Before we announce this week’s rankings, let’s attempt to do a blind case study and see how much perception shapes reality, shall we?
- Team A and Team B are both undefeated. Team B has played a tougher schedule but Team A has blown out more teams.
- Team A: Beats a team that was previously ranked for several weeks by 25+ points.
- Team B: Wins by less than 15 points over a team that must win out to become bowl eligible.
Which is the better team right now?
If you guessed that Team A was Baylor and Team B was Alabama, well, pat yourself on the back and buy yourself a Coke. If you caught on to our not-so-blind case study, you probably also caught on to why I brought it up.
This week, after several weeks of inching closer and closer, Baylor has finally usurped Alabama for the coveted second position in the Rankings. If you’ve been following the Rankings, you likely have noticed that Baylor keeps gaining and gaining on the Crimson Tide. Bama was able to produce a strong win over LSU last week, but Baylor countered with a dominating performance over the 10th-ranked Sooners. On Saturday, Baylor beat down a Red Raiders team that had been ranked for the previous seven weeks while Alabama came away with a 20-7 victory over 4-6 Mississippi State. It’s not illogical to say Baylor’s last two weeks deserve more credit.
It’s not only these rankings that think Baylor has been impressive over that time (or the season as a whole); the BCS has as well. Since the Week 11 BCS rankings were announced, Baylor has reduced its distance behind Alabama by half. Only Auburn has seen its BCS stock rise quicker than Baylor’s during that time. But with only two weeks left, it’s a moot point as Alabama WILL play for the BCS national championship, should they win out and Baylor will cross its fingers hoping it’s 2014 team is as strong as its current.
For an explanation of how these rankings work and what all these numbers mean, click here.
- Florida State (100.00) – At this point, I’m almost out of superlatives to describe the Seminoles. They absolutely desecrated Syracuse on Saturday, notching their fifth victory o f 48 points or more.
- Baylor (94.29) – The Bears defense hasn’t been as solid since entering Big 12 play, but their offense is still outstanding, averaging 57.0 points in conference games.
- Alabama (93.28) – On Saturday, Nick Saban’s squad played like they had just seen Trent Richardson’s latest movie. They can get away with that against Chattanooga this weekend, but facing #6 Auburn in the Iron Bowl will be a different story.
- Ohio State (90.33) – The Buckeyes turned what was a close 12-point game into a 25-point romp with two late Carlos Hyde touchdowns, but anybody who watched the game had to come away less than impressed. In other useless trivia, the Illini have now lost 20 straight Big Ten games.
- Oregon (88.24) – And just like that, Oregon is back into the driver’s seat for the Pac-12 North championship, thanks to USC’s gift. Oregon should be able to take advantage with only Arizona and the Civil War match up against the Beavers remaining.
- Auburn (83.19) – The Tigers needed a Malzahn Miracle to walk away with a home victory over Georgia. They now have two weeks to figure out how they can play spoiler to rival Alabama.
- Missouri (82.36) – Missouri had a bye week and now travels to Oxford to face the newly-ranked Rebels. LSU players will attest that this is no walk in the park.
- Clemson (81.27) – Tajh Boyd and the third group of Tigers downed the Yellow Jackets in a special Thursday night appearance. The Citadel is up next with in-state rival South Carolina looming.
- Oklahoma State (78.85) – Since suffering a bad loss to West Virginia to open Big 12 play, the Pokes have won six straight conference games. Next up is Baylor, who can win the Big 12 with a victory.
- Stanford (77.66) – Years after the Cardinal played spoiler to USC, the Trojans finally returned the favor, dashing any chance Stanford had to make the BCS championship. As the top-rated two-loss team, Stanford needs multiple stars to align to grab an at-large BCS bid.
- Fresno State (76.12) – With only New Mexico and San Jose State remaining, an undefeated campaign is all but guaranteed.
- Northern Illinois (75.40) – The Huskies came away with their most impressive victory of the season, a 21-point victory over 9-2 Ball State. Unfortunately, Toledo and Western Michigan likely won’t provide enough boost to get NIU past the Bulldogs for the non-AQ slot.
- Arizona State (75.30) – The Sun Devils keep showing their improvement, winning 30-17 over Oregon State on Saturday. A win over #14 UCLA would clinch a Pac-12 South title.
