Urban Meyer needs to keep this team together for the final two games of the season before the showdown with Alabama. The Gators should have no trouble making it to Atlanta undefeated, and they have done nothing in the past two weeks to show they are not the best team in America. Not to say they are unarguably the best, but they are as worthy as anyone.
The award for hottest team in America goes to the Longhorns. TCU is a close second, but over the last month Texas has looked like the national title contender everyone expected them to be before the season. Colt McCoy’s early-season struggles are behind him, and he has returned to the Heisman Trophy consideration. He needs big games against Texas A & M and in the Big 12 championship game to have a chance at the award.
Nick Saban’s bunch looked dominant against Mississippi State, as they should have. The shakiness of the Tide’s most recent outings left many experts with doubt on their chances at a national championship. Auburn will pay the Tide a visit in a couple weeks, and the Tigers could end the dream season before Florida even has the chance.
The emphatic win over Utah inched the Horned Frogs closer to the top three, but every team ahead of them looked solid on Saturday as well, therefore not warranting a leap (horned) frog in the rankings. Not only did TCU wrap up the Mountain West conference, but also it cemented itself as the best non-BCS conference team in America. Boise State’s win over Oregon does not carry as much weight, now that Oregon has lost another game and the Ducks’ win over USC is losing its luster fast. Most likely the Frogs and Broncos will both play in BCS bowls if they finish undefeated, but TCU is clearly the best of the bunch right now.
5. Boise State
For two straight weeks, the Bearcats have shown chinks in their armor. After nearly blowing a 20-point lead to Connecticut, Brian Kelly’s team nearly gave up a late lead again to West Virginia. Both the Huskies and Mountaineers are respectable opponents, but the Bearcats don’t have the luxury that Texas, Florida, and Alabama have. Those three teams can suffer a mildly dull performance every now and then, and survive with their high rankings intact. Cincinnati has neither the schedule nor the reputation to have close games against lesser teams. If the Bearcats want to even be considered for the BCS title game, they need to win in dominating fashion in their final two games, especially Dec. 5 against Pittsburgh.
7. Georgia Tech
After surrendering 10 points to Duke in the first quarter, the Jackets’ defense came up huge the rest of the way, holding the Blue Devils scoreless after that in a 49-10 blowout. With the win, the Jackets clinched the ACC Coastal Division, setting up a championship match with either Clemson or Boston College. There is little much left to play until the title game and bowl game.
Nobody realizes it, but if a team like Boise State, Cincinnati, or Georgia Tech stumbles before season’s end, the Tigers would slide right into the BCS mix. They were a blown instant replay review away from maybe knocking off Alabama two weeks ago, and held Florida to 13 points in October. They haven’t done anything fancy this season, but they have beaten everyone else on their schedule, and would be a worthy Sugar Bowl opponent for a conference champion.
The Panthers cruised against the Fighting Irish for there and a half quarters, before Jimmy Clausen did what he does best: lead desperation late-game comebacks. This time, Clausen came up short, while Dion Lewis and Bill Stull were left to celebrate a huge nationally televised victory and maybe sealing Irish coach Charlie Weis’ fate. They won’t be favored against Cincinnati in a couple weeks, but the best team in the Big East might be the one with far less recognition.
Last Saturday, I predicted an upbeat Cardinal team would play inspired football and knock off USC. Never in a thousand years did I think they would demolish the Trojans 55-21. Toby Gerhart is a future star; he is a hard-nosed running back with a great attitude and unquestionable work ethic. If Oregon slips up in one of its final two games, the Cardinal could actually play in the Rose Bowl, ten seasons removed from its last appearance in Pasadena (17-9 loss to Wisconsin).
11. Ohio State
14. Oklahoma State
15. Penn State
16. North Carolina
17. Virginia Tech
24. Oregon State