Originally Published: October 9, 2011

Awaiting the initial BCS standings

By Mark Schlabach

Which college football team is No. 1 in the country?

SEC West rivals No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama have been equally impressive during their 6-0 starts. No. 3 Oklahoma keeps winning impressively, too, even after the Sooners started sliding from their previous No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press' Top 25 poll the past couple of weeks.

The BCS national championship race will finally start to become clearer with the release of the initial BCS standings Oct. 16. LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma probably will be in the top three, with computer rankings and schedule strength deciding the order.

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Malcolm Emmons/US PresswireOklahoma coach Bob Stoops isn't concerned about the initial BCS standings, which will be released on Oct. 16.

Of course, if a team is No. 1 or No. 2 on the second Sunday of October, it doesn't mean it will be there when the final BCS standings are released on Dec. 4. The top two teams in the final BCS standings will play on Jan. 9, 2012, in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

In the first 13 years of the BCS, the top two teams in the initial standings have both reached the title game only once (Texas and Southern California in 2005). Nearly half of the 24 teams that debuted at No. 1 or No. 2 have advanced to the BCS National Championship Game.

Last season, eventual BCS national champion Auburn debuted at No. 4 in the initial BCS standings, and Oregon was at No. 2. The Tigers defeated the Ducks 22-19 in the championship game.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said it's too early to worry about the BCS standings. He said the rankings weren't on the Sooners' minds as they blasted Texas 55-17 in the Red River Rivalry game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Saturday.

"I don't know that that's necessary," Stoops said. "It is certainly not on my mind. Don't get me wrong, we want to come here and play as absolutely well as we can, and I thought we did that. My point is we aren't sitting here saying we have to win by this or that; we just want to play the best we can. We have a lot of confidence, and we're building. It's only our fifth game, and we feel we still can be better."

LSU and Alabama seem to be improve, too, as those teams are on a collision course for a Nov. 5 showdown in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Tigers routed Florida 41-11 in Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday, while the Crimson Tide shut out Vanderbilt 34-0 at home.

Historical data suggest that about a dozen teams are still in the BCS national championship race. Since the BCS began in 1998, no team ranked No. 13 or worse in the initial BCS standings has reached the national championship game. LSU debuted at No. 12 in 2003 -- the lowest initial ranking for an eventual BCS national champion -- before climbing its way into the title game.

Nation's top recruit Edwards leaning toward OU

By Mitch Sherman

WICHITA FALLS, Texas -- Peer through the dust and across the windswept plains from atop Memorial Stadium, where Mario Edwards' Denton Ryan Raiders played Thursday night some 20 miles south of the Red River, and if you squint just right, yes, that might be Oklahoma on the horizon.

Less than 48 hours later, in fact, Edwards could nearly see it, too.

"Right now," he said after watching Oklahoma dismantle Texas 55-17 at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, "OU seems like it's the team for me."

The nation's No. 1-rated college prospect, Edwards, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive end with hard-to-believe speed and agility for his size, is back on the market in recruiting. He committed in March to Florida State, the college home of his father, Mario Sr., a former NFL cornerback with Dallas and Tampa Bay.

Mitch Sherman/ESPN.comMario Edwards is reconsidering his commitment to FSU, where his father played in the late 1990s.

Although Mario Jr. has not officially decommitted from the Seminoles, his pledge is no longer valid. Edwards said he wants to escape the shadow of his dad and "start my own trend." He plans an official visit to Texas next weekend to watch the Longhorns play Oklahoma State followed by a trip to LSU in two weeks as Auburn visits Baton Rouge, La., and a Nov. 5 visit to Norman, Okla., for the Sooners' meeting with Texas A&M.

Florida State remains a consideration, but Edwards, who grew familiar with FSU while his dad played for the Seminoles from 1996 to 1999, has not scheduled another trip to Tallahassee.

All signs point away from Florida State. Edwards said he may wait until signing day, Feb. 1, to announce his choice.

"I felt like I jumped a little bit at FSU because that was the team I had seen the most," Edwards said.

