Commentary

Hokies, not Horns, top non-SEC teams

Updated: October 14, 2009, 12:22 PM ET
By Brad Edwards | Special to ESPN.com

It's almost that time again.

Time for third place to become a bigger problem than third-and-long. Time for strength of schedule to become more important than the strength of the offensive line.

When the BCS standings make their 2009 debut Sunday, the numbers off the field will become as meaningful as some of the numbers on it.

The formula that produces those standings, as you may recall, is one-third coaches' poll, one-third Harris Interactive poll and one-third computer rankings. Both polls are out this week, as well as five of the six computers, so we can go ahead and plug them into the formula to generate a mock-up of the standings.

Here's what the numbers say:

Florida is a consensus No. 1 in both the polls and computers, making the Gators a solid top-ranked team in the BCS world. But although the polls seem to struggle with deciding between Texas and Alabama as the No. 2 team, the computers are unified in their stance that the Tide are easily second-best, giving the SEC a stranglehold at the top of the standings.

Florida and Alabama ultimately would have to face each other in the conference championship game, however, so at least one of them is guaranteed to take a loss before bowl season. That means, at least for now, the No. 3 spot is a pretty good place to be.

In the grand scheme of things, that team is Texas. But if the BCS standings were out this week, it probably would be Virginia Tech. The Hokies are ranked fourth in the polls, but they are third-best in the computer rankings, and if all six computers were being released, that would be just enough to put them ahead of Texas. The one computer not being revealed this week, Wolfe, is key to that, however, so replications of the formula will show Texas currently in third.

Regardless, if the Longhorns take care of business the next three weeks -- versus Oklahoma, at Missouri and at Oklahoma State -- they will put themselves in position to play for the BCS title. Virginia Tech is just hoping it can hold off USC as the pack leader of the one-loss teams.

The Trojans would be slightly behind Boise State right now, but because of the difference between those teams in schedule strength the rest of the way, USC should have little concern about an 11-1 final record being enough to jump the Broncos.

Brad Edwards coordinates the college football research for ESPN and is an analyst for College GameDay on ESPN Radio each Saturday throughout the season.

• Analyzes college football and the CFB Playoff as part of ESPN's Stats & Information Group
• Analyst for both College GameDay on ESPN Radio and the ESPN College Football app