McCall, Idaho, writes: Being a WSU Cougar, I know a lot about losing lately, but I see Boise State win every week and drop. Has there ever been a team rated No. 3 to start the year, win every game and most by over 30 and drop? What is this conspiracy against Boise State? They have the longest winning streak, they have a top rated defense and offense, they have possibly the best QB in the game.
Adelson writes: I don't think it's a conspiracy. Critics point to the strength of schedule, judge and laugh. It's as simple as that.
Sheri in Oregon writes: A few "old" commentators are stuck on the notion that the SEC is the only division that plays "real football." Why don't we let the SEC play by themselves and the rest of the country can also have a national championship game?
Adelson writes: I've often wondered the same thing.
Matt in Orlando writes: With UCF finally being ranked for the first time in the school's history, what do you think the programs outlook is like? The starting freshman, Jeffrey Godfrey, is a true freshman, but looking anything but one. Do you think he can lead UCF to become a TCU or Boise State? The program's gone through a lot of heartbreaks. Do you think everything is looking up now?
Adelson writes: I have always maintained that UCF should be the next Boise State or TCU given its location. You have a wealth of talent in your backyard, go out and get them and build up your program. This is obviously a breakthrough with the first national ranking in school history, but this program has taken steps before and then giant leaps backward. However, Godfrey is a special player and he could bring even more of those top recruits from Miami into Orlando. What will be interesting to see is whether the school gets an invite to the Big East.
Randall McKinney in Halls, Tenn., writes: When TCU, Boise State, or any other non-AQ beats a team that’s EVER WON A NATIONAL TITLE then you let me know. When they take an October trip to a stadium with 80,000 hostile fans to play a team with just a shred of tradition and a few NFL prospects you let me know. ... Yes Utah did beat Bama in Sugar Bowl. A Bama team that even then had the 2008 and SEC title game on their mind. All this TCU-Boise talk is a joke. Boise's season was over in September. That's saying enough right there. And finally, a few years ago the average SEC team played non-conference cream puffs and the national media was all over it. Now you guts praise teams who play nothing but cream puffs. Both TCU and Boise would have losing records in the SEC, Big 12, and Big Ten.
Adelson writes: I think you answered your own question at the top there, Randall. Oh, and TCU has beaten national champions Oklahoma, Clemson and BYU in the last five years. Boise State also beat Oklahoma. Oh, and Utah won at Michigan, too. Oh, and you might want to check your calendar. Utah is headed to Notre Dame on Saturday. I believe Notre Dame qualifies as a place with 1) hostile fans and 2) a shred of tradition.