College football was both weird and boring on Saturday. Weird because Georgia State beat the University of Florida…by not completing one pass. Weird because Johnny Manziel for the second consecutive year appeared anything but Johnny Heisman against Les Miles and LSU. And boring because even the games that were supposed to nail biters – the aforementioned LSU/TAMU and Baylor/Oklahoma State – resulted in nationally televised scrimmages.
So in terms of this week’s BCS standings, let’s focus on the four teams who actually matter (as of this week, at least) in terms of a national championship birth on the eve of “rivalry week.”
1. Alabama (11-0; 1st in SEC West) – For a program that’s won the past two national championships, ‘Bama’s perhaps the most under-the-radar No. 1 we’ve seen in quite some time. Blame it on Johnny Football Mania to start the season and the rage around Jameis Winston (positive and negative) on the back end, but Nick Saban’s band of trained assassins are exactly where they should be.
They’re dismantling everything in sight. But to keep the dream of a three-peat alive stands the Iron Bowl with Auburn this week and the SEC Championship in December, which isn’t exactly the easiest road to Pasadena. My gutsy prediction? Within the next two weeks AJ McCarron becomes a legitimate Heisman candidate with a “for-the-ages” performance in either of these next two games. Or both.
2. Florida State (11-0; 1st in Atlantic) – If we’re talking strictly on-the-field, the ‘Noles have by far the easiest road to a national title birth. They’ve got Florida next week who couldn’t be saved if Tim Tebow stood on the sideline with a gallon of holy water. From there stands the ACC title in Charlotte against Duke. And with all due respect to the season the Blue Devils have had this year, FSU has given no reason of picking against them against ranked ACC opponents.
But look, we’re talking about a Florida State conglomerate that hasn’t scored less than 41 points in a game this season, the second best offense (55 PPG) and defense (11 PPG) in the country and whose starters haven’t played a full four quarters in weeks. Plus, performance alone, Winston is the Heisman.
Everything, however, and I mean everything boils down to what becomes of Jameis’ impending sexual assault case, especially if he is charged with a felony prohibiting him from playing per Florida State regulations (unless those vague “exceptions” apply here).
3. Ohio State (11-0; 1st in Leaders) – Baylor and Oregon losing means the possibility of anyone leapfrogging the Buckeyes is all but vanquished (even an Auburn win over Alabama). As much as I loathe them, the team hasn’t lost in two seasons, which has to account for something at some point.
All that being said, running the table against the state of Michigan is the only hope OSU has. The saying “anything can happen in a rivalry game” is overstated. But pending the Buckeyes steamroll the Wolverines on Saturday, it’s the Big Ten title game versus Michigan State that will no doubt be Urban Meyer’s toughest conference test since arriving in Columbus.
4. Auburn (10-1; 2nd in SEC West) – Being the college football expert that I am and everyone should take every word said here with the highest of regard (translation: listen to none of it, but keep reading, please), it’s going to take (more) luck, two L’s from the first three teams mentioned and Auburn to win out to sniff the national title game.
Auburn’s taken advantage of vicious running attack all year led by Tre Mason and quarterback Nick Marshall – 320/game good for second in the country – which has them on the brink of a second national title appearance in less than four years. However, expecting that idea alone going up against a top-ranked, Nick Saban and CJ Mosely-led defense with two weeks to plan (make no mistake, ‘Bama was probably planning for Auburn even before yesterday’s Chattanooga scrimmage) doesn’t seem like enough.
On top of everything mentioned here, SBNation brings up an interesting point. With Clemson at No. 6, the possibility of an all-ACC title game looms. It’s extremely far-fetched and one of those classic “if-this-happens” scenarios college football has made famous throughout the years, but…again…*
Anywho, it’s Sunday night and focusing on Broncos/Patriots is at the top of my to-do list as well. Here’s the rest of the BCS rankings. Let’s meet back some time later this week and break bread about this, shall we?
1 Alabama .9881
2 Florida State .9697
3 Ohio State .9200
4 Auburn .8236
5 Missouri .8077
6 Clemson .7726
7 Oklahoma State .7615
8 Stanford .6665
9 Baylor .6456
10 South Carolina .6101
11 Michigan State .5780
12 Arizona State .5052
13 Oregon .4950
14 Northern Illinois .4620
15 Wisconsin .4448
16 Fresno State .4124
17 LSU .3737
18 Oklahoma .3380
19 UCF .3364
20 Louisville .2522
21 Texas A&M .2243
22 UCLA .1921
23 USC .1779
24 Duke .0885
25 Notre Dame .0674
* – If Texas A&M beats Missouri this week, and the loser of the Iron Bowl drops, Clemson could be No. 4 next week. Keep in mind, this is with the Big Ten and SEC Championships looming. So, yeah, a lot has to happen, but if a lot does happen, it happens. Capisce? Nah, you’re right. It’s Clemson. They never win big games.