- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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The time-share for the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings has been canceled. Florida State can unpack its bags now, and after its latest dominating victory, it looks more than capable of living there for a while.
A week ago, Florida State had a tenuous grasp on the second position, as Oregon was poised to reclaim it with a road win against Stanford. The Ducks instead were completely outclassed at Stanford Stadium, and Oregon's loss created clear separation for the top two spots in the latest BCS standings.
The new standings show Alabama on top, followed by Florida State. A sizable gap exists between the Crimson Tide and Seminoles and the rest of the contenders. If Alabama and Florida State continue to win, there will be no drama Dec. 8 when the final standings are released.
In fact, the weekly BCS standings checkup could get rather boring from here on out, barring a significant upset.
Sunday’s most intriguing subplot pointed to the teams pursuing Alabama and Florida State. While Oregon’s loss Thursday night fundamentally changed the BCS title landscape, Baylor’s impressive win hours earlier against Oklahoma didn’t make much of an impact. Art Briles’ team moves up one spot to No. 5 but remains behind a one-loss Stanford team, which checks in at No. 4. Although Baylor is ahead of Stanford in both human polls, the Bears’ weak computer numbers -- they’re No. 5 in average, compared to Stanford averaging No. 3 in the computer rankings -- hurt their cause. Texas Tech’s recent slide hurts Baylor, although upcoming games against No. 12 Oklahoma State and No. 24 Texas should provide the boost the Bears need.
No. 3 Ohio State remains ahead of Stanford in the BCS standings, but for how long? Stanford’s strong computer numbers, combined with Ohio State’s weak remaining schedule, could lead to another shakeup if the Cardinal make up ground in the human polls. While Stanford still has games against USC and either Arizona State or UCLA, Ohio State’s only opportunity for a signature win would come in the Big Ten championship against No. 16 Michigan State, which still has some work left to win its division. Urban Meyer’s crew thought it could count on Michigan to be a résumé booster, but the Wolverines are in a tailspin following consecutive losses.
Ohio State, Stanford and Baylor all need help and have to look to Alabama’s remaining schedule for assistance. The Tide still must visit No. 7 Auburn on Nov. 30 and then take on No. 9 Missouri or No. 10 South Carolina in the SEC championship.
There’s much less hope for a Florida State stumble, as the surging Seminoles simply must get past Syracuse, Idaho, a crumbling Florida team and then an average Coastal Division foe (Georgia Tech, Duke or Virginia Tech) in the ACC title game.
Elsewhere, potential BCS busters Fresno State and Northern Illinois both move up in the standings, but No. 14 Fresno State has a bigger lead on No. 15 NIU after tying the Huskies in computer average. Northern Illinois can strengthen its case this week as it hosts 9-1 Ball State, but it might not be enough to catch Fresno State.
The SEC, Pac-12 and ACC all remain in good shape to send two teams to BCS bowls. The Big Ten, meanwhile, faces an uphill climb as Wisconsin -- likely the league’s best bet for an at-large berth -- moves up just two spots to No. 22. The Badgers still need a major surge to become eligible.
Week 12 lacks the marquee games of its predecessor, as both Alabama (Mississippi State) and Florida State (Syracuse) face middling opponents. Baylor’s home game against Texas Tech has lost its luster, and the most significant showdown has Stanford traveling to USC, which has won three straight.
A month before Selection Sunday, Alabama and Florida State have Pasadena, Calif., in their sights. Everyone else is looking at their taillights.
1dDavid Ching and Edward Aschoff
3dESPN Stats & Information