Florida is in the right spot
The BCS got it right. Florida is No. 2.
With all due respect to Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame, you just aren't as physical or as relentless as the Gators.
All that moaning and groaning that first erupted on the Left Coast two weeks ago can just stop. You're just not what we are looking for at No. 2.
Oregon, you have that PlayStation speed and your defense is respectable in the Pac-12, but look at your schedule. No team you've beaten is currently ranked in the AP Top 25 or the BCS standings. The combined record of your past opponents is 25-25.
Kansas State, Bill Snyder has been excellent and Collin Klein is a true Heisman candidate. However, your best win is against Oklahoma.
The Sooners could be legit, but that's about it.
And Notre Dame, we're glad you're slowly coming back, but your quarterback situation makes us nervous and Big Ten teams dominate your wins.
But you guys keep doing what you're doing.
Florida isn't sexy, but it deserves to be No. 2. The Gators have clowned on adversity, registering back-to-back SEC comeback wins on the road. They outmuscled brawny LSU. And they trounced South Carolina by 30 points, with only 183 yards of offense.
And Florida absolutely owns the second half, outscoring teams 121-28.
Florida has also battered opponents without much of a passing game.
That in itself is extremely impressive. Flash just isn't Florida's modus operandi. It wins with old-school values and has gone through the country's toughest conference unscathed, while punishing its opponents and forcing them to make mistakes.
Oh, and three of those opponents are currently in the BCS standings.
Two of them were ranked in the top 10 when they played Florida and both fell to the Gators in consecutive weeks.
The Gators are averaging 213 rushing yards a game with their stable of runners, highlighted by quarterback Jeff Driskel and running back Mike Gillislee. The defense has suffocated offenses, ranking seventh nationally in total defense (282 yards per game), and is allowing just 4.17 yards per play and 12 points a game.
Say it with me: Defense wins championships.
Fun offenses are great, but if you can't stop anyone, you can't win games. The Gators don't just stop opponents; they hammer them.
This team reeks of the 2006 Florida team that was also a controversial No. 2. By my recollection, things worked out pretty well for those Gators.
Kansas State has done the hard part
If you peruse the Bowl Championship Series rules long enough, you'll find a nice little tidbit that says if you're ranked third in the BCS standings, you go to a BCS bowl. No questions asked.
Most refer to this as the "Kansas State Rule," after K-State was relegated to the Alamo Bowl in the 1998 season, being passed up for two-loss No. 8 Florida and No. 4 Ohio State, despite sitting at No. 3 in the standings.
Not much has changed since then, apparently. Bottom line: The Wildcats are short on style and long on substance.
You want blowouts that turn into second-half exhibitions? Well, Kansas State can't provide what Oregon can, but it did embarrass Miami in Week 2 and did the same to West Virginia last week.
You want quality wins, big games with substance? K-State's got you covered. The Wildcats have the best win of any team in the country this season, going on the road and beating No. 8 Oklahoma, the first team to do so as a ranked team against Bob Stoops.
Last week, they demolished the Mountaineers in Morgantown, thrusting quarterback Collin Klein to the front of the Heisman pack and demoting Geno Smith to an afterthought in the race for now.
Before the BCS polls had been updated this week, the Wildcats had three road wins against top-25 teams, thanks to a win over Iowa State a week earlier. That was more than any team in the country and more than the rest of the undefeated teams combined.
We know Florida can defend the Swamp, but its road wins against Texas A&M and Tennessee pale in comparison to what Kansas State has done on the road.
It certainly made an impact on Dana Holgorsen, the Mountaineers' coach.
"There's a whole bunch of things that stand out about them. They're one of the best teams -- maybe the best team -- in the country, I don't know," Holgorsen said. "Time will tell."
It will, but unlike Oregon, Kansas State's already done its heavy lifting. The Ducks still have to beat USC, Oregon State and Stanford to stay unbeaten.
Kansas State will be favored the rest of the way and has a great shot to complete an undefeated season.
The biggest complaint about the BCS is it doesn't allow teams to prove their worth on the field. Kansas State has done that so far this season, and it deserves a chance to prove itself on the biggest stage in college football: the BCS National Championship Game.
Schedule, defense make Irish's case
Remember when we were all talking about Notre Dame's 2012 schedule as one of the most daunting in recent memory? No? Let me remind you.
• The Irish were traveling to the AP preseason Nos. 1 and 4 teams, along with No. 13. • They were hosting Nos. 8 and 21, too, after losing to both three straight seasons in a row. • They were traveling to Dublin for their opener before an off-site game against rival Miami, and they were facing six teams coming off double-digit-win seasons.
Jack Swarbrick had joked at one point before the season began that he would "fire the AD" for putting together a slate so tough. Throw in question marks under center and in the secondary, and this was the least optimistic outlook for a Notre Dame season that anyone could imagine.
But here the Irish are, more than halfway through the schedule, standing at 7-0 as they head into a clash for the ages at No. 8 Oklahoma.
