The Miami Hurricanes appeared at No. 7 in the first edition of the final year of BCS rankings—a testament to the upstart team's 6-0 record.
Miami has not been this high in the BCS since the final ranking of the 2005 season, but the 'Canes cannot afford to dwell on their recent entry into the most important poll.
Al Golden's crew still faces a few tough tests from now until the end of the regular season, including a rival that is performing on a higher level.
As is the case every season, unless a team goes undefeated, it will need some help from other programs around the nation to appear in a BCS bowl. Which teams will most help Miami as the Hurricanes work toward their first postseason appearance in three seasons?
Florida State Seminoles
I say Florida State, but let's not jump to conclusions, because oh my word the Seminoles are a national championship contender. Though only five spots separate the two schools (Miami at No. 7 and FSU at No. 2), Jimbo Fisher's team has played the 2013 season at an elite level.
Last Saturday night's clash with Clemson was touted as the highest-profile ACC game in a long, long time, but FSU caged the Tigers 51-14 while making Tajh Boyd and Co. look like conference bottom-feeders.
Freshman phenom Jameis Winston has shredded defenses, throwing for 1,885 yards and 20 touchdowns to just three interceptions. Throw in a three-headed rushing attack, and the 'Noles offense will be tough to stop.
Oh, and Florida State's defense is tied for the sixth-fewest yards and third-fewest points allowed per game in the country.
The Seminoles already dismantled its toughest competition by dominating Clemson 51-14, and rivalry games against both Miami and Florida await FSU. The Hurricanes travel north to Tallahassee on Nov. 2—a matchup that very likely could be visited by ESPN's College GameDay.
Regardless of what happens when the rivals meet, Florida State's 11-plus wins and top ranking will keep Miami's strength of schedule high.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech's wins have not been glamorous, but the Hokies are 6-1 and the only blemish came at the hands of top-ranked Alabama.
What's most important for Frank Beamer's team, though, is its three ACC wins were against the Coastal Division's best programs not nicknamed "Hurricanes."
Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Pittsburgh have each been defeated by the Hokies, and Miami must still make the trek to Pitt on Thanksgiving Friday.
Consequently, Virginia Tech finds itself battling with the 'Canes for the driver's seat to earn a spot in the ACC Championship game. The Hokies travel to Sun Life Stadium on Nov. 9, and barring an upset loss, the winner of the Miami/Virginia Tech game will take on FSU in Charlotte on Dec. 7.
Due to a weak remaining schedule (Duke, Boston College, Maryland and Virginia), Beamer's crew should stay in the Top 25 and—similar to Florida State—aid Miami's SOS.
South Carolina Gamecocks
As of this moment, Florida State is essentially a lock for some sort of BCS bowl. Whether it is the national championship or the Orange Bowl, the Seminoles will be playing in a January game.
Clemson—after suffering its 37-point loss—fell to No. 9 in both the BCS and AP rankings and No. 10 in the USA Today poll.
Like FSU and Virginia Tech, the Tigers have a very manageable schedule from now until the end of the season.
Unlike FSU and Virginia Tech, however, Clemson's wins are not Miami's gain, they are the opposite.
The 'Canes have a realistic chance at being selected as an at-large for a BCS bowl, but the Tigers schedule is far from daunting. Maryland, Virginia, Georgia Tech and Citadel lead up to Clemson's annual clash with in-state rival South Carolina.
"Head Ball Coach" Steve Spurrier's team has fallen twice this year and is a longshot to make noise in the BCS, but the Gamecocks are still in prime position to play a spoiler role.
If Clemson is ranked higher than Miami heading into the final week of the regular season, and FSU is still chasing a national championship berth, the 'Canes will need South Carolina to upset the Tigers.