Fans across the country are excited for the inaugural College Football Playoff next season, but before a new FBS era begins, the remainder of the 2013 season will be played out under the much-maligned BCS system.
Despite the fact that it may be flawed, Sunday marked the release of the initial BCS rankings, which are sure to get fans talking.
Not surprisingly, Alabama retained its No. 1 position from the end of last season that has been commonplace for the Crimson Tide over the past few years. Bama took care of Arkansas at home on Saturday, but its toughest test is yet to come. After a tilt with Tennessee next week followed by an idle week, the Tide will play LSU in a game that could potentially influence the BCS picture significantly.
Behind the Crimson Tide was Florida State, riding high after a massive victory over Clemson.
The Seminoles' talent is undeniable; however, it was unclear how well freshman quarterback Jameis Winston would adjust to the starting role with EJ Manuel advancing to the NFL. Winston has passed every test with flying colors as a 51-14 dismantling of Clemson on Saturday put him very much in the Heisman Trophy discussion.
Another team that has been a BCS darling in recent years is Oregon.
The Ducks lost in the BCS National Championship Game to Cam Newton's Auburn Tigers a few years ago, but they are currently on pace to get another crack at the grandest prize in college football. Former head coach Chip Kelly has moved on to the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, but Oregon looks as good as ever under Mark Helfrich due to the play of quarterback Marcus Mariota and an explosive offense.
As good as Oregon has been, Ohio State can certainly make the case that it is deserving of a top-two spot as well right now. The Buckeyes have yet to lose a game under head coach Urban Meyer after going undefeated last season, when they were denied a chance to play Notre Dame for the national title due to NCAA sanctions.
Ohio State has had its fair share of hiccups this season, including a closer-than-it-needed-to-be win over Buffalo in Week 1 as well as close triumphs over both Wisconsin, Northwestern and most recently Iowa. Quarterback Braxton Miller has been feast or famine when healthy, so there is no doubt that the Buckeyes have some issues that need to be worked out.
Which team would give Alabama the biggest challenge in the National Championship Game?
With top one-loss teams such as LSU and Texas A&M faltering on Saturday, things are pretty wide open outside of the top four teams. Miami (Fla.), Baylor and Missouri are all undefeated, but they'll need to continue their winning ways and get help in order to get in the national title discussion.
Even if they aren't able to ascend to a top-two position, though, all three of those teams are in position to challenge for a BCS bid.
Baylor is looking particularly good due to the weakness of the Big 12 this season, while both Miami and Mizzou could be in line for at-large bids depending upon what happens with the likes of Florida State and Alabama.
In addition to the national title contenders, it is always interesting to take a look at which teams could potentially serve as BCS busters. Teams like Boise State and TCU have proven capable of making it to and winning BCS bowls over the past several years, and while they aren't in position to do so this season, there are a couple teams that are.
Which BCS buster would have a better chance of winning a BCS bowl game?
The Fresno State Bulldogs have been particularly impressive by virtue of wins over the likes of Rutgers and the aforementioned Boise State. With quarterback Derek Carr leading the way, the Bulldogs are undefeated and in prime position to run the table, as there aren't many difficult games remaining on the schedule.
Another team worth watching is Northern Illinois out of the MAC. The Huskies qualified automatically for a BCS bowl last season thanks to a BCS ranking between No. 13 and No. 16 as well as finishing ahead of both the Big Ten and Big East champions.
Florida State handled Northern Illinois with relative ease in the Orange Bowl, so there may be some pause with regard to the Huskies being granted another bid, but it all comes down to the rankings. Quarterback Jordan Lynch is playing at a Heisman Trophy level, and with wins over both Iowa and Purdue, Northern has proven that it can hang with big-conference teams.
Getting the first taste of the BCS rankings certainly paints an interesting picture of what could happen moving forward, but there is a long way to go before the end of the season, and plenty can occur between now and then that would change the entire BCS complexion.
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