Notre Dame has defeated three AP Top 25 teams, winning at then-No. 10 Michigan State before beating then-No. 18 Michigan and then-No. 17 Stanford at home. It has beaten five BCS conference opponents, not including a Navy team it traveled to another country for and a BYU team that has won 10 or more games in five of the previous six seasons.
Florida? The Gators barely beat Bowling Green.
Oregon? All of the Ducks' work is in front of them.
Kansas State? Notre Dame can take care of this argument with a win Saturday in Norman, Okla.
Style points? Not necessary, says coach Brian Kelly.
"This is my 22nd year and I know how this thing plays out," he said Sunday. "I've been down this road before. You've just got to win your games, and if you win all your games and you have no control over that other than just take care of what you can take care of. I've always focused on just the details of the day and then let everybody else figure out what happens from there on out."
Notre Dame Stadium's old-fashioned scoreboards aren't in danger of breaking with the Irish averaging less than 26 points per game, but their defense has looked as good as any in the country, allowing just 9.4 points per contest. And the Irish have done it against all sorts of styles.
Triple-option? The Midshipmen scored 10 points.
Ground-and-pound? The Spartans, Cardinals and Cougars combined for 30 points -- despite an overtime session, too.
Denard Robinson's style, whatever that is? The Wolverines put up six, one for each turnover the Irish forced against them.
If we're looking for the team that should be ranked right behind defending champion Alabama, it might be worth starting with the team that has looked most like the Tide in 2012.
Oregon has the potential for title
I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom.
You weep for Kansas State and Notre Dame, and you curse Oregon. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Oregon's dominance, while obvious and scary to teams like Kansas State, which chickened out of a scheduled game this season with the Ducks, probably saves the BCS title game from becoming another SEC street party. And Oregon's existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you due to its often odd and variegated uniforms, makes college football more entertaining and interesting.
You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want Oregon in the national title game, you need Oregon in the national title game.
Apologies for going all Nathan Jessup/Jack Nicholson on you, but this is simple, really: Oregon should be No. 2 because it's got the best chance of ending up No. 1.
Based on what we've seen so far, you'd pick Oregon to beat Florida. You'd pick Oregon to beat Notre Dame. And you'd pick Oregon to beat Kansas State, which Wildcats coach Bill Snyder already did by dropping the Ducks from his schedule this fall, thereby creating a false perception Oregon wanted a weak nonconference schedule. No, that was Kansas State.
Some might even pick Oregon to beat Alabama.
That's the rub.
Oregon should be No. 2 because when you look at the Ducks -- outstanding in all three phases -- you see a potential national champion. And let's face it: College football needs to produce a national champ from outside the SEC. A seventh straight title for the SEC rates as potentially unendurable not only because of the crowing from down South -- entirely justifiable crowing, by the way -- but also for the health of the game.
The SEC's redundant dominance isn't good for 106 other FBS programs. So picking a "No. 2" shouldn't be about emotions. This is about making the best estimation of who's better.
Oregon has its typical powerhouse offense, and redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota might be the most complete player the Ducks have had at the position. The Ducks also are outstanding on defense. They've been good on defense before, but this defense could win games on its own. If the Ducks played an SEC team for the title, that SEC offense would have feelings of déj à vu.
Sure, Oregon's schedule so far hasn't been too taxing, though part of that is the Ducks leaving boot prints on the foreheads of good-to-solid teams. But Oregon's résumé at season's end will be outstanding. To get to 13-0, it's going to need to beat No. 9 USC -- probably twice -- No. 17 Stanford and No. 7 Oregon State.
At present, it's only your eyes and brain that say Oregon should be No. 2. By Nov. 30, that also will be pretty clear on paper.
Who will be No. 2?
The season isn't over yet so it's not just the top-five teams that are chasing Alabama. Who else can stake a claim at No. 2? Our bloggers state their cases below.
ACC: Florida State
It's a stretch, but it's also not inconceivable that Florida State finds its way to No. 2 in the BCS standings before season's end. With wins at Virginia Tech and against what should be a top-five Florida team, a one-loss FSU team could leapfrog a few others, but it would need some help -- starting with an LSU loss to Alabama this weekend. Oklahoma, USC and Georgia also need to lose, and the Sooners and Trojans both still face two ranked opponents each.
Big 12: Kansas State and Oklahoma
Just win, baby. That's what Kansas State does. What else can you ask? It already has road wins against Big 12 title contenders Oklahoma and West Virginia, and who's going to challenge the Wildcats now? K-State hosts fellow overachiever Texas Tech this week, but Texas is the lone Top 25 team left on the Wildcats' schedule after that, the same Texas team that's lost to Kansas State in six of the past eight meetings and hasn't beaten the Wildcats since 2003. K-State will be favored in every game the rest of the season, and has to underachieve to lose a game. Anyone want to bet a Bill Snyder-coached team does that?
