BCS Rankings 2012: Labeling Every Top 25 Team a Contender or Pretender

Alex CallosCorrespondent INovember 4, 2012

BCS Rankings 2012: Labeling Every Top 25 Team a Contender or Pretender

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    The latest BCS rankings are hot off the presses and as expected there was little movement in the standings.

    Week 10 of the college football season featured some of the best games of the year. We learned a lot about the top four teams in the country.

    We have now come to realize that some are serious contenders, and also some teams who may just be pretenders as far as their ranking is concerned.

    Naming someone a contender or pretender does not necessarily come down to if the team is good enough to play for a national championship, but states whether or not the team is worthy of its ranking.

    Here is a breakdown of the BCS Top 25 from the contenders to the pretenders.

No. 25 Toledo

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    After a bye week, Toledo makes its first appearance of the season in the BCS rankings at No. 25.

    The Rockets are 8-1 with its only loss coming at Arizona in overtime, the first game of the season.

    The next two weeks will go a long way toward determining just how good Toledo is, beginning with a game on Nov. 6 against 6-3 Ball State. 

    After that Toledo will take to the road against a 9-1 Northern Illinois team.

    Toledo possesses one of the best quarterback-running back combinations in the country with Terrance Owens and David Fluellan.

    Fluellan has rushed for 1,181 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Owens has passed for 2,197 yards with 13 touchdowns. He has also ran for 264 yards and four scores.

    As of right now Toledo is the best team in the MAC and deserving of its ranking.

No. 24 Northwestern

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    Northwestern was another team that had a bye over the weekend and benefited from it by moving into the rankings thanks to other teams losing.

    The Wildcats continue to be one of the major surprises of the Big Ten, and still have a shot to win the conference.

    The emergence of quarterback Trevor Siemian has benefited the Wildcats as the sophomore has had some huge moments so far.

    Road games against Michigan and Michigan State are on the horizon the next two weeks and the Wildcats could find themselves out of the rankings just as quickly as they entered.

No. 23 Rutgers

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    Rutgers had a bye last weekend, giving it time to think about how poorly it played in a 35-23 loss at home against Kent State.

    The Scarlet Knights are 7-1, but the remaining schedule is very challenging after Army comes to town this weekend.

    Road games against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh will follow, and then the season will conclude with a home game against Louisville.

    Rutgers has clearly exceeded expectations, and perhaps played better than its talent-level. Running back Jawan Jamison is one of the best in the conference. He controls the offense for the Scarlet Knights. He will need to get some help for Rutgers to beat the more talented teams in the league.

    It would not be out of the question to see Rutgers lose two of its remaining four games and fall well out of the rankings.

No. 22 Texas Tech

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    Texas Tech suffered a disappointing defeat at the hands of Texas on Saturday, falling 31-22 to the Longhorns.

    The Red Raiders dropped to 6-3 on the season and also fell a few spots in the BCS Standings.

    An offense that at one point in the season looked like one of the most explosive in the country has been held to a combined 46 points over the last two weeks.

    Those numbers are a far cry from what the group was doing a month ago.

    But, the Red Raiders have a solid quarterback in Seth Doege and an easy schedule for its final three games, which should allow them to finish higher than their current ranking.

No. 21 Mississippi State

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    Mississippi State has finally started playing some talented competition and has not looked good in the process.

    The Bulldogs fell 38-13 at home against Texas A&M, and are now 7-2 with an angry LSU squad coming up on Saturday.

    The Bulldogs have not beaten anybody of note and with one more loss will likely drop completely out of the Top 25.

    That loss is almost certain to come on Saturday. The Bulldogs have finally come back to earth and have not looked too good doing it.

    What was once thought of as one of the best secondaries in the country has been exposed in the past two weeks.

    No team is a bigger pretender than Mississippi State right now.

No. 20 Louisiana Tech

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    Louisiana Tech is the second team from a non-BCS conference to crack the Top 25 of the BCS rankings, and they deserve their spot.

