Most college football fans already have been thinking out loud about an Alabama-Oregon matchup in the final BCS championship game. One problem: Florida State could wreck those plans.
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Alabama, which has won the past two BCS national titles, was atop the first set of BCS standings released Sunday night, but Oregon was third - - one spot behind FSU, which hammered Clemson 54-14 on Saturday night in a matchup of teams that had been ranked in the top five in both polls.
FSU is .0028 points ahead of Oregon in the standings -- presumably because the Seminoles have played a tougher schedule than Oregon. A positive for the Ducks is that their schedule gets tougher in the second half of the season. The Ducks play three games against teams in this week's BCS top 25 the rest of the way, including No. 6 Stanford and No. 12 UCLA. FSU has just one opponent left in this week's top 25 -- No. 7 Miami.
Oregon is second in both polls used by the BCS, with FSU third in both. But FSU's average computer ranking is first and Oregon's is fourth. Alabama, which is first in both polls, is No. 2 in the computers, and Missouri -- which is sixth in the Harris poll and seventh in the coaches' poll -- is No. 3.
Ohio State is fourth this week, but the Buckeyes trail Oregon by .0767 points and are closer to No. 5 Missouri than to Oregon.
Here is the first BCS top 14 of the season, with the school, its spot in the Harris poll, its spot in the coaches' poll and its BCS computer average. We've also included the NCAA's schedule strength, which is not part of the BCS formula.
The team atop the initial BCS standings has gone on to play in the national title game eight times in the BCS' 15-season history, but only three times -- Florida State in 1999, USC in 2004 and Alabama last season -- has the first No. 1 gone on to win the title.
Only one team has started outside the top 10 and won the title: LSU was 12th in the first standings of the 2003 season and beat Oklahoma for the national title. No. 12 this week is UCLA. The second-lowest initial ranking for a team that ended up winning it all was Florida, which was 10th in 2008 (Texas Tech is 10th this week); every other national titlist has started at least as high as sixth.
No. 17 Fresno State is the highest-ranked non-Big Six (or non-automatic qualifying, if you prefer) conference team this week. A non-Big Six team is guaranteed a BCS spot in two ways. One is if it finishes in the top 12; the other is if it is ranked in the top 16 and its ranking is higher than that of a conference champion with an automatic berth. This week, the Bulldogs are higher than any team from the AAC (Louisville is 21st and UCF 23rd). Under BCS rules, only one non-Big Six team is guaranteed a spot if it meets the criteria. Any others would be at-large candidates. At-large candidates must have at least nine victories and finish in the top 14 in the final BCS standings.
Since the BCS expanded to five games in the 2006 season, seven non-Big Six teams have earned berths (we're not including Notre Dame in that category). There has been at least one non-Big Six school in every one of those seasons except 2011; there were two in 2010.
The final BCS standings will be released Dec. 8. Teams first and second in the final standings meet in the BCS national championship game Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif.
The three components of the BCS standings are the coaches' poll; the Harris poll, voted on by media members and by former players, coaches and administrators; and six computers. Each of the components counts one-third. The best and worst computer rankings are thrown out, and the sum total of the remaining four is divided by 100 (the maximum possible points) to come up with the BCS' computer rankings percentage.
While strength of schedule isn't a separate BCS standings component, as it was from 1998-2003, all six computers have a strength-of-schedule factor in their rankings.
Some other items of interest from the first set of standings:
Florida State is ranked first by three computers, with Alabama first in two of them and Missouri No. 1 in the other.
No. 11 Auburn is getting far more love from the computers than from the pollsters. The Tigers are 15th (Harris) and 17th (coaches) in the polls, but their average computer ranking is seventh.
No. 14 Virginia Tech is another team getting far more respect from the computers than from the pollsters. The Hokies, whose only loss is to Alabama, are 19th in both polls, but their average computer ranking is eighth.
Conversely, No. 19 Oklahoma State, No. 20 Louisville and No. 24 Nebraska are getting no respect from the computers. Oklahoma State is 13th (coaches) and 17th (Harris) in the polls, but tied for 28th in the computers. Louisville is 16th in both polls and tied at 28th in the computers. And Nebraska is 21st (coaches) and 23rd (Harris) in the polls and tied at 28th in the computers.
The SEC leads the way with six teams in the top 25, followed by the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 with four each, the Big Ten with three, the AAC with two and the Mid-American and Mountain West with one each. All four of the ACC's teams are in the top 14, while the Big Ten has just one team (Ohio State) in the top 23.
This is the 11th week Alabama has been at the top of the BCS standings. That's the fourth-most nationally (behind Oklahoma at 20 and both Ohio State and USC at 15).
Oklahoma is No. 15 this week, marking the Sooners' 93rd appearance in the BCS top 25. That's the second-most nationally, behind Texas' 102, and breaks a tie with Florida. LSU and Virginia Tech are tied for fourth with 82 appearances. UCF, which is 23rd this week, is in the top 25 for the first time.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.