BCS Standings 2013: Breaking Down Week 12 Top 25 Teams
Week 11 was billed as one that could dramatically alter the landscape of college football, and after the most recent batch of BCS rankings were released on Sunday evening, it became clear that the weekend did not disappoint.
Alabama pulled away from LSU with a dominant second half and remained firmly atop the list at No. 1. But behind it, Oregon's upset loss at Stanford allowed Florida State to remain at No. 2 and set it up for a potential (if not likely) trip to the BCS National Championship Game.
Ohio State and Baylor benefited from Oregon's loss as well, and even though they are still on the outside looking in, both programs are now one step closer to realizing their national title dreams.
Here's a look at the entire Top 25.
The Georgia Bulldogs are officially relevant again, sneaking in at No. 25 after beating Appalachian State on Saturday but really riding the strength of a win over Florida in Jacksonville the weekend before last.
Aaron Murray has done a remarkable job at pacing this team in the face of major offensive injuries, and now that Todd Gurley is back in the fold—playing at his usual awesome level, no less—it feels like this team might slowly be rounding into form.
The 'Dawgs are rightfully favored to lose at Auburn this Saturday. Anything else would be a disservice to the Tigers' body of work, which has been impressive to say the least.
But would anybody really be surprised if Georgia won?
They didn't accrue any style points in the process, but with an undefeated record in conference play, the Texas Longhorns didn't need to.
Texas advanced to 6-0 against Big 12 opponents this season, eking by West Virginia in Morgantown—something Oklahoma State was unable to do—en route to a 47-40 overtime win.
Mack Brown may still be on the hot seat, but his team has won five consecutive games, beaten quality opponents like Oklahoma and only owns losses to respectable teams in Ole Miss and BYU.
Considering the turmoil under center, where David Ash's career might be in concussion-related jeopardy, Brown might actually be doing one of the best coaching jobs in the conference.
The deck was stacked against Miami on Saturday night.
A rainstorm did the Hurricanes no favors in the wake of Duke Johnson's injury, and combined with a reinvigorated Virginia Tech team, it helped force Miami into a second straight loss.
Still, there are no excuses for the way Miami played on Saturday. Injuries and weather are hard to control, but even before losing its first game of the season, this team was struggling to beat the likes of North Carolina and Wake Forest.
The season is not lost, but with regard to Miami's talent and performance level, this ranking feels much more consistent than the top-10 ranking it enjoyed a couple of weeks ago.
Come early November, nonconference opponents do not come much harder than this one.
Where most competitive teams schedule dregs from the Sun Belt of creampuffs from the FCS, Wisconsin scheduled a very impressive BYU squad that has already beaten Texas, Georgia Tech, Houston and Boise State this year.
But the Badgers held their ground in Madison, playing their style of football and coasting to a relatively comfortable—given the strength of their opponent—10-point win at Camp Randall.
There are not 21 better teams in America.
LSU ran out of steam against Alabama on Saturday, and the better team clearly won that game.
Still, few teams in the country are capable of doing what the Tigers did in Tuscaloosa, punching the Tide in the mouth for the majority of the first two quarters. Without a crippling goal-line fumble on their first drive, that might have been a very different game.
Now LSU must pick itself up by the bootstraps and finish the season strong. The Tigers get a bye in Week 12 but then need to play an equally rested Texas A&M team—led by one Johnny Manziel—in Baton Rouge.
Even if they lose that game, the Tigers are one of the 25 best teams in America. But with four losses to their name, they would probably drop out of the BCS rankings.
Louisville took care of business with ease against UConn, but its hopes of making a repeat trip to the BCS took a massive hit in Week 11.
The Cardinals were desperate for Houston to win at Central Florida, and they almost got their wish. But the Knights held firm on a goal-line stand to end the game and beat the scrappy Cougars, 19-14.
Now Louisville is tasked with beating that same Houston team, and even if it does, winning the AAC seems more like a pipe dream than a realistic goal.
19. Arizona State
It definitely wasn't pretty, but no one expected it to be.
Arizona State still deserves credit for winning at Utah, something Stanford proved unable to do earlier this season. The Utes are far from a powerhouse, but emboldened by that home crowd, they're plenty good enough to beat a ranked foe.
The Sun Devils still control their own fate in the Pac-12 South, and if they can hold serve at home against Oregon State and Arizona—which is not, by any means, a given—they would be one road upset against UCLA away from advancing to the conference championship game.
After the way Stanford pounded them earlier this season, this team is hungry for some potential revenge—especially if a Rose Bowl trip is on the line.
For a while, it looked like Oklahoma might be able to hang with Baylor in Waco, but the game spiraled out of control in a heartbeat and left the Sooners with a blowout defeat on their resume.
OU's defense looked plucky, but the offense was a mess, and as it continued to give the ball back to Baylor, it put the defense in positions where winning was almost impossible. The unit had no time to rest.
