Our top three
1. Alabama: Got to hand it to Nick Saban. He never misses a beat. Just hours after whipping LSU, he was harping on his guys to avoid the “relief syndrome” — that “whew, we got by that game” and now it’s all downhill mindset. He said he wants to see more aggression and more all-out attacking both lines of scrimmage.
2. Florida State: CB Lamarcus Joyner and mates are tied for the NCAA lead with 18 interceptions and on pace to set the school’s single-season record. They’re also No. 4 in turnover margin and scoring defense, and their 40-point average margin of victory is No. 2 to Baylor’s 46.0.
3. Baylor: The Bears have a 36.9 percent chance of running the table and a 22.7 percent chance of playing for the national championship, according to the computer whizzes at PredictionMachine.com. Only Bama (65.2) and FSU (65.6) have better BCS title-game shots.
Title game: Alabama vs. Florida State. If they both win out, it’s over for everyone else.
Rose: Ohio State vs. Stanford. Pretty darn good undercard to the BCS finale.
Orange: Oregon vs. Clemson. With the top at-large pick, Orange tabs the crowd-please Ducks.
Sugar: Auburn vs. Central Florida. The Knights get in because the AAC is still guaranteed a bid.
Fiesta: Baylor vs. Fresno State. Why Fresno? They’re this year’s BCS buster, and the Fiesta picks last.
If Texas finishes 9-3 and doesn’t win the Big 12, it will be in line for a Cotton Bowl bid. And the Cotton certainly would eye Texas A&M from the SEC. It will be interesting to see whether the Longhorns flex their considerable political muscle to duck Johnny Manziel and the Aggies at all costs.
Auburn: Can’t say enough good things about the Tigers, whose rebound from 3-9 (winless in the SEC) to 9-1 and 5-1 in the SEC is the biggest turnaround in the country. This team is third in NCAA rushing (320 yards per game) and has thrown just 16 passes combined in its last two games.
Oklahoma State: That Big 12-opening loss at West Virginia seems like a distant memory for this 8-1 team. From 2010-13, the Cowboys are 17-2 when playing in Texas or against Texas schools. From 2009-13, they are 15-3 vs. Texas schools and 9-1 in Big 12 road games in the Lone Star state.
Tennessee: The Vols (4-6, 1-5 SEC) are plummeting toward a losing record for the fourth consecutive season, which hasn’t happened since 1903-06. And to think this program went 156-40 from 1989-2004.
Cal/Colorado: The Pac-12’s “C” schools are a combined 0-13 in conference play and 4-15 overall. But here’s the good part: They hook up Saturday in Boulder.
Myles Jack (UCLA LB/RB): Two-way players are virtually extinct. But the Bruins decided to let their freshman linebacker also start playing some tailback. Jack had a smashing debut — 120 yards rushing on six carries, including a 66-yard TD, along with eight tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He prefers defense. “I like to hit people, rather than be hit,” Jack said. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said of the former four-star recruit from Bellevue, Wash.: “He’ll be a first-round pick as a linebacker. We tried to recruit him as a running back. We sure couldn’t tackle him.”
12-Oklahoma State at 24-Texas: Two evenly matched teams rolling behind reclamation projects at quarterback, backup runners and improving defenses. The winner emerges as the top threat to Baylor in the Big 12.
25-Georgia at 7-Auburn: The Dawgs try to stay alive in the SEC East; the Tigers will play Alabama for the SEC West title if they win. Georgia recruited slick Auburn QB Nick Marshall as a DB. Texas fans have heard that one.
4-Stanford at USC: Tough spot for the Cardinal, off that big win over Oregon. The Trojans look like a new team without Lane Kiffin, winning three in a row by a 112-45 margin, and are a Pac-12 South contender.
16-Michigan State at Nebraska: Ameer Abdullah is having one of the greatest seasons by a Cornhuskers runner. He’s averaging 135 yards and 6.6 per pop. But he runs into the Spartans’ No. 1 rushing defense (43.4 yards).
Extra points …
- Boston College’s Andre Williams is the new national rushing leader with 1,471 yards, ahead of Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews (1,407). Williams, a senior, had never run for more than 584 yards before this season.
- There are 58 bowl-eligible teams for 70 available spots. A dozen more teams could make the jump this weekend.
- Michigan has had negative rushing yardage two weeks in a row. Bo Schembechler must be turning over in his grave.
- Anybody squawking about injuries should check with Florida. The Gators have lost 10 starters for the season.