NCF Nation: BCS reaction 110313

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.

[+] EnlargeJames Wilder Jr.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesFlorida State flexed its muscles on Saturday against Miami, and it resulted in a return to the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings on Sunday.
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.

BCS: Rocky road remains for Baylor

November, 3, 2013

Baylor is going to need a lot of help.

If the Bears have any hope of jumping into the BCS title game, two of the “Big Three” in the BCS standings -- Alabama (.9797), Florida State (.9525) or Oregon (.9435) -- will likely need to lose and the Bears will have to continue to look dominant and impressive. The Bears (.7745) face a sizable gap between themselves and the other four unbeaten squads from major conferences but could pass Ohio State (.8720), the other unbeaten, with impressive performances during the rest of the season.

Fortunately for Baylor, it can start on Thursday when No. 10 Oklahoma invades Floyd Casey Stadium. A dominant win over the Sooners could give the Bears momentum and help push their BCS average closer to the four unbeatens above them. And with No. 14 Oklahoma State and No. 25 Texas Tech still remaining on the Bears' schedule, the opportunity to improve their computer ranking -- they are currently ranked No. 9 by the computers -- is within reach.

Several things need to happen to help the Bears' cause. First off, Baylor must win the rest of its games, preferably in the same dominant fashion it has on the way to a 7-0 start. Secondly, the ranked teams remaining on its schedule cannot suffer upset loses. For example, Texas Tech losing to Kansas State or Oklahoma State losing to Kansas. Those losses would hurt Baylor’s chance of moving up and potentially passing an Ohio State squad that is looking more and more impressive each week.

The bottom line for the Bears is they will need to continue to win impressively ... then hope the college football landscape falls in their favor.

Florida State moved back to No. 2 in the latest BCS standings released Sunday night, but the biggest question of all remains:

For how long?

The Noles took down No. 7 Miami 41-14 on Saturday night, giving them two wins over top-10 teams this season -- more than No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Oregon. The strength of those two wins has Florida State No. 1 in computer average and vaulted the Noles ahead of the Ducks this week. Of the six computers used, five had the Noles at No. 1. But Florida State remains ranked No. 3 in both human polls used in the calculations, good for 2/3 of the formula.

The bad news for Florida State is that the toughest part of its schedule is over. The Noles have no teams remaining on the regular-season schedule with a winning record. The four teams remaining on the slate -- Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho and Florida -- are a combined 13-21. So Florida State is not going to remain No. 1 in the computers for long.

Oregon, meanwhile, faces No. 5 Stanford on Thursday night. Alabama faces No. 13 LSU on Saturday, and also has to play No. 9 Auburn later this season. The belief is that if the three teams win out, Oregon would end up jumping Florida State back into the No. 2 spot and the coveted slot in the BCS national championship game.

Florida State does have the ACC championship game remaining, so the best-case scenario is for the Noles to face a one-loss Miami team in that contest to help its strength of schedule. The Hurricanes dropped to No. 11 after the loss to Florida State but have to play the rest of the season without running back Duke Johnson, their best player.

Florida, which started the season ranked as a top-10 team, has done no favors for the Seminoles' strength of schedule, either. The Gators are 4-4 and in a fight for bowl eligibility.

Clemson remained in the mix for an at-large BCS berth, moving up one spot to No. 7. So even though Florida State beat Clemson and Miami by a combined 92-28, both teams are ranked in the top 11 of the standings. And yet, that may still not be good enough if Oregon wins out.

BCS: Alabama still in prime position

November, 3, 2013

Alabama might have been off last week, but the Crimson Tide remained in prime position in the latest BCS standings.

For the third straight week, Alabama checked in at No. 1, although Florida State replaced Oregon in the No. 2 spot after a 41-14 win over No. 7 Miami.

The best news for the Crimson Tide is that they really don't need any help. In other words, if they keep winning, they're going to be in the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game with a chance to win their third straight national title.

Of course, winning out will be anything but a breeze, especially with heated rival LSU, ranked No. 13, coming to town this week. There's still a trip to Auburn to close the regular season, and then potentially the SEC championship game.

