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Sports

2012 College Football Rankings: Week 11 BCS, AP and USA Today Polls

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The college football universe revolves around only four teams right now: Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame. Each came into this weekend unbeaten, and each came out out the same exact way.

Alabama earned a huge 21-17 road victory over LSU on Saturday, cementing once and for all that the road to a National Title will go through them. Unlike Crimson Tide teams of years past, this squad features well-rounded attacks on both sides of the ball. With a championship game berth on the line and in a hostile environment, A.J. McCarron’s season-saving final drive may ultimately be remembered as the thing that defines Alabama’s 2012 campaign.

Right around the same time Nick Saban’s bunch was picking up their hard-fought victory in Baton Rouge, Chip Kelly and the Ducks were busy beating down a USC team that was admittedly the toughest foe they had faced all year. Even still, despite the fact that the Trojans challenged Oregon more than anyone else had this season, this game was never as close as the score made it seem. USC had no answer for Kelly’s offense, and they lacked the firepower to keep up on the other end. Kudos to Lane Kiffin and the gang for keep it close through the half, but it was apparent to everyone that they were fighting a losing battle. The Ducks ultimately prevailed on the road 62-51.

Kansas State had the easiest Saturday of any top-four unbeaten, picking up a 44-30 victory over Oklahoma State. That said, given how important quality of wins becomes at this stage of the game, there is a reasonable debate to be had about just how much the Wildcats really helped themselves. Collin Klein didn’t lose his Heisman frontrunner status, but he certainly didn’t do anything that jumped off the page on Saturday. When it was all said and done, he finished with 245 yards through the air (16-of-22), 64 yards on the ground (17 carries), and one rushing touchdown. Again, there is nothing wrong with those totals, and he’ll probably still win the Heisman, but it speaks more to the weakness of the field than Klein’s personal greatness.

Much like Alabama, Notre Dame came as close to losing their game as humanly possible before finally squeaking out a victory. Unlike Alabama, the Fighting Irish weren’t playing one of the best and most well-coached teams in the nation on the road. A win is a win is a win, but there is no denying that needing two overtimes to beat a four-loss squad at home doesn’t exactly scream “I’m worthy of National Title game berth” to anyone. Notre Dame can wash the bad taste out of people’s mouths with a big win over USC, however, for now, there is no way you can have this squad as anything other than fourth amongst the unbeaten top four.

A few other news and notes and from the weekend that was: Ohio State dismantled Illinois by 30 points, but Nebraska’s 28-24 victory Michigan State cemented the Huskers as the best BCS bowl-eligible team in the Big Ten. Barring a collapse versus Penn State (totally feasible), Bo Pelini and Co. should emerge as this conference’s non-Buckeye top dogs when it’s all said and done.

West Virginia lost a heartbreaker to TCU on Saturday, dropping them to three loses on the year and more or less guaranteeing that they will finish with at least five. Kansas State obviously runs the Big 12 this season, but Texas seems to be regaining its footing. After a pair of inexplicably awful showings against West Virginia and Oklahoma, the Longhorns picked up back-to-back road victories over Kansas and a very underrated Texas Tech squad. Texas has been really disappointing over the past month, but the season could still be salvaged with a shocking upset victory at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Dec. 1.

Oregon has its second and third toughest games of the year scheduled over the next three weeks. Neither Stanford nor Oregon State have offenses that can compete with the Ducks' offense, but both have shown certain propensities for dominating the flows of games. If for the first time this year Oregon is forced to play a different, slower pace – a loss is possible. Likely? No. But definitely possible.

One final note: last week we mentioned that USC very well could finish this season at the bottom of the top 25. That’s still totally plausible. The Trojans losing to both UCLA and Notre Dame is not out of the question. At that point, the team’s only saving grace as far as staying in the top 25 will be the caliber of their opponents. (Everyone besides Arizona is a top 25 team.) Even that might not save the Trojans, though.

With all that in mind, here is how the top 25 shakes out:

BCS

1. Alabama

2. Kansas State

3. Oregon

4. Notre Dame

5. Georgia

6. Florida

7. LSU

8. South Carolina

9. Louisville

10. Florida State

11. Oregon State

12. Oklahoma

13. Clemson

14. Stanford

15. Texas A&M

16. Nebraska

17. Texas

18. UCLA

19. USC

20. Louisiana Tech

21. Mississippi State

22. Texas Tech

23. Rutgers

24. Northwestern

25. Toledo

AP

1. Alabama

2. Oregon

3. Kansas State

4. Notre Dame

5. Ohio State

6. Georgia

7. Florida

8. Florida State

9. LSU

10. Clemson

11. Louisville

12. South Carolina

13. Oregon State

14. Oklahoma

15. Texas A&M

16. Stanford

17. UCLA

18. Nebraska

19. Texas

19. Louisiana Tech

21. USC         

22. Mississippi State

23. Toledo

24. Rutgers

25. Texas Tech

USA Today

1. Alabama

2. Oregon

3. Kansas State

4. Notre Dame

5. Georgia

6. Florida State

7. Florida

8. Clemson

9. LSU

10. Louisville

11. South Carolina

12. Oregon State

13. Oklahoma

14. Texas A&M

15. Stanford

16. Nebraska

17. Texas

18. Louisiana Tech

19. UCLA

20. Rutgers

21. Northwestern

22. USC

23. Mississippi State

24. Boise State

25. Toledo

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