Power Poll: As unbeatens fall, SEC title hopes remain strong

Alabama's T.J. Yeldon runs for a pair of touchdowns against Kentucky. (USATSI)
Alabama's T.J. Yeldon runs for a pair of touchdowns against Kentucky. (USATSI)

Welcome to the halfway point of the season -- seven weeks down, seven to go.

This much we know about the Power Poll halfway through ...

The road to the SEC East travels through Columbia, Mo. No. 8 Missouri moved to 6-0 by upsetting Georgia, driving the division into a tizzy. The Tigers are the first bowl-eligible team in the division and virtually control their SEC East destiny with No. 22 Florida and No. 11 South Carolina visiting the next two weeks.

Even when the Tigers win, they lose. On the day of the program's first road win over a top-10 team in 32 years, quarterback James Franklin was knocked out with what may be a season-ending should separation. This is also why Missouri moved to the SEC -- to win at the highest level. It is 1½ seasons into its new conference and it is one of only two unbeaten SEC teams. No. 1 Alabama is the other.

The SEC's national title hopes are different, but deep: No. 6 LSU, Alabama, No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 8 Missouri.

If the first BCS standings were released today -- IMO -- No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon would play for the national championship. (The first BCS standings are actually released Oct. 20). That would have been the better game last season. That's game we all should want to see now.

No. 14 Louisville was a nice, curious story until is struggled with Rutgers and, well, that was that. The Fiesta Bowl looms if the Cardinals win the American Athletic.

The M boys control the Heisman race the halfway point. One man's Heisman top three: 1) Johnny Manziel, 2) Marcus Mariota, 3) Sean Mannion. Yeah, it's that weird.

Didn't even mention other "M" boy (AJ) McCarron or Tajh Boyd or Jameis Winston.

Power Poll

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (1): We have our halfway national champions, which means absolutely nothing at this point. For now, T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake each ran for two touchdowns against Kentucky. "We need to improve and try to dominate the competition, and I think we did that," said Nick.

2. Oregon Ducks (2): Six touchdowns against Washington Huskies were a season low. Mariota -- a touchdown pass in each one of his 19 career games -- makes definitive Heisman statement (454 yards in total offense).

3. Clemson Tigers (5): Seminoles on their minds? Tigers have to come from behind at home to beat Boston College.

4. Ohio State Buckeyes (4): Can't move the future Big Ten champs (?) on a bye week. Buckeyes have Iowa Hawkeyes next.

5. Texas A&M Aggies (6): That looked a lot like Johnny Football leading the pre-field goal prayer before Josh Lambo won it at the gun. It was going to be real easy moving Mariota up to No. 1 in Heisman race but JF did it again (346 passing yards, two rushing touchdowns) against Ole Miss. Sumlin with 16 straight wins on the road.

6. LSU Tigers (8): Tigers prove that magic number is 17. Offensively-challenged Gators fall 11 points short of it. Les: "Two very quality teams ... compete like a son-of-a-bitch for a victory." Alrighty then.

7. Florida Gators (9): Jimbo Fisher is plotting for the biggest game of his FSU tenure next Saturday against Clemson.

8. Missouri Tigers (23): Tigers register a signature SEC victory. Remember the old days (three years ago) when Mizzou was begging to be in the Big Ten?

9. UCLA Bruins (10): Meanwhile, back in LA, the Bruins still rule the town and are still undefeated after routing Cal 37-10. Brett Hundley throws for 409 yards.

10. Baylor Bears (11): News flash: Bears don't score 70 or gain 700 yards. K-State rises up to push Baylor for the first time this season. With Oklahoma Sooners 's loss, we now have a clear Big 12 favorite. Hello, Bears.

11. South Carolina Gamecocks (17): Breaking news: Clowney plays! Breakier news: Spurrier throws someone else under the bus. "I do feel badly for Arkansas. That's no fun getting your butt beat at home, homecoming and all that."

12. Stanford Cardinal (3): That was unexpected wasn't it? Cardinal endure worst loss of Shaw era at Utah. That's because there had been only five losses in the Shaw era. Kevin Hogan endures his first loss as a starting quarterback.

13. Virginia Tech Hokies (NR): Eleven teams have six wins at the halfway point. Virginia Tech Hokies is one of them. Only loss was to No. 1 Alabama. No disgrace. Winningest active coach, Frank Beamer, wins his 264th against Pittsburgh.

14. Louisville Cardinals (13): Needed to smoke Rutgers to be any factor at all in national championship race. The American Athletic title -- and BCS bowl -- are still attainable.

15. Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes (14): Bye this past week. Next up: Thursday at North Carolina in ACC ( Florida State Seminoles -Clemson) appetizer.

16. Georgia Bulldogs (7): Unlucky No. 7. Seven starters out for Mark Richt is the difference in loss to Missouri. National championship hopes gone. SEC East?

17. Oklahoma Sooners (12): Big 12 down to two undefeated teams (Baylor, Texas Tech) after Texas' surprising boat-racing of Sooners. They're going to write books someday about the Stoops-Brown 15-year war. Let's hope it isn't done yet.

18. Oklahoma State Cowboys (22): Cowboys had a bye. Coming up next, Texas Christian pays a visit to Stillwater next Saturday.

19. Texas Tech Red Raiders (24): Another freshman quarterback, another win for Red Raiders. Davis Webb tosses three touchdown passes, throws for 415 yards in squeaker against Iowa State.

20. Washington Huskies (15): Can't penalize Huskies that much for playing two quality ranked conference foes (Stanford and Oregon) two weeks in a row.

21. North Dakota State (19): Fifteenth in a row for Bison after a 41-26 decision over Missouri State.

22. Michigan Wolverines (16): Yours truly predicted it, Penn State fulfilled it in four overtimes. Wolverines suffer first lost.

23. Florida Gators (18): The Gators' hopes of taking the SEC East crown may be on the line at Missouri.

24. Michigan State Spartans (NR): Connor Cook for Heisman! In a between battle of nation's No. 1 defense and Big Ten's No. 1 offense, Spartans beat Indiana Hoosiers 42-28.

25. Oregon State Beavers (NR): Sean Mannion has 25 touchdown passes halfway through the season. The record is 58 Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 's Colt Brennan set in 2006.

Also receiving love: Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Houston, South Florida (2-0 in American), Ball State, Auburn, Texas, Penn State, Fresno State.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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