BCS Rankings: Breaking Down Top Contenders, Pretenders and Surprises

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BCS Rankings: Breaking Down Top Contenders, Pretenders and Surprises
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The release of the first official BCS rankings has college football fans in a frenzy, and it's time to break down which programs are the biggest contenders, pretenders and surprises.

Each Top 25 team should be happy to have made the standings, but not every program will be hunting for a BCS bowl berth when the regular season ends.

Stats via ESPN.com.

BCS Rankings
Ranking Team BCS Avg.
1 Alabama .984
2 Florida State .935
3 Oregon .932
4 Ohio State .855
5 Missouri .822
6 Stanford .741
7 Miami (FL) .720
8 Baylor .712
9 Clemson .625
10 Texas Tech .622
11 Auburn .506
12 UCLA .481
13 LSU .455
14 Virginia Tech .441
15 Oklahoma .420
16 Texas A&M .367
17 Fresno State .338
18 Northern Illinois .303
19 Oklahoma State .269
20 Louisville .256
21 South Carolina .216
22 Michigan .164
23 UCF .139
24 Nebraska .135
25 Oregon State .104

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Top Contender: Alabama Crimson Tide

The Alabama Crimson Tide are just beginning to round into elite shape, and that is bad news for the rest of the programs around college football. With the nation's top-ranked defense (allowing just 9.7 points per game), Alabama looks unstoppable.

Since allowing 42 points to Texas A&M in the second game of the year, the Crimson Tide have not allowed more than seven points in a game and have only given up 16 total points over the last five weeks.

The team's persistent rushing attack is starting to build a rhythm (25th in the country), and senior quarterback AJ McCarron is protecting the ball (only three turnovers), so the possibility of another national championship could become a reality.

Other Contenders: Oregon, Florida State, Stanford. 

Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Top Pretender: Texas A&M Aggies

After a heartbreaking loss to the Auburn Tigers, the Texas A&M Aggies have proved to be the biggest BCS pretenders of the season. While QB Johnny Manziel is still one of the most dangerous players in the nation, the defense is abysmal.

Manziel deserves immense credit for leading the team to the fifth-ranked pass offense, but when the defense is unable to get off the field—ranked 104th overall, allowing 33.9 points per game—there is only so much the offense can do.

The Aggies are dealing with a defense that has trouble stopping even average offensive units, and the fact that the team also has to face ranked squads like Missouri and LSU before the conclusion of the season is the perfect recipe for BCS disaster.

Other Pretenders: Clemson, South Carolina, LSU.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Top Surprise: Missouri Tigers

The SEC has plenty of talent, but most fans didn't predict the Missouri Tigers would be as successful as they have been this season. With a 7-0 record and two huge wins over Georgia and Florida, the Tigers are a threat in the BCS rankings.

There were serious questions about whether the defensive unit would be able to withstand the rigorous SEC pressure, bit with the 33rd-ranked defense only allowing 22.1 points per game, the unit has stepped up big.

Add the balanced Missouri offense led by quarterback James Franklin and running back Henry Josey, and the Tigers have ranked eighth in the nation, scoring 44.3 points per game. That’s the perfect scenario for legitimate BCS Championship contention.

Other Surprises: Baylor, Miami (FL), Fresno State.

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