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Senior College Football Columnist

Power Poll: It's all about lining up Oregon-Bama for BCS title, right?


That about settles it, doesn't it? Don't we all want to see Alabama and Oregon in the BCS title game?

After Saturday's results, that game has emerged the most compelling matchup to decide this season's national champion. On one coast, the Ducks were outdoing even themselves with record numbers against USC in a 62-51 clubbing. On another coast (Gulf), Alabama underwent a roiling, introspective self-examination of its "want to" at LSU.

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Both schools want to pound you, just in different ways. Oregon with blinding speed -- "This is the best offense I've ever seen in my life," LaMichael James said of Saturday's 62-51 win over USC. James -- all of 23 years into that life -- knows of which he speaks. The 49ers rookie was part of that offense until this season.

Meanwhile, Alabama's defense has given up 82 points all season.

What we learned Saturday is Notre Dame -- having to scrape by in another thriller -- is going to have to win out and hope that two teams above it lose. Kansas State suddenly faces questions about its future, dealing with an injury to Heisman favorite Collin Klein.

In the first week of November, Alabama and Oregon are the surest bets to reach South Florida. Between them they have appeared in the past three BCS championship games, winning two (one guess as to who that was).

Armed with 10 weeks of knowledge and with less than a month left in the season, here is how the BCS bowls would look if the season ended today:

BCS title game -- Alabama* vs. Oregon*: The No. 1 scoring defense against the No. 1 scoring offense. Get thee to StubHub. Now!

Sugar Bowl -- LSU vs. Notre Dame: The Sugar gets first choice to replace Alabama and wouldn't hesitate picking the Irish, who have all but clinched a BCS berth -- at least, with three games to play. Once upon a time these teams played in New Orleans (2006) in the second season for both Les Miles and Charlie Weis.

Rose Bowl -- Nebraska* vs. Oregon State/Stanford: With Oregon gone to the BCS title game, the Rose picks next and would stay loyal to the Pac-12. The Beavers and Cardinal will battle for that at-large berth from the Pac-12 down the stretch.

Fiesta Bowl -- Kansas State* vs. Louisville*: There are rumblings that the Fiesta would be more than happy to take an unbeaten Louisville to match against projected Big 12 champ K-State. The "trade" with the Orange Bowl means that Oklahoma would go to South Florida.

Orange Bowl -- Florida State* vs. Oklahoma: Seminoles-Sooners would be a rematch of the 2000 BCS title game.

