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2012 College Football Rankings: Week 10 BCS, AP and USA Today Polls

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Is Florida for real? Can Notre Dame continue to compensate for its questionable offense with a stellar defense? Would Kansas State be able to put up points on a Texas Tech team that just a few weeks ago showed the world how easy it could be to stop West Virginia? Those were the three big questions everyone had coming into this weekend, and fans got answers to all three over the course what was probably the most action-packed Saturday of football we’ve had thus far.

One week earlier, Florida officially closed the door on any title hopes South Carolina may have had by getting the visiting team out of their element early. By forcing turnovers and capitalizing on the Gamecocks’ mistakes, Will Muschamp’s boys were able to grab control of the outing and never actually relinquish that control. This week, against a Georgia team that is generally pretty susceptible to choking in big games, the script was flipped. Florida turned the ball over (Jeff Driskel finished with two picks); Georgia, behind a strong showing from potential No. 1 overall pick Jarvis Jones, merely capitalized on the opposition’s woes and prayed that Aaron Murray (three picks) wouldn’t give the ball game away. 

Meanwhile, down in Norman, Notre Dame silenced any and all critics (read: us) that still existed with a dominant victory over Oklahoma. Coming into this weekend, The Fighting Irish had two games on their agenda that could have theoretically tripped them up: this one and Nov. 24’s showdown against USC.  Everyone acknowledged that Notre Dame had the defense to compete with both squads, however, the team’s at times inept offense left some with lingering doubts. After a 30-13 dismantling of the Sooners, it’s probably safe to say that those doubts have been erased.

Notre Dame won this one the same way they have won all their games up to this point – a strong defensive showing (Landry Jones threw one pick; Oklahoma rushed for a total of 15 yards), a good running game (215 yards, three touchdowns) and a minimal amount of mistakes in the passing game (zero picks). The formula works and this team is legit. Moreover, there is going to be a very reasonable case to made come season’s end (presuming they win out, of course) that the Fighting Irish’s claim to a title game is more impressive than the teams currently sitting at Nos. 2 and 3 in the AP and USA Today rankings. (Notre Dame is No. 3 in the BCS, though.)

The third big game that everyone had their eye on this week was Kansas State versus Texas Tech. Nobody really believed that the Red Raiders were better, obviously, but they had shown a certain propensity for shutting down potent offenses in the past. Then again, they had never faced an offense quite like the one that the Wildcats bring to the table. Collin Klein cemented his Heisman frontrunner status (233 passing yards and two passing touchdowns, plus 83 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns); John Hubert put together a 4.6-yard per carry day; Chris Harper racked up 99 receiving yards. This one wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate – it was a massacre from the second quarter onward.

So long as Alabama doesn’t falter against LSU this weekend, they will be one of the two teams playing for a National Title this year. The question now is: who is the other one going to be? Oregon beat Colorado by 56 points this week, but their ridiculous margins of victory don’t make up for their unimpressive résumé. The Ducks have one solid win against Arizona, and one solid win against Washington. Nothing that jumps off the page, though. And with USC’s latest flub versus Rich Rod and Co, that game is now a lot less consequential. If Kansas State and Notre Dame win out, it is unlikely that victories over Oregon State (lost to Washington this week) and Stanford will earn Oregon a shot at the championship. As far as Notre Dame and Kansas State – it’s impossible to say who deserves the nod more right now. What is clear right now, however, is that the Wildcats have an easier schedule going forward so long as Texas doesn’t magically learn how to play legitimate defense over the next three weeks. 

A few other thoughts on the weekend that was:

Lane Kiffin is an embarrassment. After all of the hype and all of the big talk, USC may end up the fifth best team in the Pac-12 this year. Wins against Oregon and/or Notre Dame won’t redeem this bunch, they will just mildly dull the pain that will exist regardless.

There are obviously no guarantees with this Nebraska squad, but it sure does look like the Huskers are now the favorites to finish atop the Legends Division. Michigan State is a mess this year and shouldn’t pose much of a problem, but Penn State has a lot of heart. They could play spoiler in two weeks. (Presuming their spirit wasn’t entirely crushed this weekend.)

Florida got all the press this on Saturday for falling out of the National Title race, but Georgia deserves a nod for essentially locking up SEC East. Barring a totally inexplicable collapse, this squad should win out the rest of the way earn a slot in the conference title game.

Finally, here is something to watch for over the next month: three of USC’s next four opponents are Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame. It is not inconceivable that the Trojans could lose all three games and fall to the bottom of the top 25.

With all that in mind, here is how this week’s rankings look:

BCS

1. Alabama

2. Kansas State

3. Notre Dame

4. Oregon

5. LSU

6. Georgia

7. Florida

8. South Carolina

9. Florida State

10. Louisville

11. Oregon State

12. Oklahoma

13. Clemson

14. Stanford

15. Mississippi State

16. Texas A&M

17. USC

18. Texas Tech

19. Boise State

20. Nebraska

21. West Virginia

22. Arizona

23. Texas

24. Oklahoma State

25. Louisiana Tech

AP

1. Alabama

2. Oregon

3. Kansas State

4. Notre Dame

5. LSU

6. Ohio State

7. Georgia

8. Florida

9. Florida State

10. Clemson

11. South Carolina

12. Louisville

13. Oregon State

14. Oklahoma

15. Stanford

16. Texas A&M

17. Mississippi State

18. USC

19. Boise State

20. Texas Tech

21. Nebraska

22. Louisiana Tech

23. West Virginia

24. Arizona

25. UCLA

USA Today

1. Alabama

2. Oregon

3. Kansas State

4. Notre Dame

5. LSU

6. Georgia

7. Florida State

8. Florida

9. Clemson

10. Louisville

11. South Carolina

12. Oklahoma

13. Oregon State

14. Boise State

15. Stanford

16. Texas A&M

17. USC

18. Mississippi State

19. West Virginia

20. Texas Tech

21. Nebraska

22. Texas

23. Louisiana Tech

24. Oklahoma State

25. Rutgers

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