The first Bowl Championship Series standings are out, and Boise State is already chasing a couple of teams from the power conferences.
Oklahoma was first and University of Oregon was second Sunday. Boise State was in third place – in need of plenty of help to become the first team from a conference without an automatic Bowl Championship Series bid to play for the BCS title.
Jerry Palm, who analyzes the BCS standings at collegebcs.com, said despite a better early season showing in the polls than ever before, Boise State is a long shot to play for the national championship.
"They just need too much to happen to get excited about their chances," Palm said.
With 10 undefeated teams in major college football, there's serious potential for BCS controversy this season, even beyond whether Boise State from the Western Athletic Conference or maybe a Mountain West Conference team such as TCU or Utah gets a chance to play in the biggest BCS game.
The Sooners from the Big 12 and Ducks from the Pac-10 begin this race from the front row, but they can't quite say they're in control of it. Only once in 12 seasons of the BCS have the teams that were at the top of the first standings played in the championship game. That was 2005 with Southern California and Texas
With the possibility of undefeated champions coming out of the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten, just winning might not be enough for Oklahoma and Oregon to hold on to their spots.
Auburn is fourth in the BCS standings, followed by TCU and LSU. Michigan State from the Big Ten is seventh. None of those teams have lost yet. Alabama is eighth and unbeaten Utah is ninth.
LSU and Auburn play Saturday.
"I would be shocked if the winner didn't jump Boise next week in the polls," Palm said. And if the winner jumps the Broncos in the polls, it's a lock to jump them in the BCS standings.
In fact, if one of the SEC's Tigers goes 13-0, it wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see that team in the BCS title game no matter what Oklahoma and Oregon do.
The Sooners took first place by grading out No. 1 in the computer ratings. Oklahoma, coming off a 52-0 victory against Iowa State, is No. 3 in the USA Today coaches' poll and No. 4 in the Harris poll.
Oregon is No. 1 in all the polls, including the AP Top 25 which is not used in the BCS calculations, but rated eighth in the computer rankings.
Boise State is No. 2 in all the polls and seventh according to the computers, but the math leaves the Broncos third in the BCS standings.
"The computers do not like this team," Palm said.
The poll voters like Boise State better than they ever have, but still not enough.
The problem, as always for Boise State, is the strength of schedule. Early nonconference victories against Virginia Tech and Oregon State help the Broncos. The WAC schedule mostly drags them down.
On Saturday, Boise State beat San Jose State 48-0 and Palm said the victory actually pulled the Broncos' computer rating down.
Because Boise State will almost always rate behind the other undefeated teams in the computers, the Broncos would need to be an overwhelming No. 1 in both polls to have a shot at the national title game when the final BCS standings come out Dec. 5, Palm said.
Even if Boise State finishes the season as the only undefeated team, Palm is skeptical of its chances to reach the title game.
"I look at it as Boise has to be almost the only choice," Palm said. "It would take a unique year for Boise to be a unanimous No 1 in the polls."
Oklahoma, which has quality victories against Florida State, Air Force and Texas, has a chance to bolster its resume with a road game Saturday against unbeaten Missouri, 11th in the standings. Down the road the Sooners play at Oklahoma State, 14th in the standings.
Oregon faces UCLA on Thursday night at home, then visits USC, which is not included in the BCS standings because the Trojans are on probation. The Ducks finish the season against Arizona (18th) and Oregon State.
The toughest opponents left on Boise State's schedule are Nevada and Hawaii.