    The Bulldogs have the second-highest scoring offense in the country and their only loss came to Texas A&M 59-57.

    With three relatively easy games remaining on the schedule, Louisiana Tech will likely finish the season 11-1 and ranked in the Top 15.

    If that happens and the Big East champion finishes below them, the Bulldogs would find themselves in a BCS bowl game, whether they deserve one or not.

    For that reason, Louisiana Tech is a contender.

No. 19 USC

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    USC gave up more points in a loss to Oregon than any other game in the history of the program. The Trojans did manage to score 51 points, but were no match for a very talented Oregon offense.

    Wide receiver Marqise Lee may be the most talented player in the country, and quarterback Matt Barkley is still the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

    Still, with three losses, USC has a road game remaining against UCLA and a home game to close out the year against Notre Dame. Odds are the Trojans lose one or two of those games and finish the season outside of the Top 25.

    There is no discipline and plenty of questions marks surrounding the defense. Without question, this is the most disappointing team in the country so far this season.

No. 18 UCLA

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    A lot of people do not take notice of the late-night West Coast games, but for those who saw, UCLA dominated Arizona 66-10.

    It was one of the more impressive wins of the weekend and running back Johnathan Franklin has emerged as one of the best in the league. He has already rushed for over 1,200 yards with eight touchdowns on the season.

    Freshman quarterback Brett Hundley has passed for 2,478 yards with 21 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.

    The Bruins are a hard team to judge, and with both Stanford and USC remaining on the schedule a lot is still to be determined.

    Either way, UCLA is about where they should be as far as the rankings are concerned.

No. 17 Texas

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    Texas had one of the more impressive wins of anybody over the weekend, as the Longhorns took down Texas Tech 31-22 on the road.

    Not many people could have imagined the Texas defense coming to play like it did against a Texas Tech offense that ranks 17th in the country, averaging nearly 39 points a game.

    The Longhorns are a hard team to predict as they have been up and down all season. There is no question that the talent is there to win.

    With three games remaining, Texas could be 9-2 heading into the final week of the season with a road game against Kansas State.

    Even if they do not win that game, this team is as good or better than its ranking right now and is still an outside contender for a BCS Bowl game.

No. 16 Nebraska

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    Similar to Notre Dame, Nebraska was saved by a pass-interference call on Saturday and scored the go-ahead touchdown at Michigan State with six seconds remaining to come out with a 28-24 victory.

    The Cornhuskers are battling Michigan for a chance to play in the Big 10 title game, and as of right now control their own destiny.

    With three relatively easy games remaining on the schedule, Nebraska is certainly in the driver's seat to play in the Rose Bowl.

    Quarterback Taylor Martinez has been the difference for most of the season, as he has been able to throw the ball with relative success.

    This team will finish higher than its No. 16 ranking.

No. 15: Texas A&M

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    After throttling Mississippi State 38-13, the Aggies made a nice healthy jump in the rankings, climbing up to No. 15.

    They are taking on No. 1 Alabama on Saturday with a chance to make some real noise in the SEC.

    There is no question that freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel has led a team that is one of the biggest surprises in the SEC, and perhaps the entire country.

    This team has played everybody tough and will likely finish the season 9-3 and 5-3 in SEC play. They are for real and have the talent to compete with anybody in the league.

    The move from the Big 12 to the SEC has not phased Texas A&M one bit. This team is for real.

No. 14 Stanford

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    Stanford looked good in a 48-0 victory at Colorado. But then again who doesn't look good when playing Colorado.

    Right now a No. 14 ranking seems about right for Stanford, but Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA are the final three games on the schedule.

    That is not good and the Cardinal will be hard-pressed to win just two of those games.

    Running back Stepfan Taylor has been the difference for Stanford as he has rushed for 947 yards with eight touchdowns.

