The Bowl Championship Series bowl picture is starting to come into focus after the first batch of BCS rankings were unveiled.
There's still going to be a lot of movement between now and the end of the season. That's not going to stop anyone from trying to play out how the chips may fall.
Here's a look at the BCS standings.
|1||Alabama Crimson Tide||7-0||.9841|
|2||Florida State Seminoles||6-0||.9348|
|4||Ohio State Buckeyes||7-0||.8553|
|10||Texas Tech Red Raiders||7-0||.6220|
|14||Virginia Tech Hokies||6-1||.4408|
|16||Texas A&M Aggies||5-2||.3666|
|17||Fresno State Bulldogs||6-0||.3379|
|18||Northern Illinois Huskies||7-0||.3032|
|19||Oklahoma State Cowboys||5-1||.2687|
|21||South Carolina Gamecocks||5-2||.2161|
|25||Oregon State Beavers||6-1||.1042|
These are the five BCS bowls and their conference tie-ins.
|BCS National Championship||BCS #1 vs. BCS #2|
|Fiesta Bowl||Big 12 vs. At-Large|
|Orange Bowl||ACC vs. At-Large|
|Rose Bowl||Big Ten vs. Pac-12|
|Sugar Bowl||SEC vs. At-Large|
Looking forward, you could very well see these matchups in the BCS.
BCS National Championship
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Oregon Ducks
Exactly why Alabama would get to the national title game should need no explanation. As long as the Crimson Tide win out, they'll remain the No. 1 team in the country.
The intrigue comes from whom their opponents would be. The Oregon Ducks present the best option. Beating UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State and winning the Pac-12 title game would be enough to see them stay above an undefeated Ohio State and jump ahead of Florida State.
There's nothing you've seen from Oregon that would lead you to believe that it is primed for an upset against any of its conference counterparts.
Oklahoma Sooners vs. Missouri Tigers
The Big 12 team that earns the automatic bid in the Fiesta Bowl will likely come down to the Baylor-Oklahoma winner. According to the conference's rules, the winner of a two-team tiebreaker is the winner of the head-to-head matchup.
Despite that loss to Texas, bet on the Sooners. By that point, the Bears still won't have been tested, so it's hard to gauge how good that defense really is.
With Missouri, you know there's going to be a one- or two-loss SEC team in the BCS should Alabama go unbeaten. It's not far off to see the Tigers being that team. Their toughest games left are against South Carolina and Texas A&M—both winnable games. Then a loss in the SEC title game wouldn't eliminate them from the BCS.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Louisville Cardinals
The cream always rises to the top. Despite that loss to Central Florida, Louisville will find itself atop the American Athletic Conference standings by year's end. The Cardinals have too much talent not to see them run the table from here on out, so it's just down to the other teams doing their jobs.
The Atlantic Coast Conference winner seems a little more in doubt. Florida State looked great against Clemson and Maryland, but how many years have they looked great and then flamed out.
The Seminoles should be able to make the ACC title game. The question is whom they'll play. Virginia Tech gets the slight edge over Miami considering it has a better track record over the past couple of years.
From there, don't be surprised to see an upset. The Hokies have a pass defense that might be able to corral Jameis Winston, and then Beamer-ball creates that moment of magic that changes the game.
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Florida State Seminoles
The reason for FSU not qualifying automatically were stated above. Although a defeat would mean no trip to the Orange Bowl, the Noles would still be locks for a BCS bowl. Since Oregon's in the national title game, that opens a spot in the Rose Bowl for a high-profile matchup with Ohio State.
The Buckeyes are the class of the Big Ten. Although their defense has been suspect, there isn't another team in the conference who can match OSU's offense.
If Oregon and Alabama both go undefeated in the regular season, there's no way Ohio State can jump into the top spot.
Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Baylor Bears
If Northern Illinois finishes in the top 12 of the BCS standings, it's guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl, like last year, when it went to the Orange Bowl.
They're already No. 18, so it's going to be a huge leap for them to get there. Between them and Fresno State, the Bulldogs have a tougher road. As long as the Huskies can beat Ball State, they're gonna get into the top 12. The Mid-American Conference is weak otherwise.
As long as the Baylor Bears go through the season with just one loss, they're a lock for the BCS. The key to doing that will be a three-game stretch where they have Oklahoma at home, Texas Tech at a neutral site and travel to Oklahoma State.