Edwards' father agrees that the decision to commit in the spring came prematurely.

"Whether he made a bad decision, I don't know," Mario Sr. said, "but when he sat down and started thinking about it, he knew he made his decision a little early.

"I think it's smart for him to look around and see what else is out there."

And Dad won't push Mario Jr. in any direction.

To read the rest of Mitch Sherman's story, click here.

Ranking the BCS title contenders Insider

By Brad Edwards
ESPN Insider

As we near the first release of the 2011 BCS standings on Oct. 16, don't expect any surprises.

The debate over which team should be ranked No. 1 in the polls continues, but the computers have high regard for LSU, Oklahoma and Alabama, so it's unlikely that any other team could sneak into the top three of the initial standings. Popular opinion is that those teams all control their BCS fates, because LSU and Alabama eventually will play each other.

But of the other undefeated teams, which ones have the best chance to enter the championship discussion and which ones need the most help? Here's how the unblemished 13 stack up entering the middle of October.

Tier 1: LSU Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners, Alabama Crimson Tide, Oklahoma State Cowboys

These teams need no help. The first three on this list are self-explanatory, but the fourth may surprise some people. Simply, the BCS computers consider the Big 12 to be the strongest conference in college football, so any team that runs the table through that league will be highly ranked in that portion of the BCS formula. And wins at Texas A&M and Texas should do a lot to position the Cowboys well enough that a season-ending win over Oklahoma likely would get them whatever additional support they might need in the polls to reach the BCS top two.

To read the rest of Brad Edwards' story, click here.

Michigan passes first road test; Spartans on deck

By Michael Rothstein

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Mike Martin stopped, a smile on his face. Michigan's players had been told midquestion to wrap up their postgame interviews, and the timing couldn't have been better for the senior defensive tackle.

He was being asked whom he was playing next.

So Martin, who rarely has nothing to say, knew the answer. But he was given an out and chose to stay silent.

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AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhAfter a win at Northwestern, Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin and his teammates look for a bigger victory at rival Michigan State on Saturday.

Instead, he smiled. He may not have wanted to say, but he knew. Martin is an in-state kid. He has grown up around Michigan and knows all about what is coming:

Michigan State.

After No. 12 Michigan's 42-24 win over Northwestern on Saturday night, the focus easily could have shifted to something more important. In six days, the Wolverines will face their in-state rival, the Spartans.

The winner will have control of the Big Ten Legends Division. But Michigan knew that before it could start worrying about Michigan State, it had to take care of its first opponent on the road.

After a squirrelly first half in which Michigan struggled on offense and defense, it put Northwestern away and answered at least two questions that had lingered about this team -- how would Michigan respond to playing on the road, and could it win away from Michigan Stadium?

Despite a crowd that was more representative of a neutral site -- there was as much maize and blue in the stands as purple -- the team did win away from Michigan Stadium. That's a starting point for this team.

To read the rest of Michael Rothstein's story, click here.

Georgia holds down Tennessee's Tyler Bray

By David Ching

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- For Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, the first step in slowing down Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and the Volunteers' explosive passing game was obvious.

Stop the run.

"No. 1 is you've got to stop the run," Grantham said after the Bulldogs won 20-12 Saturday night at Neyland Stadium. "Even though they're one-dimensional in the sense that they like to throw it, you don't want to let them become two-dimensional and throw it."

Grantham's defense more than accomplished its mission on that front. Tennessee finished with 23 rushing attempts for minus-20 yards -- setting a mark for the fewest rushing yards allowed in Mark Richt's 10-plus years as Georgia's head coach. The Vols' rushing total tied for the third-fewest yards ever allowed by a Bulldogs defense.

"If we can't run the ball, we aren't going to beat good football teams. That's a fact," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said.

The Vols' inability to run enabled Georgia to put the clamps on a Tennessee passing game that came in on a roll. Bray recently broke Peyton Manning's 1997 school record of seven consecutive games with at least two passing touchdowns, but Bray's streak ended at 10 games.

To read the rest of David Ching's story, click here.


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