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Senior College Football Columnist

Power Poll: BCS upheaval leaves seven alive for title game berth

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The Irish are No. 1 for the first time since 1993 and may make it into the title game. (US Presswire)  
The Irish are No. 1 for the first time since 1993 and may make it into the title game. (US Presswire)  

College football continues to make fools of us all ...

... including those who had the temerity to write off the conference you can't kill with a suitcase nuke.

After the biggest single day of BCS upheaval in five years, seven teams are still alive for a national championship berth. Isn't that what the commissioners have kept preaching, every week is a playoff?

Sort of, except those same commissioners weren't satisfied with this sort of two-team drama. If the playoff started today, the SEC likely would have three teams in the top four. True, a playoff doesn't start today and one of those teams (Alabama or Georgia) is guaranteed to lose. But aren't you beginning to see why SEC commissioner Mike Slive didn't want to limit the field to conference champs only?

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If certain results fall into place, the SEC would be all but assured of clinching -- by next week -- its seventh consecutive title. That's Mr. Dumb Sportswriter projecting results again, but in that scenario it would be an all-SEC final again. Unless the voters revolt.

As for those seven still alive, here is rundown of their chances heading into Week 13.

 Notre Dame needs only to beat USC. Remember last week when the national sense was that the Irish barely played competitive football? They're No. 1 for the first time since 1993 with a team that looks a lot like the SEC squads that have won the past six national championships.

Run and stop the run. Tell me what you're watching right now out of South Bend isn't similar to Bama in 2009 and 2011.

 Alabama needs to win the SEC to get in. Same for Georgia. Before that, Bama can't slip up against Auburn and Georgia can't lose to Georgia Tech.

 Florida has to beat Florida State. It can then get in if Notre Dame loses and either Georgia or Alabama (or both) lose. The Gators can still make it if Notre Dame wins and the Tide and Dawgs both lose. Basically, it would have to be Florida being one of two one-loss teams at the top.

Yes, the possibility of a Georgia-Florida rematch exists but would voters allow it? Even with a loss, ND could still remain in the top two if there is enough anti-rematch sentiment.

 Oregon makes it if it beats Oregon State and UCLA beats Stanford, allowing the Ducks to win the Pac-12 North. Notre Dame loses to USC. Alabama loses one of its final two games, same for Georgia. Oregon then beats UCLA in the Pac-12 title game. Just to make sure, Florida State loses one of its final two against Florida or in the ACC title game.

 Kansas State needs to beat Texas, then have Notre Dame, Florida and Florida State lose. An 11-1 Kansas State finishes ahead of an 11-1 Oregon, according to Jerry Palm.

 Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher called the BCS "retarded" last week. Now it may save his season. The Noles need to win out (against Florida and ACC title game) and hope for losses by Notre Dame and either Alabama or Georgia (or both). FSU would have already taken care of Florida in this scenario.

Palm says the Noles are the longest shot of the group because they are so low in the computers.

  

The Heisman race just became a whole lot more interesting. When and if Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel claims the Heisman, he can also claim beating No. 1 (Alabama) and No. 3 (in the FCS poll, Sam Houston State) in consecutive weeks.

Saturday's events also make it more likely a defensive player could win the award. Notre Dame is No. 1. Manti Te'o is Notre Dame's best player. Good jumping off point.

  

How great would Ohio State-Michigan be this week if the Buckeyes were bowl-eligible? Without the bowl ban, it would be possible for the Buckeyes and Wolverines to meet in back-to-back weeks.

Think of this: A bowl-eligible Ohio State is beaten by Michigan, which then wins the Legends Division when Nebraska loses to Iowa. The teams would then meet again a week later for the Big Ten title.

Someone has to pay for the outrage of the Ohio State administration not taking the bowl ban last year.

  

Also great: Notre Dame hasn't been No. 1 and Alabama No. 2 since 1967. We're talking two of the most traditional-rich programs in existence basically playing the same type of football. This is getting interesting.

