To the surprise of no one, the BCS isn't going to ride off into its sunset without one final explosive controversy.
And that controversy is: undefeated Ohio State, or one-loss Alabama-conquerors Auburn? The seventh week of the 2013 BCS standings answered that question by siding with the Buckeyes, ranking Urban Meyer's Big Ten Leaders Division champions second and Gus Malzahn's 11-1 SEC West titlists third. Ohio State held an advantage on the Tigers in both human polls, with a 22-point edge in the Coaches Poll and a 66-point lead in the Harris Interactive poll, giving them a .027 lead in the BCS standings heading into Championship Saturday.
Auburn doesn't even hold what was expected to be a narrow edge in the computer polls, with the Buckeyes coming in second and the Tigers third. That could change even if Ohio State and Auburn defeat Michigan State and Missouri in their respective conference championships Saturday -- with Missouri ranked in the top-5 according to the BCS computers and the Spartans outside the top 10 -- but that is a major boost for Ohio State's chances.
CBSSports.com BCS expert Jerry Palm wrote Sunday that "the seven-year streak of SEC national championships is now in serious jeopardy," but allowed that the human polling margins were just small enough that the computer rankings might come into play as a tiebreaker.
As expected, Florida State became the commanding new BCS No. 1 following Alabama's loss, with the Crimson Tide slipping to fourth. Missouri rounded out the top 5.
The full standings:
THE TOP 16
1. Florida State (.995): The Seminoles' smallest margin of victory during the regular season was 14 points, 48-34 at Boston College in September. The runner-up? The 27-point margin between the 'Noles and then-undefeated Miami.
2. Ohio State (.950): Yes, Ohio State's schedule-strength is ranked 61st by Jeff Sagarin, and Auburn's is 26th. But should it come to the other potential SEC comparison, Missouri's is only 41st.
3. Auburn (.923): Of course, if Auburn's really a team of destiny, the Buckeyes will make it a moot point by losing to Michigan State, right?
4. Alabama (.854): With Missouri's win over Texas A&M, surely, surely, Alabama's national title reign is over. Even if an Ohio State loss opens up one BCS Championship slot, an SEC title must push the Tigers past the Crimson Tide in the polls, and Mizzou already owns an advantage in the computer rankings. And as for the other slot, you'd need FSU to lose to Duke. It wasn't the case the past two years, but in 2013 a single loss will rule the Tide out.
5. Missouri (.843): Gary Pinkel must be slightly bummed that Gus Malzahn will deprive him of consensus national Coach of the Year honors, and vice versa.
6. Oklahoma State (.763): The Cowboys really, really wish the playoff had come a year sooner; with just the one loss and a potential Big 12 championship under their belt, they'd have stood a solid shot of making the four-team field.
7. Stanford (.707): Speaking of inexplicable losses, how close to the BCS championship mix would the Cardinal be without losses to teams with a combined 11 losses of their own?
8. South Carolina (.704): Three years running, the Gamecocks have lost the SEC East to a team they beat in the regular season, but that's what happens when you lose to 2011 Auburn and 2013 Tennessee (and get the short end of the 2012 scheduling stick).
9. Baylor (.662): Hard to argue the Bears' apparent great leap forward on defense was entirely legitimate after letting Clint Chelf rip them apart and then giving up 38 points to TCU, the Frogs' season-high against BCS competition.
10. Michigan State (.653): Ohio State's rushing attack vs. Michigan State's rushing defense -- the former ranked No. 1 in the country in yards per-carry, the latter No. 1 in yards per-carry allowed -- is the very definition of "irresistible force, immovable object."
11. Arizona State (.583): The last time the Sun Devils beat Arizona as badly as they did Saturday, they wound up in the Rose Bowl. Will that be coincidence or not?
12. Oregon (.532): Rumors of an Alabama-Oregon Orange Bowl are sweeter than the fruit for which it's named.
13. Clemson (.520): Tigers are undefeated against everyone other than Florida State or South Carolina the past two seasons, but 0-4 vs. the 'Noles and Gamecocks.
14. Northern Illinois (.481): Fresno State's loss makes it official: beat Bowling Green in the MAC title game, and the Huskies will make it two BCS bowls in two years.
15. LSU (.421): Tigers' loss to Ole Miss looks like it's cost them a BCS berth of their own.
16. UCF (.386): While the Knights are in the top 16, their place in the BCS standings doesn't matter nearly as much to them as beating SMU next week.
THE WAITING LIST
23. Fresno State
24. Texas A&M