    By the end of the year, Stanford could have four losses and be near the bottom of the BCS Top 25 rankings.

No. 13 Clemson

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    Clemson rolled over Duke on Saturday, winning 56-20. The Tigers offense is hitting full stride in recent weeks and is now averaging nearly 43 points a game.

    With its only loss coming by 12-points at Florida State, Clemson is slightly underrated at No. 13.

    They have Top 10 talent with the ability to reach a BCS Bowl game, pending they can win their remaining three games.

    The star for the Tigers has been junior quarterback Tajh Boyd. He already has 25 touchdown passes and has thrown for 2,680 yards so far this season.

    Don't look now, but this team is one of the most talented in the country.

No. 12 Oklahoma

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    Oklahoma knocked off Iowa State 35-20 over the weekend and comes in at No. 12 this week. Needless to say, that ranking is a little too high.

    The Sooners have had trouble against upper-echelon competition and have a few challenging games remaining, including West Virginia, TCU and Oklahoma State.

    Oklahoma is very talented from a statistical standpoint, but fails to show up in the big game like a lot of Bob Stoops teams seem to do.

    There is no way this Sooners team is as good as its No. 12 ranking indicates.

No. 11 Oregon State

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    Oregon State may be the least talked about Top 15 team in the country, but after a 36-26 win over Arizona State, the Beavers have once again found their stride.

    Playing through injuries is something Oregon State has had to do all season, and backup quarterback Cody Vaz has played well in the absence of Sean Mannion.

    Even though Oregon State is not that bad, being ranked near the Top 10, even if it only has one loss is entirely too high.

    With games against Stanford and Oregon coming up in the next few weeks, the Beavers have a chance to vault up into the Top 5.

    The more likely scenario however, is the Beavers lose both games and fall near the bottom of the BCS standings.

No. 10 Florida State

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    Florida State is a point away from being undefeated and the No. 2 team in the country. Instead, the Seminoles sit at No. 9 with a huge shot to move up in the coming weeks.

    After a bye week, the Seminoles are ready for a showdown at Virginia Tech on Thursday. With a game against Florida still on the horizon, Florida State has a real shot to move up in the rankings.

    Statistically speaking there is no team in the country that is more dominant. The Seminoles rank third in the country averaging nearly 45 points a game and have a defense that also ranks third, allowing 12 points a night. 

    Florida State is without question the best team in the ACC, and could still be one of the best in the country by winning all of its remaining games.

No. 9 Louisville

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    Louisville is one of the undefeated teams that nobody is talking about. The Cardinals are 9-0 with two challenging games remaining on its schedule.

    The latest Louisville victim was the Temple Owls. Louisville beat Temple 45-17 and will be a favorite in all of its three remaining games.

    The Cardinals are very lucky to be undefeated as they have won some very close games.

    There is no question that Louisville is not a Top 10 team talent-wise, but the Cardinals are the favorites to win the Big East and qualify for a BCS Bowl game.

No. 8 South Carolina

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    South Carolina had a bye over the weekend. The off week, not only helped the team recover physically, but also gave it time to get its head in order mentally after the devastating injury to star running back Marcus Lattimore.

    The Gamecocks are another team who will be a beneficiary of high computer rankings. They have lost two of their past three games, but are ranked very favorably at No. 8.

    Without Marcus Lattimore, it is going to be tough, but the Gamecocks could qualify for a BCS Bowl game if they win out.

    To win out, it will be necessary to knock off Clemson on the road. That is not going to be an easy task, particularly for a team who has not played well in recent weeks.

    Odds are the Gamecocks finish with three losses and fall short of a BCS Bowl game.

No. 7 LSU

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    LSU suffered the most devastating loss of any team over the weekend, losing 21-17 to rival Alabama.

    The loss knocked LSU out of contention for not only the national championship, but also the SEC title. What the loss did bring about however, was the emergence of quarterback Zach Metteberger.

