Twelve weeks in the books, and for most teams that means just two games remain before the postseason. If we don’t know who a team is now we probably will never figure it out, but for most squads we’re getting an idea of exactly who these squads are.
We know that Florida State and Alabama are dominant in every facet of the game. We also know that Baylor and Ohio State aren’t too far behind. From there, we have a number of very good teams fighting for their BCS lives. And if you didn’t notice, there’s a bit of a change at the top.
- Florida State (10-0, 8-0; W 59-3 vs. Syracuse): Amidst the threat of scandal surrounding Quarterback Jameis Winston, the Seminoles have put together back-to-back weeks of 59-3 wins. It doesn’t seem the Seminoles have much challenge left in the regular season with games against Idaho and then rival Florida, who will be playing just to get into a bowl game. After that, it’s likely Duke in the ACC Championship.
- Alabama (10-0, 7-0; W 20-7 @ Mississippi State): A completely uninspired performance from the team most feel is the best in the country. After the good win against LSU a week ago, it would be understandable to see a little bit of a hangover this week. Of course, you usually don’t see that type of thing out of the Tide. Also, since Florida State’s thrashing of Clemson their closest game is last week’s 41-14 win over then No. 7 Miami. Take the passenger seat for awhile, Bama.
- Baylor (9-0, 6-0; W 63-34 vs. Texas Tech): Baylor gets compared to Oregon a lot, and now that they’re in the meat of their schedule they’re proving to be more like the Ducks than originally assumed. The Ducks have a way of running away from teams, while the Bears usually get a huge lead and coast home. Now that the schedule’s tightened up Baylor’s proving it has the stamina to get stronger as the game goes on.
- Ohio State (10-0, 6-0; W 60-35 @ Illinois): The Buckeyes spent about a quarter-and-a-half playing what could best be described as uninspired football. The difference between Ohio State and most of the B1G is that they can tune out like that and still win 60-35. Urban Meyer’s team has to work through the sieve-like defense of Indiana next week, then rival Michigan before the conference championship game.
- Clemson (9-1, 7-1; W 55-31 vs. Georgia Tech): And the score wasn’t even as close as the 24 points make it look. The Tigers took control from the opening kick off, getting a 20-26, 340 yd, 4 TD day through the air from Tajh Boyd. To get a BCS game will be very simple for Clemson. Close the season with wins against The Citadel, and most importantly South Carolina, and the chance for an at-large is very good.
- Oregon (9-1, 6-1; W 44-21 vs. Utah): Oregon came out of the gate flat against Utah. There’s no doubt about that, and the Utes are a team that can take advantage of that. That’s why it was only 17-14 Ducks 5:00 into the 3rd Quarter. From there, Oregon turned into the team we’ve become used to seeing, outscoring Utah 27-7 the rest of the way and keeping themselves in the hunt for a BCS game, and with the Stanford loss, a spot in the Pac 12 title game.
- Oklahoma State (9-1, 6-1; W 38-13 @ Texas): The Big 12 is far from decided, but it’s looking more and more like whoever wins the Baylor-Okie State match up is going to take the conference title. The Cowboys dominated Texas in Austin, knocking the Longhorns out of the top spot. Right now, it’s Baylor without a conference loss and OSU and Texas a game behind. For the Cowboys, it would be their second Big 12 title.
- Auburn (10-1, 7-1; W 43-38 vs. Georgia): Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Of course, Auburn was plenty good in scoring 43 points and leading 37-17 with less than 10:00 left against Georgia. The only play that will be remembered, though, is the 73 yard touchdown pass that won the Tigers the game. It was so unbelievable it could only happen to Georgia.
- Stanford (8-2, 6-2; L 20-17 @ USC): The 4th Quarter vs. Oregon Cardinal showed up at the Coliseum instead of the first three quarters one. Stanford just never got it going against a resurgent Trojans team and because of that they likely played themselves out of the conference title game and a spot in a BCS game. Times are no longer good in Palo Alto.
- Texas A&M (8-2, 4-2; Off): Johnny Manziel’s team got the week off, and I’m sure he’s praying the defense figures out how to play any sort of defense during that extra week. The Aggies defensive unit is allowing 30.9 points per game overall and 38.3 against their six SEC foes. That includes Arkansas, Mississippi State and Vandy…not exactly the class of the conference.
- Missouri (9-1, 5-1; Off): The Tigers’ off week should be productive with James Franklin probably coming back for Missouri’s next game at Ole Miss. The Tigers still control their own destiny in the SEC East, sitting virtually a half game ahead of South Carolina. The path to get there won’t be an easy one. With the Rebels and Texas A&M to close the season they’ll need to be at full strength.
- South Carolina (8-2, 6-2; W 19-14 vs. Florida): It was a lot tougher than it needed to be. That’s stating the obvious for the Gamecocks’ 19-14 win against Florida. Mike Davis struggled on a bum ankle, but Shonn Carson did go over 100 yards rushing in relief. The Gamecocks still trail Missouri in the SEC East, but with the Tigers having Texas A&M and Ole Miss left and USC having its SEC slate finished, you have to think they have the upper hand to take the title.