These issues likely won't be sorted out by the end of the year, since Blake Bell continues to play without any week-to-week consistency, and Trevor Knight has proven he is definitely not the answer at quarterback.
But because the defense is so intriguing and Bob Stoops is still on the sideline, the Sooners should remain close—at the very least—in every game they play.
17. Central Florida
Central Florida doesn't need to win with style points; it simply needs to come out victorious in the rest of its AAC games.
That mission was accomplished on Saturday, when the Golden Knights held firm with a goal-line stand to beat Houston at home, handing the Cougars their first lost of the AAC season.
The road ahead is clear for George O'Leary's team, with realistic—albeit unlikely—slip-ups remaining against Rutgers at home and at SMU to end the season.
Unless this team falls asleep at the wheel, it will find itself in a BCS bowl.
16. Michigan State
Michigan State was closer than people realized to (essentially) locking up the Big Ten Legends in Week 10, but Nebraska's Hail Mary win over Northwestern and subsequent upset at Michigan kept the Huskers both alive and in control of their own fate.
The Spartans travel to Lincoln for a de facto division championship game on Saturday, and even though they are playing much better football and appear to be the stronger side, weird things always seem to happen in Memorial Stadium.
The game puts Ohio State in a weird position, since getting one-loss Michigan State in the conference championship game would boost its strength of schedule, but getting Nebraska would make victory seem a lot more likely.
If Sparty heads to Indianapolis, OSU's perfect season would be in serious danger, and all of this poll jockeying might eventually become moot.
15. Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois climbed three spots during the bye week, passing other idle teams like Michigan State, which was ostensibly hurt by Michigan's home loss to Nebraska in the computer numbers.
However, though the Huskies are now just one spot behind Fresno State in the all-important race to be America's top non-BCS team, they are actually further behind in raw points than they were last week.
This will be a neck-and-neck battle all season, provided the two teams both stay undefeated. NIU has dominated MAC play the past two years, but Wednesday night's game with Ball State is a very losable affair.
Midweek #MACtion returns with a vengeance in Week 12.
14. Fresno State
Fresno State played—perhaps—its best and most complete game of the season on Saturday night, winning a true road contest comfortably against a pretty decent Wyoming team.
On a schedule devoid of quality competition, that will have to suffice as an impressive win, and the Bulldogs cleared one more hurdle on their road to an undefeated season.
They are still in the driver's seat for a BCS berth, but with Boise State potentially looming in the conference championship game, getting there is not a sure thing.
Those two teams' first meeting this season was a close one.
Myles Jack did a little bit of everything for UCLA on Saturday night, helping the Bruins escape Tucson with a close win by racking up eight tackles on defense and 120 rushing yards on offense.
The move was unexpected, and it would be hard to bank on such heroics all season. But at the very least, Jack has emerged as a remarkable athlete who demands attention, joining Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks on what might be America's best group of linebackers.
Still, as good as UCLA appears to be, its schedule provides no room for error. With Washington, Arizona State and USC all still remaining, this team will need to play lights-out each week for the rest of the year.
12. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State is the best team nobody is talking about, plagued by one (very) bad week at West Virginia and unable to atone for it—thus far—in the eye of public perception.
That could change in a hurry down the stretch, when the Cowboys play home games against both Baylor and Oklahoma, along with a road game at Texas, which is somehow 6-0 in conference play.
This team feels different from, but perhaps just as good as, previous Mike Gundy editions. The passing game is a question mark, but the Cowboys can kill you with defense and special teams.
Especially in Stillwater, OSU's tilt with Baylor is the Bears' most likely hiccup this season.
11. Texas A&M
Johnny Football is Johnny Football; you have to take the good with the bad.
Manziel threw three interceptions against Mississippi State on Saturday, and some were of the egregious variety. But he also led the Aggies to 537 total yards and 51 points, their third consecutive game above the total of 50.
The A&M defense is still pretty bad, so this team will go just as far as Johnny Football takes them. But is there anyone in America you would rather go into battle with?
10. South Carolina
South Carolina needs at least one loss from Missouri to have a shot at winning the SEC East and crashing the conference championship game in Atlanta.
But is it actually better for the Gamecocks if Mizzou keeps winning?
If South Carolina beats a depleted Florida team next Saturday and then dispatches of Coastal Carolina, it would host Clemson for a potential win that would look great on a BCS at-large resume.
Whereas the SEC Championship Game offers the potential for an automatic BCS qualifier, it also offers the potential to get pasted by Alabama on national TV.
If the Gamecocks win out and so does Missouri, they might have essentially clinched a spot in the BCS, which sounds a lot less messy than taking a shot at the Tide.
Sure, it was "only Kentucky," but Missouri looked good for a second consecutive week after blowing its undefeated season against South Carolina, thrashing the Wildcats 48-17.
