BCS Rankings: Breaking Down Top Contenders, Pretenders and Surprises

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2013

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 19:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide leads his team onto the field to warm up prior to facing the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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
RankingTeamBCS Avg.
2Florida State.935
4Ohio State.855
7Miami (FL).720
10Texas Tech.622
14Virginia Tech.441
16Texas A&M.367
17Fresno State.338
18Northern Illinois.303
19Oklahoma State.269
21South Carolina.216
25Oregon State.104

LEXINGTON, KY - OCTOBER 12:  Nick Saban the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide leads his team on the field before the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on October 12, 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Im
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. 

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 19: Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies is tackled by Kris Frost #17 of the Auburn Tigers on October 19, 2013 at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. Auburn Tigers won 45 to 41.(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
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.

COLUMBIA, MO - OCTOBER 19:  Defensive lineman Kony Ealy #47 of the Missouri Tigers reacts after a sack of quarterback Tyler Murphy #3 of the Florida Gator sduring the game at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Columbia, Missouri.  (Photo
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.