The smart guys who crunch the numbers tell me that if No. 1 Kansas State (10-0) and No. 2 Oregon (10-0) both win out, that the No. 2 Ducks will eventually jump over K-State into the top spot.
So why is that important?
Because if Kansas State is the Big 12 champ and finishes No. 1, the Big 12's host bowl, the Fiesta, goes to the head of the line to choose a replacement team. Ditto for the Rose, if Oregon is the Pac-12 champ and finishes No. 1.
And you can take this to the bank: The bowl that gets to pick first will take Notre Dame if the Irish are 12-0 and get left out of the BCS championship game at No. 3. Notre Dame is always a valuable postseason property. But an undefeated Notre Dame team that feels it got jilted? Why that's pure (TV ratings) gold.
|More on Week 12|
Weekend Watch List: Wounded Ducks on upset alert
Week 12 picks: Oregon rolls; Ohio State stays unbeaten
|College Football 360|
|More college football coverage|
Of course, all that changes if we get yet another upset in the top three. So on what doesn't look like a vintage weekend, keep your eyes on the games involving Kansas State, Oregon, and Notre Dame.
Here's Tony's Top 10 for the third Saturday in November:
Ducks can clinch the Pac-12 North
If No. 2 Oregon (10-0, 7-0 Pac-12) can beat Stanford (8-2, 6-1) at Autzen Stadium the Ducks will clinch the Pac-12 North and a spot in the conference championship game on Nov. 30. Beating No. 13 Stanford can only help Oregon's No. 4 computer ranking. It won't be easy for Oregon because Stanford, which leads the conference in total defense (320.7 ypg), has a nasty front seven. The gap between Kansas State and Oregon in the BCS Standings is .0177. Let's see if it closes. Top 25 preview: Stanford at Oregon
K-State road warriors keep rolling
Baylor (4-6, 1-5 Big 12) is No. 7 nationally in scoring at 42.67 ppg. Bears QB Nick Florence leads the nation in total offense (394.78 ypg). But the Baylor defense couldn't stop you and me and nine more guys we picked up in the parking lot. Kansas State has already won on the road this season at Oklahoma, Iowa State, West Virginia and TCU. The Wildcats' ain't gonna lose in Waco. Top 25 preview: Kansas State at Baylor
Irish better not sleep on Deacons
Just a word of warning for undefeated Notre Dame. Yes, the Irish are probably looking ahead to next week's trip to USC. And Yes, Wake Forest (5-5) has had an up-and-down season. But Jim Grobe gets more from less than any coach I know. He has a quarterback (Tanner Price) who can fling it and a wide receiver (Michael Campanaro) who has caught 27 passes in his last three games. Last season Notre Dame went to Wake Forest and had to rally in the second half to win 24-17. This will be Wake Forest's first trip to Notre Dame. "We certainly hope our guys don't go up there for sightseeing," said Grobe.
Vandy wants a big piece of Tennessee
By any measure James Franklin's second season at Vanderbilt has been a success. The Commodores (6-4, 4-3 SEC) got a 26-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Rodgers with 52 seconds left last week to knock off Ole Miss 27-26 and become bowl-eligible for the second straight year. Vanderbilt has never been to two consecutive bowls in its history. Now Franklin has a chance to really put his stamp on the program if the Commodores can beat Tennessee (4-6, 0-6 SEC) in Nashville. This could be it for Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, who is 1-13 in his last 14 SEC games. And if a loss to Vanderbilt is the final dagger for Dooley, trust me when I tell you that Franklin would dearly love to deliver it. A year ago after this game, which Tennessee won 27-21 in overtime, Dooley's postgame speech to his players included the following: "The last thing I'm going to remind you is that the one thing that Tennessee has always done is kick the (expletive) out of Vanderbilt." Vandy last beat Tennessee in 2005 behind quarterback Jay Cutler. SEC preview: Tennessee at Vanderbilt
Can Bruins close the deal on USC?