The Tigers appear to have put that tragic loss in the past—firmly where it belongs—and are focused on the future. They still control their own fate in the SEC East, and by winning out, they would be in line for a shot at Alabama in the conference championship game.
Winning out will be difficult, though—not because Missouri is some sort of fluke, but because both of its remaining games (at Ole Miss and vs. Texas A&M) are very losable.
If Gary Pinkel's team finishes with one loss and wins the division, it will have earned its place in Atlanta.
Despite getting thumped in its biggest game of the season, a 51-14 home loss against Florida State, Clemson still sits in the driver's seat for a BCS at-large bid.
The Tigers need to run the table, though, and with two tough games among their remaining three, this team will need to peak in November and begin to play its best football.
That tough end-of-season stretch starts on Thursday night, when an always tricky Georgia Tech team will bring its triple-option rushing attack to Memorial Stadium.
If they can survive that contest (and a game against Citadel in Week 13), the Tigers will play at South Carolina in what could potentially become a de facto BCS play-in game.
Passes? We don't need no stinkin' passes!
Auburn dominated in a tough road environment against Tennessee on Saturday, bullying the Vols up front with a barrage of running plays by Nick Marshall and Tre Mason, who combined for 331 of its 444 rushing yards on the afternoon.
Head coach Gus Malzahn has shown a willingness to adapt his scheme to his personnel, dialing back the passing game and allowing his athletes to play to their collective strength.
This team is for real, and it appears to grow both better and more confident each week. But is it really capable of upending Alabama in the Iron Bowl?
Oregon produced no points in the fist three-and-a-half quarters at Stanford on Thursday night, falling short of not just De'Anthony Thomas' bold prediction (40 points) but also looking far worse than even the most modest projections might have called for.
If they follow last season's blueprint—that is, licking their wounds and winning out after losing to Stanford—the Ducks can still salvage this season and play in a BCS Bowl.
But doing so will be easier said than done. How could this team not be demoralized? How could the older players possibly cope with such poignant deja vu?
First-year coach Mark Helfrich has a difficult job on his hands.
Now is not the right time to start believing in Baylor; that should have come a couple of weeks ago.
But alas, many people needed to see the Bears beat another quality team before taking them seriously, and after routing the Oklahoma Sooners in Waco, that task appears to be complete.
It doesn't get any easier from here. Texas Tech is down but still capable of giving Baylor some trouble; Oklahoma State and Texas are both ranked in this week's BCS Top 25; and even TCU, while far from impressive, has a secondary that might be able to combat Art Briles' offense.
This team is for real, and you'd better believe it. But running the table will still be a very big challenge.
Stanford played spoiler against Oregon for the second consecutive year, jockeying itself into pole position atop the Pac-12 North and setting itself up for another Rose Bowl run.
It must be tempting for the Cardinal to ask "What if?" What if they had showed up ready to play at Utah earlier this year? What if they were still undefeated? How highly would they be ranked?
But asking those questions is a fool's chore. All Stanford can do is look to the future and continue winning games.
It may not control its own national-title fate, but this team does still have a (semi-) realistic national-title chance.
3. Ohio State
For now, Ohio State creeps one spot closer to glory, benefiting like so many other teams from the Oregon Ducks' loss at Stanford.
By virtue of their weak Big Ten schedule, the Buckeyes stand a better chance of remaining undefeated than teams like Baylor and maybe even Alabama, the latter of which still has to play Auburn and whichever team wins the SEC West. But that relatively weak slate of games could also be the Buckeyes' undoing.
It's hard to say if OSU can hold off undefeated Baylor or (potentially) one-loss Alabama. Those are questions and debates for a later day. For now, all this team can do is continue taking care of its own business.
That journey resumes next weekend at Illinois.
2. Florida State
Week 11 was just as important to Florida State's season as Weeks 8 and 10, when it beat down Clemson and Miami, respectively.
With Oregon's ugly loss at Stanford on Thursday, the Seminoles essentially became the masters of their own BCS fate, something that even blowout wins over top-10 ACC teams couldn't provide them.
Jameis Winston didn't post his usual, massive efficiency numbers, but FSU still coasted in a 59-7 road win at Wake Forest—a game that was even more lopsided than that lopsided score would indicate.
This team is set up for a title run, and it now appears to be on a collision course with Alabama.
It's not how you start; it's how you finish. And after coming off the blocks slowly against rival LSU, Alabama finished like a team that deserves to be the consensus No. 1 in America.
People complain that Alabama lacks legitimate star power. It's led, they say, by a game manager of a quarterback, a brilliant head coach and a group of fungible drones.
But on Saturday, linebacker C.J. Mosley and running back T.J. Yeldon helped dispel that foolish notion. This team is stacked; it's just harder to stand out from your teammates when your teammates are all so talented.
The Tide continues to Roll.