NCF Nation: bcs reaction 111112

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Maybe we’ll look back on Nov. 10, 2012, as the day the SEC dynasty died.

The time of death: 6 p.m. The cause of death: An AJ McCarron pass intercepted by Deshazor Everett in the end zone. The surprise executioner: another SEC team (albeit a new one in Texas A&M).

Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M on Saturday caused a seismic shift in the national championship race. The Tide dropped to No. 4 in the latest BCS standings, behind Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame, all of whom maintained their perfect records in Week 11. Although the SEC’s dominance still shows in the standings as spots four through nine are occupied by its members, the sport’s preeminent conference doesn’t have a team in the top three for the first time since the initial standings in 2010, when eventual national champion Auburn came in at No. 4.

But don’t sign the SEC’s death warrant just yet. Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame all face challenges in the coming weeks. All it takes is losses by two of the three to vault No. 4 Alabama or No. 5 Georgia back into the title game. If a 1-loss team makes it to Miami on Jan. 7, it’ll undoubtedly come from the SEC.

The polls are split on Alabama and Georgia, as the coaches have Georgia at No. 4 and the Harris voters have the Alabama at No. 4. The teams’ computer numbers are close in five of the six rating systems. Georgia is heading to the SEC championship Dec. 1, and, barring an Auburn win against Alabama, the Tide will meet the Bulldogs.

The SEC isn’t dead yet, but it needs help.

In a delicious twist of irony, the SEC’s No. 1 assassin has become USC coach Lane Kiffin. His 18th-ranked Trojans still play Notre Dame on Nov. 24. And if USC wins this week against No. 17 UCLA, it could be heading to Oregon to face a potentially unbeaten Ducks team. Mike Slive had a Principal Rooney-Ferris Bueller-type relationship with Kiffin when Kiffin coached in the SEC. Now Slive would ride Traveler through the streets of L.A. if USC takes two teams out of the national title race.

And it’s highly possible. If a team as talented as Alabama can look mortal in back-to-back games, other heavyweights can fall.

Oregon undoubtedly has the toughest road. The Ducks next host No. 13 Stanford, which overcame four turnovers Saturday to beat Oregon State for its fourth consecutive win. Oregon ruined the Cardinal’s perfect season in convincing fashion last year at Stanford Stadium. David Shaw’s team can do the same to the Ducks this week. If Oregon gets past Stanford, it must visit No. 16 Oregon State, another team that would love nothing more than to ruin perfection for its archrival. And there’s also the Pac-12 title game against the aforementioned Trojans or a UCLA team with the nation’s No. 13 offense.

Kansas State’s path isn’t smooth, either. Collin Klein and the Wildcats this week visit a Baylor team that ranks second nationally in both pass offense and total offense, and seventh in scoring. Although Klein should make easy work of the woeful Bears defense, a high-scoring opponent playing on its home field is always dangerous. Kansas State then finishes up against No. 15 Texas, which has won four straight since the Red River debacle and seems to have settled down on defense. The Wildcats will be at home, but how many times have we seen teams fumble away a spot in the title game before their faithful?

Notre Dame likely won’t catch Oregon or Kansas State if both teams win out, so the Irish need some help. They also must handle their business on Senior Day against Wake Forest before the USC showdown. Notre Dame won its last game at the L.A. Coliseum but dropped six of the previous seven there against USC.

Alabama’s loss shifts the spotlight away from the SEC and to the new Big Three. But the nation’s top conference is lurking, waiting and watching for an opportunity to rise once again.

SEC is going to need some help

November, 11, 2012
» BCS standings reaction: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC | Notre Dame

This is an unfamiliar position for the SEC.

Two weeks remain in the 2012 regular season, and the top three spots in the latest BCS standings are occupied by teams outside the SEC.

The translation: The SEC will need some help if it’s going to have a chance to extend its streak of national championships to seven in a row.