Even though Alabama was No. 1 in both of the human polls used in the BCS standings, the Tide did drop to No. 2 in the computer rankings. Florida State moved up to No. 1 in the computer rankings.

Alabama could potentially face three more teams in the top 15 of the BCS standings, which would only bolster the Tide's standing as the No. 1 team if they can win all three.

Missouri and Auburn both jumped into the top 10. Mizzou, coming off a 31-3 rout of Tennessee, shot up to No. 8, while Auburn moved to No. 9 after a 35-17 win at Arkansas.

Five of the top six teams in this week's BCS standings are unbeaten, so the odds remain long that a one-loss SEC team could make it into the BCS National Championship Game this season.

BCS: Buckeyes still need help at No. 4

November, 3, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- No matter how dominant the defense looked in a shutout or how powerful the spread offense continues to be, the bottom line remains unchanged.

Ohio State isn’t climbing any higher until it gets some help.

The Buckeyes held steady at No. 4 for the third consecutive week when the BCS standings were unveiled on Sunday night, with yet another blowout win doing nothing to change their fate. Ohio State did everything it could to impress the voters and computers, but beating up on hapless Purdue 56-0 on Saturday on the road was never likely to be enough on its own to give the Buckeyes a boost, leaving them waiting for Alabama, Florida State or Oregon to miss a step and lend them a hand.

“We’re just trying to win every game,” Buckeyes linebacker Ryan Shazier said after the easy victory. “At the end of the day, all the rest is going to solve itself.”

The Buckeyes are keenly aware of what’s required of them in the equation to get to the national title game, but the math isn’t working out too well ahead of them at the moment.

After some less-than-impressive wins early in the season, Ohio State has started pouring on style points in lopsided decisions over Penn State and Purdue following the release of the first BCS standings as it became even more obvious that it didn’t have complete control of its postseason destiny. But after closing some ground last week and pulling within .0381 in the composite formula, the margin behind No. 3 Oregon actually increased to .0715 coming out of the stomping of the Boilermakers, making it clearer than ever what Ohio State needs to make a move.

The Buckeyes are starting to get some assistance within the Big Ten thanks to Michigan State rising in the rankings up to No. 17, emerging as a potential opponent for the conference championship and perhaps improving their strength of schedule in the process. And a home win over Wisconsin looks better in hindsight with the Badgers still holding on at No. 24 in the latest standings.

But those are relatively minor favors for the Buckeyes at this stage. The help they need is the same heading into their second bye week as it was two weeks ago.

This week, though, the straight-forward formula doesn’t require Ohio State to show any of its own work. But like every other week, even if it doesn’t have to win on an off date, the only path forward is still a loss or two elsewhere.

BCS: Oregon falls to No. 3 (again!)

November, 3, 2013

Florida State's win over Miami was enough to boost it past Oregon into the No. 2 spot behind Alabama in the BCS standings on Sunday.

No. 2, of course, guarantees a spot in the BCS championship game.

But the Seminoles, playing their last quality regular-season game, only lead the Ducks by .0090 points. The Ducks visit Stanford on Thursday. The Cardinal, at No. 5 in the BCS standings, are the top one-loss team.

Oregon remains ranked second in the two human polls that count in the standings, the Coaches and Harris polls, but ranks No. 3 with the computers.

The bottom line: If Oregon wins the rest of its games, including the Pac-12 title game, it will require a significant switch in the human polls for the Ducks to not end up at No. 2.

FSU, which ranks No. 1 with the computers, is .0272 behind No. 1 Alabama. No. 4 Ohio State is .0715 behind the Ducks.

As for the rest of the Pac-12, UCLA is No. 19 and Arizona State is No. 22 in the standings.

That's significant. At this point, the Bruins and Sun Devils look like the South Division favorites, and they play on Nov. 23. If the South champion is highly ranked, that almost certainly would give the Ducks a major boost -- if, of course, the Ducks win out.

Know what Ducks fans should be most rooting for, other than a win at Stanford and for Florida State (or Alabama) to lose?

Root for Miami to lose again. Maybe even twice, thereby making the ACC title game less compelling.