If a non-BCS team is to make it into the national championship game this season, it needs more than a good strength of schedule, an undefeated record or even a past history of doing well in BCS games.
It needs more fans.
That is at least the assessment of ESPN college football analyst Brad Edwards on Wednesday as he discussed the state of the BCS.
The first standings will be released Sunday at 2 p.m. on Fox. With Boise State and TCU in the Top 15 and Utah and BYU also ranked, there is more interest than ever as to where those teams will and should fall in the standings.
If the rankings hold, maybe more than one will break into the BCS this season. However, don't count on it according to Edwards.
He predicted Wednesday that the traditional powers would all have to have two losses for a non-BCS team to break into the championship game.
The chances of two non-BCS teams being taken by the bowls are slim too.
Simply put, no matter how well the teams do or how many wins they have over ranked opponents, non-BCS teams aren't very attractive to TV and they don't create a huge demand in tickets.
"It's something bowls are thinking about and it's absolutely a factor when deciding," said Edwards, whose employer has the rights to televise the BCS games starting in 2011. "There is a perception out there that the teams that should go are the most deserving, but it's all about making money and bowls are in a business. They're going to take a team that makes the most money."
His thoughts likely will only frustrate MWC fans more, but hate to say it, he is right. It's why the Fiesta Bowl took Ohio State over Boise State last year and happily drew a 10.4 TV rating. In comparison, the Utes' win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl drew just 7.8. The only game that was worse out of the BCS bowls was the Orange Bowl matchup of Cincinnati and Virginia Tech.
Moreover, Utah wasn't able to sell out its allotment of 17,500 tickets and had to return 3,000 to the Sugar Bowl.
While one can argue travel costs and time to get to the game made it hard for Utah fans to get to New Orleans, bowls aren't interested in excuses as to why tickets aren't sold, they just want them gone.
"Things like that are often overlooked, but it's a major part of the decisions," Edwards said.
So if only one non-BCS team does make it into the BCS, which one will it be?
For the sake of argument, let's assume Boise State and TCU remain undefeated.
In a way, it could come down to not just what those teams do but what Oregon does, Edwards predicts.
"TCU going to the ACC doesn't help because the two ACC teams they beat don't appear to be anything special," Edwards said of the wins over Virginia and Clemson. "If Oregon isn't a 10-win team, it will be easy to look at TCU and see it has played the tougher schedule. It has to be worth something too that TCU beat Boise last year in a bowl game."
How would that be for fitting? The non-qualifying team that makes it into the BCS isn't decided by this year's results, but by how large their fan base is and last year's Poinsettia Bowl result -- a 17-16 TCU win over Boise State.
It makes me wonder why we eagerly await those BCS rankings.
Stock up: Florida QB Tim Tebow. Hard for the favorite's stock to go up much more than it already is, but his return to lead Florida past LSU is going to impress voters for his grit, if not for his play.
Fresno St. RB Ryan Mathews: The junior has rushed for 100 yards in every game and is averaging 6.7 yards a carry, but coming from a WAC team he needs to do even more to earn votes away from the quarterbacks who are putting up flashy numbers this season.
1. Florida (5-0) - same - Gators' D has INTs in last 17 games
2. Texas (5-0) - same - Sooners' ranking not big, matchup still is
3. Alabama (6-0) - same - Spurrier's SC team visiting next
4. Boise State (5-0) - same - Plays Tulsa in mid-week game
5. USC (4-1) up - Given up 9 pts. in last two games combined
6. Ohio State (5-1) - up - Beat Wisconsin despite being outgained
7. Cincinnati (5-0) - up - Game at S. Florida last big test
8. TCU (5-0) - up - Will keep the punches coming for CSU
9. LSU (5-1) - up - Has a bye week to ponder loss to Gators
10. Iowa (6-0) - up - Takes to road for next two games
Game of the Week
Oklahoma vs. Texas
While perhaps not as big as once anticipated, the Red River Rivalry is still worth watching. This is Colt McCoy's Heisman audition.