The third BCS standings of the season were released on Sunday night, and the top continues to shake out. Alabama held strong at No. 1, but for the second time in three weeks, the Florida State Seminoles came in at No. 2 ahead of Oregon. The Ohio State Buckeyes remained fourth, while Stanford jumped Baylor at No. 5.
This upcoming week's slate of games may have more impact on the BCS than any remaining on the calendar. Oregon heads to Stanford and Baylor hosts Oklahoma on Thursday night. Alabama welcomes in No. 13 LSU over the weekend.
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First, you should read this by Addicted to Quack on what would happen if Florida State played Oregon. It provides a lot of insight into why the computers love the Noles, even though the formulas AtQ uses are much better than the BCS'.
Sunday night, the guys at Tomahawk Nation felt FSU's No. 2 ranking is justified based on strength of schedule.
FSU already has two wins better than Oregon's best win. Could the Ducks need some style points come Thursday?— TomahawkNation.com (@TomahawkNation) November 4, 2013
On the other hand, Addicted to Quack wasn't worried one bit about Oregon falling to No. 3 with a month to go.
Good afternoon! It's Sunday November 3rd, 2013. I'm happy to report that BCS rankings STILL don't matter. All is quiet on the western front.— Addicted To Quack (@AddictedToQuack) November 3, 2013
As Ohio State remained No. 4 for the third week in a row, Land-Grant Holy Land weighed in on what needs to happen for the Buckeyes to play for the national title.
For the Buckeyes, the narrative remains the same. Survive and advance - oh, and yeah, hope at least two of those three teams in front of you slip up. Ohio State's schedule remains the most manageable of the four teams in the Top 4, and next week could go a long way towards determining how the BCS Championship Game race shakes out.
Baylor, now ranked sixth, also needs some help from the teams ahead of them, as Our Daily Bears notes.
As it stands now, at least 1 of the teams above us has to lose this week when the #3 Oregon and #5 Stanford play Thursday night. On Saturday night, #1 Alabama welcomes the #13 LSU Tigers to Tuscaloosa for the biggest game of that day, which also sees #2 Florida State travel to Winston-Salem to face the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest. #4 Ohio State is the lone top-5 team off this week and will return on November 16 at Illinois.
Were I to guess, Baylor's ceiling with a win over Oklahoma is probably #5. A Stanford win over Oregon, should it happen, drops the Ducks and probably raises the Cardinal to #3, despite the fact that Stanford is a 1-loss team. The only way the Bears rise higher than 5, I think, is by either demolishing OU in so impressive a fashion that we jump Ohio State in the human polls OR Alabama somehow falling to LSU. That combined with the outcome of the Stanford-Oregon game would open up two spots in the top 5 and truly throw us into delicious CFB chaos.
Missouri is likely out of the race for the national title after dropping one to South Carolina a week ago. That being said, the computers really like the Tigers, as Rock M Nation points out:
Mizzou is tied for fifth place in the BCS computers with Stanford.— Rock M Nation (@rockmnation) November 4, 2013
Despite blowing out UTEP like they were supposed to, Texas A&M dropped three spots in the BCS. Good Bull Hunting weighed in a little salty:
The Ags climbed one spot each in the USA Today and AP polls, but go figure, we dropped three in the BCS rankings. Can you believe they're doing away with the BCS?
Northern Illinois is one of a handful of undefeated teams remaining. Despite winning on Saturday, they dropped down a spot to No. 18 in this week's standings. Hustle Belt has a full breakdown here:
The Northern Illinois Huskies (9-0, 5-0 MAC) can't get no respect it seems. After dismantling the UMass Minutemen 63-19 Saturday, and getting dissed in the human polls, the Huskies actually slipped a spot in this week's BCS rankings, falling to No. 18. [...]
With just three games to go in the regular season, and back-to-back games against Ball State and Toledo, the Huskies will need to win over voters and pull off some style wins that will carry more weight than a 44-point victory over UMass.
