The people's champ. In the way that Mao Zedong was the people's champ: by oppressing the people at every turn and beating down on the necks of serfdom like the hateful rays of a blazing sun.
You miss the obvious. Nick Saban got the students to stay in the stadium first, and then will get the state to congregate in Tuscaloosa, all before forcing the masses to the giant practice field he has made of the state, which he will turn into a football-agrarian utopia where The Process rules everything and all are subject to ruthless film evaluation.
This seems only slightly less ridiculous than Alabama being as good as they are, and doing it for as long as they have, and with such disgusting ease. There are not even emotions after a 45-10 victory over Tennessee. They are less a football team, again, and more of a harsh term of reality. If you don't respect them, you do not respect gravity, death, fear, or the inevitable crushing need to poop you will experience during a run while at the point furthest from the nearest bathroom. Evaluating them is to understand why you will eventually thank Big Brother for the boot to the face: at one point, you either worship the thing you cannot kill, or flee into the arms of death or the Big 12.
(You might want to look into the ACC, actually, Tennessee. Whatever the SEC East has, it's not responding to antibiotics.)
2. Florida State
The second best team for a lot of reasons, and not just because of proximity to Alabama. (It's fun to think of Florida State as Alabama's Aldi, the lower-end grocery store stocking many of the same goods Alabama has, but at lower prices in worse neighborhoods, such as Tallahassee.) A 49-17 win over NC State is a lie: they were up 35-0 in the first quarter, and were scoring so fast Florida State's own defense was asking for mercy.
''It was crazy because it seemed like as fast as we got them off the field, we had to go right back on,'' Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. ''Sometimes I was like, 'Dang, Jameis, man, just incomplete one pass.'
That is a defensive player saying "please stop, I can't murder people as fast as you're murdering people." Florida State is terrifying, and Jameis Winston terrifies even Florida State.
There's only this hair between Florida State and Oregon, if we're playing this stupid game where you take two teams that haven't played common opponents in the same part of the country in remotely identical conferences and then try to decide which one is better. This is college football, and this is the game we are playing. Oregon had some difficulties for three quarters with UCLA's defense, and overcame those in a 42-14 win, and here they are at No. 3 because Florida State did what they did so effortlessly yesterday.
This is a punishing struggle, but also bumping Oregon down in favor of what we believe is a better Florida State defense that has the kind of linemen who, historically, have given fits to brilliant spread teams like ... Oregon. This is a speculative fiction, but it's at least a plausible one, and until we get into the playoff era that's as well as you can do. Oregon is hellaciously good, but we're blinded by Winston at this point and will happily admit how dumb this might be.
P.S. Oregon is still incredible.
Again, a victim of their own success in the context of mind-boggling numbers week in and week out.
Oh, look, there goes Art Briles leveling a city. Oh look, there go the panicked millions. YOU DIDN'T EVEN SALT THE EARTH THIS TIME, ART. LAST TIME YOU STRAPPED LIT FIREWORKS TO THEIR LIVESTOCK AND DROVE THEM OFF A CANYON, ART. WE AIN'T IMPRESSED WITH A 59-14 WIN OVER KANSAS WITH 743 YARDS OF OFFENSE ANYMORE, ART.
The barbarian business is a harsh and unrelenting gig, and the audiences are merciless.
5. Ohio State
The Buckeyes are now stuck in a feedback loop. You beat Penn State 63-14 to show that you are clearly the only ones in the Big Ten (besides Wisconsin, perhaps) who know what they are doing. You point to margin of victory to emphasize a case for greater national aspirations. This accents how bad your peers are and makes every margin of victory suspect, or proves just how incredibly talented Ohio State is, and now we're showing you why Ohio State is this year's supercharged, viciously talented Ford Fiesta rally car of teams. You can show someone the footage, you can list the specs, you can point out how obviously excellent the man at the wheel is, and yet ... that's a Ford Fiesta, man. A Ford. Fiesta.*
* For the record, I love this car and this team. I also recognize that the company producing them also makes the Northwestern Edsel, the Purdue Pinto, and the inexplicably popular Michigan Taurus.
No really, Miami, one of two teams in the Top Whatever that wins games WWE-style: ugly, late, and usually only after five or six near-tapouts interrupted by strokes of fate too weird to be anything but scripted. A 24-21 win over Wake Forest is unimpressive, and having to beat them late is way, way worse, but Al Golden so does not care, because every game for Miami is a long, staggering run to the surprise submission hold, the lucky hit with the folding chair, and the stunning reversal for a pin.
We're entering the weird-one-loss-teams tier here.
The team the Soviets would have built has dragged another team into its web of giant sluggo football, and with one win still sits right there lurking for Oregon. 20-12 over Oregon State is sinfully ugly, but Stanford has a very different idea of beauty than you probably do. It is also really wealthy, which explains all the scary Francis Bacon paintings hanging around the football facility. They are Stanford, and thus love horror, and can afford luxuriant depictions of it.
If they somehow rebound from the worst defeat in the recent history of Mizzou worst defeats, a 27-24 OT loss to South Carolina, then Mizzou is still in line to get to Atlanta, face whatever horror comes out of the West, and in an improbable scenario of an SEC East victory, play for a national title. That's a lot of "ifs," but we're already considering Mizzou to win the SEC East, which is already more than a few rungs down the ladder leading to what would have been considered insanity in preseason. Climbing a few more steps lower can't hurt you too much.
9. Michigan State
They were on a bye week*, but we still see you, obstructing thing looming in the woods of the Legends division. The Stanford of the Big Ten, if you will, a sentence that will emotionally and intellectually traumatize any Stanford grads reading this. Rephrased: the Shrek of the Big Ten, an ogre who will never turn into a prince, and who like Mark Dantonio prefers the company of his best friend, a donkey. (Mark's is named Andalucia, is his only real friend in this world, and is also the secret offensive coordinator.)
*42-3 over Illinois. Bye week. Equivalencies.
Still the drunkard's last-ditch mouthwash-tini option for someone desperate for a one-loss pick for the title game. But if anyone knows how to emerge from the chaos and somehow jack a possibly undeserved spot in a title game, it's Bob Stoops. Baylor-Oklahoma is a game of serious national importance, and this is a thing you can type in the year 2013.
11. Fresno State
Won a witching hour 35-28 OT game over San Diego State, and thus kept alive the dream of snatching a BCS slot away from, say, Oklahoma. At this point, the Boise State Guest Slot is just an entertainment, the guest spot on a Psych episode where you go, "Oh, that team!" before they either a.) get jailed for a murder Sean TOTALLY busts them on, or b.) briefly date Gus before Sean somehow screws it up for him. As long as Fresno State knows how deliberately college football is writing "HONORABLE MENTION" on the invite, it's fine with us.
UCLA, which is a shame because they're vastly improved and ahead of schedule on the program development curve; Notre Dame, who we're just mentioning to be mean; Clemson, since they're now firmly in the "lost ass, trying to find with two hands" stage of the season; Virginia Tech, whose strange claim to a BCS bowl shot died with a loss to Duke. DUKE. AS IN DUKE FOOTBALL.