Last week, we saw Florida State take a decisive lead in the Rankings (yes, I’m pretentious enough to capitalize my own rankings) after routing rival Clemson in Death Valley. The win gave the Seminoles two straight victories over ranked opponents by a combined margin of 114-14. These accomplishments easily outweighed those of Alabama and Oregon, who, at the time, had faced two ranked teams total, winning those contests by a combined 28 points. Although formidable, the feats of these two were easily trumped by the Seminoles. Of course, the caveat here is there is still a lot of football to be played, with the meat of both schedules coming up.
On Saturday, Oregon began a slate of what could be three ranked teams in four games (Arizona will undoubtedly be rank if they win their next three contests), beginning with the 12th-ranked UCLA Bruins at home. As I predicted last week, Oregon cruised to a victory with 28 unanswered points in the second half. Now the Ducks face their toughest game of the year, squaring off against the fifth-ranked Stanford Cardinal next Thursday night on ESPN. (For those of you wondering, the Redskins and Vikings will be squaring off on NFL Network that night, playing something that looks like a cross between football, tag and hide-and-seek.)
Alabama, in the meantime, will have to put up its fair share of style points. The Crimson Tide easily toppled the Volunteers on Saturday a The top-ranked BCS team has this weekend off as they prepare for a showdown against the Tigers of LSU. This match-up lost a lot of its luster after the Bayou Bengals were upset in Oxford, but outside of the Iron Bowl, this is the Crimson Tide’s only remaining challenge. With Florida State facing Miami (FL) this weekend, Alabama will have to put on a dominating performance if they expect to gain on the high-flying Seminoles.
As Halloween approaches, we’ve got the closest three-team race in the tracking of these Rankings. Top-ranked Florida State barely held off Oregon by 0.02 points and leads third-place Alabama by a mere 0.61 points. With just over a month left to play, we may be in for quite a treat.
For an explanation of these rankings, click here.
1. Florida State (100.00) - For the second straight week, the Seminoles are the pace-setters for the rankings. The seventh-ranked Hurricanes come into Doak Campbell Stadium this week after narrowly escaping losses against inferior opponents. If history is any indication of how this will go, the Seminoles should win in a rout.
2. Oregon (99.98) - The Ducks just fell behind the Seminoles after pulling away from the Bruins in the second half. They now have 11 days to prepare for their most difficult challenge of the year: defeating the Cardinal in Palo Alto.
3. Alabama (99.39) – Like the Ducks, the Crimson Tide is also on a bye this weekend, meaning a win by Florida State will only add to the gap the following two have to make up. Luckily for Alabama, they have LSU and an overachieving Auburn team still left to play.
4. Ohio State (95.54) - Undefeated and under-appreciated, the Buckeyes have a sizable gap to overcome. To encourage Ohio State, they stand at almost the exact same spot as the Ducks did last week (Ranking score of 95.55). Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, they don’t have anything remotely resembling the quality opponent UCLA provided Oregon with.
5. Baylor (94.76) - The Bears continue to put up a remarkable amount of points (63.9 points per game so far), but haven’t faced a team that comes close to the challenge the Oklahoma Sooners will provide. Art Briles and Baylor will have 11 days to gameplan for the schemes Bob Stoops will bring to Waco.
6. Stanford (87.98) - Stanford faces an incredible uphill battle . If the Cardinal are to have any hope of reaching the BCS Championship, they’ll need at least two, if not three of the top five teams to fall. Luckily for them, they can help their cause by knocking off the Ducks when they host Oregon on November 7th.
7. Auburn (86.52) – Some will claim that Auburn is benefiting from an SEC bias, which is does have some legitimacy. But the Tigers did defeat a ranked (at the time) Ole Miss team at home and got the better of Johnny Football and A&M in College Station, something those trailing Auburn can’t claim.
8. Miami (FL) (86.08) - The Hurricanes dropped a spot this week as they needed a last-minute touchdown to edge a mediocre Wake Forest squad. Unless the Canes dramatically improve, they’ll likely drop much more with a trip up to Tallahassee coming this weekend.
9. Missouri (85.30) - Missouri’s Cinderella run ended as they fell from the ranks of the unbeaten when South Carolina waged a furious fourth-quarter comeback. The Tigers still hold a one-game advantage in the division, but with Texas A&M visiting to close out the schedule, they’ll likely need Florida to somehow upset the Gamecocks.
10. Clemson (84.01) - The other Tigers rebounded after their destruction at the hands of FSU, albeit in uninspiring fashion. Clemson needed 21 points to come away with a 13-point victory in Maryland. The Tigers can look forward to the 2-6 Virginia Cavaliers and a bye before they have to face a dangerous Georgia Tech team.
11. Oklahoma (81.02) - The Sooners shot up five points after taking down a previously-undefeated Texas Tech club. Things get harder this week with a visit to Baylor.
