So some of the best teams in the nation are going to finish this season with at least one loss. It happens to the best of them, especially when they play in the SEC.
But all hope is not lost for some of those teams that have lost. Aside from the fact that each of the top three teams has at least one very tough game remaining on the schedule, many of the top one-loss teams are done losing, for good. And that could mean plenty of shakeups in the rankings even as the season winds down to a close.
Here's a look at those top-ranked teams ready to make a big push to end the season. For a complete look at the current standings, click here.
No. 4 Alabama
To stay undefeated, a team needs to be at its absolute best every single week. Even then, most of them need a little bit of luck, too, to stay unbeaten. Obviously, Alabama didn't get any luck, nor was it at its best on Saturday when it dropped a 29-24 contest to Texas A&M for its first loss of 2012.
From here on out, the Crimson Tide are going to be giving everything they have to prove they still deserve to be sitting atop the standings, and meanwhile, they're going to be hoping that the others in the top three lose. The good news for Alabama is that if it wins its next two—but especially that season finale against Auburn—the SEC West is theirs, regardless of what Texas A&M does. Even more good news: The Crimson Tide's final two games are against really bad teams.
They should see the next two weeks as a tune-up for the SEC championship, which, if they win, could and should plant them right back into the BCS championship picture. All they can worry about at this point is winning, and then they're going to have to hope for a little bit of luck.
No. 10 Florida State
That midseason loss to NC State really killed the Seminoles. They had such a manageable schedule, and if they had won that game (which they lost 17-16, to add insult to injury), they could very well be No. 1 in the nation right now. Alas, that's not how the cards have fallen for FSU, and as such, the Seminoles stand at 9-1 with two regular-season games remaining.
If they can get past Maryland this weekend, they have one tremendous opportunity remaining in their season finale against their hated rivals, No. 6 Florida.
Despite the fact that the Gators are ranked higher, the Seminoles actually have a good chance of taking down the Gators for the third straight year. They're playing at home. They currently boast the best team they've had in years. And if they win that game on Nov. 24, they have a good shot at making another jump in the polls prior to the ACC championship (which they'll be a part of, as long as they win on Saturday). The payoff could be potentially huge for the Seminoles if they beat the Gators.
Florida is clearly the last big test of the season for FSU, and it is the Seminoles' biggest of the year. But if they pass the test, they will have proven that they are very much deserving of a top ranking.
No. 2 Oregon
In the preseason, Southern Cal dominated the Pac-12 dialogue. The Trojans were the team to watch and the team to beat.
Well, Oregon did just that—and has beaten everyone else on its schedule—to establish itself as the conference's top team and the nation's second-best team. Whether or not the Ducks are truly deserving of that No. 2 spot is irrelevant at this point. Are there a handful of SEC teams with tougher schedules who should be ranked a bit higher? Probably. But as it stands, Oregon is 10-0 and probably isn't going to lose before season's end, despite the fact that its final three games (including the conference championship) will be against ranked opponents.
Just because Oregon may not be as good as some of the SEC's finest doesn't mean it's not good. It is very good. This offense has consistently been one of the best in the nation all year, averaging more points per game (54.8) than some college basketball teams.
No matter what they do, the Ducks are still going to have their doubters in the form of SEC apologists, but they have a tough schedule to finish the year. If they finish up with three more wins over ranked teams, and keep scoring the way they have been, it will be hard to say the Ducks don't deserve that top ranking.
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