The second-to-last BCS standings have led to some separation at the top, with the last few one-loss hopefuls still clinging to a shred of a chance at making the national championship game.
The Week 15 BCS standings also show how varied the choices might be for the at-large selections after the ACC, American, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC champs are slotted in.
Here's what the latest standings look like:
- Florida State
- Ohio State
- Oklahoma State
- South Carolina
- Michigan State
- Arizona State
- Northern Illinois
- Central Florida
- Fresno State
- Texas A&M
Not many teams are still under consideration for the BCS at this point, but that doesn't mean some coaches or fanbases were rubbed the wrong way by how some schools ended up in the latest rankings. Some teams got screwed, as you'll see in the following slideshow.
Auburn (11-1) is the team of destiny, if the crazy endings to its last two games are any indication. But does that mean the Tigers are destined to take advantage of the SEC's legacy in the BCS and slide into the national title game with one loss, or rather fall just short?
The Tigers are third in the latest BCS standings after knocking off No. 1 Alabama, but taking down the defending champs didn't provide as big a boost as you'd think. The pollsters and computers apparently don't buy into that age-old, yet flawed, argument that the team to beat the best is the best.
This isn't to suggest Auburn should have moved up to second, ahead of Ohio State, for that victory, but the percentage of .027 separating the two might be too much to overcome if both teams win their respective conference title games.
Could the SEC actually miss out on a national championship game for the first time since 2006?
Missouri (11-1) is the SEC East champ for one of the most prestigious achievements in program history.
But the Tigers aren't as highly ranked as a one-loss team from the country's top league normally would be, mostly because they're stuck behind two other one-loss SEC schools.
That's correct. Missouri is the top team in its division and is one victory from making the Sugar Bowl, but a loss would mean the Tigers probably won't make the BCS, since they would fall even further behind Alabama
If ever there was a time where being a division champion should count for something, it's in this scenario.
It won't make a difference when it comes to getting a possible BCS at-large bid, but Baylor (10-1) has to wonder how desirable it looks to the Orange or Sugar Bowl by falling behind South Carolina in the latest BCS rankings.
South Carolina's win over Clemson was impressive, and likely accounted for the Gamecocks moving up from No. 10 to No. 8 to leapfrog the Bears. But South Carolina is the fourth-highest SEC team, therefore pretty much a one-in-a-milion shot to get a BCS at-large bid over teams like Alabama and the Auburn/Missouri loser.
By this point, shouldn't the teams with still-realistic chances to make the BCS be rising to the top spots? At-large picks can only come from the top 12, but if a league has four teams in the top 12, it severely limits the choices available.
Michigan State (11-1) has two avenues to travel to the BCS: either beat Ohio State for the Big Ten title or hope the Rose Bowl holds with tradition.
The Spartans could be an at-large pick and take Ohio State's spot in Pasadena, even with a loss to the Buckeyes, but in order for that to happen, they have to remain among the top 14 in the BCS standings.
They're currently 10th, but the combination of a loss and a last-second rise by teams below them (Arizona State, Central Florida and Northern Illinois come to mind) could lead to the end of any Rose Bowl tradition.
The Rose Bowl has picked replacement Big Ten teams the two previous times it lost one to the national championship game, but Michigan State's year-long lack of respect could prevent that from happening again.
Arizona State (10-2) has the most distinct advantage of any team playing in a BCS-level conference championship game because it gets to play at home.
the Pac-12 Conference doesn't trust its title game participants to be able to fill a neutral-site stadium, so ASU gets to host Stanford on Saturday for the title because the Sun Devils have the better overall league mark.
Yet Arizona State is ranked 11th in the BCS standings, four spots behind the Cardinal team it will play in Sun Devil Stadium for a Rose Bowl berth. Sure, ASU lost at Stanford back in September, but since then, its only loss was a neutral-site affair to Notre Dame. Meanwhile, Stanford lost to a 5-7 Utah team and fell to the same Southern Cal team (albeit with a different coach) that ASU crushed, 62-41.
At the very least, these teams should rank one right after the other in the standings.
All signs point to Northern Illinois (12-0) locking up the first BCS bid on Friday night, assuming it gets past Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference title game.
But the Huskies' spot won't be definite until the final BCS standings and bowl pairings are announced next Sunday, at which time they and the rest of the world will see if a ranking in the top-16 and a placement ahead of an automatic qualifying conference champ still exist.
Northern Illinois is No. 14 right now, but likely American Athletic Conference champ Central Florida is 16th, having moved up three spots.
ESPN's studio analysts have made no secret about their displeasure with NIU having a shot at the BCS. Could that disdain continue to seep into the human polls and computer rankings, even if the Huskies go 13-0?
Duke (10-2) is one of eight teams from BCS conferences that can guarantee itself a major bowl bid if it can pull off the major upset of Florida State in the ACC title game.
The BCS rankings would indicate that's just not possible.
Despite 10 wins and a division title, Duke is rated only No. 20 in the latest standings. That's far and away the lowest ranking of any division champ from an automatic qualifying conference, and a good nine spots behind Pac-12 South champ Arizona State.
The Blue Devils are also slotted behind the third-best team in the Big 12 (Oklahoma), the fourth-best team in the Pac-12 (UCLA) and the fifth-best team from the SEC.
Guess Duke will just have to beat Florida State and leapfrog all those teams.
The American Athletic Conference is one of two leagues that sends its champ to the BCS despite not having a title game (along with the Big 12), but it's the only one that doesn't have every team play each other to determine an outright regular-season winner.
As a result, Cincinnati (9-2) may finish in a tie for first place in the AAC, but because it doesn't play Central Florida, that won't get the Bearcats a true shot at the BCS.
The scenario for this to happen would require Cincinnati to beat Louisville on Friday, then have Central Florida lose to SMU. That would put both teams at 7-1 in the AAC, and without a head-to-head result, it would come down to which team had a higher BCS ranking to determine the automatic qualifier.
Central Florida is rated 16th. Cincinnati is rated...outside of the published standings. So much for that tiebreaker.