Oregon and Florida State have never played on the gridiron, but the two teams find themselves in quite a compelling matchup every Sunday night when the latest BCS standings are revealed.
A week after the Seminoles appeared at No. 2 in the initial BCS standings, the Ducks have supplanted them for the second spot this week. While defending national champ Alabama quietly hums along atop the standings, the race for No. 2 has provided the drama and will continue to do so as long as the Ducks and Seminoles keep winning.
Oregon's move to No. 2 confirms the old BCS adage: It's not how you play but whom you play. Florida State was more dominant in victory on Saturday, and dynamic freshman quarterback Jameis Winston might have jumped ahead of his Oregon counterpart, Marcus Mariota, in the Heisman race. But the Seminoles' middling opponent, NC State, didn't help their cause, while Oregon received an expected lift from beating then-No. 12 UCLA despite being tied at halftime and leading by just seven entering the fourth quarter. Oregon came in first or second in three of the computer systems, vaulting from fourth to second in computer average. After the Ducks held steady at No. 2 in the human polls, they easily leapfrogged the Noles.
Oregon had little reason to worry after the initial standings, knowing its next two matchups came against UCLA and Stanford. Florida State also shouldn't be fazed by Sunday's mini-setback, as it hosts fellow unbeaten and No. 7 Miami on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium. A victory could vault Florida State back ahead of Oregon, which won't play this week. But if Oregon records a road win against No. 5 Stanford on Nov. 7, it should once again occupy the No. 2 spot (as long as Alabama doesn't stumble).
Bottom line: Expect the flip-flopping to continue, and the race for No. 2 likely will go all the way to championship weekend. Florida State could rematch with Miami in the ACC title game, while Oregon could see several teams -- UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona -- in the Pac-12 championship.
Alabama, meanwhile, might be the SEC's only realistic hope of continuing its staggering run of national titles. Missouri's overtime loss to South Carolina leaves Alabama as the lone SEC unbeaten. A late-season loss might keep the Tide from the big one in Pasadena, Calif., but the SEC's credibility continues to resonate in the BCS standings, as six of the top 14 teams are from the league.
While Oregon and Florida State jockey for the second spot, Ohio State and Baylor remain outside the immediate title picture. Both teams won big Saturday, but both continue to be hurt by their weak leagues and woeful nonconference schedules. Ohio State holds steady at No. 4 after extending its win streak to 20 games, and while Baylor moves up two spots to No. 6, the Bears remain behind a one-loss team in No. 5 Stanford. Miami remains at No. 7 after barely beating middling Wake Forest at home, but Al Golden's crew has a chance to validate itself as a title contender on Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla.
There's no change in the battle of BCS busters, as both No. 16 Fresno State and No. 17 Northern Illinois move up a spot after Fresno State outlasted San Diego State in overtime. Fresno State continues to hold the edge in the human polls, while the computers are higher on Northern Illinois.
No. 23 Central Florida mysteriously remains behind No. 19 Louisville in the BCS standings despite beating the Cardinals on the road. The Big Ten fills three of the final five spots of the standings, as an underrated Wisconsin team finally appears at No. 24.
Right now, it's Alabama and Oregon playing for the crystal football, but the coming weeks could bring more changes with games like Florida State-Miami, Oregon-Stanford and Alabama-LSU.
The Florida State-Oregon matchup for No. 2 in the standings marches on, fueled by perception and polls.
Who knows? Maybe the two teams will finally meet on the field on Jan. 7 in Pasadena.