And at what point will we reevaluate Alabama's hold on No. 1? From Matt Hinton's big BCS column:
Go ahead and retire that thought: Even after a bye, more than a month removed from its last win over a ranked team, Bama took 149 of 167 first-place votes this week in the USA Today and Harris polls. It also has two name-brand, top-15 opponents in November, LSU and Auburn, followed by the SEC Championship Game, rendering any skepticism over the schedule moot unless the Tide actually lose. The computers may not see much difference in the top three, but the human polls aren't budging on the defending champs until they have no choice.
Week 11 impact
No. 3 Oregon at No. 5 Stanford, Thursday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
This is the game out west. The Cardinal have a history of derailing Oregon's national title hopes, and they'll have a shot to do it once again on Thursday night. If Oregon can control the pace of this one and win -- they failed to do it last year in their 17-14 overtime loss -- there's a good chance they leapfrog Florida State once again for the No. 2 spot come next Sunday. And given their better strength of schedule the rest of the way, the Ducks will likely be primed to play for the national title if they win out.
If Stanford is able to pull the upset at home, it'll be very interesting to see if they jump Ohio State for the No. 3 spot. A jump in the computers would be likely, with pollsters perhaps being swayed by the Buckeyes being on a bye (pollsters do that sometimes). That would, of course, keep the Cardinal squarely in the hunt for the national title despite them losing to Utah.
No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 6 Baylor, Thursday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Baylor ascended near the top of the BCS with their incredible offense beating up on bad teams. Now, the Bears will truly be challenged for the first time all year as the Sooners come to town. If Baylor's going to become serious contenders for the national title, they'll need to win with style from here on out.
Oklahoma, on the other hand, comes in a bit under the radar ranked 10th. Their loss to Texas was bad, but they've had no real problems with anyone else. A win on Thursday night would likely move OU up to 7th or 8th in the BCS, still a title longshot but the new Fiesta Bowl favorite.
No. 13 LSU at No. 1 Alabama, 8 p.m., CBS
If Alabama wins out, they'll have a chance to win their third national championship in a row. It's as simple as that. What won't be simple is beating LSU on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium, especially with how the Tigers have played the last few times they've traveled to Tuscaloosa.
It's unclear just how far the Crimson Tide would fall if they lose. As for LSU, a win would surely move them into the top-10 of the BCS and may move them all the way to seventh or eighth.
No. 16 Fresno State at Wyoming, 10:15 p.m., ESPN2
This will be a real challenge for Fresno State, who remains firmly in line to land an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game if they're able to run the table. Wyoming comes in at 4-4 and has dropped their last two games, but their offense ranks as one of the better units in the country and there should be a capacity crowd on hand at War Memorial Stadium. That being said, Derek Carr should have no trouble picking apart Wyoming's iffy secondary. As long as the Bulldogs don't beat themselves, they should win, but it could be close again.
No. 2 Florida State at Wake Forest, 12 p.m., ABC
The Seminoles are 35-point road favorites. Anything less than a big win would be a disappointment, and they'll need the style points with voters if they hope to stay at No. 2 in the BCS.
BCS bowl picture
If the season ended tomorrow, the BCS bowl game picture would look like this:
National Championship: Alabama vs. Florida State
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Stanford or Oklahoma
Sugar Bowl: Missouri or Auburn vs. UCF
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Oregon
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor vs. Fresno State
The good news is that there's still plenty of football left to play. Here are the full bowl game projections.
What about the College Football Playoff?
This time next year, we'll be preparing for the first-ever College Football Playoff. It's never too early to do a mock-up of what would happen in 2013 if the season ended right now, though, so let's do it! Team Speed Kills used 2016's playoff schedule (because why not?) to project the playoff:
Peach Bowl semifinal: Alabama vs. Ohio State
Fiesta Bowl semifinal: Florida State vs. Oregon
Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Michigan State
Sugar Bowl: Mizzou vs. Baylor
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Auburn
Cotton Bowl: Fresno State vs. Oklahoma
I don't know about you, but that looks like an awesome slate of games if you ask me. The only major issue: No. 2 Florida State is hosting No. 3 Oregon in Arizona, which is obviously much more of a home game for the Ducks than the Noles. This is the side effect of the commissioners electing to use bowl sites instead of campus sites.
More from SB Nation college football:
• Long read: Inside Chip Kelly’s New Hampshire laboratory