12. LSU (77.70) - After beating Furman by (only?) 32 this weekend, the Tigers get a bye before facing off against Alabama. Can the Mad Hatter and his team pull off the upset of the season?
13. Louisville (77.48) - The Cardinals responded from their first loss by trouncing South Florida is a game the Bulls had no chance in. Charlie Strong’s team gets a winless Connecticut before facing Houston in a pivotal AAC match-up … well, as pivotal as the AAC can get.
14. Fresno State (77.45) - The Bulldogs were able to sneak by a sub-.500 San Diego State squad this weekend, giving them their fourth victory by a touchdown or less. They don’t appear to have any tough challenges left, but one can only play with fire for so long.
15. Texas A&M (76.53) - Manziel and crew responded from their upset against Auburn by putting away a Vandy team coming off their biggest win of the season. Next up for the Aggies: 1-6 UTEP.
16. Texas Tech (75.11) - This isn’t the first time the Red Raiders have had an undefeated bid end at the hands of Oklahoma, but at least this Texas Tech team has Ryan Gosling coaching and not Don Vito.
17. UCF (75.00) - A good formula for proving legitimacy is beating a top-10 team and following it by drubbing a bottom-10 team. Now the Knights play Houston in a game that could very well decide the AAC title.
18. Northern Illinois (74.63) - The Huskies made up considerable ground on Fresno in these rankings, despite minimal gains in the BCS. NIU’s only shot at passing the Bulldogs will be an absolute evisceration of 8-1 Ball State in two weeks.
19. Michigan (73.40) - The Wolverines had the week off as they prepare to face rival and fellow ranked team Michigan State. Can Devon Gardner and the inconsistent Michigan offense score on the nation’s top defense?
20. South Carolina (73.21) - South Carolina rejoined the Rankings after their big comeback against Missouri, giving them a puncher’s chance in the SEC East race.
21. Michigan State (72.57) - The Spartans joined the Rankings for the first time after their best performance of the season, a 42-3 spanking of Illinois. Wins against Michigan and Nebraska would clinch a Legends Division title.
22. UCLA (71.82) - Similar to Washington, the Bruins appeared to be a Pac-12 contender in 2013. But just like kids this week, they were merely wearing a costume.
23. Arizona State (71.56) - The Sun Devils dropped a spot during their bye week but became the Pac-12 South leader thanks to UCLA’s loss to the Ducks.
24. Oklahoma State (70.64) - The Cowboys outscored the Cyclones by 24 in the second half to turn a close game into a rout. They control their own destiny in the Big 12 as they still have games remaining against each of the four teams ahead of them in the standings.
25. Houston (70.20) - After just missing out last week, the Cougars jumped into the rankings thanks to a win over Rutgers and a bad loss by Nebraska. They’ll face a bad South Florida team before battling against UCF in a big AAC clash.
BCS Teams Who Didn’t Make the Cut
The 24th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers just missed out, coming in at 26 with a score of 68.85. A strong win over Iowa this weekend would likely push the Badgers into the rankings. Also missing out was the 25th-ranked Fighting Irish. The Rankings still a little bullish on Notre Dame, giving them a score of just 65.06. A win over 4-3 Navy likely won’t be enough to push the Golden Domers into the Top 25.
As previously mentioned, the Ducks have this weekend off as they prepare for their big tilt against Stanford in Palo Alto. Oregon, of course, will be looking to redeem themselves after last year's upset. A win here would all but guarantee a spot in the BCS Championship, should the Ducks win out.
Oregon State found out this weekend how difficult beating Stanford could be, even at home. The Beavers fell to the Cardinal 20-12 last weekend, dropping them to 36th in the rankings. This Friday on ESPN 2, they face off against a USC team that is just 2-2 in their last four contests, although they do boast the nation's 16th-best scoring defense.
Other Notable Teams
Ball State keeps climbing up the rankings, coming in at 27. BYU, fresh off beating down Boise State, rises up to 29th. Speaking of the Broncos, they fell to 55th, giving the Broncos the worst season they have had since the words “Taylor Tharp” were muttered. Ole Miss rose again, coming in at 30th. The highest ranked Conference USA team is amazingly Rice, who at 6-2 is ranked 43rd, ahead of six SEC schools. The bottom five had a shake up this week, thanks to wins by New Mexico State (over FCS Abilene Christian) and Western Michigan, who beat fellow MAC doormat UMass. As a result, Connecticut dropped to 122nd, followed by previously mentioned UMass, Southern Miss (who has now lost 17 straight games), Georgia State, and once again, Miami (OH) in the rear.
Check out next week to see if Miami (FL) can pull of the upset, Oklahoma State can compete for the Big 12 title and whether anyone cares who wins the Michigan-Michigan State game outside of the Great Lakes.