It seems like the last month or so has been all about the top few teams surviving while generally looking like crap, but that changed in a big way Saturday (Iowa not included).
Florida destroyed a solid Georgia team in Jacksonville while Texas absolutely obliterated 14th-ranked Oklahoma State, removing the last serious regular-season roadblocks for those two teams. Given the rest of the Longhorns' schedule, only a shocking, what-the-hell-just-happened upset could keep Texas from playing in the national title game. Florida has a similarly smooth path until the SEC championship game, and while Alabama has a fairly challenging stretch ahead -- LSU at home on Saturday and the Iron Bowl on November 27 -- it appears that the only way we won't see Texas against the SEC winner is if Alabama loses to Auburn and then beats Florida (keep in mind that if LSU beats 'Bama on Saturday, the Tigers would likely win the SEC West and earn the opportunity to lose to Florida for the second time this season).
Basically, unless Alabama gets schizophrenic, the remainder of the unbeatens -- some collection of Iowa, Cincinnati, TCU and Boise State -- will be left scrambling to find President Obama's phone number in hopes of putting together and implementing a playoff system in a span of about three weeks.
The other team that'll be on the outside looking in is Oregon, which is somewhat unfortunate. As much as I hyped up the Ducks going into the USC game, they dominated even more thoroughly than I anticipated (613 yards?!?). It's hard to find anyone who's playing better right now ... but it's also hard to forget that they were pretty thoroughly manhandled just two months ago by Boise State. I end up getting my brain stuck trying to figure out this transitive mess: I think Oregon is a little bit better than Cincinnati, but I think Cincinnati is just slightly better than Boise and I think Boise is just slightly better than Oregon. So ... yeah. Follow the staircase:
I've seen a couple people/publications mention that even an undefeated Boise State team will likely get left out of the BCS in favor of Notre Dame or USC, and if that happens, the offending bowl game might as well just rename itself the We Want The Most Money Bowl. I do NOT want to see a solid but uninspiring two-loss team in the BCS while an unbeaten team with a legitimate argument for national title consideration plays in the Liberty Bowl or whatever.
The argument we'll hear from Colin Cowherd and his douchebag equivalents is "nobody wants to watch Boise-Cincinnati because I'm a casual fan and I don't know their players and they can't be good because their names aren't USC," but that's all horseshit. I would fucking schedule my day around Boise-Cincinnati because those are two of the six or seven best teams in the country this year, and what I want to see -- as a college football fan -- are the best teams playing each other, preferably with a lot on the line. I will shed a tear if the Fiesta Bowl picks Oklahoma State or the Sugar Bowl picks USC, leaving Boise to beat up on some second-tier team in a game that will give us no indication as to just how good the Broncos really are. If there's ever a year to eschew tradition in favor of quality, this is it.
Anyway, this week's top 10 (as always, these rankings are based on which teams I think are the best right now, not necessarily how I think they'll finish):
Yes, I know Iowa is undefeated, but I've watched the Hawkeyes get outplayed this year by Northern Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana, and there's no way I'd pick them to beat LSU or USC. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they lost to Northwestern this week, and it's not a good sign when you're basically on par with the middle of the Big Ten. Could they finish 12-0? Sure, especially if Terrelle Pryor plays like Terrelle Pryor in two weeks. But even with a strong defense and a ridiculous wave of luck that hasn't been seen since Ohio State ran the table in 2002, there's no way Iowa's offense (Ricky Stanzi! Brandon Wegher!) could keep up with anyone in the top five.