Unfamiliar Faces Debut Near Top of BCS Rankings, and That's a Good Thing

Adam Kramer@kegsneggsNational College Football Lead WriterOctober 20, 2013

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nick Marshall #14 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates after their 24-20 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If you expected to see Missouri, Baylor, Texas Tech and Auburn in the top 12 of the initial BCS rankings, please take all of your possessions to lovely Las Vegas and let this luck and strange instinct ride.

Also, kindly stop lying. No one likes a liar. 

Yes, the initial BCS rankings are out, which means the beginning of the end is here. This will serve as the final season of our favorite playoff computer program, and early indications are it could go out with a bang.

The rest of the top 10 and beyond, however, tells a story. Teams that aren’t used to this position have played their way into the conversation. More importantly, they’ve avoided losses unlike many talented squads over the past few weeks.

Missouri is perhaps the best story in college football, and the growing pains of the SEC move feel like a distant memory. The Tigers check in at No. 5 in the initial rankings, and they head into a key home matchup with South Carolina undefeated.

How dramatic of a rise has it been? ESPN's Paul Finebaum provides perspective.

Mizzou was picked to finish No. 6 in the SEC East at Media Days. In the first BCS, the Tigers are No. 5 ... in the nation.

— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) October 21, 2013

Not only that, but help has come. Missouri is in superb position to win the SEC East, even as starting quarterback James Franklin recovers from a shoulder injury.

"This team is resilient, coming back from where we were last year," wideout L'Damian Washington said, according to the Associated Press via ESPN. "I told Coach Pinkel, 'We've got to stop talking bowl games around here. Let's talk BCS, let's talk national championships.'"

Baylor head coach Art Briles.
Baylor head coach Art Briles.Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Baylor has been a menace for scoreboard operators around the country, and the Bears check in at No. 8 in the BCS. Scoring 70 or more points in four games this year will do that. (The Bears also scored 69 in another.)

The schedule will certainly become more challenging after a visit to Kansas, but Art Briles has put his team in prime position in the Big 12.

On the topic of the nation’s most mysterious conference, 34-year-old Kliff Kingsbury has the Big 12's Texas Tech rolling. The Red Raiders debut at No. 10 in the BCS—unbeaten after eight weeks, just like we thought. 

Like Baylor, the schedule will become more difficult for Texas Tech, starting this week against Oklahoma. But Kingsbury’s debut has been a smashing success regardless of when this ceiling might be reached.

And then there’s Auburn, a team that is likely feeling better about itself than anyone in the Top 25. After taking out Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M on the road, the Tigers debut at No. 11 in the BCS.

Other than a loss at LSU, Gus Malzahn’s first season as head coach has been a dream. And with manageable games still ahead—outside of the Iron Bowl—bigger things could be on the horizon. 

All four of these unlikely risers have drastically outperformed expectations through eight weeks, and the latest BCS rankings accurately showcase just that.

Of course, BCS rankings in October mean absolutely zero. Teams will lose again—including most (if not all)—of the four mentioned above. The only ranking that truly matters is the final ranking, and it really only holds significance for the top two teams and the occasional BCS buster.

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury.John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

But the initial rankings also tell a story. There have been upsets, chaos, points (a lot of points) and some added intrigue to a sport that regularly brews the unexpected. It’s been magnificent entertainment, and this is a product of how it has all unfolded. 

Teams like Missouri, Baylor, Texas Tech and Auburn have played exceptionally well, and they’ve also benefited from a turbulent stretch for many teams. There’s no trophy, BCS bowl spot or benefit of being ranked in the top 12 before November, but fresh faces are welcomed.

What these fresh faces do with the remainder of the season will be one of many storylines to follow. And knowing college football, there will be other unlikely teams to state their case before the BCS has spit out its numbers one last time.