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Dorm Report: The race for the second spot
By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Football Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - There has been quite a national stirring in the last two weeks over who deserves to be No. 2 in the BCS standings.
With two-time defending champion Alabama considered a lock for the No. 1 ranking and a spot in the BCS championship game, the intrigue has been focused on which team is the other half of the title game equation.
The first BCS rankings came out last week with Florida State as the team a slot below Alabama. A week later and now it is Oregon chasing the Crimson Tide, with the Seminoles in third. Plus fellow unbeaten Ohio State is still lurking.
Invitations to the "Who is No 2?" party shouldn't just be going to those three teams, though. There are other deserving squads that should be in the conversation.
At Baylor, there has been nothing but offense this season. There also has been nothing but wins as the team has reached its highest national ranking since 1953. Led by the precise passing of Bryce Petty, the explosive playmaking of Lache Seastrunk and the dangerous receiving tandem of Antwan Goodley and Tevin Reese, the Bears have been scorching opponents. Baylor leads the nation in total offense (717.3 ypg). The second-place team is the Oregon Ducks - perhaps you've heard of them - who are putting up nearly 80 yards fewer per game.
Right now, the knock on Baylor is that it has not faced much of a challenge. The Bears have yet to face a ranked team and other than Buffalo and ULM, every squad they have played has a losing record.
However, the Bears have steamrolled those opponents and beating teams you are supposed to shouldn't count against a squad. Baylor will have plenty of chances to prove itself down the stretch with tests against No. 13 Oklahoma, No. 15 Texas Tech and Texas.
Plenty of people are aware that Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Ohio State and even Baylor have yet to lose a game. Somehow Miami (Fla.) has managed to fly under the radar despite also having a zero in the loss column.
Perhaps it is due to the close calls the Hurricanes have had, including a near disaster at home against Wake Forest this past weekend, but Miami is still standing, as coach Al Golden has the 'Canes back into the national title conversation for the first time since Willis McGahee was trampling defenders in the Big East.
At 7-0 overall and No. 7 in the national rankings, the Hurricanes have already matched their win total in each of the last three seasons and are ranked higher than they have been since 2005.
Like Baylor, Miami has a real test of just how serious it is this weekend when it visits in-state rival Florida State. A win in that game will have teams wondering why another ACC team is behind Oregon in the BCS standings.
Then there are the teams that are just waiting for some of the squads above them to crack and create an opening. One loss doesn't necessarily end a team's national title hopes, though it does make them much tougher.
When Stanford walked off the field in Salt Lake City after taking a 27-21 loss at Utah, the Cardinal's chance for a national title run seemed crushed. Losing pass rusher Ben Gardner this week to a season-ending injury didn't help.
However, Stanford's chances, crippled as they may be, are not destroyed. Stanford has rebounded well since that setback to Utah with wins over then-No. 9 UCLA and a dangerous Oregon State squad in Corvallis.
The Cardinal have the defense to slow, nay, stop teams thanks to an aggressive style that puts a premium on pressuring the quarterback. Led by sack master Trent Murphy (9.5 sacks), they are a team still bursting with national title- level talent.
The Cardinal will need some equally impressive luck to earn a national title appearance. They would need every other unbeaten team to fall at least once, which is a lot to ask considering there are still six left in the BCS conference ranks alone.
Stanford will have some control over its destiny, though, as it will be battling Oregon this weekend and could improve its resume with a win in the Pac-12 title game should it make it there.
It seems every year Oklahoma is considered a national title contender only to have the Sooners lose an inexplicable game to mess everything up. Two years ago, it was Texas Tech, and the year before that it was Missouri. Somehow the Sooners always seem to get tripped up.
They did again this season with a loss to the reeling Texas Longhorns. However, that loss doesn't look so bad now as the Longhorns are 4-0 in Big 12 play. Getting a shot at Baylor will help, but the strength of the Big 12 will limit the Sooners' resume, meaning they are quite a long shot.
Other one-loss teams to consider are Clemson and Missouri. Clemson is led by two of the best at both quarterback and wide receiver in Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, respectively, but it will be tough to wash away the memory of the 51-14 embarrassment against Florida State, even if the Seminoles stumble themselves.
Missouri also faces a similar uphill battle as they would likely need to make and win the SEC championship game and have a number of teams fall to get to the Rose Bowl on Jan. 6.
Finally, there are the teams that would need just about every team on this list to lose a few games to be granted admission. Both Fresno State and Northern Illinois are undefeated, but their lack of BCS credentials means their ceiling - fair or not - may be no higher than just being in a New Year's Day bowl, and not one that determines the national champion.
It is fitting this is Halloween week because many of these teams will be unmasked as real contenders or pretenders following matchups like Baylor versus Oklahoma, Miami versus Florida State and Stanford versus Oregon.
The surplus of contenders as the calendar turns to November also means the College Football Playoff can't get here soon enough. For now, each of these teams is hoping to be hearing chants of "We're No. 2" when the month comes to a close.
10/30 05:51:03 ET
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