With No. 3 Oregon falling to No. 5 Stanford, 26-20 on Thursday night, there will be a shakeup in the BCS rankings for Week 12.
The question is: How will the rankings shake out?
The top two spots are set. No. 1 Alabama remains undefeated and is coming off of a 38-17 win over No. 13 LSU, and with No. 2 Florida State going for a 59-3 walk in the park over Wake Forest, those two will not be moving.
It gets a little more interesting from there. We have three teams (Ohio State, Stanford and Baylor) in play for two spots.
I have B/R's Sam Chi's full projections for the rankings. The top five, with which I am in agreement, I'll discuss below.
|3||Ohio State||9-0||Big Ten||4|
|11||Oklahoma State||8-1||Big 12||14|
|14||Michigan State||8-1||Big Ten||17|
Projections via B/R's Sam Chi
Rankings in text refer to Week 11 of the BCS. Rankings in bold are the projected rankings.
No. 1 Alabama
The Crimson Tide held LSU to three points in the second half in a 38-17 victory to solidify an already solid spot atop the rankings.
The Crimson Tide are a lock to hold on to the No. 1 spot should they remain undefeated. Alabama plays at Mississippi State next week and then hosts Chattanooga. That leads to the Iron Bowl with No. 9 Auburn and the SEC Championship game. No. 8 Missouri currently leads the SEC East.
Alabama is good enough to handle this stretch, but a loss is certainly not out of the question. Of course, should Alabama pick up a loss, the Crimson Tide would not be out of the picture for the title game.
No. 2 Florida State
Barring an awful outing, the Seminoles will play in the BCS title game. The Seminoles will finish out the regular season with Syracuse, Idaho and Florida.
Florida State should cruise. There was a time this season when the Gators would have been considered a threat, but Florida is limping through the season now and has lost four straight.
Meanwhile, the ACC Coastal division is wide open, but no team is a serious threat to knock off the Seminoles in the championship game.
Also, if the Seminoles do win out, the next three teams will not have the juice to jump Florida State in the rankings, unless the Seminoles lose standing in the human polls with a string of uninspired wins.
The Seminoles are in an enviable position.
Now, on to the three teams more closely grouped. Let's take a look at the remaining schedules for Ohio State, Stanford and Baylor, and then I'll discuss each.
|Week 12||Illinois||USC||No. 25 Texas Tech|
|Week 13||Indiana||California||No. 14 Oklahoma State|
|Week 14||Michigan||No. 23 Notre Dame||TCU|
|Projected Conf. Champ. Game||No. 17 Michigan State||No. 22 Arizona State||--|
No. 3 Ohio State
Ohio State had a healthy lead on Stanford in the BCS rankings. That lead is going to be trimmed, but the undefeated Buckeyes still have enough to stay ahead of the one-loss Cardinal.
Which of these teams will enter bowl season highest in the rankings?
The bigger question is whether or not Ohio State can stay ahead of Stanford and Baylor.
There isn't another ranked opponent on the schedule, and Michigan's current two-game losing streak is doing the Buckeyes no favors. However, a potential matchup with Michigan State can help the Buckeyes' cause. The Spartans have a strong chance to run the table and possibly enter the top 10 before that game.
Ohio State is currently ahead of both Stanford and Baylor in all but one of the computer polls, but I don't think that will continue to be the case as the other two face tougher opponents down the stretch.
This would put Ohio State in jeopardy of sitting in fifth in the rankings heading into bowl season.
No. 4 Stanford
Stanford's win over Oregon is going to help the Cardinal close the gap on Ohio State. The strong opponent will help in the computer polls and the human ones. It will also ensure the Bears will not be able to pass Stanford this week, despite Baylor being undefeated.
Still, with an ugly loss to Utah, Stanford is fighting an uphill battle as the only team with a loss in this group.
However, the Cardinal are ahead of Baylor in every computer poll, and with Baylor not playing in a championship game, the Cardinal have the possibility of entering bowl season ahead of Baylor despite having a worse record and trailing in both human polls.
No. 5 Baylor
Facing their first ranked opponent of the season, the Bears whooped No. 10 Oklahoma, 41-12.
Unfortunately for Baylor, Stanford beat the No. 3 team in the nation. So, Baylor will be stuck behind the Cardinal.
However, the Bears face a tough close to the season. While that puts their perfect record in jeopardy, it gives them a fighting shot in the rankings.
Baylor would be well served to not just win, but win in such a fashion that the human voters can't deny their greatness. The lack of a conference championship game will hurt this team as the others get a chance to have the final word.