Originally Published: November 3, 2013

Do they really want Bama?

By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- If the college football season ended today, it could be argued that No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Florida State are the most deserving teams to play in the Jan. 6 VIZIO BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl based on their overall bodies of work at this point in the season.

So we're going to leave out No. 1 Alabama, the two-time defending BCS national champion?

If college football ever needed a four-team playoff to determine its national champion, it's this season, a year before the new format actually goes into effect.

Last week, I watched the Ducks score 28 consecutive points in the second half of a 42-14 win over then-No. 12 UCLA, and I left Autzen Stadium convinced they were better than Florida State.

On Saturday night, I watched Florida State throttle a top-10 team for the second time this season, handing No. 7 Miami its first loss of the season with a 41-14 victory at Doak Campbell Stadium. On Oct. 19, the Seminoles blasted then-No. 3 Clemson 51-14 at Death Valley, which was perhaps the most impressive performance by any team this season.

Jameis Winston
Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/MCTThough Jameis Winston threw two interceptions vs. Miami, the Seminoles' signal-caller was 21-of-29 for 325 yards and a touchdown.

Alabama was the country's most dominant team in each of the previous two seasons, but the past two seasons aren't supposed to matter this year. And at this point, it's hard to say that Alabama is clearly the best team in 2013. Alabama has been tested only once, beating then-No. 6 Texas A&M 49-42 on the road on Sept. 14. The Crimson Tide were shredded for a school-record 628 yards in that game and have played only one ranked opponent (No. 21 Ole Miss) since.

Of course, Alabama has been crushing its opponents, allowing only 26 points in its six games since playing the Aggies. The Tide still seem to be the standard for everyone else, including the Seminoles, at least until someone beats them.

As FSU put the finishing touches on its convincing victory over the Hurricanes, its fans chanted, "We want Bama! We want Bama!" Even FSU coach Jimbo Fisher suggested he voted Alabama No. 1 on his ballot in the coaches' poll last week. But his Seminoles aren't far behind.

"Is that what they were chanting?" Fisher said. "Let's take care of Wake Forest next week. If the time comes, it will come."

The Seminoles will be heavy favorites in their final four regular-season games: Wake Forest (road), Syracuse (home), Idaho (home) and Florida (road). They might meet Miami again in the ACC championship game on Dec. 7.

But unless Alabama or Oregon loses between now and then, FSU isn't guaranteed a spot in the title game, even if it finishes undefeated.

While the Seminoles won't face another ranked opponent in the regular season (each of their four remaining foes doesn't even have a winning record), Alabama is expected to face at least two more ranked opponents, including next week's home game against No. 13 LSU and the Nov. 30 Iron Bowl at No. 11 Auburn. The Tide might also face No. 9 Missouri in the SEC championship game on Dec. 7 if they make it through the final push unscathed.

Oregon has already defeated two ranked teams (then-No. 16 Washington and UCLA) and plays at No. 5 Stanford on Thursday night.

"I don't worry about it right now," Fisher said. "I'm just going to keep playing ball and take care of business."

But Florida State nose tackle Timmy Jernigan said the Seminoles want nothing more than a chance to play Alabama.

"We do," Jernigan said, when asked about the FSU fans' chant. "I feel like we can play with anybody in the country. We're just trying to get to Pasadena by any means necessary. We just want to get out there. Whoever is out there with us is who we'll play."

FSU cornerback Lamarcus Joyner said it's too early to start thinking about the Tide.

"I think it's cute," Joyner said of the FSU fans' chant. "At the end of the day, the crowd isn't playing Alabama. We have to continue to do what we're doing to be blessed with a chance to play that powerhouse."

Michigan State would be worthy test for OSU

By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The debate about Ohio State hasn't been where the Buckeyes will spend their postseason, but when.

For months, Ohio State has been pegged for Pasadena, Calif. Its dominant performances in recent weeks, combined with what seems to be a weak league, only validate the belief. The only drama is whether Urban Meyer's crew will be there Jan. 1 for the 100th Rose Bowl Game or Jan. 6 for a game with greater significance, the BCS national championship.

Devin Gardner, Denzel Drone, Marcus Rush
Mike Carter/USA TODAY SportsAgainst Michigan, Michigan State's defense proved it can be disruptive enough to test Ohio State should they meet.

The Buckeyes' path to Pasadena, with Wisconsin in the rear-view mirror, has seemed as wide and unobstructed as a tarmac in the dead of night. A Big Ten title was a formality.

But there is something standing in Ohio State's way. A big, green wall -- a green monster, if you will.

Michigan State is on a collision course with Ohio State and likely will face the Buckeyes on Dec. 7 at the Big Ten championship game. And as Michigan found out Saturday afternoon, colliding with the Spartans and their defense isn't pretty.

Ohio State might be the Big Ten's best team, but the league's best unit belongs to Michigan State, which smashed Michigan 29-6 at Spartan Stadium.

"That's a complete game for us," MSU senior linebacker Max Bullough said.

"A dominant day by our defense," coach Mark Dantonio added.

Complete is holding Michigan to the lowest net rushing total (minus-48) in team history. Dominant is holding Michigan to its lowest points total in the series since a 34-0 shutout in 1967. Complete is recording seven sacks, 11 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and an interception. Dominant is allowing 2.8 yards per play, 12 first downs and 168 total yards.

Michigan came into the game averaging 6.4 yards per play, 19.8 first downs and 446.4 yards, not to mention 42.4 points.

"You never think you're going to be that good," coordinator Pat Narduzzi said.

Michigan talked during the week about being bullied in its last trip here, when Michigan State racked up six personal fouls in a 28-14 victory. The Spartans were much more composed Saturday, committing only one personal foul, on special teams in the closing seconds.

But they pushed around Michigan all afternoon.

