Cam Newton has lead Auburn to a 12-0 record and an appearance in the SEC championship. Even more impressively, Auburn got Cam to do this for less than $200,000.
Tyler Stimson votes in the ESPN-U NCAA College Football Top 25 poll. This is his individual ballot, not a prediction of what the top 25 will be in the AP or Coaches polls.
1. Auburn (12-0)
Won at Alabama 28-27.
A strong case could be made for Oregon or TCU here, but Auburn takes the top spot. They've played a much tougher schedule than Oregon or TCU.
Sure, they had eight home games, and had favorable conditions for most of their tough games, but they now have very solid road wins at Mississippi State and at Alabama.
Auburn is lucky and good, a dangerous combination. But if they lose the SEC championship game to South Carolina, it is very unlikely they will play for the BCS championship. Auburn-Alabama has turned into the most compelling rivalry in college football.
Cam Newton's eligibility is still a concern, but it would be very unlikely for the NCAA to rule against Auburn in time for them to be left out of the NCG.
2. Oregon (11-0)
Beat Arizona 48-29.
Scoring 48 points on the top defense in the Pac-10 is impressive to keep Oregon ahead of TCU. Like TCU, they only had one close game this year. They have to win at Oregon State next week to clinch a spot in the BCS championship game.
Who Will Play in the BCS championship game?
3. TCU (12-0)
Won at New Mexico 66-17.
TCU is hoping for an Oregon or Auburn upset loss next week. If they get one, they will be the first non-AQ team to play for a national championship. TCU was in a similar position last year, and watched as Texas won in miraculous fashion over Nebraska in the Big 12 title game. If both Auburn and Oregon win, TCU will almost certainly play Wisconsin or Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
4. Stanford (10-1)
Beat Oregon State 38-0.
Stanford should get an at-large BCS berth and should get consideration to play in the championship game if both Oregon and Auburn lose convincingly next week.
5. Wisconsin (11-1)
Beat Northwestern 70-23.
Wisconsin didn't run up the score in this one. They had 70 after three quarters. Wisconsin's outbursts against Indiana and Northwestern either show how good Wisconsin is or the weakness of the bottom half of the Big Ten.
6. Ohio State (11-1)
Beat Michigan 37-7.
Shutting down Michigan's offense was impressive. Ohio State, with their vast fanbase, will almost certainly be one of the first at-large selections for any BCS bowl.
7. Arkansas (10-2)
Beat LSU 31-23.
Arkansas has won six in a row. Their only losses are to Alabama and Auburn - both games they led in the 4th Quarter. Their end of first half hail-mary may have been the play of the day.
8. Boise State (10-1)
Lost 34-31 @ Nevada.
Boise State lost in one of the most horrifyingly heart-wrenching ways imaginable. Their kicker missed two short field goals, one that would have won it in regulation and a second that would have forced a second OT. They will drop farther than this in the polls
9. Nevada (10-1)
Beat Boise State 34-31.
Nevada just won the biggest game in the history of their program at home in miraculous fashion on national TV. But this wasn't a fluke. Nevada has been playing like a top 10 team all season. Their one blemish is a six point loss at Hawaii.
10. Michigan State (11-1)
Won at Penn State 28-23.
Michigan State capped off a great season with a solid win at Penn State. The thing holding them back is how bad they looked in their one loss (37-6 at Iowa).
11. LSU (10-2)
Lost at Arkansas 31-23.
LSU has had a great and lucky season. That luck ran out at Arkansas and at Auburn. But they are still a great team with one of the craziest head coaches in the country.
12. Alabama (9-3)
Lost to Auburn 28-27.
If college football had a playoff, Alabama might win it. They have played a tougher schedule than anyone else in the top 25. And they should have beaten Auburn. They just blew it.
13. Oklahoma (10-2)
Beat Oklahoma State 47-41.
Oklahoma plays Nebraska in the Big 12 title game next week, with a BCS bid on the line.
14. Nebraska (10-2)
Beat Colorado 45-17.
Nebraska plays Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game next week, with a BCS bid on the line.
15. Oklahoma State (10-2)
Lost at Oklahoma 41-47.
Oklahoma State was very close to playing for their first Big 12 championship. But 10-2 is still a great year for Mike Gundy and the Cowboys.
16. Virginia Tech (10-2)
Beat Virginia 37-7.
Virginia Tech has the third longest winning streak in the country. They've won 10 games in a row since losing to Boise State and James Madison. If they beat Florida State next week, they will clinch a BCS bid and ACC championship.
17. Missouri (10-2)
Beat Kansas 35-7.
Missouri capped off a 10-2 season with a thrashing of their rival. They could've been in the national championship conversation if they hadn't lost to Texas Tech.
18. Texas A&M (9-3)
Won at Texas 24-17.
After a 3-3 start, Texas A&M has won six in a row and a share of the Big 12 south division crown. Unfortunately, Oklahoma will get into the Big 12 championship game because of a higher BCS ranking.
19. South Carolina (9-3)
Beat Clemson 29-7.
TCU fans will become huge South Carolina fans this next weekend in the SEC championship game. If South Carolina pulls off the upset, they will ensure themselves of a BCS bid, and avenge Auburn's comeback on South Carolina earlier this year.
20. Florida State (9-3)
Beat Florida 31-7.
Florida State has turned the tables on Miami and Florida and (for this year at least) become the clearly dominant team in the state.
21. Mississippi State (8-4)
Beat Ole Miss 31-23.
Mississippi State has established themselves as the fifth best team in the SEC West, and that's actually a huge accomplishment. They have a great defense, and are the only team that was able to shut Cam Newton down (they held Auburn to 17 points in a 17-14 loss early in the season).
22. Utah (10-2)
Beat BYU 17-16.
Utah got beat by TCU and Notre Dame in back-to-back weeks by a combined score of 75-10. They've responded to that slump with rousing comebacks over San Diego State and BYU. They were very, very lucky to beat BYU, but that has been the trend in the Holy War rivalry—electrifying and surprising finishes.
BYU had beaten Utah three of the last four years in miraculous fashion, today it was Utah's turn. Utah blocked a 42 yard field goal with no time remaining to seal the victory. They also took advantage of two BYU fumbles.
23. San Diego State (8-4)
Beat UNLV 48-14.
Their four losses have come by a combined 15 points. Three of those losses were to ranked teams. And they also gave TCU the biggest scare its had in a long time before losing by five points.
24. Air Force (8-4)
Had a Bye.
They've lost three games to top 10 teams. Three of their four losses came by a combined 10 points.
25. Hawaii (9-3)
Beat New Mexico State 57-24.
They are the only team that Beat Nevada this year and are 9-3. That's good enough to sneak into the top 25 for me. They should get to double digit wins next week if they can take care of business at home against UNLV.
Projected BCS Top Five