Previously unbeaten Alabama fell to No. 4 in the BCS standings on the heels of its 29-24 loss last Saturday to Texas A&M. Alabama is now looking up to three unbeaten teams -- No. 1 Kansas State, No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Notre Dame.

The Crimson Tide’s chances now hinge on two of those three teams losing.

In other words, Alabama fans will become big Baylor fans this weekend and big Texas fans on Dec. 1 when those two teams face Kansas State. They’ll be rooting for USC on Nov. 24 against Notre Dame and will be doing the same for Stanford this weekend and Oregon State in two weeks when they take on Oregon.

Alabama’s not the only SEC team that still has national championship aspirations.

Georgia was No. 5 this week in the BCS standings and has wrapped up its second straight trip to the SEC championship game. It looks like Alabama and Georgia will meet in Atlanta on Dec. 1 (assuming Alabama isn’t upset by Auburn), and the winner of the SEC title game could work its way up into one of those top two spots in the final BCS standings if two of three unbeatens fall over these next three weeks.

Georgia moved ahead of Alabama to No. 4 in the USA Today coaches poll, but the Crimson Tide remained No. 4 in the Harris poll.

Ultimately, it’s not going to matter where they’re ranked if both teams take care of business the next two weeks, because their SEC championship game matchup will decide who stays in the hunt.

Even though the SEC is on the outside looking in right now in terms of the BCS National Championship Game, the league has six of the top nine teams this week in the BCS standings.

In addition to Alabama and Georgia, Florida is No. 6, LSU No. 7, Texas A&M No. 8 and South Carolina No. 9.

Florida has the highest computer ranking of the SEC teams. The Gators are No. 3, but their chances of making the Discover BCS National Championship Game are remote. They would need four of the five teams in front of them to lose.

BCS standings reaction: Week 12

November, 11, 2012
» BCS standings reaction: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC | Notre Dame

Thank you, Texas A&M, on behalf of ACC fans everywhere.

Alabama’s loss to the Aggies on Saturday night reverberated throughout all of college football, and it had a trickle-down effect in the latest BCS standings right into the heart of ACC country. With Florida State holding steady at No. 10 and Clemson moving up to No. 11 in the latest BCS standings, the door to two BCS bids opened a little bit wider. The latest projections have Clemson heading to the Allstate Sugar Bowl to face the SEC champ -- if, of course, the Tigers can beat rival South Carolina in their regular-season finale.

“If Clemson wins out, that’s kind of a no-brainer right there -- Southern team, Southern bowl game,” said ESPN’s BCS guru, Brad Edwards, on the BCS Countdown show.

(Dear Dabo Swinney: now would be a great time to beat Steve Spurrier on the field instead of just talking the talk off of it).

No more than two teams from each BCS conference can play in BCS bowls, so it doesn’t matter that literally half the SEC is ranked above Florida State and Clemson. With the SEC champ heading to the Sugar, and Texas A&M possibly going to the Fiesta, and Florida State heading to the Discover Orange Bowl as the ACC champ (if it can squeak by whatever five-loss team it’s playing in the title game), Clemson is the next man up. There’s really no other choice, as Notre Dame is likely to be scooped up by the time the Sugar makes its selection.

Granted, there is still going to be some grumbling from ACC fans because a two-loss South Carolina team is ranked ahead of both ACC schools, and Florida is still up there despite a near loss to Louisiana-Lafayette, but really -- in the big picture, it doesn’t matter.

Louisville is now out of the way and will likely face the ACC champ, presumably FSU, in the Orange Bowl.

All Clemson has to do is beat South Carolina -- a rival it has lost to in each of the past three seasons -- and the ACC should have two BCS bowl bids for the second straight season.

No pressure, Dabo…


Oregon at No. 2 in BCS standings

November, 11, 2012
» BCS standings reaction: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC | Notre Dame

Oregon is No. 2 behind Kansas State in the BCS standings, which means the Ducks pretty much control their own destiny: Win out, and they will play for a national title for the second time in three years.