To read Adam Rittenberg's full story, click here.

Miami could see Florida State again this season

By Andrea Adelson | ESPN.com

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Miami tried to keep up with Florida State, tried to make it a game, to show maybe it wasn't such a big underdog after all.

The plan worked for a half. But the Hurricanes are simply not where Florida State is right now. They do not have the talent, nor do they have the depth, nor do they have the wherewithal to play a near-perfect game. That much was made clear in the aftermath of a 41-14 defeat Saturday night. As many suspected would be the case, this was a top-10 matchup in name only.

And yet, the Hurricanes could very well be the class of their division at the end of the season. Such is the state of the ACC today. Florida State is poised to decisively win the Atlantic Division. The team that lost to the Seminoles by 27 points? That very team could end up in a rematch with Florida State in the ACC title game next month.

Nobody on the Miami side was much in the mood for silver linings or happy thoughts after the game, though. Especially after running back Duke Johnson was carted off the field and in a cast after the game with an ankle injury, his season most likely over.

Seeing Johnson with his right leg bandaged up just made the game result even worse to stomach. As hard as the double-whammy loss is to take, Miami has to find a way to make this game just a blip in order to stay relevant in the ACC race.

"We've just gotta move forward," Miami coach Al Golden said. "We're building. I've been saying it for a long time now. We made too many mistakes in this game. You can't make these kinds of mistakes in a game like this. I just tell them that the biggest thing is that they trust right now, that they trust the coaches and they trust their training, they trust their techniques. This environment was probably new to them, given the position that we're in, and they just need to trust. We had too many little mistakes in the game."

To read Andrea Adelson's full story, click here.

Slow week still has entertainment value

By Kevin Gemmell | ESPN.com

On Thursday morning, the best thing Week 10 had going for it was that it was right before Week 11. It was seven more days of watching the water boil till we could get to the Oregon-Stanford showdown -- the game we've been speculating about and talking about and writing about and blogging about and message-board-flaming about for the past nine months.

Week 10 was supposed to be filler material; B-roll compilation highlights; a stop-gap to sate us before the game we all want to see. But as it turned out, Week 10 was pretty darn entertaining. For what little buck there was, there was decent amount of bang.

Nothing was particularly earth-shattering or landscape-altering. But there was just enough entertainment value and drama to remind us why we tune in to every Pac-12 game. Not just the ones with ranked teams.

Taylor Kelly was nothing short of brilliant with his seven-touchdown performance in Arizona State's victory Thursday at Washington State. It wouldn't be a Halloween game without something scary happening. And the scary happening in Pullman was that the Sun Devils scored 55 points and Marion Grice didn't have a single touchdown.

Ka'deem Carey
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsKa'Deem Carey rushed for 100-plus yards for the 11th straight game.

USC took its Corvallis curse and shoved it right down Oregon State's front seven as Silas Redd and Buck Allen combined for 273 rushing yards. The Trojans are now 3-1 since the coaching change.

California gave Arizona a scare and was an onside kick away from making things really interesting. But Ka'Deem Carey did what Ka'Deem Carey does best and rushed for his 11th straight 100-yard game -- tops in the FBS.

And UCLA got back to form against a Colorado team that came to play. The drama in Pasadena, Calif., wasn't breathtaking, but Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau looked extremely poised, and there was a sense that, even down 18 points in the fourth quarter, the Buffs believed they could win. And yes, even in defeat, it's nice to see a little swagger out of the Buffs.

To read Kevin Gemmell's full story, click here.

New backfield brings Oklahoma State back to life

By Jake Trotter | ESPN.com

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Back in July, Oklahoma State was the preseason pick to win the Big 12.

Saturday night, the Cowboys finally showed why.

And why they might be contenders after all.

Behind its new-look backfield, Oklahoma State unleashed the most impressive performance yet in the Big 12 season, overpowering Texas Tech 52-34 before a record Jones AT&T Stadium crowd.

"We've got a chance," answered Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, when asked if this team could win the Big 12. "We're not good enough to look past the next game. But we're improving."


Roughly a month ago, the Pokes hardly looked the part of contender in a 30-21 loss as a 19-point favorite at West Virginia. Nor did the Cowboys look it in sluggish home victories over Kansas State and TCU.

This, however, is a different team.

To read Jake Trotter's full story, click here.

Jake Trotter | email

ESPN Staff Writer

Week 10 Takeaways

By Travis Haney | ESPN.com

I had one coach tell me last week that Florida State would play for a national title. I had another tell me Oregon would. Florida State made yet another statement Saturday that it belongs on the same tier as Alabama and Oregon, who were both off this weekend. The Seminoles were supposed to win a rivalry game against an undefeated top-10 conference opponent by three-plus touchdowns. And they did.

Yes, we could be heading toward chaos in this final year of the BCS. But more often, things have worked themselves out and the odds still say one of the Big Three will lose. So, which one will it be?

Assessing the remaining roads for the Tide, Ducks and Seminoles leads my Week 10 Takeaways. Also included: Can Michigan State play with Ohio State? Have we forgotten about Oklahoma State? Who is the most unsung skill player in the country?

1. Ranking schedules for BCS title contenders

Here are the remaining schedules for the top three teams. And remember that the more difficult the schedule, the more it actually favors that team in the formula. If it wins, that is.

Oregon: at Stanford (Thursday), Utah, at Arizona, Oregon State, Pac-12 title game (potentially Arizona State)
FSU: at Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho, at Florida, ACC title game (Miami)
Alabama: LSU, at Mississippi State, Chattanooga, at Auburn, SEC title game (Missouri)

To read Travis Haney's full story, click here Insider.

Travis Haney

ESPN Staff Writer

• Insider national college football writer since 2012
• Graduate of the University of Tennessee


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