Jameis Winston's status could impact BCS title game showdown

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Alabama and Florida State remained one-two in the BCS standings, and each plays its archrival on the road this weekend.

But there's a big difference. Alabama plays at Auburn, which is fourth in the BCS standings this week. FSU plays at Florida, which has won four games this season and is coming off a loss to FCS program Georgia Southern.

Week 13: Things we learned

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From Darqueze Dennard proving his status as a shutdown corner to an ailing Jadeveon Clowney sitting out, here are the lessons we learned in Week 13 of college football. More ...

Alabama, which has won the past two BCS national titles, is No. 1 for the sixth week in a row; Florida State is No. 2 for the fourth week in a row and Ohio State is third for the third week in a row. Ohio State also plays its archrival on the road this weekend, traveling to meet Michigan.

FSU and Ohio State already have clinched spots in their league championship games. The SEC West division title will be decided in the Alabama-Auburn game.

The biggest issue for Florida State is the sexual-assault investigation that involves star quarterback Jameis Winston. Prosecutors have said it is doubtful that any decision on whether to charge Winston will come before Thanksgiving. Should FSU have to play the ACC title game without its star, it still would be favored.

But if -- obviously, that's a big "if" -- Winston is unable to play in the national title game, it potentially could set up an interesting decision for the pollsters. The computers obviously won't be able to take into account Winston's absence going forward. The same won't be true of the pollsters, and it's extremely unlikely Florida State could win a national title with its backup quarterback. Would pollsters downgrade an FSU team sans Winston in order to produce what likely would be a more competitive national championship game?

Here is the sixth 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.

Only twice in the 15-season history of the BCS has the No. 1 team in the sixth set of standings not played for the national title -- Alabama in 2008 and Florida in '09 (both lost in the SEC championship game). Eight times, including each of the past three seasons, the teams in first and second in the sixth set of standings have gone on to play in the national championship game; the current streak follows a streak of four consecutive seasons in which it did not happen.

The lowest-ranked team in Week 6 to play for the title was No. 5 Ohio State in 2007; the Buckeyes moved their way to No. 1 by the end of the season. Remember, though, that there were no unbeaten teams that season, and two-loss LSU won it all.

No. 14 Northern Illinois, which is unbeaten, 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 Huskies (and unbeaten No. 16 Fresno State) are higher than any team from the AAC (UCF is 19th and Louisville 20th). 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.

Fresno State is higher in the polls than NIU; the Bulldogs are 13th in both polls, while the Huskies are 17th in one and 20th in the other. But NIU has a much better computer ranking than Fresno State (seventh, to the Bulldogs' 17th). NIU was in the BCS last season, losing to Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Fresno never has been to the BCS.

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 final 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 sixth set of standings:

Florida State's average computer ranking is first, with Alabama second and Ohio State third.

Clemson is sixth in the BCS thanks to its standings in the polls. The Tigers are fourth in both polls, but have an average computer ranking of 10th.

Arizona State has the opposite issue, The computers love the Sun Devils - - their average computer ranking is sixth - - but they are 16th in one poll and 18th in the other.

Wisconsin has moved up to 15th in the BCS, and assuming the Badgers (9-2) win their regular-season finale this weekend against Penn State, they should finish in the top 14 and be eligible for an at-large bid. The Badgers are attractive to BCS bowls because they sell a ton of tickets. It would be Wisconsin's fourth consecutive BCS appearance if it gets a bid.

The SEC leads the way with six teams in the top 25. The Pac-12 has five, the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 three each, the AAC two and the Mid-American, Mountain West and independent ranks one each.

New to the standings this week are No. 24 Duke and No. 25 Notre Dame. Dropping out were No. 24 Ole Miss and No. 25 Minnesota. It's Duke first-ever BCS ranking; that makes 90 schools that have been in the BCS standings at least once since the format began in 1998.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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