The college football season saw its most tumultuous Saturday yet, and wouldn’t you know it, it comes right before the last first BCS poll is released. The Bowl Championship Series has always had a way of highlighting college football’s unpredictability, and in its final season of existence, expect no different.
Things have been pretty tame for much of the season with little relevant change in the polls, but Saturday that all changed, highlighted by chaos in the SEC, specifically the East Division. The preseason ranking in the East looked something like this:
- South Carolina
Well, eight weeks in that’s not so much the picture we’re looking at. Kentucky is the worst team in the East Division, but in the span of about 20 minutes Georgia, South Carolina and Florida lost to Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Missouri respectively, and the Tigers are well on their way to the SEC Championship. Here are the standings today:
- Missouri: 7-0, 3-0
- South Carolina: 5-2, 3-2
- Florida: 4-3, 3-2
- Georgia: 4-3, 3-2
- Tennessee: 4-3, 1-2
- Vanderbilt: 4-3, 1-3
- Kentucky: 1-5, 0-3
With all of that laid out, let’s look at my version of the FBS Poll.
- Alabama (7-0, 4-0; W 52-0 vs. Arkansas): As the rest of the SEC went to hell in a hand basket, the Tide rolled on, mowing over yet another SEC foe. The good part, though: Auburn’s resurgence gives us a shot at a pretty tasty Iron Bowl to close the regular season.
- Oregon (7-0, 4-0; W 62-38 vs. Washington State): The Ducks saw their first adversity of the season last night when Marcus Mariota had his first two turnovers of the season on back-to-back possessions. How’d they respond? 28 straight points and another blow out win.
- Florida State (6-0, 4-0; W 51-14 @ Clemson): Dominance. The Seminoles put themselves squarely into the national title conversation with their dismantling of Clemson. The next big challenge…undefeated Miami. With Jameis Winston at the helm, though, it’s tough to imagine this team losing to anyone.
- Ohio State (7-0, 3-0; W 34-24 vs. Iowa): The Buckeyes aren’t gaining any style points, but they just keep winning. Urban Meyer is now 19-0 in his OSU tenure. There’s no reason they shouldn’t go undefeated, but even if they do they’ll need help to get to the championship.
- Baylor (6-0, 3-0; W 71-7 vs. Iowa State): A ho-hum 71 points for the Bears against Iowa State, the 4th time in six game Baylor has crossed the 70-point threshold. The Bears get one more cupcake in Kansas before finishing against five straight quality opponents.
- Missouri (7-0, 3-0; W 36-17 vs. Florida): The Tigers, with a freshman quarterback making his first start, didn’t show any sign of let up in beating Florida. Missouri holds a two-game advantage in the SEC East, and a win against South Carolina this week will pretty much punch the ticket to Atlanta for the SEC Championship.
- Miami (6-0, 2-0; W 27-23 @ UNC): The Canes probably should have moved down the rankings after their unconvincing performance against North Carolina, but the rest of last week’s top ten couldn’t muster a win of any kind. It’s hard to have a whole lot of trust in Stephen Morris under center right now, but Miami will need to fall back on him if they’re going to continue their undefeated season.
- Stanford (6-1, 4-1; W 24-10 vs. UCLA): The Cardinal bounced back nicely from their first loss by giving UCLA its first defeat. It was a classic Stanford performance. The defense was dominant, and the offense held onto the football for long stretches.
- Texas Tech (7-0, 4-0; W 37-27 @ West Virginia): The Raiders just keep winning, but the real tests begin now. Texas Tech finishes with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas. If they can somehow get through the rest of that schedule without a loss, then this group certainly will prove itself as the Big 12’s best.
- Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2; L 45-41 vs. Auburn): Johnny Manziel can only do so much. It was another electrifying performance for the Heisman winner, but his team’s awful defense keeps the Aggies from competing at a higher level. Now, we wait to see if the shoulder injury Manziel gutted out will cause further issues down the road.
- Clemson (6-1, 4-1; L 51-14 vs. Florida State): There’s no other way to describe Saturday’s game against Florida State than embarrassing. The Tigers were taken out of their game plan in the first couple minutes an never got comfortable. Now they need to rebound. A BCS at-large is still possible if they win out.
- LSU (6-2, 3-2; L 27-24 @ Ole Miss): The Tigers couldn’t overcome a bad first half in Oxford, falling out of the SEC Championship and national title chase with the loss at Ole Miss. Zach Mettenberger was uncharacteristically bad in the first half Saturday, throwing three interceptions. It seems the Rebels have always been a thorn in his side.