- Texas A&M (75.06) – With games remaining at LSU and Missouri, the Aggies could their season end near the top five or outside of the rankings entirely.
- Wisconsin (75.03) – Gary Andersen’s team seems to be getting better and better each week. A trip to newly-ranked Minnesota (yes, Minnesota!) will provide the first challenge for the Badgers since they traveled to the Shoe.
- Louisville (75.01) – The Cardinals may have passed the Knights in these rankings but still trail UCF in the only place it matters, the AAC standings.
- Michigan State (74.62) – Sparty falls well below their BCS ranking because their schedule lacks pop. The haven’t faced any team that is currently ranked.
- UCF (74.34) – The Knights needed a one-handed miracle to escape a Temple squad that has one win on the season. Not the recommended avenue for increasing your ranking.
- UCLA (72.85) – The Bruins escaped with a 10-point win over a tough Washington team. They face the Sun Devils on Saturday with their Pac-12 South hopes on the line.
- South Carolina (71.64) – If Vanderbilt can beat Florida by 17 in the Swamp, surely the Gamecocks should beat the Gators by more than just five at home, right?
- Oklahoma (70.19) – The Stoopers were able to take their aggression out on a lowly Cyclones team after getting their faces shoved in dirt by Baylor. This week they face Bill Snyder’s Wildcats as a tune-up for their showdown with the Cowboys.
- LSU (68.27) – The Tigers were allowed a week to lick their wounds before facing a high-powered, but highly susceptible Aggies team.
- Ole Miss (67.41) – The Rebels join the rankings for the second time this season. Their reward: the eighth-ranked Missouri Tigers at home.
- Duke (67.32) – No, I didn’t get this mixed up with my basketball rankings — I wouldn’t even attempt to quantify that mess. The Blue Devils have been legit this season, racking up six double-digit wins on their way to an 8-2 record.
- East Carolina (62.81) – I should just start calling this my weekly comedy spot. In other news, the teams ranked 23rd, 24th and 25th (Miami (FL), Ball State and Virginia Tech, respectively) all lost last week, causing me great shame. If East Carolina loses this week to 3-7 NC State, you have my permission to rename these rankings “Ridley’s Top 24, Plus Some Crap From Left Field.”
BCS Teams Who Didn’t Make the Cut
Thanks to Duke and East Carolina weaseling their way into the top 25, the Rankings forced out two deserving squads who did land in the top 25 of the BCS. USC, who jumped up to 23rd in the BCS on the heels of their upset of Stanford, fell two spots short at 27. If the rankings were weighted to give importance to recent performance, the Trojans undoubtedly would’ve made the cut; but they don’t and Ed Orgeron’s squad fell a tad short. Minnesota, who has miraculously gone 8-2, even with the distraction of Jerry Kill’s medical issues, came in just behind USC at 28. Despite being six games over .500, the Golden Gophers have one of the lowest point differentials among teams with winning records.
The Ducks took care of business with a 23-point victory over the same Utah squad that somehow upset Stanford. They travel to Arizona this week to face a Wildcat team that has lost its last two and only beat a terrible Cal team by five. The Ducks should win handily on the road. The Beavers, meanwhile, continue to fall, landing at 56 after losing 30-17 to Arizona State. Mike Riley’s team will likely need to pull off a win against Washington if they hope to finish about .500.
Other Notable Teams
Washington and Georgia represent the highest four-loss teams, coming in at 29th and 30th, respectively. Miami (FL) fell to 32nd after their third straight loss. Boise State rose up to 38th after shellacking Wyoming 48-7. Texas dropped to 41st after their loss to Oklahoma State. Cincinnati is the lowest-ranked two-loss team, coming in at 39 thanks to the easiest schedule in the nation, outside of Old Dominion. Speaking of which, despite being 8-3, ODU comes in at 55, thanks to only one win over FBS opponents.
Our bottom five this week kicks off with Western Michigan, followed by FIU, Georgia State and Miami (OH). Southern Miss, now on 22 straight losses, retakes the Caboose and somehow manages to finish with a ranking of -00.34, largely based on their -314 point differential. To put it in perspective, Oregon, who is known for railroading teams, is one of only four teams to have a different of +300, coming in at +327. Oh, what a time to be a Golden Eagles fan.