The expected outcome Saturday night in Tallahassee, Fla., led to another expected outcome Sunday night with the release of the latest BCS standings.
The Florida State Seminoles crushed Miami on Saturday night and then reclaimed the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings, continuing their timeshare with Oregon behind top-rated Alabama. Jimbo Fisher’s squad leapfrogged the Ducks after its second dominant win against a top-10 opponent in the past three weeks, although the Miami win had been much more predictable than an Oct. 19 dismantling of Clemson in Death Valley. FSU made up ground in the human polls and moved from No. 3 to No. 1 in computer average after completing the toughest stretch of its season.
Again, this is all to be expected.
But the Seminoles likely need the unexpected to happen in Week 11 to remain on the top two lines of the standings. The hard thing is that they have no control over what happens when Oregon and Alabama face arguably their biggest tests of the season to date. Oregon on Thursday night visits Stanford, which remains the highest-rated one-loss team in the BCS standings at No. 5. Less than 48 hours later, Alabama hosts No. 13 LSU, which defeated the Crimson Tide in its last trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
A loss by either the Ducks or Tide will secure Florida State’s position in the top two. If that happens, as long as the Seminoles win out, they should stay there when the final standings are released Dec. 8. But if Ducks and Tide both prevail in Week 11, as they’re expected to do, Florida State almost certainly will fall back to No. 3, and could stay there for good if all three teams sweep their remaining games.
As much as the past three weeks have helped Florida State, the remaining schedule likely will not. The Seminoles play two middling ACC teams (Wake Forest and Syracuse), a one-win Idaho squad and in-state rival Florida, one of the nation’s biggest disappointments. Florida might not need to beat Florida State to spoil the Seminoles' BCS title hopes; the résumé boost the Gators won’t provide could be enough.
The Seminoles could see Miami again in the ACC championship, but the Hurricanes tumbled to No. 11 in the BCS standings after Saturday’s beating and could slip further if they struggle without star running back Duke Johnson. Florida State’s biggest ally is No. 7 Clemson, a team that must continue to win, especially against No. 12 South Carolina on Nov. 30.
Bottom line: There will be a lot of scoreboard watching for Florida State in Week 11. It’s a tough situation for a team that has outscored its past four opponents 204-45.
Alabama and Oregon, meanwhile, can just focus on what lies ahead.
Even after LSU, Alabama faces No. 9 Auburn and most likely No. 8 Missouri or No. 12 South Carolina in the SEC title game. Oregon won’t get as much help from Oregon State, which has dropped consecutive games, but likely would face No. 19 UCLA or No. 22 Arizona State in the Pac-12 championship.
Florida State needs a little help, while fellow unbeatens Ohio State and Baylor still need a lot. The No. 4 Buckeyes finally have the dominant look of a national title contender, and a potential date with surging Michigan State in the Big Ten title game would help the computer numbers. The Spartans rose five spots to No. 17 after mauling Michigan on Saturday.
Still, Ohio State’s position hasn’t changed: two teams ahead of the Buckeyes must lose.
No. 6 Baylor finally faces a Top 25 opponent Thursday in No. 10 Oklahoma, beginning a three-game stretch against teams in the BCS standings. The Bears must win to stay on the fringes of the title conversation, but their rooting interests are complicated as both Oregon and Stanford are ahead of them.
Fresno State continues to lead Northern Illinois in the quest to bust the BCS, as the teams’ respective quarterbacks, Derek Carr and Jordan Lynch, put up ridiculous numbers. The Bulldogs remain at No. 16, while Northern Illinois, lagging in the human polls, drops a spot to No. 18.
Thursday night marks a key juncture in the BCS race, as both Oregon and Baylor put their perfect records on the line against formidable foes. The Alabama-LSU game two days later rounds out a big weekend in the quest for the crystal football.
If all goes as expected, Alabama and Oregon will occupy the top two spots in a week.
But if the BCS has shown us anything, especially in November, expect the unexpected.