Dodd's Power Poll
RankTeam (Previous)Comment
1Notre Dame (4)
Overall: 11-0
Conference: N/A
I've got your eye test right here, pal. There are no more excuses for what has turned out to the most consistent team of 2012. Even Knute Rockne woke up in heaven Sunday morning having to make sure it was true. ND is No. 1 for the first time in 19 years. How does this story not continue with the Irish beating USC? Final sign from above: Matt Barkley seemingly injured his throwing shoulder against UCLA.
2Ohio State (3)
Overall: 11-0
Conference: 7-0
The projected high on Jan. 7 in Columbus is around 37 degrees. The average high in South Florida on that day is about 76 degrees. Need I to say more?
3Texas A&M (5)
Overall: 9-2
Conference: 5-2
Aggies have beaten No. 4 in the Power Poll (Alabama). Their only two losses have come to No. 9 Florida and No. 10 LSU by a total of eight points. Consolation: Johnny Football wins the Heisman.
4Alabama (6)
Overall: 10-1
Conference: 6-1
Who knew playing Western Carolina in November was the quickest way to the national championship game? Auburn and Georgia are in the way of the Tide playing for a third title in four years.
5Stanford (14)
Overall: 9-2
Conference: 7-1
Stanford and UCLA could play twice in six days: Saturday, then six days later in the Pac-12 title game. We all saw that coming, right?
6Oregon (1t)
Overall: 10-1
Conference: 7-1
Weather, injuries and turnovers were too much for the Ducks. Saturday's 14 marked the lowest point total since the LeGarrette Blount punch game to kick off 2009. Now get your bills up, Duckies. You're not out of it.
7Kansas State (1t)
Overall: 10-1
Conference: 7-1
Wildcats had six turnovers total coming into Saturday. Collin Klein alone committed half that total with three interceptions. Don't take this the wrong way because the same is true of Oregon: I sense K-State has tired -- not only physically -- of carrying the burden of going unbeaten.
8Georgia (7)
Overall: 10-1
Conference: 7-1
One of three teams to control its fate in the BCS. Win out and the Bulldogs will be playing for national championship. Mark Richt critics are in hibernation.
9Florida (8)
Overall: 10-1
Conference: 7-1
Owners of arguably the "best" loss of the contenders. No shame in losing to Georgia in the Cocktail Party, especially since they could settle things in a BCS title game rematch.
10LSU (9)
Overall: 9-2
Conference: 5-2
"Just so you know I'm proud of those men. How [bleeping] easy would it have been to say, 'This wasn't our night.' " Les, we love ya.
11Florida State (10)
Overall: 10-1
Conference: 7-1
How "retarded" is the BCS now, Jimbo? You're back in it.
12Clemson (11)
Overall: 10-1
Conference: 7-1
How is Tajh Boyd not on every Heisman list? If nothing else, remember the junior in 2013. The Tigers quarterback accounted for eight touchdowns against Maryland. Had Collin Klein done that, K-State would have beaten Baylor by four.
13Oregon State (19)
Overall: 8-2
Conference: 6-2
The Civil War has to be one of the more intriguing point spreads of the week. One team is coming off a devastating loss. The other is at home having gotten its starting quarterback back from injury. Sean Mannion threw for 325 yards against Cal.
14UCLA (15)
Overall: 9-2
Conference: 6-2
"I see the future. I see the potential." That was USC AD Pat Haden commenting on Lane Kiffin's job security, not UCLA AD Dan Guerrero commenting on Jim Mora Jr. Guerrero doesn't have to say it. His program may have just reclaimed LA.
15Oklahoma (12)
Overall: 8-2
Conference: 6-2
Only in the Big 12 does the winning team give up 572 all-purpose yards to one player, 49 points to the opponent and win. A snapshot of the Sooners day at West Virginia.
16South Carolina (13)
Overall: 9-2
Conference: 6-2
The clock begins ticking on the battle for South Carolina. Gamecocks made their statement by handling Wofford.
17Nebraska (16)
Overall: 9-2
Conference: 6-1
Yes, that was retiring Tom Osborne leading the Huskers out of the tunnel. How does Minnesota beat that? It doesn't, losing 38-14.
18Louisville (17)
Overall: 9-1
Conference: 4-1
Bye before Big East finish against UConn and Rutgers.
19Texas (20)
Overall: 8-2
Conference: 5-2
Four in a row since the Oklahoma debacle. TCU takes the place of Texas A&M this week on Thanksgiving.
20Rutgers (18)
Overall: 9-1
Conference: 5-0
Who knew the Scarlet Knights were the key to Big Ten expansion plans? Shocking news overshadowed workmanlike 10-3 win over Cincinnati.
21Kent State (21)
Overall: 10-1
Conference: 7-0
Most wins in school history (10). Complete turnaround in coach Darrell Hazell's second season. A berth in MAC title game. Heisman buzz for Dri Archer? Three out of four ain't bad.
22Northern Illinois (NR)
Overall: 10-1
Conference: 7-0
Jordan Lynch threw three touchdowns Wednesday night against Toledo to sew up the MAC West. Coach Dave Doeren currently entertaining offers.
23Boise State (22)
Overall: 9-2
Conference: 6-1
Broncos still involved in three-way tie in Mountain West after trouncing Colorado State.
24Utah State (NR)
Overall: 9-2
Conference: 5-0
After Notre Dame, Aggies (9-2) might be the most surprising team of 2012. Utah State's overtime win at Louisiana Tech clinched at least a tie for the WAC title, a conference that will cease to exist in a couple of weeks.
25Fresno State (24)
Overall: 8-3
Conference: 6-1
Bye before finishing against Air Force. In his first season at Fresno, Tim DeRuyter could lead Bulldogs to first 10-win season since 2001 and only second since 1991.


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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