Three BCS top-5 teams have lost in two weeks, leaving Ohio State in firm command of the No. 3 spot in the sixth week of the BCS standings, released Sunday.
The Buckeyes enjoyed the narrowest of margins in edging Baylor for No. 3 last week, but the Bears' comprehensive loss at Oklahoma State and Oregon's blowout defeat at Arizona -- on the heels of No. 4 Stanford's loss the previous Saturday -- left Ohio State a clear .096 (yes, that's a lot) ahead of new No. 4 Auburn.
Gus Malzahn's team was one of two sets of Tigers entering the BCS top 5 Sunday, with Gary Pinkel's Missouri version coming in fifth.
The other big story came in the race for the non-BCS automatic berth, as Northern Illinois's win over Toledo was enough to vault the Huskies past Fresno State and into the No. 14 spot. Despite outranking NIU decisively in both human polls, the Bulldogs came in at No. 16 thanks to a huge disadvantage in the computer rankings. NIU is the nation's No. 7 team according to the computers, while Fresno ranks just No. 17.
The full standings:
THE TOP 16
1. Alabama (.988): The good news is that the Crimson Tide are just two wins away from a BCS Championship Game berth. The bad news is that those two wins -- at the No. 4 team in these standings and vs. either the No. 5 or No. 10 team in Atlanta -- promise to be harder to come by than arguably any of their first 11.
2. Florida State (.970): There's no real point to nit-picking the Seminoles, but if you must, Jeff Sagarin's computer ratings call FSU's schedule -- 76th in D-I -- the worst of any team's in the BCS top 12.
3. Ohio State (.920): Would the Buckeyes have to worry about being passed by a one-loss Auburn or Missouri team with an Alabama scalp on its resume? CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm says it's not a realistic possibility.
4. Auburn (.824): Just a reminder: at this juncture last season, Auburn was 3-8, had needed overtime against ULM to avoid being 2-9, had lost to Georgia 38-0, and were about to lose to Alabama 49-0.
5. Missouri (.808): The Tigers are one win away from booking their first trip to the SEC title game in just their second attempt -- and one Ohio State loss away from controlling their own BCS championship destiny.
7. Oklahoma State (.762): Beat Oklahoma (at home) in the Bedlam game, and the Cowboys will polish off their second 11-1, Big 12 championship season in three years. Yes, Mike Gundy can coach.
8. Stanford (.667): Speaking of multiple-season success stories, the Cardinal are one rematch victory over Arizona State from going to their fourth consecutive BCS bowl. Stanford.
9. Baylor (.646): Yes, pity the poor Bears, who may now have to settle for the crushing disappointment of their first Cotton Bowl since 1980 and first 11-win season in school history.
10. South Carolina (.610): The Gamecocks have beaten Clemson four straight years, winning by an average of 17.5 points, and they'll be at home Saturday. If Dabo Swinney wants to end his regular season on a winning note, he'll have to do it the hard way.
11. Michigan State (.578): The Spartans are first in total defense, first in yards-per-play allowed, and a disgraceful fourth in scoring defense. We hope you're appropriately ashamed, Pat Narduzzi.
12. Arizona State (.505): Todd Graham took two years to win a Pac-12 South title and might be the league Coach of the Year. Your argument (and the joke you made when he was hired) is invalid.
13. Oregon (.495): The Ducks hadn't lost to an unranked team since 2009. They hadn't lost to an unranked team other than Stanford since a 26-16 defeat at Cal on Nov. 1, 2008 -- back when Chip Kelly was still a Mike Belotti assistant.
14. Northern Illinois (.462): The single weirdest one-team BCS computer ranking of them all? Sagarin's "Pure ELO" rating spitting out NIU in the No. 3 spot, right between No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 Ohio State. (Yes, that's the one the BCS uses. His margin-of-victory-influenced "Predictor" rating has the Huskies No. 47, one spot behind ... wait for it ... Fresno State.)
16. Wisconsin (.445): 2012: Have Montee Ball, go 7-5. 2013: don't have Ball, go a likely 10-2 with one of those losses an all-time officiating debacle at a top-15 team. Particularly given Arkansas's troubles, is it too soon to wonder if the Badgers got a coaching upgrade over the offseason?
16. Fresno State (.412): The Bulldogs flattened New Mexico and watched bogey team Boise State likely give away the Mountain Division crown by allowing fourth-quarter pick-six and punt return touchdowns to San Diego State. Didn't look like a bad weekend ... until NIU leapfrogged them.
"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
21. Texas A&M
25. Notre Dame