Usually in this space I like to recap what happened over the weekend and explain how it translates into the rankings. Due to this weekend having an absolute dearth of quality match-ups (even Florida State versus Miami was a letdown), I decided it’s better to leave the past where it is and look forward to the future.
This Thursday night, college football fans and sports bars across America will be given a special treat. We have the privilege of watching two Thursday night match-ups that feature four BCS top-10 teams facing off in games that could not only influence their conference titles but also change the national championship landscape.
In Palo Alto, we’re sure to see another epic slugfest between the Oregon Ducks and their newest nemesis, the Stanford Cardinal. Last year, the Cardinal dashed the Ducks’ hopes of reaching the BCS National Championship, upsetting Oregon in Eugene 17-10. This week, the Feathered Fury will seek redemption when they travel to Northern California. A win would almost guarantee a Pac-12 North title and also give them the resume boost they need to reclaim a top-two spot in the BCS rankings. Should Stanford come away with a victory, they’ll take a leg up in the Pac-12 North and make an argument that they should be considered for a national championship berth.
Down in Waco, Texas, the high-octane Bears of Baylor will play host to Big 12 rival, Oklahoma. We’ve talked about the Bears’ offensive exploits in this column before. They have put up 59 points or more in six of their seven contests and have an average winning margin of 48 points. However, they haven’t faced a defense as good as Oklahoma’s yet. The Sooners are allowing just 18.8 points a game, 14th best in the country. Even if they do manage to contain the Bears, Oklahoma may not have the offensive firepower to score enough on the nation’s sixth-best defense.
Unfortunately for the Bears, even a blowout against the Sooners won’t be enough to push them into the title conversation. They currently sit sixth in the BCS, .1780 points behind second-ranked Florida State. To reach the BCS Championship, they would need to somehow over come the winner of Oregon/Stanford, Ohio State and either Florida State or Alabama. While neither of those situations are likely, a Bears win will go a long way towards netting them their first BCS bowl game.
For an explanation of how these rankings work and what all these numbers mean, click here.
- Florida State (100.00) – The Seminoles gained a good chunk of ground with their easy win over a previously-unbeaten Hurricane team. That distance will be put to the test this week, with the Ducks facing the Cardinal, as well as Alabama playing host to 13th-ranked LSU. Even a lopsided win against 4-5 Wake Forest won’t do much to fend them off.
- Oregon (94.80) – The idle Ducks may have lost ground to the Seminoles, both in these rankings and the BCS, but they’ll easily make it up if they can take care of business against the Cardinal in Palo Alto.
- Alabama (94.68) – Should the Ducks win big and the Tide struggle (but still win) against LSU, we very well could see Oregon overtake both FSU and Bama for the number-one spot in the BCS rankings.
- Ohio State (93.23) – Ohio State beat up Purdue 56-0, yet they still saw their points drop. This is more due to the atrocity that is Purdue football than it is a reflection of the Buckeyes’ play. Since everything is in relation to the top dog (i.e. Florida State), the Rankings concluded that beating Miami by 27 was more impressive.
- Baylor (91.39) – The Bears had 12 days to prepare for Bob Stoops and Oklahoma. A win will go a long way towards a Big 12 title, but likely won’t result in a National Championship berth.
- Missouri (84.10) – The Tigers leapfrogged the Cardinal (among others) this week thanks to a suffocating performance against the Vols. Missouri should get a breather this week against Kentucky before closing out against Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
- Stanford (83.99) – A big question in the minds of college football junkies is, “Should a one-loss Cardinal team be ranked above the Buckeyes and Bears?” The Ducks will do their best to see that question becomes moot by Friday morning.
- Auburn (83.07) – The Tigers beat up on poor Bret Bielema and his team this weekend to remain in the hunt for the SEC West crown. Of course, that hunt requires downing the Crimson Tide on November 30th.
- Clemson (83.05) – Clemson won easily, topping Virginia 59-10. With Florida State needing to lose both of their remaining ACC games, the Tigers will be playing out the season for a BCS At-Large big.
