Starting 11: Lock in FSU for BCS title

The two most impressive performances of the college football season are Florida State’s first half at Clemson and Stanford’s first half against Oregon.

Stanford’s domination of Oregon killed Marcus Mariota’s Heisman chances and essentially ended the Pac-12’s hopes of playing for a national title in Pasadena this fall.

Go ahead and pencil in Ohio State and Stanford for the Rose Bowl.

It will be an entertaining game — although I think Stanford (or Oregon) will win by 10 or more — but both fan bases will be in Pasadena a week earlier than they’d hoped to be there.

What else did we learn this week? Let’s dive into the Starting 11.

1. Having dispatched LSU with a masterful second half, Alabama’s schedule now has two landmines left

The Tide play at Auburn and then are likely to draw either Missouri or South Carolina, both of whom are presently in the BCS top 10, in the SEC title game.

No other undefeated BCS team has a single top-10 game remaining on its schedule.

Alabama has two.

2. Florida State will be in the BCS title game

Go ahead and pencil in the Seminoles.

Florida State will be a 20-point or more favorite in every game remaining on its schedule, including the ACC title game.

Put simply: There’s no way FSU loses to Syracuse, Idaho, Florida or whichever team advances to the ACC title game.

Period.

3. Baylor will pass Ohio State in the BCS standings if both keep winning

It probably won’t matter since I don’t believe either Alabama or FSU will lose, but if either team does lose, Baylor will be the next team up. I told you this a month ago, and it’s even more true now. 

Baylor still has Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas left on the schedule. Two of those teams are presently ranked in the BCS top 25.

Ohio State has no teams presently ranked in the BCS top 25 left on its schedule. (The Buckeyes may draw Michigan State in the Big Ten title game, but given the fact that every Big Ten team keeps losing, I expect the Spartans to lose as well).

If you’re a Buckeye fan who wants his team to play for the title, you still need two teams to lose, not just one.

4. Auburn attempted just seven passes in its destruction of Tennessee

Only three of those passes were completed, and the majority of those pass attempts came early in the first quarter.

Generally, the goal of a defense is to make an offense one-dimensional. So what does it say about how bad Tennessee is right now that even without having to play the pass, Auburn was still capable of putting up 444 rushing yards?

Auburn ran the ball 53 times and averaged 8.4 yards a carry — 8.4!

Gus Malzahn’s team is playing better each week.

The craziest stat of all? Malzahn is 5-1 in the SEC this year. The other three first-year SEC coaches are a combined 1-16.  

5. Would Nick Saban go to Texas?

It was one of the primary topics of the last week. Here’s our roundtable discussion on FOX College Saturday.

6. Vanderbilt won at Florida for the first time since 1945

The Commodores now have a very good shot at finishing 8-4 for a second straight season.

Vandy should beat Kentucky and Wake Forest at home. So the only question is, can the Dores go on the road and beat Tennessee, knocking the Vols from bowl contention, on Nov. 23?

Which raises this even more interesting question: As sweet as a second straight win over the Vols would be for Commodore fans, would USC come after Franklin super aggressively if he wins eight games for two years in a row at Vandy?

Is it paradoxically better for Vandy’s football future for Vandy to lose at Tennessee?

You know you’ve entered a crazy football universe when a second straight win over UT might be too much good news for Vandy football.

7. David Cutcliffe’s Duke team, presently 7-2, could win 10 games this year

Think about how crazy that is.

Duke hosts rapidly falling Miami this weekend and then plays on the road at Wake Forest and North Carolina to finish the season.

Given that Georgia Tech is at Clemson this weekend, if Duke beats Miami then the Blue Devils would be in sole possession of first place in the Coastal Division with two ACC games remaining.

Could Duke really play Florida State in the ACC title game? Yes, that could really happen.

If it did, how competitive is national coach of the year going to be? Mizzou’s Gary Pinkel, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Duke’s David Cutcliffe and Baylor’s Art Briles have to be everyone’s top four.

But which one of these four coaches do you pick?

Given the historical nature of a 10-win season at Duke, I think I’d go Cutcliffe.

8. Since Jen Bielema Tweeted #karma in the wake of Wisconsin’s loss to Arizona State, the Razorbacks are 0-7

They’ve been outscored in these seven straight losses 276-115. The Razorbacks have also lost every SEC game by double digits.

Now Arkansas has two weeks left to prepare for the saddest game in the SEC this year, against Mississippi State in Little Rock.

9. Johnny Manziel has to be the Heisman winner this year

He’s performed better in every passing category this season, and the Aggies’ two losses have been to top-10 teams by a combined 11 points.

What’s more, the offense scored 42 points against Alabama and 41 points against Auburn.

Alabama and Auburn are 18-1 on the season.

How can you blame the defense’s awfulness on Manziel?

Putting that Alabama performance into context, the Aggies scored 42 points on the Tide. The other eight Alabama opponents have combined to score 53 this year.

Manziel’s performance against Bama is looking even more legendary each week.

I’ll write later in the week about Manziel versus Jameis Winston, but it’s really not that close of a contest when you dive into the numbers.

In fact, put it this way: If you gave Manziel the FSU defense, does anyone doubt that the Aggies would be undefeated this year?

10. My national top 10 rankings

1. Alabama

2. Florida State

3. Baylor

4. Stanford

5. Ohio State

6. Oregon

7. Mizzou

8. Auburn

9. South Carolina

10. Texas A&M

11. My SEC power rankings

Every result makes reasonable sense at this point except for South Carolina’s loss at Tennessee, which is now the most inexplicable result of the 2013 SEC season. How in the world did South Carolina lose that game?

The second biggest upset of the season was Auburn losing at LSU, but that game happened in September. If the two teams played next week, I think Auburn would win.

1. Alabama

2. Mizzou

3. Auburn

4. South Carolina

5. Texas A&M

6. Georgia

7. Ole Miss

8. LSU

9. Vanderbilt

10. Florida

11. Tennessee

12. Mississippi State

13. Kentucky

14. Arkansas