    He has the best game of his LSU career and appears headed in the right direction after throwing for nearly 300 yards against the vaunted Crimson Tide defense. With one of the most challenging schedules in the country, the Tigers are certainly as good as their No. 7 record indicates.

    With the exception of Alabama, at this point in the season, the Tigers appear to be the best team in the conference. That is likely to continue if Mettenberger plays the way he did on Saturday.

No. 6 Florida

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    The Florida Gators did beat Missouri 14-7 over the weekend, but the offense seems to be headed in the wrong direction over the past few games.

    Quarterback Jeff Driskel has struggled the past two games as the Gators have only managed a combined 23 points in those two contests. He has passed for only 297 combined yards with a touchdown and two picks.

    The defense has been a constant all season long, and will be there night in and night out. Florida will reach a BCS bowl game if it can win its remaining three games, but that is easier said than done with Florida State on the horizon.

    The Gators are good, but not the sixth best team in the country. It will take an upset victory at Florida State in the final game of the season for the Gators to go to a BCS Bowl game.

No. 5 Georgia

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    The Georgia Bulldogs have benefited more than any other team when it comes to the computer rankings and finds itself ranked higher than any other one-loss team.

    They are fresh off a 37-10 victory over Ole Miss, and will be playing for the SEC Championship if they can win at Auburn on Saturday.

    That game however, will almost certainly come against an Alabama team that is far an away the more talented of the two teams.

    Georgia is likely going to need to knock off Alabama to reach a BCS bowl game. The Bulldogs are a very talented team, but nowhere near good enough to beat Alabama on a neutral field, or contend for a national championship.

No. 4 Notre Dame

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    The luck of the Irish is as strong as ever. Notre Dame once again escaped from the jaws of defeat on its way to a 29-26 triple-overtime victory over Pittsburgh.

    While the defense has not been quite as good in recent weeks as it was at the beginning of the season, the group still ranks second in the country allowing less than 12 points a game.

    The offense is a slightly different story, but Notre Dame has been doing just enough to come out with one victory after another.

    The Fighting Irish might need some help to play for the national championship, but with the wins they are piling up, it is hard not to consider them a serious threat to play for all the marbles.

No. 3 Oregon

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    In what might have been the most exciting game of the weekend, Oregon knocked off USC on the road 62-51.

    The Ducks now have the highest scoring offense in the country, averaging over 54 points a game. They actually might have one of the most talented offense of all-time.

    With that being said, Oregon is likely going to need some help to play for a national championship. The Ducks almost got that help when Alabama nearly lost to LSU.

    Oregon has scored over 40 points in every game this season and those numbers could likely be even higher if Chip Kelly left his starters in the games longer.

    No doubt that this team is for real and a serious national title contender.

No. 2 Kansas State

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    The Kansas State victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday night may have been slightly overlooked due to the other big games that were happening at the same time.

    Once again, the Wildcats dominated from start to finish, winning 44-30. They are one of the most complete teams in the nation, ranking in the Top 25 in both points scored and points allowed.

    Quarterback Collin Klein was slowed by an injury yesterday, but is still the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, having totaled 29 touchdowns so far this season.

    While there is still a long way to go, Kansas State could be headed for a showdown with Alabama for the BCS National Championship.

    With three very winnable games remaining, it is hard to imagine Kansas State not running the table.

No. 1 Alabama

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    The Alabama Crimson Tide had by far the toughest game of the weekend, winning 21-17 on the road in Baton Rouge to maintain their No. 1 ranking.

    So far this season, the Crimson Tide boast the best defense in the country and have a quarterback in A.J. McCarron who still has not thrown an interception all season long.

    There is no team in the country with more NFL talent than the Crimson Tide and they display it every single week.

    Even though LSU was the first real test the Crimson Tide faced, there is no place in the country that is harder to play, particularly at night.

    Alabama passed that test and without question is the team to beat in college football.