* denotes projected conference champion, automatic BCS berth

Dodd's Power Poll
RankTeam (Previous)Comment
1Alabama (1)
Overall: 9-0
Conference: 6-0
The Tide surprised even themselves on a historic night in Death Valley. Outgained and beaten in both time of possession and turnovers, Alabama squeaked one out for the ages. Next up: Fighting the LSU hangover against Texas A&M.
2Oregon (3)
Overall: 9-0
Conference: 6-0
Opponent records against USC: Kenjon Barner's 321 rushing yards and five touchdowns, and the Ducks' 730 total yards. Color of the Trojans' faces Sunday morning: More Cardinal than Gold.
3Kansas State (2)
Overall: 9-0
Conference: 6-0
Uncertainty about Klein's injury against Oklahoma State causes the Cats a slight drop in the Power Poll. Backup Daniel Sams did a fine job but will he be able to keep K-State unbeaten if Klein is out?
4Ohio State (6)
Overall: 10-0
Conference: 6-0
First there was Tebow, then Cam, now Braxton. Sometimes it's OK to be a one-man show. Ohio State became the nation's first 10-0 team after trouncing Illinois.
5Notre Dame (4)
Overall: 9-0
Conference: N/A
Yellow stars, pink hearts, blue moons, green clovers. Yes, the Irish have used their share of lucky charms this season. The Irish trailed 20-6 in the fourth quarter to Pittsburgh before winning in triple overtime.
6Georgia (7)
Overall: 8-1
Conference: 6-1
The good Aaron Murray showed up against Ole Miss -- 384 yards, four touchdowns. Dawgs can clinch the SEC East this week against Auburn. In other words, they're in the SEC title game.
7Florida State (8)
Overall: 8-1
Conference: 5-1
Bye. Preparing for Thursday's game at Virginia Tech. Still in control of the ACC Atlantic.
8Clemson (9)
Overall: 8-1
Conference: 5-1
A couple of weeks ago Duke was in the Power Poll. On Saturday, the Blue Devils were meat for Tajh Boyd, who threw five touchdown passes.
9Florida (10)
Overall: 8-1
Conference: 7-1
Missouri's James Franklin had four guys open for big gains. He overthrew all four, resulting in interceptions. In a battle of struggling offenses, the Gators' was less bad than Mizzou's, 14-7.
10Louisville (11)
Overall: 9-0
Conference: 4-0
Teddy Bridgewater threw five touchdown passes in a rout of Temple. Cardinals are 9-0 for the first time in school history. Charlie Strong continues to polish his résumé for ... whomever.
11LSU (5)
Overall: 7-2
Conference: 3-2
Zach Mettenberger (298 yards) really can play. It turned out to be too late for the Tigers, who will remember this particular Saturday night in Death Valley for a looong time.
12Texas A&M (24)
Overall: 7-2
Conference: 4-2
Clearly the switch to the SEC isn't bothering the Aggies. Up next for Johnny Manziel, another quality SEC defense in Alabama. Florida and LSU were able to keep him under wraps. Everyone else not so much.
13Oklahoma (13)
Overall: 6-2
Conference: 4-2
No Notre Dame hangover here. OU piled up almost 600 yards against Iowa State. Landry Jones threw for 400 and four touchdowns. "That football team is full of men," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said of the Sooners. Thank you, Captain Obvious.
14Oregon State (14)
Overall: 9-1
Conference: 5-1
Cody Vaz (three touchdown passes) does it again, this time against Arizona State. We'll know about the Beavers down the stretch. They finish with Stanford, Cal and Oregon. Oh, and Nicholls State.
15South Carolina (17)
Overall: 7-2
Conference: 5-2
Bye. Waiting to call the Hogs to Columbia this week.
16Stanford (18)
Overall: 7-2
Conference: 5-1
Other schools call them byes. In the Pac-12, they call it Colorado Week. The Buffs reached a new low, being shut out for the first time at home (48-0) in 26 years.
17Nebraska (19)
Overall: 7-2
Conference: 4-1
"I feel like I've aged about 20 years," Bo Pelini said. It's only been 13 since the Huskers won a conference title. They inched a little closer, scoring with six seconds left to beat Michigan State.
18Rutgers (21)
Overall: 7-1
Conference: 4-1
Bye. Army this week.
19Mississippi State (20)
Overall: 7-2
Conference: 3-2
Bulldogs fooled us all in the first seven games. In the past two, they have been outscored 76-20.
20Kent State (20)
Overall: 8-1
Conference: 5-0
Flashes scored the final 21 points after falling behind Akron 24-14. Dri Archer accounted for 126 all-purpose yards.
Overall: 7-2
Conference: 4-2
The last time the Bruins (7-2) had a better record than USC (6-3) after nine games was 2001. UCLA controls its own destiny in the Pac-12 South after routing Arizona 66-10.
22Boise State (12)
Overall: 7-2
Conference: 4-1
Forget the BCS controversy -- the Broncos got that out of the way early. San Diego State has won five in a row for the first time in 17 years. After beating Boise, the Aztecs are also tied atop the Mountain West with Fresno State.
23Northern Illinois (25)
Overall: 9-1
Conference: 6-0
Who let the Minutemen in? Huskies won their 20th straight home game, 63-0 over hapless UMass. Jordan Lynch, fifth nationally in total offense, passed for 191 and ran for 157.
24Louisiana Tech (NR)
Overall: 8-1
Conference: 3-0
Who knew about the La. Tech-Texas-San Antonio rivalry? The teams combined for 13 personal foul penalties. "I wasn't real fired up about some of the stuff going on out there," Bulldogs coach Spike Dykes said.
25Cincinnati (NR)
Overall: 6-2
Conference: 2-1
The best name in college football -- Munchie Legaux -- and the arm that goes with it were benched in the third quarter against Syracuse. Backup Brendon Kay guided the Bearcats to a steady 35-24 win. Legaux had thrown six picks over three games before he was lifted.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.

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