The BCS has a way of working itself out. In Week 12, it was Stanford's turn to play themselves out of the national championship picture with a heartbreaking loss to USC. Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State all held strong at the top, while Baylor and Oregon both moved up a spot to round out the top five.
This week's slate of games could really shake things up once again. After Baylor knocked off Texas Tech over the weekend, some thought the Bears might leapfrog Ohio State for the No. 3 spot. That didn't happen, as they moved up to just .001 points behind tOSU. But if the Bears are able to go on the road and beat No. 10 Oklahoma State on Saturday, that jump will be hard to avoid..
There are still quite a few variable left, of course, but the chase for the national championship is much clearer now than it was a couple of weeks ago.
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Land-Grant Holy Land shared this infographic as the rankings were unveiled Sunday night.
Ohio State v. Baylor pic.twitter.com/jqevuBU8Hw— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 18, 2013
As you can see, things are incredibly close for the No. 3 spot. They took an updated look at the national title picture:
For now, that group doesn't include Baylor. The Buckeyes are ahead of the Bears in the Harris Poll Top 25, the USA TODAY Coaches Poll Top 25, though trail 2 spots in the BCS computer rankings. Ohio State's total lead over the Bears? But the slimmest of margins: .001. CBS Sports' BCS expert, Jerry Palm, had speculated prior to the rankings' reveal that short of a loss by the Buckeyes, Baylor simply won't be able to get the quality wins down the stretch of their remaining schedule to catch the Buckeyes, but it wouldn't be out of the question if Ohio State fails to impress in the next two weeks for Baylor (should they continue winning) to at least temporarily leap frog the Buckeyes.
While Bears fans are keeping the faith, they can't help but look back and think scheduling.
It's entirely possible that SMU ducking us and forcing a late replacement from Wofford is the difference between Baylor and #3 right now.— OurDailyBears (@OurDailyBears) November 18, 2013
Fortunately for Baylor, they still have chances to pick up statement wins as they travel to Oklahoma State and TCU, then host Texas to close out the year. Our Daily Bears took a look back on the past weekend and what's ahead for the top-ranked teams.
In other good news, the relatively lackluster performance put up by Ohio State's defense against the Illinois Fighting Illini yesterday paved the way for Baylor to gain a few all-important votes in both the Coaches and Harris Polls. Baylor now has a legitimate chance once again to pass Ohio State without a loss, putting us in the driver's seat should something crazy happen in, say, the Iron Bowl between Alabama and the Auburn Tigers. I'm not confident enough in our computer rankings to predict that we will pass tOSU this coming week with a win over the #10-ranked Oklahoma St. Cowboys, but I will say that it appears to be only a matter of time at this point.
It seemed the Ducks were out of the picture after losing to Stanford, but that's far from the case. Addicted To Quack wrote about how UO will need BCS CHAOS to happen if they're going to somehow sneak in and play for the national title. They handicapped the odds of Oregon somehow playing in something other than the Rose Bowl, assuming they win the rest of their games.
Completely arbitrary odds that these teams lose:
Baylor - 6/1, because Oklahoma State is really good, and TCU and Texas are no gimmies.
Alabama - 8/1, on account of having to play two top 15 teams in the next four weeks.
Ohio State - 10/1, just for the Michigan State game.
Florida State - 15/1, because Idaho, Florida, and probably Georgia Tech is anything but a juggernaut.
I'm still not entirely sure how it happened, but the Tigers pulled off the biggest stunner of the season as they took a deflected pass to the house to knock off Georgia in thrilling fashion. Coming from a team that had quietly been inching higher and higher each week, the win sent shockwaves through the rest of the SEC.
Auburn is No. 6 in this week's BCS standings, up one spot from last week.— College and Magnolia (@CollegeAndMag) November 18, 2013
There's still an outside chance Auburn could play for the national title. Granted it would require them to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl, beat either Missouri or South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game and probably get some help from Baylor or Ohio State, but after Saturday night, nothing seems impossible for the Toomer's Corner faithful.
Mizzou also moved up a spot to No. 8 in the BCS. It's tough to think that a missed chip-shot field goal against South Carolina is all that's holding the Tigers from being ranked No. 3 or No. 4 instead of eighth. That said, MU now has a chance to prove they belong in the SEC against arguably their two toughest games of the season: a road trip to Ole Miss and a home showdown with old Big 12 foe Texas A&M.
