In a previous life, Jerry Palm of CBS Sports was a March Madness guru. Maybe America’s best expert on who would make the NCAA Tournament field and where they would be bracketed. Then along came the BCS, and now Palm’s Reese’s peanut butter cup mind of computer analysis and sports has something else in which to sink his teeth.
The first BCS rankings of 2013 don’t appear until this Sunday. But analysts like Palm are able to produce a reasonable facsimile of the BCS until then. Five of the six computer polls used by the BCS publish weekly. Only Peter Wolfe’s does not. Plus the human polls are available. So most of the mystery is gone.
Here are Jerry Palm’s projected BCS rankings this week:
1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide was No. 1 last week. Bama plays at Kentucky on Saturday.
2. Clemson: The Tigers rose from No. 3 last week. Clemson hosts Boston College this week.
3. Stanford: The Cardinal rose from No. 4 last week, with a survival of Washington. Stanford plays at Utah on Saturday.
4. Oregon: The Ducks fell from No. 2 last week. They go to Washington this week, so they likely will rise with a victory.
5. Ohio State: The Buckeyes rose from sixth last week, with their hard-fought win at Northwestern. Ohio State is idle this week.
6. Florida State: The Seminoles fell from No. 5 last week, despite a thrashing of previously-undefeated Maryland. Florida State is off this week.
7. Georgia: The Bulldogs remained at No. 7 despite needing overtime to beat Tennessee. Georgia hosts Missouri on Saturday.
8. Oklahoma: The Sooners stayed at eighth. The good news for OU is that it is strong in the computers — seventh in Sagarin, fifth in Colley, fifth in Anderson-Hester, third in Billingsley and 10th in Massey. The bad news is that while OU’s schedule could lighten, with upcoming games against the likes of Kansas and Kansas State, that could drop the Sooners in the computers. Of course, that would likely mean a rise in the human polls. OU plays somebody this week. I forget who.
9. LSU: The Tigers rose from 10th last week, after winning at Mississippi State. LSU hosts Florida on Saturday.
10. UCLA: The Bruins rose from 12th last week, thanks to some human poll help and a victory at Utah. UCLA hosts California on Saturday.
11. Louisville: The Cardinals dropped from ninth last week after routing Temple. Louisville plays Rutgers on Thursday night, and the Cardinals will be hard-pressed to gain any BCS traction against a schedule void of marquee opponents.
12. Texas A&M: The Aggies dropped from 11th last week after a bye week. A&M plays at Ole Miss this week. A&M is an example of how an easy schedule — the Ags avoid all SEC landmines Alabama and LSU, and they’ve already played Bama — will hurt in the BCS.
13. Miami: The Hurricanes rose from 16th last week, after a victory over Georgia Tech. Miami is idle this week.
14. South Carolina: The Gamecocks dropped from 13th last week, after beating Kentucky in a close game. South Carolina plays at Arkansas on Saturday.
15. Baylor: The Bears rose from 17th last week after routing West Virginia. Baylor goes to Kansas State on Saturday.
16. Michigan: The Wolverines rose from 18th last week after routing Minnesota. Michigan plays at Penn State on Saturday.
17. Florida: The Gators rose from 20th last week after beating Arkansas. Florida goes to LSU on Saturday.
18. Washington: The Huskies fell from 14th last week, which is an indictment of the BCS. UW goes to Stanford, loses 31-28 in a great game, and drops in the BCS. That’s silly. The Huskies host Oregon this Saturday.
19. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders smashed Kansas and stayed at 19th. Tech hosts Iowa State this Saturday.
20. Missouri: The Tigers debut in the BCS after popping Vanderbilt. They go to Georgia this week.