College Football Rankings 2012: Contenders That Will Be on Edge in Week 13

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College Football Rankings 2012: Contenders That Will Be on Edge in Week 13
Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Notre Dame and Alabama aren't out of the woods just yet, but the path is certainly winding down.

After a wild Saturday night in Week 12 saw No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon both lose in shocking fashion, the Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide have become the front-runners to play in January's BCS National Championship Game in Miami.

Each will have to win out in order to secure a berth, but they, along with Georgia, are the only teams that control their destiny this fall.

With the pressure mounting, let's take a look at some contenders that will be on edge this coming Saturday.

 

No. 1 Notre Dame

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The formula to get to the BCS National Championship Game in Miami is a simple one for Brian Kelly's Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Beat USC on Saturday night and you're in.

That task is easier said than done, however, especially considering the Irish will be in hostile territory for only the fourth time all season. Sure, Notre Dame hasn't slipped up yet, but it's had some near misses against Purdue, Stanford, BYU and Pittsburgh. 

At 7-4, the Trojans have yet to beat a ranked team this season, but that's all the motivation they will need to bring their A-game to the Coliseum on Saturday night. As long as USC has that explosive offense to send out on the field, it will be a threat to beat anyone in the country, even Notre Dame and its top-ranked scoring defense.

We saw what the pressure of being No. 1 did to Alabama in Week 11, and how it made Kansas State implode in Week 12. Notre Dame has yet to play with that pressure this season, but they will on Saturday.

 

No. 4 Florida 

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Although both Florida and Florida State enter their regular-season finale in Tallahassee with identical 10-1 records, the Gators are the only legitimate championship contender between the two, considering they've navigated a tricky SEC schedule this fall.

Therefore, Will Muschamp's Gators will be the team on edge in Week 13 inside Doak Campbell Stadium.

Florida has lost its last two meetings with the in-state rival Seminoles. Even more concerning for Gators fans, though, is that Florida has been outscored 52-14 over the course of those two defeats. Expect the Gators' defense to struggle against the nation's seventh-best scoring offense and its offense to struggle against the country's fifth-ranked scoring defense.

If Florida wins, it just needs a Notre Dame loss at USC to lock up the No. 2 spot and a trip to the title game, considering that either Alabama or Georgia will lose in the SEC title game.

 

No. 5 Oregon

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Ducks fans may feel like the season is over, but Oregon isn't completely out of the picture yet, and will need to win in Week 13 and hope that all hell breaks loose at the top of the BCS.

Before anything else, though, the Ducks will need to outlast rival Oregon State in the Civil War on Saturday. Oregon will head into hostile territory in Corvallis this weekend, and can't afford another underwhelming performance. The Beavers are one of the best teams in the country, and play above-average defense. 

Chip Kelly's squad will be especially vulnerable this weekend after the devastation it experienced in losing to Stanford by a field goal in overtime.

Still, the Ducks have an outside shot at the Pac-12 title game and therefore are contenders up until the end of Week 13.

 

WEEK 13 BCS STANDINGS
 1. Notre Dame
 2. Alabama
 3. Georgia
 4. Florida
 5. Oregon
 6. Kansas State
 7. LSU
 8. Stanford
 9. Texas A&M
 10. Florida State
 11. Clemson
 12. South Carolina
 13. Oklahoma
 14. Nebraska
 15. Oregon State
 16. Texas
 17. UCLA
 18. Rutgers
 19. Michigan 
 20. Louisville
 21. Oklahoma State
 22. Boise State
 23. Kent State
 24. Arizona
 25. Washington

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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