The Sooners are the nation's best team in the red zone, but one singular stumble this season, the only time they failed to score on 33 tries, came on a fumble inside the 5-yard line on a snap to Blake Bell. Oklahoma lost to No. 3 Kansas State by five. That's the definition of a fluke. Since then, the Sooners have demolished all challengers by 21, 42 and 45 points. This week, they get to play undefeated No. 5 Notre Dame and may have two or three more ranked opponents in their final six games. They need help from K-State, but by season's end, Oklahoma could have as good a résumé as any one-loss team in America.
Big East: Louisville and Rutgers
Most everybody realizes the chances that the Cardinals finish No. 2 in the nation are remote. But when you have an undefeated team with a quarterback playing as well as Teddy Bridgewater, then anything is possible. Bridgewater has been exceptional this season, throwing for 1,694 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions while ranking No. 12 in the nation in passing efficiency. In three of seven games, he has completed more than 80 percent of his passes, and just had a career-high 74 yards rushing against USF. The Cardinals must be considered a real threat to run the table with Bridgewater under center.
Coach Kyle Flood says his goal is to be 1-0 at the end of every week. Add it up and you may just have a 12-0 Scarlet Knights squad, winner of its first Big East title. Rutgers can control only what it can control, but it would get a lift if Louisville goes 11-0, too. A Nov. 29 Thursday spotlight, in which the two teams meet, is the platform this conference needs, and one Rutgers -- which has already won on the road in the SEC (at Arkansas) -- could capitalize on should the remaining unbeatens take each other out between now and then.
Big Ten: Ohio State
Ohio State's season is full of "ifs." What if the 8-0 Buckeyes weren't on NCAA probation? What if the school had self-imposed a bowl ban last season when it was 6-6 during the regular season? And what if Ohio State had played a better nonconference schedule? That last "if" may prove crucial if the team goes 12-0, because Associated Press voters could scoff at a September slate that included home games against Miami (Ohio), UCF, California and UAB. The Big Ten's perceived weakness also doesn't help the Buckeyes if they run the table. Of course, with games left against Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan, that last "if" may be the biggest one of all.
Pac-12: Oregon, OSU and USC
There should be no question about Oregon being (at least) the No. 2 team in the country if the Ducks win out. It means they would have beaten five, possibly six ranked teams (if they play USC twice including the conference title game), and there is no more exciting team in college football to watch. The defense this year has matched the offense -- but it's the explosive nature in which Oregon handles its offense that makes the Ducks the biggest threat to the SEC's hold over the BCS championship.
When you examine Oregon State's schedule, you see victories over 6-2 Wisconsin, 5-2 UCLA and a 4-4 BYU team that took Notre Dame to the brink. The Beavers are already battle-tested. And if they can add victories over Stanford and Oregon to their résumé -- and presumably USC in the conference championship -- it will be tough to keep an undefeated OSU team with wins over five ranked teams out of the No. 2 hole.
There is still time for the Trojans to finish that business, and it starts with their Nov. 3 showdown with Oregon. If they beat the Ducks twice and their only loss is to a ranked Stanford team, they would have handled one of the most explosive offenses in the country -- twice -- and they would have taken out team du jour Notre Dame. That résumé should make them the strongest of the one-loss teams.
SEC: Florida, LSU, UGA and MSU
Florida: The Gators (7-0 overall, 6-0 SEC) already have an impressive résumé, which is why they're currently No. 2 in the BCS standings. They've beaten No. 13 South Carolina and No. 6 LSU the past two weeks and also have an impressive road win at No. 20 Texas A&M. If Florida wins out and beats an unbeaten and No. 1 Alabama in the SEC championship game, the Gators won't need to worry about being No. 2. That's because they'll be No. 1.
Georgia: The No. 10 Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) have a lot of making up to do for a bad 35-7 loss at South Carolina. But things could change in a hurry if they take care of No. 2 Florida this weekend. Georgia would then have a pretty clear pathway to the SEC championship game and would need Alabama to be No. 1 and unbeaten. A win over the Tide in Atlanta and a seven-game winning streak would make for a pretty compelling argument for the Bulldogs.
LSU: Despite a shaky passing game, the No. 6 Tigers (7-1, 3-1 SEC) are in prime position to make a run. The key is taking down No. 1 Alabama in two weeks and then going to the SEC championship game and avenging their only loss against an unbeaten Florida team, which would likely be No. 1 in that scenario. With a pair of wins over No. 1 teams that late in the season, the Tigers would be all over that No. 2 spot and deservedly so.
Mississippi State: The No. 11 Bulldogs (7-0, 3-0 SEC) have the toughest part of their schedule in front of them, and it starts this week at No. 1 Alabama. But if they can upset the Crimson Tide, you can bet that everybody around the country will sit up and take notice. They still have LSU and Texas A&M left on their schedule, too. So the opportunity is out there to keep climbing in the BCS standings. Going unbeaten in the SEC speaks for itself.
ESPNU College Football
Ivan Maisel and Brett McMurphy come to an indecisive conclusion on who the number 2 team is in college football.