Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson
1.Boise State: Thanks to losses by Utah and BYU this past weekend, the Broncos are out in front in the race for a BCS bowl. And there’s very little standing in their way. Boise State has been in this position before and handled it well. While this is a different team, the work ethic is the same and it will take some work to bump the Broncos out of their current position.
2.TCU: The Horned Frogs could make up significant ground on Boise State this weekend with a win over a Clemson team that’s played well in all three of its games this season. If TCU can get by the Tigers, it will have a few more chances this season as it pushes itself ahead of Boise State in the BCS standings.
3.Houston: The Cougars had a bye this week and jumped four spots in the Associated Press poll thanks to losses by other teams. Last week was the first time since 1991 that the Cougars have appeared in the polls. The Cougars are the darkhorse in the BCS race, but a win over Texas Tech this weekend would only enhance their BCS résumé.
4.Notre Dame: The Irish defeated Michigan State with some late-game heroics and escaped a potentially tough situation to begin the season. It doesn’t get any easier though, especially with top receiver Michael Floyd out for the season and quarterback Jimmy Clausen hampered by an injury to his right foot.
5.BYU: According to BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall, Florida State exposed some of the Cougars flaws this past weekend. But that doesn’t mean BYU isn’t a good team. And while a BCS bowl berth is probably out of the question, the Cougars can still regain the Mountain West title that they lost last year.
6.Utah: The Utes had problems with turnovers two weeks ago against San Jose State and they surfaced again in the loss to Oregon. Like BYU, a BCS berth is probably out of the question, but the Utes are the defending Mountain West champions and still one of the more talented teams in the conference.
7.Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles are one of just three 3-0 teams among the non-AQs and they got there with a furious comeback against Virginia this past weekend. Southern Miss is quietly making things interesting, not only in Conference USA, but also nationally. A win against Kansas this weekend could put the Golden Eagles in the BCS busting conversation.
8.Colorado State: The Rams are probably the most surprising 3-0 team, especially since this was supposed to be a rebuilding year. It seems like every week they’re gaining confidence and they’ll need it this weekend when they travel to BYU for their first conference game.
9.Northern Illinois: The Huskies defeated their first automatic qualifying team since 2003 and are a score against Wisconsin from being undefeated this season. Northern Illinois didn’t get the preseason press Central Michigan and Western Michigan got, but could be a force when conference play starts in two weeks.
10.Central Michigan: The Chippewas earned a big win over Michigan State last week and continued that winning streak with a 48-0 win over Alcorn State. It was their first shutout since 1996. Central Michigan opens conference play this weekend against Akron.