There were skeptics (because I was one of them) when UCLA hired Jim Mora as head coach. But the numbers don't lie. If UCLA (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) beats USC (7-3, 5-3) the Bruins will win the Pac-12 South and a spot in the conference championship game. They would be undefeated in divisional play with the only conference losses coming against Oregon State (27-20) and California (43-17) of the North Division. It would also give UCLA and Mora a leg up in reasserting themselves in the recruiting wars around town. UCLA has won only once (2006) in its last 13 meetings with USC. But that one knocked the Trojans out of the BCS championship game.
Duke controls its destiny in the ACC Coastal
Yes, you read that right. And that sentence has never before been true on the third Saturday in November. But if Duke (6-4, 3-3 ACC) beats Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Saturday and then knocks off Miami at home on Nov. 24, the Blue Devils will win what has been a crazy division. Duke has already clinched its first bowl berth since 1994 when it beat North Carolina on Oct. 20. Since then the Blue Devils have been overwhelmed by Florida State (48-7) and Clemson (56-20). "Our guys were so nervous in those games they were getting IVs when it was 46 degrees," said Duke coach David Cutcliffe. "That's my fault. I have to do a better job of helping them get ready to play in big games in November. I've done it a lot. I have to remember my guys have never done it."
Florida State should close the door on the ACC Atlantic
Florida State (9-1, 6-1 ACC) dodged another bullet last week when EJ Manuel drove his team 68 yards in the final minutes to beat Virginia Tech 28-22 in Blacksburg. A loss would have likely ended the Seminoles hopes of an ACC championship. Now all Florida State has to do to win the ACC Atlantic is beat Maryland (4-6, 2-4) in College Park. Despite the protests of Coach Jimbo Fisher, Florida State, ranked No. 10 in the BCS Standings, probably can't get to the big game because of its loss to North Carolina State (17-16) and a non-conference schedule that included Murray State and Savannah State. But the Seminoles can move up the standings considerably by beating No. 6 Florida next week. Interesting stat: Maryland is No. 2 in the ACC in rushing defense (112.60 ypg). Florida State was held to minus-15 yards rushing last week against Virginia Tech.
Bulldogs still have a shot at history
Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3 SEC) has dropped three straight games since a 7-0 start and a rise to No. 11 in the BCS Standings. But the losses were to No. 4 Alabama (No. 1 at the time), No. 7 LSU, and No. 8 Texas A&M. The Bulldogs still have a lot to play for as they entertain Arkansas (4-6, 2-4), a team that was No. 10 in preseason but could see its hopes for a bowl come to an end. If Mississippi State can win its final two games with Arkansas and Ole Miss and then capture a bowl game, the Bulldogs would win 10 games in a season for only the third time in their history (1940 and 1999 are the other two). SEC preview: Arkansas at Mississippi State
Strange things happen in the Textile Bowl
In 1981 they renamed the annual Clemson-North Carolina State game the "Textile Bowl" because the two schools are home to a couple of the best textile schools in the world. Crazy stuff happens in this game. A year ago, for example, Clemson was on the way to an ACC championship. The Tigers had won seven straight in the rivalry. N.C. State was 5-5. Clemson was 9-1, ranked No. 7, and had already clinched the ACC Atlantic. N.C. State didn't just win, they dominated Clemson 37-13. "Nobody was more shocked than me," said N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien. Top 25 preview: NC State at Clemson
Isn't it about time for West Virginia to snap out of it?
Remember back in the summer when Oklahoma's trip to West Virginia was going to be a really big deal? Like a "Big 12 championship on the line" big deal? Oklahoma (7-2, 5-1 Big 12) is still in the running for a BCS at-large bowl if the Sooners can finish 10-2. West Virginia (5-4, 2-4) has lost four straight and given up 198 points since the Mountaineers' 5-0 start. That 48-45 win at Texas seems like it was 10 years ago. Dana Holgorsen's crew could really use another signature victory in their first season in the Big 12. Top 25 preview: Oklahoma at West Virginia
Ohio State (10-0 and going nowhere in postseason) goes to Wisconsin, which has already locked up a spot in the Big Ten championship game. Is this where the Buckeyes lose?
Watch the Tony Barhart Show on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on The CBS Sports Network.