And down goes another, and in spectacular fashion. College Game Day was in Stillwater for the huge Big 12 match up between undefeated Baylor and one-loss Oklahoma State, then something happened. A Florida State game broke out. The Cowboys beat the Bears in every aspect of the game, taking control of the Big 12 and throwing yet another monkey wrench into the BCS picture. Now Ohio State is a solid number three hoping for a slip up at the top.
Below that surprise: Oregon laid an egg, Auburn rested up, and Michigan State, Arizona State and Duke won division titles. It continues to get crazy, and for some reason I feel like that’s the only trend bound to continue. Oh, and shout out to Georgia Southern for beating Florida.
- Florida State (11-0, 8-0; W 80-14 vs. Idaho): It was a late season cupcake, same as many of the other ACC and SEC teams, but you can’t help but be impressed by an undefeated team building up the motivation to score 80 on Idaho. Heisman front runner Jameis Winston has been the focus of off field issues for the last couple weeks, but his on field play hasn’t suffered one bit. The Seminoles are wins over Florida and Duke away from a spot in the national championship, not exactly daunting.
- Alabama (11-0, 7-0; W 49-0 vs. Chattanooga): The Tide continue the parade of cupcake eaters, and they had no trouble with the Mocs. With Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota both struggling, AJ McCarron’s Heisman hopes gained a big boost this week. The question now: is the stiff armed statue about stats and exciting plays or wins and efficiency? He has a marquee shot at getting his Heisman moment in Saturday’s Iron Bowl. Oh, and Bama’s SEC and national title hopes are at stake.
- Ohio State (11-0, 7-0; W 42-14 vs. Indiana): It wasn’t a perfect performance, but the Buckeyes got the job done in convincing fashion in a 2nd half snow globe at Ohio Stadium. OSU continues to dominate, but it won’t be enough to move into the top two of the BCS. At this point, it’s a “should win” at rival Michigan, followed by a stiff test against Michigan State in the B1G Championship.
- Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1; W 49-17 vs. Baylor): Want a statement win? Outside Florida State’s blasting of Clemson, has there been a bigger one than the Cowboys’ blow out of Baylor? Oklahoma State is one uncharacteristic and BAD loss to West Virginia from being the team likely jumping Ohio State for third in the BCS standings, but first place in the Big 12 is still a pretty darn good consolation prize.
- Clemson (10-1, 7-1; W 52-6 vs. The Citadel): Just one more for the Tigers to lock up a BCS at-large. Clemson coasted to an in state blow out against The Citadel, but now they get the South Carolina team that’s been dominating them. If they get a win in that big match up, they’ll get the best consolation prize possible after Florida State took their ACC and national title dreams.
- Auburn (10-1, 7-1; Off): The Tigers got a whole week to continue enjoying the last gasp, miracle win against Georgia and to start preparing for the make-or-break game of their comeback season. A loss against Alabama in the Iron Bowl sends them to a possible Cotton Bowl berth. A win takes them to the SEC Championship and leaves an outside shot at a title chance.
- Baylor (9-1, 6-1; L 49-17 @ Oklahoma State): Just wow. I knew Baylor’s defense might be susceptible to a very talented Oklahoma State offense, but I expected a shoot out, not a blow out. The Baylor offense was absolutely dominated most of the night, taking them out of the national title hunt and, at least for now, out of the Big 12 hunt as well.
- Stanford (9-2, 7-2; W 63-13 vs. Cal): What a difference a week makes. Last week, after being totally shut down by USC, the Cardinal were back on the outside, looking in at the Pac 12 Championship picture. Now, Oregon folded, putting Stanford back in the driver’s seat for the title shot and a spot in the Rose Bowl. College football is a volatile game.
- Missouri (9-1, 5-1; W 24-10 @ Ole Miss): Who saw this coming? The Tigers leave the Big 12 to a very sub par first year in the SEC. Now, a year later, they’re a win away from going to Atlanta for the SEC Championship. Missouri got James Franklin back at QB (after freshman Maty Mauk acquitted himself nicely for a few weeks), but that defense continues to shine. It will need its best performance yet next week against Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. A loss sends South Carolina to the title game.
- South Carolina (9-2, 6-2; W 70-10 vs. Coastal Carolina): Cupcakes taste good, whether they’re made of chocolate or in this case, Chanticleer. South Carolina almost never puts up huge offensive numbers, but they sure did this week, showing their in great health leading into the regular season finale against rival, Clemson. The SEC title is still on the table for Steve Spurrier’s team. They just need Johnny Football to solve the Missouri defense.
- Michigan State (10-1, 7-0; W 30-6 @ Northwestern): That defense just keeps rolling on. Michigan State has the country’s number one unit, and they proved it once again, sending the Wildcats to a seventh straight loss. The bigger part of the win is that the Spartans punched their ticket to the B1G Championship game. Undefeated Ohio State stands between them and their first (and last) BCS game.
- Wisconsin (9-2, 7-1; W 20-7 @ Minnesota): It’s tough to argue that any B1G team, including Ohio State, is playing better than the Badgers right now. I’d put them and the Buckeyes on an even playing field, but Wisconsin lost to the Buckeyes so they won’t be able to get an auto bid into the BCS. Finish strong against Penn State next week, and they just might get an at-large.
