If Alabama and Florida State head to the postseason as undefeated SEC and ACC champions, respectively, the grappling between Ohio State, Baylor and Stanford -- whoops, just Ohio State and Baylor -- for the No. 3 spot in the BCS standings is an entirely moot point.
But until the Tide and Seminoles actually do finish off their perfect regular seasons-plus-one, the Buckeyes and Bears will be watching the standings closely. And Sunday, the fifth edition of the 2013 standings broke in favor of Ohio State ... barely. While the Coaches Poll and the Harris Poll opted for the Buckeyes, the computer composite ranked the Bears third and the Buckeyes fifth, a spot behind Auburn.
That was enough to shave the margin between the teams to .0013, Ohio State's .8869 to Baylor's .8856
Oregon took the No. 5 spot over No. 6 Auburn, though the margin is close enough -- particularly with the Tigers already owning a clearcut advantage in the computers -- that Gus Malzahn's team would likely leapfrog the Ducks if they knock off the Crimson Tide at home Nov. 30.
Further down the standings, though the margin between the two teams remains a decent-sized .041, Northern Illinois's win over Ball State pulled them within a single spot of Fresno State in the race for an automatic BCS berth.
The full standings:
THE TOP 16
1. Alabama [.991]: It's only fitting, isn't it, that the team that stands as the biggest hurdle between the Tide and another BCS championship berth happens to be the only team that's won a BCS title other than Alabama since 2008?
2. Florida State [.966]: In Jeff Sagarin's "Predictor" rankings -- not the model used by the BCS, but the one that includes margin-of-victory and which Sagarin would claim are his "real" rankings " -- the Seminoles are now a clearcut No. 1, as far ahead of No. 2 Oregon as the Ducks are over No. 5, uh, Arizona State.
3. Ohio State [.887]: Surely, surely, the least-celebrated 22-game winning streak for a major BCS-level program in college football history.
4. Baylor [.886]: If someone invents a time machine, we're totally going back to, say, 1999 and telling college football fans that the biggest BCS debate of 2013 is which team is more deserving: undefeated Ohio State, or undefeated Baylor.
5. Oregon [.792]: Well, hey, look who's ostensibly back in the national title picture -- though since an Auburn upset of Alabama likely won't help them, the Ducks will need the Buckeyes, Bears and Seminoles to all go down. Stranger things have happened, but given FSU's likely competition in the ACC title game, not a lot of stranger things.
6. Auburn [.786]: Three times this season Auburn has held the ball with under 2 minutes to play in the fourth quarter while trailing by a field goal or less on the scoreboard. All three of those possessions ended in touchdowns.
7. Clemson [.768]: Both the Harris and the Coaches voters had the Palmetto State Tigers above the SEC variety. But the computers -- which rank Clemson four spots behind Auburn -- vehemently disagree.
8. Missouri [.723]: So much has been made of the Tigers' SEC East chances in the wake of their collapse vs. South Carolina, it's easy to forget that Mizzou still has just one loss and is at least as much a part of the BCS title picture as Auburn is.
9. Stanford [.624]: From a Rose Bowl lock and national championship lurker to standing outside the BCS picture entirely and possibly headed to the Alamo Bowl, losses don't get a lot more painful than Stanford's on Saturday.
10. Oklahoma State [.589]: Given the way Oklahoma has played of late (and that the season finale's in Stillwater), there's not much on the line for the Cowboys when they host Baylor Saturday -- just a likely Big 12 title and Fiesta Bowl berth, that's all.
11. South Carolina [.588]: Steve Spurrier has complained about the SEC's cross-divisional matchups for years. So yes, it's more than a little ironic that if the Gamecocks go to Atlanta, it will be in no small part due to Spurrier's team drawing Arkansas and Mississippi State out of the West.
12. Texas A&M [.539]: Just call this Saturday's meeting with LSU the "One of Us Is Going To Feel Badly Disappointed About This Season Despite a Gaudy Record" Bowl.
14. UCLA [.462]: Where would the Bruins stand if they hadn't had to play Oregon and Stanford? Where would they stand even if one of them had had to travel to Los Angeles rather than the Bruins going to both Palo Alto and Eugene?
15. Fresno State [.413]: Here's a guess that no one is less happy about Boise State's recent resurgence than the Bulldogs. Fresno went winless against the Broncos from 2005 to this past September, when the Bulldogs slipped past them 41-40 in Fresno -- but after destroying Wyoming, the Broncos are two wins away from setting up a Mountain West championship rematch anyway.
16. Northern Illinois [.373]: One Wednesday night landmine avoided, one more to go -- at Toledo, where the Rockets just blasted previously MAC-undefeated Buffalo -- before the Huskies can really feel good about running the regular season table.
"Non-AQ" teams must reach the BCS top 16 and outrank one "AQ" champion to be eligible for an automatic BCS berth.
THE WAITING LIST
17. Arizona State
24. Ole Miss