Alabama and Oregon in driver’s seat, but nothing is set in stone with the BCS

10/23/2012 12:00 AM

09/23/2013 7:13 PM

The NFL looks like a campsite after it has been ransacked by a pack of raccoons.

But the college rankings are the picture of order for those who prefer familiarity during the football season.

Who is No. 1 on the BCS list, you may ask if you have been marooned on a melting iceberg near the North Pole.

Why, Alabama, of course. The Tide keeps rolling under the uber-efficient Nick Saban.

Florida stayed No. 2 after amassing less than 200 yards of offense but outsmarting ex-Gator and Ol’ Ball Coach Steve Spurrier on Saturday with a stomping of South Carolina.

Notre Dame is officially back. Linebacker Manti Te’o has led the No. 5 Irish out of the wilderness and home to the embrace of Touchdown Jesus and national TV producers.

The No. 4 Oregon Ducks are averaging 31 points in the first half, making opponents and pollsters overlook their underrated defense.

No.6 LSU, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 9 USC, No. 10 Georgia — the usual suspects, The exceptions are No. 3 Kansas State with quarterback Collin Klein buoying spirits in the heartland after the worst corn harvest in decades. And No. 7 Oregon State showing there’s more to Northwest football than speedy players in flashy Nike uniforms.

Sanctioned Ohio State and Penn State would be in the mix, much to the embarrassment of the Big Ten.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is cannibalizing itself. The Big East is confusing. The Big 12 is deep. The Pac 12 is top heavy. The Southeastern Conference is dominant, with three undefeated teams, seven teams in The Associated Press Top 25 and three in the AP top six.

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit thinks the top four have separated themselves from the rest but predicts shuffling.

“Teams with one loss can get back in this thing,” Herbstreit said. Beware LSU, Southern California and Oklahoma.

Six undefeated teams remain, but only three can survive with a clean record, and if they do, wouldn’t that be a delicious controversy when bowl bids are delivered.

A telling matchup is approaching when Notre Dame visits resurgent Oklahoma. Can Irish quarterback Everett Golson prove his reliability?

Can the Sooners bowl over the Notre Dame defense? The Irish beat Stanford and Michigan, but a win over the Sooners would really get the computers excited.

And in our corner of South Florida, two teams not worthy of receiving votes. FIU is in freefall and can’t leave the Sun Belt conference soon enough after staggering to 1-7 with a one-point loss at Troy. The University of Miami simply isn’t very good or imposing. UM coach Al Golden pointedly mentioned insufficient recruiting, which translates into insufficient talent and size, in his remarks after the 33-20 loss to Florida State, UM’s third consecutive loss.

Coaches Brian Kelly and Bill Snyder have engineered remarkable turnarounds (Snyder for the second time at Kansas State). A year after going 0-4 in October, Florida’s Will Muschamp has led his team to two victories over top-10 opponents by a combined 41 points.

November looms large.

What’s in store for the national title game right here at Sun Life Stadium on Jan. 7? Alabama vs. Oregon is currently the most likely clash in what would be a fascinating contrast in styles. Or they could trip on one of the ranked opponents they meet down the stretch or in their conference championship games. The Ducks were stopped by SEC stalwarts LSU and Auburn in previous showdowns.

The Gators have Georgia and Florida State on their schedule. The Irish have Oklahoma and USC still to come. But if Florida and Notre Dame go undefeated, voters could reward them handsomely with a trip to Miami.

Implementation of the playoff system is two years away, so enjoy the permutations while you can.

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