- Oregon (9-2, 6-2; L 42-16 @ Arizona): What. Happened? The Ducks had everything except a BCS Championship in play, and they went to Arizona and blew it to smithereens. This time, they didn’t even have an injury to their Heisman hopeful QB to blame, though Marcus Mariota did leave with a head injury of some sort. (Still thinking of you, Dennis Dixon) The Ducks won’t be expecting any kind of marquee bowl at this point, and this loss is inexplicable.
- Arizona State (9-2, 7-1; W 38-13 @ UCLA): Enjoy that Pac 12 South title, Sun Devils, but not too much because you’re a legitimate Rose Bowl threat. Arizona State has won six straight (and seven in conference), and they’re looking at a likely rematch with Stanford in the conference title game. The Cardinal won 42-28 the first time around, but I’d be surprised to see that score again.
- LSU (8-3, 4-3; W 34-10 vs. Texas A&M): They just won’t go away. Every time you think Les Miles and the Tigers are down and out they come back and get a big win. The LSU defense was outstanding against Texas A&M, holding Johnny Manziel’s group to just 10 points. Manziel was just 16-41 passing. His previous worst this season was 16-24 two weeks ago, quite a difference.
- Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3; L 34-10 @ LSU): All week Les Miles said he knew exactly how to stop Johnny Manziel and that the Tigers would get the home win. Turns out, he was right. The Aggies are a good, but still not great team in the SEC, riding their Heisman quarterback to everything they get. Shut down the QB and you beat A&M easily, like 34-10 easy.
- UCF (9-1, 6-0; W 41-17 vs. Rutgers): That’s more like it. A week after needing a near miracle to beat a horrible Temple team, the Knights bounced back and blew out 5-5 Rutgers. Unlike most teams, UCF still has two games left, so there are plenty of chances to let Louisville or Cincinnati back in the AAC title chase. The positive for the Knights is that USF and SMU don’t prove much of a threat…as long as they stay motivated and get the job done.
- Louisville (10-1, 6-1; W 24-17 vs. Memphis): It was the Cardinals this week holding off a struggling conference opponent. Louisville built up a 24-3 lead before allowing 14-4th Quarter points to the Tigers. The most important thing: they won, and are still in the chase for a conference title. Next week will be a serious challenge, though, against surging Cincinnati.
- Northern Illinois (11-0, 7-0; W 35-17 @ Toledo): The tests are over for the regular season. Now, the Huskies need to impress in the MAC Championship and hope to fulfill all the qualifiers to get a second straight at-large into the BCS. Can Northern Illinois compete in one of those games? That’s up for debate. What I do know is that they’ve run roughshod over the rest of the MAC and their schedule so far, and they deserve any praise they get.
- Fresno State (10-0, 7-0; W 69-28 vs. New Mexico): They aren’t ahead of Northern Illinois in my poll, but they are in the BCS and unfortunately for me, that’s the only one that truly matters. The Bulldogs blew out New Mexico, and 5-6 San Jose State is the only team standings between them and an undefeated regular season.
- Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2; W 41-31 @ Kansas State): Kansas State has been a thorn in teams’ sides all year, and they put up another good fight against the Sooners. The problem with the Wildcats is that they’ve fallen short in most of those games. Advantage: Oklahoma. Bob Stoops’ team has one game left before it gets its bowl assignment, and it will help decide the Big 12. Beat Oklahoma State at Bedlam, and bedlam will be the key word in the the Big 12.
- USC (8-3, 5-2; W 47-29 @ Colorado): I wasn’t sure if the the Trojans would get up for a game in bitterly cold Boulder, CO, for this game against a not very good Buffaloes team, but they did in a big way. USC jumped ahead 23-0 at halftime, and coasted to victory. In related news, Ed Orgeron’s ship just keeps floating faster and faster.
- Duke (9-2, 5-2; W 28-21 @ Wake Forest): This thing is really real for the Blue Devils. Duke came back to beat Wake Forest, giving them a school record nine wins and at least a share of the ACC’s Coastal Division title. The only thing standing between them and a sure shot at Florida State is hated rival North Carolina. To beat the Tar Heels and win a title is something Duke has done many times, just not in football.
- Cincinnati (9-2, 5-1; W 24-17 @ Houston): They did it quietly, but the season is winding down, and the Bearcats are players in the AAC. A win against Houston, especially on the road, is a huge boost, but if Cincinnati beats Louisville in the regular season finale, that would be huge. Of course, none of that will matter from a BCS standpoint if UCF finishes without a conference loss.
- UCLA (8-3, 5-3; L 38-33 vs. Arizona State): All year I’ve felt the Bruins were overrated in other polls, and they proved that to an extent by losing to underrated Arizona State. That’s not taking anything away from UCLA. They’re a very good team, just not as good as some thought up until this point.
Others in consideration: Notre Dame (8-3; W 23-13 vs. BYU); Texas (7-3, 6-1; Off); Minnesota (8-3, 4-3; L 20-7 vs. Wisconsin); Miami (8-3, 4-3; @ 45-26 vs. Virginia); Nebraska (8-3, 5-2; W 23-20 OT @ Penn State); Georgia (7-4, 5-3; W 59-17 vs. Kentucky)