If there was one thing we learned this past weekend in college football, it was the way to knock down teams based on high-flying offenses is to punch them in the mouth to take them out of their element. On Saturday both Oregon and Baylor saw their super offenses crippled by kryptonite styles by Arizona and Oklahoma State, respectively. The Ducks were ambushed by Arizona in the dessert and never found a way to respond and the loss cost them in a big way. Oregon not only plummeted out of the BCS conversation after wiggling back in at the expense of Stanford’s upset loss the previous week, but the Ducks saw a chance to host the Pac 12 championship game vanish while Stanford claimed the Pac 12 North’s spot in the title game for a second straight season.
The consequences were slightly different for Baylor in Stillwater. A chance to play in the BCS Championship Game was erased from the realm of possibility for the Bears, but the Big 12 title is still viable with a little help along the way. Either way, the list of BCS Championship contenders has either been reduced to three or five or six, depending on how you evaluate the one-loss options with time running out.
Alabama and Florida State remain fixtures at the top two of my personal top 25, and Ohio State remains the first team in line waiting for entrance to the BCS Championship Game should either of those two stumble. I do not believe an undefeated Ohio State team should be passed by a one-loss SEC champion or a one-loss Alabama or Florida State. To me, if Alabama or Florida State fall, Ohio State is in as long as they take care of the two Michigan schools the next two weeks (@ Michigan this week, vs Michigan State in Big Ten Championship Game next week). But we must sort through the one-loss teams and determine who has the upper hand.
I believe the discussion focuses on Auburn, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Clemson (sorry Michigan State and Baylor fans). Oklahoma State has the best win of the four after blowing away Baylor but Missouri may have the “best loss,” an overtime loss to South Carolina. That can change this weekend when Auburn hosts Alabama in the Iron Bowl with the winner advancing to the SEC Championship Game, but we’ll wait to see how that plays out. I actually like Auburn a lot right now when comparing these teams together. For now, I place Auburn ahead of Oklahoma State because I believe they are a better overall team. The Tigers have been excelling in the running game and if the two were to play on a neutral field I think Auburn’s running game and defense would give them the edge over the Cowboys. For that reason, I will keep Auburn just ahead of Oklahoma State this week.
As for the BCS Busters, I have been standing by the idea that Central Florida, even with one loss, is a better team than Northern Illinois and Fresno State. My latest top 25 keeps that in writing. I have also been suggesting Northern Illinois is ahead of Fresno State, which continues to be the case in my top 25 this week and is now supported by the latest BCS rankings although Northern Illinois is ranked ahead of UCF in the BCS, which would give them another automatic BCS invite if the season ended today. I have always championed giving a BCS buster a shot in the BCS games, so I have absolutely no problem if Northern Illinois (or Fresno State) gets to the BCS, but I just cannot put them ahead of Central Florida in my top 25 poll because the Knights have a better overall team and have played a more difficult schedule.
Here is my latest top 25, which is being submitted to the SMC Top 25. My top ten makes up my power ranking ballot for this week’s Crystal Ball Run power rankings as well.
2. Florida State
3. Ohio State
5. Oklahoma State
8. Michigan State
11. Arizona State
13. South Carolina
15. Central Florida
17. Northern Illinois
18. Fresno State
25. East Carolina
Dropped Out: Texas A&M, Ole Miss
On the Radar: Nebraska, Notre Dame, Louisiana-Lafayette