After two top-five teams went down in Week 13 -- thanks for keeping us entertained, Baylor and Oregon -- at least one more top-five will fall in Week 14.
Next weekend, Alabama and Auburn will meet for the annual Iron Bowl. If the stakes in that one weren't high enough already, the winner will also be named SEC West champion. If that team is able to then beat Missouri or South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game, it will almost assuredly be headed to the national championship.
Alabama and Auburn won't be the only highly ranked teams to face serious competition moving forward, both this week and the next. Ohio State still has to face No. 11 Michigan State. Mizzou will host No. 21 Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel in Columbia. Florida State still has the ACC Championship Game. No. 6 Clemson has to play No. 10 South Carolina.
Rivalry week is always nuts, and that will be the case once again this year. This time next week, we'll have a much clearer picture of the national championship scenarios. Until then, just enjoy the hell out of the best week of football all year long.
|BCS||Harris Poll||Coaches Poll||Computer rankings|
No team in the country benefited more from Baylor and Oregon losing than did the Buckeyes. They were feeling the heat of Baylor breathing down their necks, and now they have some serious breathing room, as Land-Grant Holy Land notes:
The margin between Ohio State and the next closest team, No. 4 Auburn, is .096. Though they'll still need either No. 1 Alabama or No. 2 Florida State to go down in order for them to play in the national championship, for the first time in a number of weeks, the Buckeyes don't have to worry about the teams behind them.
Even if Auburn or a team like Missouri wins big over Alabama and Ohio State has close calls against arch rival Michigan and two weeks from now's Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State, BCS experts like CBS' Jerry Palm and ESPN's Brad Edwards believe Ohio State's stature with the computers and standing with the humans alike, even including some of the more cynical around the country, should be more than enough for the Buckeyes. Now we just wait and see how the next two weeks play out.
At this point, Ohio State just needs to keep winning big if they want to play for the national title. If they barely escape one of the Michigan schools and Auburn or Mizzou impress in a win over Alabama, things could get interesting.
College and Magnolia isn't so sure that two wins to close out the season wouldn't be enough for the Tigers to jump the Buckeyes:
However, if the Tigers can knock off the Crimson Tide and then win the SEC Championship Game -- possibly against a top-five Missouri team -- there seems to be a real chance they could pass Ohio State and get in position to play for a BCS title. Of course, that's a big "if." Their computer average this week is No. 4, down one spot from last week.
Rock M Nation ponders how the Tigers jumped three spots to overtake Clemson:
Seems like an important point here. MT @Dave_Matter: Clemson is ahead of Missouri in both human polls but ranks 10th in computers.— Rock M Nation (@rockmnation) November 25, 2013
Fresh off a dominating performance over Baylor, the Cowboys are riding high. Their résumé is as impressive as any team's in the country:
The Sun Devils are quietly taking care of business out west. They've won the Pac-12 South, and if they can beat Arizona next weekend, they'll host the conference title game. As House of Sparky notes, ASU is seeing the benefits of a brutal non-conference schedule pay off:
The Sun Devils are ranked 16th in the Harris Poll and 18th in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, but the maroon and gold look great to the computers. Arizona State's average ranking in the computers used to calculate the BCS rankings is 6th overall, which puts the Sun Devils ahead of Clemson, Stanford, Baylor, and South Carolina among others.
One of the reasons the Sun Devils fare so well in the computers is their strength of schedule. After Saturday's victory, Arizona State has now recorded victories over three teams currently ranked in the BCS top 25.
Going into the final week before championship weekend in college football Northern Illinois is sitting in the drivers seat for a return trip to a BCS bowl berth. A week after slipping one spot to No. 16, NIU has leapt up two spots to No. 14 in the BCS standings.
Only a week ago NIU actually slipped in the BCS rankings, and were sitting just behind fellow BCS-buster hopeful Fresno state, trailing the Bulldogs by about .40 points. But after improving to 11-0 (7-0 MAC) on the season NIU made an impressive .90 jump in the BCS rankings, moving up ahead of Fresno State (10-0, 7-0 MWC), which dropped from No. 15 to No. 16 this week following a 63-29 win over New Mexico on Saturday.
Week 14 impact
No. 1 Alabama at No. 4 Auburn, 3:30 p.m. ET
We all know the stakes. It'll be a madhouse at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday afternoon, and we should be in for a terrific game.
No. 6 Clemson at No. 10 South Carolina, 7 p.m.
This is another one of the best rivalries in college football. While neither team is really in the hunt for the national championship, one could both go a long way toward earning a bid to a BCS bowl game with a win. Clemson leads the series 65-41-4 since they began playing in 1896.
No. 21 Texas A&M at No. 5 Missouri, 7:45 p.m.
If Missouri wins this game, they'll win the SEC East in just their second year since joining the conference. A loss would give the East crown to South Carolina. No pressure, Tigers. This game could also be the final regular season game of Johnny Manziel's college career.
No. 3 Ohio State at Michigan, 12 p.m.
Simply known as The Game, few rivalries in sports run as deep as the annual border showdown. While it's been a rough year for the Wolverines, a win over the Buckeyes would be a season-saver for Brady Hoke. Michigan leads the all-time series, 58-44-6, though OSU has won 10 of the last 12 meetings. For the Buckeyes, a win means title hopes remain alive.
No. 2 Florida State at Florida, 12 p.m.
The Seminoles will be heavy favorites in this one, but as long as they're on track to play for the national championship, all eyes will be on Jameis Winston and Co. The Gators are having a year to forget and are coming off an embarrassing loss to Georgia Southern. Even if UF can stay close in this one throughout, it will have to feel like a moral victory of sorts. This will be their bowl game.
BCS bowl picture
If the season ended right now, the BCS picture would likely look like this:
BCS National Championship: Alabama vs. Florida State
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. [Arizona State, Baylor, Michigan State, Oregon, or Wisconsin]
Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. UCF
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Stanford
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Northern Illinois
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 and the season ended right now. Here's a look at what would happen if we were using the 2016 season's rotation:
Peach Bowl semifinal: Alabama vs. Auburn
Fiesta Bowl semifinal: Florida State vs. Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Michigan State
Sugar Bowl: Missouri vs. Oklahoma State
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. South Carolina
Cotton Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Baylor
So this would be kind of interesting: one national semifinal would be a replay of the Iron Bowl, while you'd also get Clemson vs. South Carolina 2.0. The Sugar Bowl would also pit Mizzou against a former Big 12 foe, which would bring a pretty interesting dynamic given the way the Tigers left the conference.