Oregon was held to fewer than 60 points by Colorado in a 57-16 victory Saturday night. As a result, the Ducks were severely punished for that indiscretion and dropped to No. 3 in the latest simulated BCS standings.
Oregon fell behind Clemson, which gained just enough vote shares to jump into the slot behind Alabama. The Ducks' computer ratings took a hit after beating lowly Colorado, as margin of victory has no bearing on the BCS computers.
Florida State also moved up to No. 5 after destroying previously ranked Maryland, leapfrogging Ohio State. The Buckeyes also defeated a ranked team in Northwestern, though in less impressive fashion.
This sets up a gargantuan matchup between Clemson and Florida State in two weeks (assuming no #Clemsoning takes place next week against Boston College, while the 'Noles have a bye week) on the eve of the release of this year's initial BCS standings.
But before we get to that, a more important question needs to be asked: Between Clemson and Oregon, if both teams run the table and win their respective conference championships, which is more likely to finish No. 2 behind Alabama?
At this point, the Ducks have to be considered a slight favorite because they have a tougher schedule to negotiate. They'll reclaim the No. 2 ranking next week with a victory over Washington. And with games against Stanford and UCLA, and a Pac-12 Championship Game still to come, they have a better shot at entrenching their position.
Clemson has its share of challenging games, to be sure, with FSU, South Carolina and possibly a highly ranked Miami team waiting in the ACC Championship Game. To remain unbeaten, the Tigers will also have to have beaten two ranked opponents from the SEC, the top conference in the country according to Jeff Sagarin.
But here's what works against Clemson: Both Georgia and South Carolina appear to be leaking oil and may not be as highly regarded by the end of the season, mitigating those victories both in the polls and computers. Georgia nearly dropped a game at Tennessee, a team Oregon pasted by 45 points. South Carolina, with Jadeveon Clowney's participation becoming increasingly questionable, had trouble in each of the last three games against lesser opponents.
The other factor not in Clemson's favor is its current poll position. It's a good deal (130 points) behind Oregon in the USA Today Poll, and when the Harris Poll comes out next week, it's reasonable to project the Tigers to be behind Oregon as well, since that poll typically apes the AP Poll. Based on past voter behavior, that'll be difficult to overcome.
What's not asked, while we're running through all the numbers and scenarios, is why Alabama should be assumed to be No. 1. After all, the Tide have beaten just two teams currently ranked and likely will play only one more before the SEC Championship Game. But that's a topic for another day.