Our top three
1. Alabama: The meticulous Tide has an average of 1.06 turnovers per game during the past five years, the best mark in the country. Ohio State is second with 1.22 turnovers per game.
2. Florida State: The Seminoles appear flawless on the field, but the sexual-assault investigation involving Jameis Winston could heat up if reports are true that the victim was pressured not to cooperate with police.
3. Baylor: What depth. When RB Lache Seastrunk goes down, Shock Linwood steps up. When WR Tevin Reese is sidelined, Levi Norwood makes a splash. Only QB Bryce Petty is indispensable to this machine.
Michigan State: Mark Dantonio is one of the most-underrated coaches in the country, and his defense might be No. 2 to Alabama. For the fourth time since 2008, the Spartans (9-1, 6-0) will be in the Big Ten race on the last day of the regular season.
Cincinnati: Quietly, very quietly, Tommy Tuberville has the Bearcats (8-2, 5-1) on a five-game win streak and in contention for the American Athletic Conference’s BCS bid.
Utah: The natives are getting restless in Salt Lake City, where the Utes (4-6, 1-6) are 8-17 in conference play since joining the Pac-12. “This raises the question of whether Utah will ever do better in its ritzy new conference,” wrote Brad Rock of the Desert News.
Armed Forces: Sadly, the three service academies have a combined 11-19 record. Only Navy (6-4) has held it together. Army (3-7) and Air Force (2-8) have succumbed to the many drawbacks of recruiting at these vital institutions.
Andre Williams (RB, Boston College): The 6-foot, 227-pound senior must really want this NCAA rushing title badly. In the past two weeks, the former three-star recruit from Allentown, Pa., has run for 295 and 339 yards. Williams has churned for 1,810 yards on the season, a 6.3-yard average, and has nearly a 400-yard lead on the nearest competition.
4-Baylor at 10-Oklahoma State: How powerful are the Bears? They’ve lost 23 games in a row on the road to ranked teams, haven’t won in Stillwater since 1939 … and they’re still 8½-point favorites here.
8-Missouri at 24-Ole Miss: QB James Franklin (shoulder) returns to the Tigers after missing four games, a big help for a team that needs to win to keep alive its SEC East title hopes. The Rebels have caught fire, winning four straight.
12-Texas A&M at 22-LSU: The biggest thing at stake here is Johnny Manziel’s defense of his Heisman Trophy. And the Aggies’ defense is poor enough that it may sink those hopes if the Tigers torch A&M for 42 points and a victory.
17-Arizona State at 14-UCLA: The Sun Devils have won five straight for the first time since 2007. The Bruins have whipped everyone but Oregon and Stanford and are very much alive in the Pac-12 South.
19-Wisconsin at 25-Minnesota: During a five-game win streak, the Badgers have outscored opponents 197-67. The Golden Gophers, with a roster of two- and three-star recruits, are one of the biggest surprises in the sport.
League title games
Even this late in the season, only Florida State has clinched a spot in a conference championship game. If the season ended today, here’s the title-game lineup for Dec. 7:
SEC: Missouri (9-1, 5-1) vs. Alabama (10-0, 7-0)
Pac-12: Oregon (9-1, 6-1) vs. Arizona State (8-2, 6-1)
Big Ten: Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) vs. Michigan State (9-1, 6-0)
ACC: Florida State (10-0, 8-0) vs. Duke (8-2, 4-2)
Mountain West: Fresno State (9-0, 6-0) vs. Boise State (7-3, 5-1)
Conference USA: East Carolina (8-2, 6-1) vs. North Texas (7-3, 5-1)
Coach Boom’s rant: The almost-weekly update on Will Muschamp’s tempestuous time in Gainesville has the Florida coach smashing his hand on a chalkboard and once again railing on Gator fans and media during a 4-6, injury-battered season.
“It’s not excuses, it’s real,” the former Texas coach-in-waiting told reporters. “Write whatever the hell you want, though. And our fans? Some of them need to get a grip, they really do.”
Extra points …
Vanderbilt (6-4, 3-4) seeks its first two-game win string over Tennessee (4-6, 1-5) since the 1920s. The Commodores are 8-7 in SEC games for 2012-13; the Vols are 2-12.
Ohio State’s 192 first-quarter points lead the nation (Baylor has 188) and are more than 12 FBS teams have scored all year.
Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch has 10 career games of 200-plus passing yards and 100-plus rushing yards.