Who's ready for a place in history?
This past Saturday, November 3, was billed months ago as the day when the BCS title picture would become a little less pixelated and grew far more into focus.
Which teams in one of the most hectic weekends around college football would step up and maintain their shot at winning it all, and which squads will have to settle for one of several 'lesser' bowls?
Once again, Gamedayr takes a peek at how each team within the BCS top 25 fared over the weekend, and what each should expect going forward.
First things first, who's gone from last week?
No. 19 Boise State, No. 21 West Virginia, No. 22 Arizona and No. 24 Oklahoma State have all vanished from the rankings in order to make room for teams who didn't feel like losing on Saturday.
Whether they were blown out (et tu, Arizona?), simply ran head-on into a wrecking ball (nothing is OK at OK State right now), or simply were not that good of a team in the first place (Geno Smith hates Heisman Trophies, apparently), these guys all played themselves out of championship contention over the weekend.
Moving right along, ladies and gentlemen.
25. Toledo Rockets
For the first time in the history of the BCS Polls – since 1998 – a team has appeared in the top 25 for the first time in its program’s history in each of the first four weeks of the Polls’ release. Iowa State appeared for the first time ever four weeks ago, followed by Ohio, Louisiana Tech and now Toledo.
The Rockets, whose only loss was an opening week overtime defeat to an Arizona squad that recently upended USC, are the class of the underrated Mid-American Conference.
Now sitting pretty at 8-1 overall, the team will lean on the 1,181 yards of running back David Fluellen to keep the ball rolling against 6-3 Ball State on Saturday.
24. Northwestern Wildcats
Making its first appearance in the BCS Polls in 2012 is one of two Big Ten teams in the rankings after the weekend, and it is a rather unexpected one at that. Is it Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin or even Ohio State?
Nope, OSU is banned and coach Pat Fitzgerald has his N-dub squad rushing all over opponents to the tune of 236.4 yards per game, good for 13th in the nation.
Rushing and defense wins championships, and a rare appearance for this program in the BCS Polls reflects that mindset.
23. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
The Knights sword-and-shielded their way out to a 7-0 start to the season under first year head coach Kyle Flood. Flood replaced Greg Schiano after the man who built the program from the ground up abruptly left town for sunny skies and an NFL head coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
However, quarterback Gary Nova and Co. have had two weeks now to lick their wounds following the team’s first defeat of the season at the hands of an underrated 8-1 Kent State squad.
Should they take care of business against Army, this squad will take its show on the road with two tough Big East games (yes, we said the words ‘tough’ and ‘Big East’ in the same sentence … and no, we’re not ashamed of it either) against Cincy and Pitt before closing out the year against currently undefeated Louisville. Stay tuned.
22. Texas Tech Red Raiders
With a massive opportunity to lay claim to the state of Texas, quarterback and former Heisman candidate Seth Doege and his teammates laid an egg at home against the maddeningly inconsistent Longhorns.
After needing a last-gasp touchdown to beat lowly Kansas, the Red Raiders allowed a barely breathing Texas team to catch a second win in losing, 31-22.
After throwing an absurd 15 touchdown passes in his previous three games, Doege only launched one against Texas.
Not good, but at least they get a whack at the superstorm that is the Kansas football program next weekend.
21. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Another week, another loss for the team that had shot out to its best start since 1999 after beating seven consecutive creampuffs to open the season.
Despite a riled up, cowbell-blaring fanbase, running back Ladarius Perkins could not muster much of anything at Alabama in the program’s first defeat of the season. Next up were the Aggies, but Perkins' entire team looked like it collectively gave up in front of the home crowd against a vastly improved Texas A&M ballclub.
Coach Dan Mullen’s crew has dropped from No. 11, to No. 15 and now to No. 21 in the polls. Don’t expect to see this program again unless it manages to regroup at an angry Tigers' den next weekend.
Basically, don’t expect to see this program again after it plays LSU on the road.
20. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Like Toledo, these Bulldogs have burst out of the WAC and onto the scene with an 8-1 record, making the program’s first appearance in the BCS a week ago. Tech would be rated even higher, in fact, had they not lost a heartbreaker at one of the better teams in the far more respected SEC, Texas A&M, 59-57.
