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Monday, December 2, 2013
Despite BCS shakeup, Seminoles, Crimson Tide remain atop Performance Index

Associated Press

Though a pair of dramatic finishes involving national championship contenders shook up the BCS standings, they did nothing to change the top of the UPS Performance Index.

Ohio State and Auburn improved their title chances but likely will have a hard time catching frontrunners Florida State and Alabama in the index ratings.

Using an advanced proprietary formula featuring offensive yards per play, defensive yards allowed per play, quality of opponent, various special teams statistics and a microindex of miscues that rewards disciplined teams, UPS has teamed with STATS LLC to normalize those numbers across 125 FBS schools.

From there, overall balance is measured across all of a team's individual units, with the final index weighted toward excellence in those areas as well as overall winning percentage.

Tyvis Powell intercepted Devin Gardner's 2-point conversion pass with 32 seconds left to give Ohio State (12-0) a 42-41 victory over Michigan at the Big House on Saturday.

"That's an instant classic," Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said.

A few hours later, Chris Davis returned a missed field-goal attempt more than 100 yards for a touchdown on the final play to give Auburn (11-1) a 34-28 win over then-No. 1 Alabama.

"We're a team of destiny," Davis said of the Tigers, who beat Georgia 43-38 on a deflected pass that went 73 yards for a touchdown with 25 seconds left Nov. 16. "We won't take no for an answer."

That result enabled Florida State (12-0), which rolled to a 37-7 win over Florida on Saturday, to surpass the Crimson Tide (11-1) for the No. 1 spot in the AP poll and the BCS standings. Riding a nation-best 24-game winning streak, the Buckeyes improved to second in both, and are in position to face the Seminoles for the national championship Jan. 6 in Pasadena.

While Florida State is a huge favorite against Duke in this weekend's ACC title game, Ohio State may be in for a serious challenge in Saturday's Big Ten championship game against Michigan State (11-1), which allows an average of 11.8 points to lead the index's defensive category.

"It's very important, it's for the Big Ten championship, and it's our first time being in the game, so I'm very excited," Buckeyes offensive lineman Andrew Norwell said.

Third in the BCS, Auburn might have the resume to trump the Buckeyes in the BCS conversation, but the Tigers must at least get past Missouri (11-1) in the SEC championship Saturday.

An SEC member has won the last seven national championships.

"Any one-loss team in the SEC (should be considered) just because of the strength of schedule," said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, whose team is fifth in the BCS. "Hopefully that will be taken into consideration."

However, an unbeaten team from a BCS automatic-qualifying conference (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC, Big East, American Athletic) has never been shut out of a BCS championship game in favor of a team with a loss.

Despite the intrigue heading into the last-ever BCS standings, Florida State, Alabama, Oklahoma State (10-1) and Stanford (10-2) remain in the top four spots of the index.

Missouri moved up four places to sixth, behind Central Florida (10-1), following a 28-21 home win over Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M last Saturday. Auburn stayed put in seventh.

Oregon (10-2) remained eighth while Arizona State (10-2) and Louisville (10-1) each improved four positions to ninth and 10th place, respectively.

Ohio State is once again 11th.

Though Alabama's national championship hopes are dashed, it still might have a shot at finishing atop the index for the second straight season. The Crimson Tide are 1.85 points behind the Seminoles and cut their deficit by 0.42 from last week after facing their fourth ranked opponent of the season.

"We told our team that this is like March Madness," coach Nick Saban said. "Coming into (the Auburn) game that if you want to keep playing in the tournament you have to keep winning."

Florida State ranks 78th in opponent quality, but averages 53.7 points and allows 11.0 per contest to sit first in offense and second in defense within the index.

"We can't worry about where we're ranked and what goes on," Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said. "We just have to worry about preparing and playing and that's all we tell our guys.

"Hopefully we can do it one more week until the bowl season starts. We've been able to focus and do that and not pay attention to the outside things and worry about anything."

South Carolina (10-2) made the biggest leap in the index from 32nd to 18th following a 31-17 victory over then-No. 6 Clemson on Saturday.

Fresno State (10-1) suffered the largest fall, 14 spots to 31st, after its hopes of crashing the BCS party ended with a wild 62-52 loss at San Jose State on Friday.

That opened the door for Northern Illinois (12-0) to bust the BCS for a second straight season as a member of a non-AQ conference. Though the Huskies dropped one spot to 20th in the index, they are 14th in the BCS standings.

If NIU beats Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference championship game Friday, and finishes in the top 12 or remains in the top 16 and ahead of an AQ conference champion in the final BCS standings, it would earn a spot in one of the five major bowl games.