In Tuscaloosa and in Tallahassee, the initial news was good Sunday.
Alabama and Florida State held the top two positions in the first Bowl Championship Series standings that were released Sunday and, if they maintain their spots, would play for the national title in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 6.
“We haven’t won anything. We haven’t done anything,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said Saturday after the Seminoles pounded No. 3 Clemson, 51-14, in Death Valley. “But the next games get bigger and bigger.”
And he’s right.
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Even if the Seminoles win out, Oregon could pass them due to a stronger strength of schedule the rest of the way. Only once in the 15-year history of the BCS have the top two teams at the start remained there through the end of the season: in 2005 when Southern Cal and Texas were always 1-2.
The BCS is a composite ranking of teams based on votes in the USA Today and Harris polls, as well as six computer calculations.
The Seminoles ranked No. 1 with the computers, but No. 3 in the USA Today poll of coaches. Oregon is No. 3 in the BCS poll — No. 2 in the human rankings, just in front of FSU — due to a less favorable verdict from the computers.
The Noles aren’t the only unbeaten Florida school with national title hopes.
Miami, thanks to a brutal weekend for a handful of top-10 teams, climbed to No. 7 in the BCS and Associated Press polls. It is the highest the Hurricanes have been ranked since the 2005 season when they made it as high as No. 3.
Not everyone is sold on UM as an elite team, though.
“Miami, we saw them [barely edge North Carolina on Thursday], and the Hurricanes looked awful and somehow moved up five spots [by the coaches],” said ESPN college football analyst Rece Davis. “Survive and advance is what Miami did.”
Five teams in the top 10 lost Saturday, opening the door for UM.
The Canes and Seminoles square off Nov. 2 in Tallahassee.
With the Florida Gators dropping out of the top 25, UM is the last remaining ranked team left on the Seminoles’ schedule. FSU could also face No. 14 (BCS) Virginia Tech — if not another showdown with Miami — in the ACC Championship Game in December.
Oregon has games remaining against three teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25, including No. 6 Stanford.
Still, Fisher and the Seminoles were beaming after Saturday’s statement win at Clemson.
“We have a heckuva team,” Fisher said. “We’ve got a lot of ball to play, and if we keep taking care of business, the country will see, and we’ll get to where we got to go. I’m not scared to play anyone.”
While Saturday’s first BCS rankings were cause for joy in Tallahassee, the folks in Tuscaloosa have grown accustomed to the Crimson Tide’s lofty status. Alabama has won the past two national titles.
After Alabama, Florida State and Oregon, a couple of other unbeaten teams — Ohio State and Missouri — round out the top five in the BCS.
This is the final year of the BCS, which will give way to a playoff next season.
Miami Herald sportswriter Susan Miller Degnan and Miami Herald writer Patrik Nohe contributed to this report.