- Wisconsin (8-2, 6-1; W 51-3 vs. Indiana): Everyone knew Indiana had a horrible defense, but their offense has hung around with the pretty much every team they’ve played so far. That’s true no more. It’s a shame for the Badgers that they didn’t play better against Ohio State because they are close to being the class of the B1G right now. They’re doing it just like they always do: run game and defense.
- Michigan State (9-1, 6-0; W 41-28 @ Nebraska): Michigan State went straight into Lincoln and took what they wanted, a likely division title and trip to the B1G championship game against Ohio State. The only was the Spartans don’t get in is to lose their final two games, and with Northwestern and Minnesota to come it’s not out of the question but definitely not likely.
- UCF (8-1, 5-0; W 39-36 @ Temple): When you’re trying to gain BCS love, one way to do it isn’t to win by three at one-win Temple. The Owls gave the Knights all they could handle, but maybe the catch of the year by UCF’s J.J. Worton in the final minute sent them to the three point win. UCF is still on pace to win the AAC, and with Rutgers, USF and SMU remaining, that shouldn’t change.
- Louisville (9-1, 5-1; W 20-13 vs. Houston): What we’ve really learned the last two weeks is that Houston is totally legit, nearly beating both UCF and the Cardinals. More importantly, though, the Knights and Louisville both won, proving that they are just slightly better, thus their spots in the rankings. Louisville still has slim hopes of taking the AAC so they’ll need to keep it up.
- Northern Illinois (10-0, 6-0; W 48-27 vs. Ball State): The game was much, much closer than the final score suggests against a very good Ball State team, but we left the game knowing what was already obvious. Jordan Lynch is a college football star and should get serious consideration to go to New York for the Heisman ceremony. He averages 349 total yards per game (221 passing, 128 rushing) and has 36 touchdowns. Johnny Manziel (392 yds, 39 TD), Jameis Winston (307 yds, 31 TD) and Marcus Mariota (328 yds, 34 TD) all compare with those totals.
- Arizona State (8-2, 6-1; W 30-17 vs. Oregon State): A few weeks ago the game against Oregon State looked like a big test for the Sun Devils, but these are two teams headed in opposite directions, and Arizona State appears to be primed to make a trip to the Pac 12 title game. With games against UCLA and Arizona, they won’t be handed the spot, but they will be favorites in both games.
- LSU (7-3, 3-3; Off): This week was a chance to lick the wounds if you’re LSU. The Tigers got beat up both physically and mentally against Alabama, but they don’t have any time to think about that. Their closing stretch of Texas A&M and Arkansas will be very important toward deciding what bowl game Les Miles’ team is headed to.
- Fresno State (9-0, 6-0; Off): Time to prepare for a closing stretch that could land the Bulldogs in a BCS game. While I don’t think they’re as good as Northern Illinois, UCF or Louisville, the BCS computers have Fresno ahead of all three of them. Unfortunately for me, the poll matters a little more than mine.
- Oklahoma (8-2, 5-2; W 48-10 vs. Iowa State): It was the calm before the finishing storm for the Sooners. A lightweight match up against Iowa State before finishing the Big 12 season against a bowl eligible Kansas State and possible conference champion Oklahoma State. If the Sooners take down the Cowboys at Bedlam, bedlam might just be what we have in the conference race.
- USC (7-3, 4-2; W 62-28 vs. Cal): All hail Ed Orgeron. Ever since Orgeron took over as interim coach of the Trojans they’ve gone 5-1 with their only loss against Notre Dame. USC is now only a game out in the Pac 12 South chase with UCLA still on the schedule. With Arizona State owning the head-to-head on the Trojans, though, that makes things a little more difficult.
- UCLA (8-2, 5-2; W 41-31 vs. Washington): UCLA just keeps staying alive for the Pac 12 South title, putting linebacker/running back Myles Jack to good use for the second straight week. Jack ran 13 times for 59 yards and 4 TDs against Washington. The Bruins will have to earn a trip to the title game. Their final two games are against Arizona State and USC, the two teams standing in their way.
- Duke (8-2, 4-2; W 48-30 vs. Miami): Since when does Duke control its own destiny in the ACC football race? I don’t want to fall for the cliche of bringing basketball into this, but it’s hard not to when the gridiron group has been so bad for so long. Most years, making a bowl game is reason for celebration. This year, they’re in the driver’s seat to try to unseat Florida State as the ACC’s top team.
- Minnesota (8-2, 4-2; Off): The Gophers got the week off to prep for the final stretch run in the B1G, and a conference championship berth is highly improbable but not impossible. They have to beat both Wisconsin and Michigan State to close the season, and the Spartans also have to lose to Northwestern. It’s a high order, but stranger things have happened.
Others in consideration: Notre Dame (7-3; Off); Texas (7-3, 6-1; L 38-13 vs. Oklahoma State); Cincinnati (8-2, 4-1; W 52-17 @ Rutgers); Miami (7-3, 3-3; L 48-30 @ Duke); Ole Miss (7-3, 3-3; W 51-21 vs. Troy); BYU (7-3; W 59-13 vs. Idaho State)