- Oklahoma (77.62) – The Sooners’ offense is notably down this year, currently ranked 55th in points per game. Should this stand, it will be the first time the Stoopettes have finished outside the top 30 in points since their 8-4 campaign in 2005.
- Miami (FL) (77.37) – There’s no shame in losing to FSU. In fact, they gave them their second-closest game of the season. That’s something to celebrate, right?
- Fresno State (75.76) – The Rankings remain higher on the Bulldogs than the BCS rankings do. Their schedule may may be weak, but they continue to win games and that counts for something.
- Oklahoma State (75.00) – The Cowboys were the winners of Week 10, with an 18-point beatdown of 15th-ranked Texas Tech. The Pokes were rewarded with an 11-spot jump.
- Texas A&M (74.81) – Apparently the Aggies played the UTEP Miners over the weekend. I saw apparently because it seems nobody told the Miners about it.
- Louisville (74.81) – This is the closest two teams have ever come in the Rankings. The Aggies came in at 74.811, the Cardinals at 74.810. That’s the difference of about one-tenth of a point in winning margin.
- Michigan State (74.42) – The Spartans jumped five spots this week thanks to the drubbing of longtime foe Michigan. They now just have to beat Nebraska to clinch the Legends Division.
- LSU (74.08) – The Tigers had their second-straight bye week (OK, the first was actually against Furman) as they prepared their clash against Alabama.
- UCF (73.53) – After a week off, the Knights face Houston in a game that could not only give them the AAC title, but also help legitimize their potential BCS bowl berth.
- South Carolina (73.46) – Despite a strong schedule, the Gamecocks continue to fall below their BCS mark because of frequent underwhelming performances.
- Arizona State (73.46) – This wasn’t QUITE as close as our earlier tie, but they gave it a good run. The BCS rankings finally caught up with the Sun Devils this weekend after they laid waste to Washington State.
- Northern Illinois (73.33) – The Huskies are starting to put together a series of impressive wins. Nonetheless, the gap continues to widen between them and the Bulldogs for the chance to be an non-AQ qualifier.
- UCLA (71.52) – The Bruins were able to rebound after two tough losses with a win against an over-matched Colorado squad. Next, they face Arizona in a game that could go a long ways toward deciding the Pac-12 South.
- Wisconsin (69.37) – If only Ohio State was still on suspension, Badgers fans …
- Houston (69.18) – The Cougars have a big match-up this weekend for AAC supremacy. Win and they probably go to a BCS bowl. Lose and they likely wrap up before Christmas. Ah, life in the AAC.
- Ball State (65.94) – I realize I lose all legitimacy by putting two MAC teams in my top-25, but the Cardinals are 8-1 against a schedule that ranks above Northern Illinois, faint praise as that may be.
BCS Teams That Didn’t Make the Cut
This week, we again have two BCS teams who just missed out. The 25th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders came in at 26th, just 0.60 points below Ball State. The two losses of TTU are forgivable, but they are still two losses. The Golden Domers of Notre Dame came in just a few spots below that at 28th, despite being 23rd in the BCS rankings. The Irish’s propensity to play close games against bad teams keeps them just out of the top 25.
The Ducks and their big match-up have been well discussed already. Meanwhile, Oregon State dropped another game, this time falling 31-14 to USC. The Beavers, now at 6-3, dropped nine spots after the loss, landing at 45.
Other Notable Teams
BYU keeps making a climb to the top 25, moving up two spots to 27th. After their loss, Michigan dropped to 29th. The surprising Golden Gophers, at 7-2, have ascended up to 33rd. Rice, who was mentioned here last week, fell to North Texas, allowing the East Carolina Pirates to become the highest-ranked Conference USA team. Boise State moved up eight spots to 47th after an uninspiring win against Colorado State.
This week, our bottom five is kicked off by UMass, who is followed by New Mexico State, Georgia State and Miami (OH). Southern Miss takes over the crown as college football’s caboose, losing 61-13 to Marshall, the Golden Eagles’ 20th straight loss.