After Alabama lost, Oregon is ranked No. 1 in both human polls, the coaches and Harris poll, which make up two-thirds of the rankings. The Ducks computer ranking ranges between No. 3 and 5, and it works out to No. 4.

Kansas State is No. 2 in the human polls and computer polls, which earns the Wildcats a No. 1 ranking. No. 4 Notre Dame is No. 3 in the human polls and No. 1 with the computers.

But Oregon has the advantage of playing by far the toughest remaining schedule, which will boost the Ducks computer ranking.

Five other Pac-12 teams are ranked in the BCS top-25: No. 13 Stanford, No. 16 Oregon State, No. 17 UCLA, No. 18 USC and No. 25 Washington.

The Ducks have already beaten USC and Washington. They play Stanford on Saturday and Oregon State on Nov. 24. If they win those games, and thereby win the Pac-12 North Division, they then will face the winner of Saturday's USC-UCLA game in the Pac-12 title game.

It's possible that rugged schedule would boost the Ducks to No. 1 in the BCS standings at season's end. That would be nice for Oregon, but perhaps not so great for the Pac-12.

If Oregon is ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings, that means the Rose Bowl, losing its Pac-12 anchor team, would get the first at-large selection among BCS eligible teams. If Notre Dame is undefeated, it would be difficult to imagine the Rose Bowl would pass up the Fighting Irish. It might be difficult to pass up Notre Dame even at 11-1.

If Kansas State finishes No. 1 in the BCS standings, which is unlikely if Oregon is 13-0 and the Wildcats are 12-0, then the Fiesta Bowl would get the first selection.

Of course, for this to even be an issue for the Pac-12, a second conference team needs to be ranked among the top-14 of the final BCS standings. That's going to be close, because if Oregon finishes 13-0, every conference team will finish with at least three losses.

Irish up to No. 3 in BCS standings

November, 11, 2012
» BCS standings reaction: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC | Notre Dame

Notre Dame moved up one spot to No. 3 in this week's BCS standings, but it still needs a few breaks to fall its way if it wants to crack the top two.

The Irish, ranked first by the computers, trail Oregon in overall BCS average by .101, slightly closing the gap from their deficit of .116 a week earlier, when Notre Dame and the Ducks were ranked fourth and third overall, respectively.

Kansas State, No. 1 in this week's BCS standings, holds a lead of .278 over the Irish, slightly bigger than their .268 advantage last week, when the Wildcats were No. 2 overall.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that the Irish -- assuming they win out --need either Kansas State or Oregon to lose in order to reach the BCS national title game.

It's official: K-State makes history

November, 11, 2012
» BCS standings reaction: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC | Notre Dame

Don't expect Bill Snyder to join the party, but Manhattanites, go crazy. For the first time in the history of the BCS, you're living among the No. 1 college football team in America.

All that sweating and nervousness, the anticipation of season-ending disappointment whether the Wildcats lost or not? It's gone.

It's been replaced by a swelling pride in having the No. 1 team in America. Kansas State is sitting atop the BCS for the first time ever, well in control of its fate in the national title race with just two games left in the season.

As expected, the Wildcats replaced Alabama as the No. 1 team in the only rankings that matter, though Oregon is No. 1 in both human polls.

K-State is No. 2 overall in the computer rankings, behind No. 1 Notre Dame. The Wildcats are No. 1 in two of the six computer ratings, No. 2 in three of the ratings and No. 3 in just one of them.

No. 2 Oregon, meanwhile, is still struggling in the computer ratings. The Ducks moved into the top five of all six ratings this week, but are in the top three of only one.

Florida, No. 6 overall, is actually ahead of the Ducks in the computer polls.

Still, Kansas doesn't have to worry about any of that squabbling anymore. It would take a minor miracle to unseat the SnyderCats from their comfy spot atop the rankings, so all that talk about style points? Forget about it.

