Iowa Jumps to #4 in Week Two BCS Rankings

Despite squeaking out a last-second victory over a .500 team and dropping a spot in the Harris poll, Iowa moved up two places in the newest BCS rankings.  The Hawkeyes are now fourth, behind Florida, Alabama, and Texas, and ahead of four teams (Southern Cal, Cincinnati, Boise State, and TCU) ranked above them by the human voters.

If the Hawkeyes filled out an eHarmony profile this week, the computer would probably keep it for itself.  Iowa ranks first in five of the six computer polls (the only holdout is the notoriously flawed Billingsley poll, which places Iowa fourth).  It stands to reason that Iowa's eight methodical, workmanlike, borderline ugly wins would look better to the machines than they do to the sports information directors and retirees who vote in the human polls, especially given the fact that the computers cannot consider margin of victory.  There is no rational argument for any of the other undefeateds playing a more difficult schedule than Iowa: The Hawkeyes' schedule-to-date is 18 games over .500; the next closest (Florida) is 2 over.  That statistic, combined with four BCS-conference road wins, is enough to win over nearly every unfeeling electronic device.

Southern Cal and TCU move up in tandem with Iowa.  Ironically, the big drops of the week are Cincinnati and Boise State, who convincingly beat their opponents this weekend (or at least more convincingly than Iowa, Florida, and Alabama) but are crucified by the computers for soft schedules.  Cincinnati's slate, in particular, gets worse with every passing week; the Bearcats' opposition-to-date is now 21-29 after going 2-5 over the weekend, the worst mark among the remaining undefeated teams.  Boise, at 23-28, is not far off.

We are still a long way from this having any long-term meaning; the Hawks have four more games to play, including that November 14 trip to Columbus.  Should they run the table, they'll need some help from the human voters to move up further, but don't count out the possibility of Iowa leapfrogging Texas.  Barring an unexpected loss by Florida or Alabama, the SEC champion will likely top both polls at the end of the year.  Texas would certainly be second, and a 12-0 Iowa with wins in Columbus and Happy Valley is likely third.  But the Longhorns are hated by the computers; they currently rank fifth, and there is little left on their schedule (including the Big XII championship game against whichever of the paraplegics wins the North) that will improve their standing.  Should Iowa finish third in the polls and win the computers, they would likely rank ahead of #2/#2/#4 Texas.  But, yeah, we have a long way to go.

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