Behind the efforts of studly senior wide receiver Quinton Patton, who currently sits at 1,000 receiving yards on the nose, Tech ranks near the top in most offensive categories: No. 7 in passing yards at 331.8 yards per game, 12th in rush yards at 239.1 and No. 2-overall in points scored at a silly 52.4 points per game average.
Let’s just hope the 34.1 points this team is giving up each and every week – good for No. 103-overall – doesn’t come back to bite them later, as this team will only remain in the rankings if it wins out.
19. USC Trojans
The disappointing season for coach Lane Kiffin and former Heisman Trophy frontrunner Matt Barkley continues following a 62-51 barnburner of a loss at home to rival Oregon.
The nation’s preseason No. 1 team now has three losses on the year and owns a 4-3 Pac-12 record.
Superstar sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee can only catch so many passes. The squad as a whole commits too many penalties and gives up far too many points to hope to be competitive.
18. UCLA Bruins
The Bruins are the third team to make its first appearance in the BCS standings this week, along with Toledo and Northwestern, after absolutely annihilating an Arizona team that had been coming off a signature win against USC, 66-10.
Seriously, 66-10. And to think, one of this team’s two losses came against a Cal team that has most likely already begun its search for a new head coach.
First year coach Jim Mora Jr.’s team has finally cracked the polls on the strength of its new career rushing leader, Johnathan Franklin, who posted 162 rushing yards in the blowout win and now has 3,873 for his career.
Could Franklin and Co. be smelling roses in their future?
17. Texas Longhorns
A week after benching starter David Ash in favor of Case McCoy and needing a last-gasp, last-ditch, final-prayer (insert you favorite end-of-game sporting cliché here) drive to overcome a late deficit against more-than-lowly Kansas, coach Mack Brown’s program seemed to be in disarray.
A road meeting with Heisman hopeful Seth Doege and his Texas Tech Red Raiders was not going to simplify matters.
That is when a funny thing happened. Like a pouty supermodel finally deciding to take the runway, Brown’s defense actually chose to start making tackles. His running game, led by frosh wunderkind Jonathan Gray, actually started clicking.
David Ash was efficient throwing to receivers such as Terrance Bullit, completing only 11 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns.
Which Longhorns' team will we see next week at home against Iowa State? Your guess is as good as anyone’s.
16. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Two questionable calls, one negating a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown and another a ticky-tack pass interference call in the end, may have kept Michigan State from winning at home against a Huskers squad that has struggled all season on the road.
In any case, 7-2 Nebraska does not have to worry about leaving the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium until the season’s final week when they travel to Iowa in a game they should win.
Home games against a good Penn State team and an always awful Minnesota squad should leave coach Bo Pelini’s squad at 10-2 and sniffing a rose or two by season’s end.
15. Texas A&M Aggies
Not only had this program fired its head coach, lost its starting quarterback to the first round of the NFL Draft, and was moving into the nation’s toughest conference after limping to a weak finish in the Big 12 but … well, that’s actually it, but nevertheless, the odds were indeed stacked against a program now 7-2 and coming off a big road win at Mississippi State.
The key to a gleeful 12th Man? It’s not gumdrops and rainbows, but a healthy spoonful of redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel. Johnny Football threw for 311 yards and rushed for 129 more with two touchdowns on Saturday, and he has absolutely been a perfect fit in newly hired coach Kevin Sumlin’s high-octane offense.
Saturday’s foray into Tuscaloosa to take on No. 1 Alabama will be quite the test for this ever-improving squad.
14. Stanford Cardinal
Since losing in overtime at Notre Dame in possibly one of the most heartbreaking finishes for a fan base in recent college football history, the Cardinal has feasted on a few lesser Pac-12 opponents. Stanford blew away Cal, Washington State and Colorado in consecutive weekends.
The team had better not have gotten too fat off the suckling pig that is the Colorado football program, because they are going to have to be lean and mean over the final three games of the year.
First comes a home game against a shockingly good Oregon State bunch, followed by road tests at Oregon and UCLA.
Tough teams win games despite tough schedules and this team’s got the opportunity to prove its mettle in the coming weeks.