If they're able to win these two, MU will be headed to the SEC Championship Game in just their second year since joining the conference. An East title could propel them to a BCS bowl game regardless of the outcome, though the Sugar Bowl would likely have a tough choice to make with a handful of deserving teams in the mix.
The Huskies dropped a spot to No. 16 despite beating Ball State on Wednesday night. NIU's best hope for landing an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game is for No. 15 Fresno State to lose, or for the Coaches Poll voters to take notice of a big win in primetime this week.
With another nationally televised game this Wednesday against a tough Toledo school, NIU could further close the gap between the Bulldogs. But, clearly now the thing the Huskies best bet for moving up is having the teams directly above them slip up, as it's unlikely NIU can jump over anyone with the way the human polls view it.
Week 13 impact
No. 16 Northern Illinois at Toledo, Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET
There's a decent chance that if Northern Illinois finishes the regular season with a perfect record, they'll be headed to a BCS bowl game. Behind star quarterback Jordan Lynch, NIU will have another chance to prove they're worthy of a January bowl as they travel to Toledo on Wednesday night.
Toledo is a quality team that's won five in a row, and two of the Rockets' three losses came on the road at Florida and Missouri to open up the season.
No. 4 Baylor at No. 10 Oklahoma State, 8 p.m.
The College GameDay crew will be in attendance for this one. Baylor has a real shot to bolster the résumé and impress both voters and computers with a road win, which could be enough to move them ahead of Ohio State come next Sunday.
Oklahoma State has quietly crept up the top 25 and finds itself practically playing for the Big 12 title here. If they're able to win, there's a strong chance Mike Gundy's boys would play in the Fiesta Bowl. Look for a ton of points to be scored in this one.
No. 8 Missouri at No. 24 Ole Miss, 7:45 p.m.
With the SEC East race still wide open, the Tigers will need to go on the road and knock off a young but talented Ole Miss team that has won four in a row.
For as well as freshman Maty Mauk has played, getting senior quarterback James Franklin back on Saturday night should be big for Gary Pinkel's program. A road win over a ranked conference foe could propel Mizzou up a spot or two come next weekend.
No. 12 Texas A&M at No. 22 LSU, 3:30 p.m.
The Aggies are out of the SEC West race, but they're still in the hunt for a BCS bowl game if a couple of things fall their way. Johnny Manziel continues to shine on a weekly basis, and now he'll face one of his toughest challenges of the year in Death Valley. With at least one team ahead of them guaranteed to lose, a road win for A&M could really pay dividends with the voters and once bowl season rolls around.
No. 17 Arizona State at No. 14 UCLA, 7 p.m.
Control of the Pac-12 South will be up for grabs this weekend. With a win on Saturday night, ASU would wrap up the division race and set up a probable showdown with Oregon for a chance at the Rose Bowl. Should the Bruins win, things would get mighty interesting. UCLA and USC, also 5-2 against the Pac-12 this year, still have to play on the final weekend of the season. Arizona State and Arizona also have to play on Nov. 29. For as confusing as the South division race is right now, things will be much clearer after Saturday night.
BCS bowl picture
If the season ended right now, the BCS picture would look like this:
BCS National Championship: Alabama vs. Florida State
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. [Michigan State, Oklahoma State, or Stanford]
Sugar Bowl: [Auburn, Missouri, South Carolina, or Texas A&M] vs. UCF
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Oregon
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor vs. Fresno State
Fortunately for the teams left on the outside looking in, the season isn't over. Here's a full look at our bowl projections.
What about the College Football Playoff?
Like every week, Team Speed Kills has assembled what the College Football Playoff would look like if we got one this year. Here's a look at what would happen if we were using the 2015 season's rotation:
Cotton Bowl semifinal: Alabama vs. Baylor
Orange Bowl semifinal: Florida State vs. Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Michigan State
Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. Oklahoma State
Fiesta Bowl: Fresno State vs. Stanford
Peach Bowl: Clemson vs. Missouri
There'd be quite the contrast in a handful of these games. Alabama vs. Baylor would be the ultimate battle of football philosophy. Oregon loves to spread teams out and features one of the top offenses in the country while Michigan State has one of the top defenses in the nation. The same could be said of Fresno State's high-flying attack against Stanford's ground-and-pound game.