Snyder and his team know there's still work to be done. Baylor and Texas stand between K-State and a dream regular season, but the opportunity to be the odd man out is no longer a likely possibility. That distinction goes to No. 3 Notre Dame, the computers' favorite team, but a squad that voters don't seem to believe in. The Irish got just one first-place vote in the coaches' poll.

Kansas State got 14, but it got the one vote that really counts: The BCS.

The Wildcats are the 16th team in college football to ascend to No. 1 overall in the BCS, and by now, it's got to feel so, so good.

Here's where the rest of the Big 12 checks in:
12. Oklahoma
15. Texas
23. Texas Tech
24. Oklahoma
» BCS standings reaction: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC | Notre Dame

Teams that finish in the Top 14 of the BCS standings are eligible to be selected for an at-large spot in a BCS bowl.

We're a few weeks away from being finished, but if the season ended today, Nebraska would be eligible for an at-large spot. The Huskers are No. 14 in the latest BCS standings, the highest any Big Ten team has placed so far this season. Nebraska is also No. 14 in both polls (Harris and USA Today coaches) and is 13th in the computer average. One of the six computers, Colley Matrix, has the Huskers at No. 11.

Of course, Nebraska is also in position to win the Legends Division and then, potentially, the Big Ten championship game. It would only need to rely on an at-large bid if it lost between now and then, and any defeat would likely knock Bo Pelini's team out of the Top 14. However, there remains a chance that the Huskers could stay in the Top 14 if they won their last two regular season games and then lost a close one to Wisconsin in Indianapolis. It's a faint chance, but a chance nonetheless.

Joining Nebraska in the BCS standings from the Big Ten is Michigan, which has been in and out of the Top 25 the past few weeks. The Wolverines are back in this week, having eked by Northwestern in overtime and now replacing the Wildcats as the No. 2 team from the league.

Michigan is No. 21 in the BCS standings despite being ranked just 24th in the Harris poll and No. 23 in the USA Today coaches' poll. But the computers love the Wolverines, who are No. 16 in the computer average, thanks likely to playing (and losing to) Alabama, Notre Dame and Nebraska. That shows you the potential this season held for the Wolverines if they could have won a couple of those games.

As things stand, it's hard to imagine Michigan moving up seven more spots if it beats Iowa and Ohio State in the final two games unless there's chaos elsewhere in the land. A Nebraska loss could send Michigan to the Big Ten title game, but a defeat to Wisconsin would almost certainly dash any BCS hopes for the Wolverines.

Louisville drops to No. 19 in BCS

November, 11, 2012
Louisville tumbled 10 spots to No. 19 in the latest BCS standings released Sunday night after a 45-26 loss to Syracuse ended its hopes for an unbeaten season.

Rutgers, meanwhile, crept up one spot to No. 22.

At this point, the BCS standings will serve one purpose for the Big East -- to settle any possible three- or four-way ties at the top of the conference when the season ends. As of now, only Rutgers (4-0), Louisville (4-1), Cincinnati (3-1) and Syracuse (4-2) have any shot at representing the Big East in a BCS bowl. Remember, the final BCS standings determined the BCS bowl representative last year, when West Virginia, Cincinnati and Louisville all finished with the same conference record.

What stands out most about the rankings this week is the computer average for both Louisville and Rutgers. They both rank No. 27 -- worst among all Top 25 teams. And yes, that is even worse than No. 20 Louisiana Tech, which at least has a close loss to No. 8 Texas A&M on its résumé. Neither Louisville nor Rutgers has beaten a high-profile opponent or even played a high-profile ranked opponent.

That has ended up translating into three-loss USC being ranked ahead of both Louisville and Rutgers, which have one loss apiece. Rutgers is actually ranked behind two three-loss teams, as No. 21 Michigan is just ahead of the Scarlet Knights.

Louisville's drop, meanwhile, is the biggest among all Top 25 teams that lost and retained their ranking. Alabama fell three spots to No. 4; Oregon State dropped five spots to No. 16. The Beavers have two losses as well.