13. Clemson Tigers
Led by playmaking quarterback Tajh Boyd, who has 2,680 passing yards with 25 touchdowns, coach Dabo Swinney’s Tigers have rebounded nicely from a "no bueno" loss at the hands of the class of the ACC, Florida State.
Five straight wins, in fact, leave this crew at 8-1 after dispatching of a Duke squad that had been dreaming big until running into the offensive buzzsaw of FSU and Clemson over consecutive Saturdays.
I am inclined to say that it is smooth sailing until the team’s regular season finale at home vs. South Carolina, but North Carolina State has already beaten Florida State, so Boyd and his buddies had best stay on their collective toes.
12. Oklahoma Sooners
Very rarely is a top 15 ranking in the BCS polls a disappointment (just ask Toledo, the little engine that could, all the way down at No. 25), but that is precisely the case with coach Bob Stoops’ Sooners here at No. 12 in the nation.
This team was supposed to compete for a national title. Quarterback Landry Jones was supposed to dominate the Heisman conversation.
At the very least, Oklahoma was supposed to protect its home turf.
Unfortunately, two home losses (albeit at the hands of undefeated Kansas State and Notre Dame) for the first time in Stoops’ tenure as coach leaves this program out of the title running, and a fan base asking the ever-dreaded question of What if?.
11. Oregon State Beavers
If Oklahoma’s fans are asking What if?, then fans of the Beavers are asking How?!.
After barely even registering on the college football map way out in the Pacific Northwest for years, Oregon State burst onto the scene behind star quarterback Sean Mannion, opening the season 6-0.
Unfortunately, Mannion suffered a knee injury and had to be replaced by Cody Vaz, who led the team to a win over BYU and its stout defensive front. Mannion returned to face Washington, but his rust and nagging pain resulted in four interceptions and a loss, the team’s first of the season.
Mr. Vaz, a junior, replaced the sophomore and righted the ship against Arizona State on Saturday, throwing for 267 yards and three touchdowns in the squad’s 36-26 home win.
The Civil War against Oregon awaits in three weeks' time.
10. Florida State Seminoles
The high powered offense of quarterback EJ Manuel’s ‘Noles was only kept off the scoreboard this weekend by its schedule, as the team was handed a fairly late-season bye week this year.
Florida State slides down one spot this week, entirely due to the efforts of a certain school ahead of them (to be specified, or you could just click on through, whatever floats your boat), but will have the chance to jump a few spots in three weeks when Manuel and Co. close out the regular season at home against hated-rival Florida.
9. Louisville Cardinals
The 9-0 Louisville Cardinals are playing far too well to not move into the top 10, and Florida State’s rank suffered for it.
We are going to go out on a limb and say that coach Charlie Strong does not exactly care about whether or not he hurts the Seminoles’ feelings, but far more about moving up into the No. 2 slot with an undefeated season.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been a superstar in guiding the class of the Big East to the nine-win total thus far, amassing 2,434 passing yards and 18 touchdowns.
That pristine record, however, is going to be put to the test in the squad’s regular season finale at No. 23 Rutgers on November 29.
Get some, Loo’ville!
8. South Carolina Gamecocks
Sick of hearing about the SEC yet?
If so, get your barf bags out because the BCS-SEC love-fest is just getting started with the ‘Cocks lounging poll-side with a daiquiri and a nice tan in the No. 8 slot.
Unfortunately, one week is not going to be nearly enough time for superstar running back Marcus Lattimore, who easily the heart and soul of coach Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina football program.
Games against Arkansas and Wofford (yes, they really scheduled Wofford; should be quite the spectacle for the home crowd still paying 60 bucks a pop) should not tell us much or move this team too far in either direction of the polls, unless they are upset, of course.
The season finale against Tajh Boyd and in-state rival Clemson, on the other hand? Spurrier and Swinney already don’t like one another, and one is going to have to live with a tough loss to swallow after this game.
7. LSU Tigers
Some teams lose and tumble down or out of the rankings altogether.
Not LSU, and not after losing to No. 1 Alabama in heartbreaking fashion on the game’s final drive after taking a 17-14 lead with only a few minutes remaining.
