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Oregon's loss makes Alabama-FSU title game more likely


The flip-flopping at the top of the BCS standings stopped this week, and if the top two teams win out, it has stopped for good.

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Alabama, which has won the past two BCS national titles, remained No. 1 for the fourth week in a row, and Florida State remained No. 2 for the second week in a row. FSU and Oregon had flip-flopped between second and third in the first three sets of standings. But Oregon fell at Stanford on Thursday night and dropped to sixth in this week's BCS standings.

The only way Alabama and FSU won't meet in the national title game is if one -- or both -- loses.

Here is the fourth 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.

Ohio State moved up one spot, to third. The Buckeyes are one of the teams lighting candles for the likes of Auburn, Mississippi State, Syracuse and Florida, hoping one of them can beat either Alabama or FSU. The Buckeyes were .0371 points out of third last week, and they are .0693 points out of second this week. The Buckeyes are closer to No. 4 Stanford, which has one loss, than they are to FSU; Stanford is .0237 behind Ohio State.

Unbeaten Baylor is fifth, .0071 points behind Stanford. The Bears' remaining schedule is such that they could creep even closer. They play Texas Tech in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday, travel to No. 12 Oklahoma State on Nov. 23 and play No. 25 Texas on Dec. 7. Neither Stanford nor Ohio State has a ranked team left on its regular-season schedule, but each could face a top-25 team in its league title game.

A good-news history lesson for Ohio State, Stanford and Baylor: The teams ranked first and second in the fourth edition of the BCS standings have gone on to meet in the national title game just seven times in the 15-season history of the BCS.

A good-news history lesson for Alabama: The team ranked first in the fourth installment of the BCS standings has gone on to play for the national title 13 times in the previous 15 seasons of the BCS. The only times it didn't: 2008 and 2009. (Alas, Alabama in 2008 was one of the No. 1s that didn't play for the title.)

A bad-news history lesson for teams outside the top five: No team ranked lower than fifth in the fourth installment of the BCS standings has gone on to play for the national title. Oklahoma was No. 5 in 2008.

Our final history lesson: Only once in the history of the BCS has neither No. 1 nor No. 2 in the fourth set of standings played in the BCS national championship game. Alabama and Texas Tech were first and second, respectively, in the fourth standings in 2008; Florida beat Oklahoma for the national title that season.

No. 14 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 (and No. 15 Northern Illinois) are higher than any team from the AAC (UCF is 17th 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.

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.

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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 fourth set of standings:

Alabama is ranked No. 1 by four computers and No. 2 in the other two. FSU is No. 1 in two computers and No. 2 in the other four.

No. 12 Oklahoma State has the pollsters to thank for its relatively high standings. The Cowboys are 10th and 11th in the human polls, but have an average computer ranking of just 22nd.

No. 16 Michigan State is another team higher in the polls than in the computers. The Spartans are 15th and 16th in the polls, but their average computer ranking is 21st.

There's also No. 20 Louisville. The Cardinals are 13th and 14th in the polls, which -- inexplicably -- is much higher than UCF (19th in both polls) despite the teams having the same number of losses (one) and UCF winning on Louisville's home field. The computers have taken that into account: Louisville is ranked in the top 25 by just one computer and has an average computer ranking of 28th. UCF is ranked in all six computers, and its average computer ranking is 16th. UCF also is three spots higher in the BCS standings than Louisville.

The SEC leads the way with seven teams in the top 25, including two (No. 21 LSU and No. 25 Georgia) with three losses. The Big 12 and Pac-12 have four each, while the ACC and Big Ten have three each, the AAC has two and the Mid-American and Mountain West have one each.

New to the standings this week are No. 24 Texas and Georgia. Dropping out was No. 23 Notre Dame and No. 25 Texas Tech. It's Texas' first appearance of the season; the Longhorns now have been in the BCS top 25 103 times, the most appearances in the nation by seven over Oklahoma. Texas is the only school that has been in the standings each season since the BCS began in 1998.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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