| | Latest BCS a feel-good for Cal, upset stomach for Utah
By Dennis Dodd
SportsLine.com Senior Writer
Good day for Cal. Not so good for Utah.
That's the summary of the latest BCS standings released on Monday. Cal made the most significant jump, up four spots to No. 4. If the season ended today, the Bears would be automatically qualified for an at-large BCS bowl berth, most likely the Rose.
"The Rose has to be absolutely giddy," BCS expert Jerry Palm said.
After the six BCS conference champions, there are two at-large berths. Those berths are guaranteed if a team or teams finish third and/or fourth in the BCS standings. Utah, which stayed at No. 6, would automatically qualify as a non-BCS team if it stays in the top six.
As things stand, the Rose Bowl would lose No. 1 USC to the Orange Bowl in the BCS title game. It is allowed to replace the Pac-10 champion, in that scenario, with another BCS-eligible from the conference. It looks like Cal will be eligible. It wants to finish automatic.
"I think they have a chance of holding on," Palm said of Cal.
The Bears (7-0) have games left against Oregon, Washington, Stanford and Southern Miss.
Palm doesn't have same feel-good vibe about the Utes. Utah, despite moving up in both human polls, slipped in the computers and is only .0059 of a point ahead of No. 7 Texas. Considering the strength of schedule of each team, Texas should be able to move up, if it keeps winning.
Texas (8-0) has Oklahoma State, Kansas and Texas A&M left. Utah has Colorado State, Wyoming and BYU.
"Basically what this comes down to is if the top seven win out, Utah is toast," Palm said.
It would be significantly harder for Utah to land a BCS berth if it was out of the top six. Though non-BCS teams in the top 12 are eligible, they are automatic if they finish in the top six.
Utah dropped 1 1/2 points in its average computer ranking (from 5.25 to 6.75) despite moving up two spots in both the AP and coaches polls.
"It goes to show you what can happen," Palm said. "Utah moved up two spots in the polls and dropped one in the computers even though two teams ahead of them lost. That's an indication of why they're not safe. There are no gimmes for them."
Elsewhere, there were no surprises in the BCS standings.
Auburn moved up to No. 3, matching its spot in both human polls, after Miami and Florida State lost. USC and Oklahoma remain 1-2 and are all but a sure bet to meet in the Orange Bowl, if they keep winning.
Auburn's BCS ranking is the highest in school history, but the Tigers may not have their national title hopes in their own hands. Even if they finish the season unbeaten with a victory in the Southeastern Conference championship game, the Tigers might need a loss by either USC or Oklahoma to reach the Orange Bowl.
A difficult remaining schedule could work in Auburn's favor, if the Tigers can survive it. They're off this week before playing Georgia (ninth in the BCS) at home on Nov. 13; at Alabama on the No. 20; and the SEC title game against either Georgia or Tennessee (eighth in the BCS) on Dec. 4.
A separate strength of schedule component was removed from the BCS standings this season, but the computer rankings still take schedule strength into account, as do most poll voters.
1. Southern California .9895
2. Oklahoma .9648
3. Auburn .9238
4. California .8050
5. Wisconsin .7579
6. Utah .7429
7. Texas .7370
8. Tennessee .7124
9. Georgia .7019
10. Miami .6530
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