Coach Les Miles’ Tigers dropped two spots, but will have a chance to vent some frustrations when struggling Mississippi State rolls into Death Valley on Saturday. Defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery are going to make life very difficult for quarterback Tyler Russell, that much is for sure.
6. Florida Gators
LSU did not suffer a tumble down the BCS rankings, but had the Gators blown Saturday’s game against Mizzou, who came to Gainesville with a 1-4 SEC record in tow (that one win coming against Kentucky, so it barely counted anyways), you can be sure coach Will Muschamp’s squad would not be anywhere near the top 10 this week.
All that being said, and it was quite a mouthful, safety Matt Elam led a defensive onslaught that eventually picked off Mizzou quarterback four times in the 14-7 home win.
There was very little offensive output for the Gators, an issue that has only been addressed in spurts this season. With two jokes coming to town, Louisiana State and Jacksonville State (we think, but honestly, cannot even be bothered to see who these teams are they’re so bad), the offense should have plenty of time to tinker before closing out the regular season at Florida State.
5. Georgia Bulldogs
Seemingly always on the proverbial hot seat, Bulldogs coach Mark Richt has his program on the cusp of winning the SEC East and earning a trip to Atlanta for the SEC championship game for the second straight year.
If you were to ask a Gators' fan how this has happened, a common answer might be ‘smoke and mirrors’.
A Georgia fan, on the other hand, might point to a record-setting quarterback (Aaron Murray now sits at No. 6 all-time in the SEC with 80 touchdown passes), two star freshmen running backs in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, and arguably the most tenacious defensive player in the country in linebacker Jarvis Jones. At this point, it is looking like Georgia fans are going to have the last laugh.
4. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Fighting Irish did very little if any of that – fighting – until late in the fourth quarter against massive underdog Pitt on Saturday. After the team’s emotionally draining road win in Oklahoma, Heisman frontrunner Manti Te’o and his dominant defensive brethren came out flat at home.
So porous was coach Brian Kelly’s defensive front, in fact, that Panthers senior running back Ray Graham was able to rush for a season high 172 yards on 24 carries; an embarrassing 7.2 yards per attempt.
The triple overtime nail-biter preserved the Golden Domers’ perfect season and BCS title hopes, but it could not keep them from getting jumped in the standings by Oregon this week.
3. Oregon Ducks
Speaking of Oregon, coach Chip Kelly’s offense boasts so many weapons that right now his quarterback, Marcus Mariota, his leading running back, Kenjon Barner, and even his leading wide receiver, De’Anthony Thomas, are all considered to be in serious contention for the Heisman Trophy.
That goes especially for Mr. Barner, who absolutely burned USC on Saturday, going off for a career-high 321 yards on 38 carries (8.4 yards a clip, for those counting) and five touchdowns.
If the Ducks’ defense can manage to play anywhere near the level of its offense going forward, the Oregon may just sneak past Kansas State and into the No. 2-slot. That is a massive ‘if’, however, after the unit gave up 51 points in the 62-51 victory over the Trojans.
2. Kansas State Wildcats
Under the tutelage of 73-year old coach Bill Snyder, K-State has taken on all comers and dominated all three facets of the game.
The team has easily dispatched of two former Heisman hopefuls, both Geno Smith of West Virginia and Seth Doege of Texas Tech, while elevating one of their own as the frontrunner for the award.
However, quarterback Collin Klein, with his 12 passing touchdowns and 17 rushing scores, suffered an injury in the team’s win over a streaking Oklahoma State squad in the third quarter and did not return.
This team is not where it is, at the cusp of earning its first-ever invite to the BCS National Championship Game, without Klein and should he be forced to miss any significant time, the Wildcats’ upcoming games – at TCU, at Baylor and home vs. Texas – all of a sudden become much more daunting.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
There is nothing to say about Nick Saban’s Tide that has not been said already. Far and away the nation’s best and most complete team, the Red Elephants can now chalk up a pulse-racing, last second victory next to all the blowouts they have piled up in 2012.
If you don’t already know what went down on Saturday in Death Valley against LSU, well, you’d better ask somebody, fool.
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