- UCLA (5-1, 2-1; L 24-10 @ Stanford): The way things seem to go in the Pac 12, a chain reaction is bound to continue next week. Utah gave Stanford its first loss, the Cardinal did the same to UCLA the very next week, and next week the Bruins try to pay it forward against Oregon.
- Louisville (6-1, 2-1; L 38-35 vs. UCF): National title dream over for the Cardinals. Louisville was ahead by three touchdowns and lost at home. UCF had about a 2% chance of winning Thursday and did. Now, they don’t even control their own destiny in the hunt for a BCS game.
- Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0; Off): The Hokies picked a good time to take a week off. After a season opening loss to Alabama, Virginia Tech is winning 24-12 in a 6-0 stretch. In three weeks, a trip to Miami should decide the division. Don’t forget. This team wasn’t supposed to be that good, but just like they always do under Frank Beamer, they figured it out and just keep winning.
- South Carolina (5-2, 3-2; L 23-21 @ Tenn): Just a head scratching loss for the Gamecocks. The Head Ball Coach inexplicably wasted two timeouts in the final three minutes, they got away from running the ball with Mike Davis, one of a handful of the best running backs in the country, and the defense had yet another lapse. USC better rebound against Missouri.
- Fresno State (6-0, 3-0; W 38-14 vs. UNLV): The Bulldogs looked very good in taking down a pretty good UNLV team. They have a bigger test against San Diego State next week. Get through that and Fresno might back its way into a BCS at-large.
- Auburn (6-1, 3-1; W 45-41 @ Texas A&M): It’s like the old days for Gus Malzahn at Auburn. The last time he was there, Cam Newton led them to a national championship. After a couple awful seasons, Auburn is back and they’d like nothing more than to run the table and clinch an SEC Championship berth against Alabama in the Iron Bowl.
- Oklahoma (6-1, 3-1; W 34-19 @ Kansas): The Sooners bounced back from the Texas loss with a pretty non-descript win against Kansas. They have a chance to make a serious statement coming up. The next two games are against undefeated Texas Tech and Baylor.
- Oklahoma State (5-1, 2-1; W 24-10 vs. TCU): Other than the loss at West Virginia, the Cowboys have looked great. With Texas Tech, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma still on the schedule, they’ll have to prove it if they want to be crowned the best in the Big 12.
- Northern Illinois (7-0, 3-0; W 39-17 @ Central Mich): In case you missed it, and you probably did, Huskies Quarterback Jordan Lynch set an FBS QB record with 316 rushing yards in the win at Central Michigan. He added 155 passing yards too just to top it off. Northern has just two challenges left…back-to-back weeks against Ball State and Toledo.
- Georgia (4-3, 3-2; L 31-27 @ Vanderbilt): Bad gets worse for the Dawgs. They’ve lost No. 2 Running Back Keith Marshall, and three top receivers in Malcolm Mitchell, Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley to knee injuries. Now, in their second straight loss, remaining top receiver Chris Conley goes down on the game’s final play. The only hope for UGA was for the offense to carry the defense. Unfortunately for them, the offense will soon be the former scout team.
- Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1; W 56-32 @ Illinois): The Badgers are a fluke at Arizona State and a close loss at Ohio State from being undefeated. Other than that, they’ve handled business. This team is better than they get credit for, and they’ll have a chance to prove that in the coming weeks.
- Arizona State (5-2, 3-1; W 53-24 vs. Washington): The Sun Devils made a huge statement Saturday, blowing out a ranked Washington team that seems to be falling apart. Arizona State has always struggled to add on to momentum when they get it, so we’ll have to see what they do from here.
- Michigan (6-1, 2-1; W 63-47 vs. Indiana): Michigan got record breaking performances from Quarterback Devin Gardner and Receiver Jeremy Gallon, but that defense could use some work.
Others in consideration: Oregon State (6-1, 4-0; W 49-17 @ Cal); Nebraska (5-1, 2-0; Off); Michigan State (6-1, 3-0; W 14-0 vs. Purdue); Notre Dame (5-2; W 14-10 vs. USC); UCF (5-1, 2-0; W 38-35 @ Louisville); Florida (4-3, 3-2; L 36-17 @ Missouri); Texas (4-2, 3-0; Off); Houston (5-1, 2-1; L 47-46 vs. BYU); BYU (5-2; W 47-46 @ Houston)