The BCS standings may be on their way out the door for a playoff system come the 2014 season, but college football's most reliable source of controversy has one more campaign to create feverous national conversation.
Sunday began the sparking of that national debate, as the initial BCS standings were released in an ESPN special program.
|BCS Rankings (Week 9)|
Although the BCS standings are technically under wraps until after the eighth week, most fans had a good idea of what to expect coming into Sunday's release. The USA Today Coaches' Poll releases every Sunday, last week we got our first look at the Harris poll and five of the six computer rankings are public. The Wolfe computer standings were the only ones not released to the public prior to the full BCS rankings being sent out, meaning most predictions proved accurate.
Alabama remains atop the standings like it has all season, with Saturday's win over Arkansas being the club's sixth double-digit win in seven tries. With a home contest against Tennessee coming next week and a bye the following Saturday, the Crimson Tide should easily stay atop the rankings until at least their matchup against LSU on Nov. 9.
The Florida State Seminoles' path to a national championship became clear on Saturday. With another sensational performance, Jameis Winston propelled Florida State to a pulverizing defeat of Clemson and made some noise as a possible No. 1 contender. Jimbo Fisher's squad received first-place votes in both the Harris and USA Today polls.
Winston could possibly make it two straight Heisman-moment victories in two weeks against Miami (Fla.). The Seminoles have three straight games against unranked opponents before heading to Gainesville for a regular-season finale against Florida. Win out, capture the ACC championship and Florida State will wind up pushing farther away from the Oregon Ducks and other contenders behind them.
Speaking of the Ducks, Oregon comes in at No. 3, with Heisman favorite Marcus Mariota leading the nation's most feared offense. The Ducks haven't had a game decided by fewer than three touchdowns yet this season, but with matchups against UCLA and Stanford upcoming, we'll get to see whether they are worthy of national championship contention.
If not, No. 4 Ohio State will have no problem stepping up. Urban Meyer has not lost since taking over in Columbus, but the Buckeyes' mediocre schedule has them fighting an uphill battle against the computers. Some computer polls (like the Massey Ratings) have them behind even one-loss teams, which could be a problem considering they have only one game remaining against Top 25 opponents (at Michigan on Nov. 30).
Elsewhere, schools like Baylor and Missouri will also need to win out and get some help. The Bears scored at least 69 points in five games this season and have three computer-boosting games against ranked teams remaining on their schedule. But they came into the season almost completely ignored by the rankers and will thus need almost all the teams ahead of them to lose to have a shot.
The same may go for Missouri, though a possible SEC championship matchup with Alabama could be a pseudo play-in for that conference's title contender. The Tigers avoided playing the Crimson Tide during the regular season, but home contests against South Carolina and Texas A&M may define their chances going forward.
Among the remainder of the clubs is a sea of wreckage. Six of the Associated Press' Top 11 teams from this past week went down, creating a flux of movement that could come into play later in the season. Stanford and Clemson still have an outside shot at the national championship game if they win out and get a ton of help. With the Cardinal especially having a major potential boon when they host Oregon, the BCS waters will get far murkier before they clear.
If Baylor or another similar team wins out but Stanford takes down Oregon, it could make for a ton of controversy. But as we broach the last year of the BCS standings, what better way could there be to go out?
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