The BCS race hasn't changed much at the top

Updated: November 2, 2009

What Are The Odds?

The calendar turned to November, but college football's race for the BCS National Championship looks just like it did when the season started in the first week of September.

As expected, No. 1 Florida and No. 3 Alabama remain on a collision course for the Dec. 5 SEC championship game in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. No. 2 Texas remains the best bet to face the SEC champion in the Jan. 7 BCS National Championship Game in Pasadena, Calif.

Which teams have the best chance of reaching Pasadena if those teams slip? On the Mark breaks down the BCS National Championship race with five weeks to go in the regular season.

Florida
1. Florida Gators
The defending BCS national champion Gators finally looked like the No. 1 team in the country Saturday, blasting rival Georgia 41-17 in Jacksonville, Fla. Quarterback Tim Tebow ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more, as the Gators beat their rivals for the 17th time in 20 meetings.

Florida will be an overwhelming favorite in its final four regular-season games: home against Vanderbilt on Saturday, at South Carolina on Nov. 14, home against Florida International on Nov. 21 and home against Florida State on Nov. 28.

The Gators clinched the SEC East title Saturday, and as long as they take care of business, the SEC championship game will be a play-in game to the BCS National Championship Game.

Predicted finish: 12-1
Odds of winning BCS National Championship: 3-1

Texas
2. Texas Longhorns
The Longhorns moved past Alabama for the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings on Sunday, and it could be argued they've looked like the country's best team the past two weeks. Texas routed Missouri 41-7 on Oct. 24 and then walloped No. 14 Oklahoma State 41-14 on the road on Saturday.

The Longhorns seem to be hitting their stride on offense and they're playing defense as well as Alabama or Florida. Texas shouldn't have much trouble in its next three games: home against Central Florida on Saturday, at Baylor on Nov. 14 and home against reeling Kansas on Nov. 21. A Thanksgiving night contest at Texas A&M could be tricky, though, because it's a big rivalry game.

If Texas finishes unbeaten and wins the Dec. 5 Big 12 championship game, it will play for the BCS National Championship.

Predicted finish: 13-0
Odds of winning BCS National Championship: 3-1

Alabama
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
There's panic in Alabama after Texas leapfrogged the Crimson Tide in the BCS standings. But Alabama still controls its destiny in the national championship race.

Alabama has an extra week to prepare for Saturday's home game against No. 9 LSU, and it could use the extra work after its closer-than-expected 12-10 victory over Tennessee on Oct. 24. Quarterback Greg McElroy has struggled in recent weeks, and the Tide need to restore his confidence.

Alabama has the toughest road among the top three BCS title contenders. After playing LSU in Saban Bowl III, the Crimson Tide play at Mississippi State on Nov. 14, home against FCS foe Chattanooga on Nov. 21 and at rival Auburn in the Nov. 27 Iron Bowl.

Of course, Alabama would still have to play No. 1 Florida in the SEC championship game, too.

Predicted finish: 13-0
Odds of winning BCS National Championship: 3-1

Iowa
4. Iowa Hawkeyes
A week after scoring the winning touchdown on the final play of a 15-13 victory at Michigan State, the Hawkeyes once again had to come from behind to beat Indiana on Saturday. Trailing 24-14 entering the fourth quarter, Iowa scored four straight touchdowns in a 42-24 victory. It was the fourth time this season the Hawkeyes won after entering the fourth quarter behind on the scoreboard.

Iowa faces three potentially difficult games to finish the regular season: home against Northwestern on Saturday, at No. 16 Ohio State on Nov. 14 and home against Minnesota on Nov. 21. With the way the Hawkeyes have played in recent weeks, every one of those games might be close.

Predicted finish: 11-1
Odds of winning BCS National Championship: 15-1

Cincinnati
5. Cincinnati Bearcats
Who knew a road victory at Syracuse would be so valuable in the BCS championship race? After beating the Orange 28-7 on Saturday, the Bearcats went from No. 8 to No. 5 in the BCS standings.

Cincinnati has played very well without starting quarterback Tony Pike, who should be back soon from a left forearm injury. Backup Zach Collaros threw four touchdown passes at Syracuse and has seven touchdowns with one interception since replacing Pike.

Cincinnati plays three straight home games: against Connecticut on Saturday, West Virginia on Nov. 13 and Illinois on Nov. 27. Its Dec. 5 road game at No. 13 Pittsburgh might decide the Big East championship.

Predicted finish: 11-1
Odds of winning BCS National Championship: 15-1

TCU
6. TCU Horned Frogs
If nothing else, TCU has proved it's a very good football team the past three weeks. The Horned Frogs are playing their best football right now, beating Colorado State, then-No. 16 BYU and UNLV by a combined score of 123-13.

If TCU wins its final four regular-season games -- at San Diego State on Saturday, home against No. 14 Utah on Nov. 14, at Wyoming on Nov. 21 and home against winless New Mexico on Nov. 28 -- it's hard to imagine it being left out of the BCS mix. Obviously, the Horned Frogs would need a lot of help to reach the BCS Championship Game.

Predicted finish: 12-0
Odds of winning BCS National Championship: 20-1

Boise State
7. Boise State Broncos
Boise State's best hope at reaching a BCS bowl game is TCU losing one of its last four regular-season games. It's hard to imagine the Broncos passing the Horned Frogs in the BCS standings because of their weaker schedule strength.

Only one team from a non-BCS conference is guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl game if it finishes in the top 12 of the final BCS standings. But Boise State and TCU could possibly both play in lucrative BCS bowls if teams like Notre Dame, Penn State and USC (which could potentially receive BCS at-large bids) lose again.

Boise State's final five regular-season games might be more difficult than they look. The Broncos play at Louisiana Tech on Friday night, then host Idaho on Nov. 14. After a road game at Utah State on Nov. 20, Boise State closes with consecutive home games against surging Nevada and New Mexico State.

Predicted finish: 13-0
Odds of winning BCS National Championship: 25-1

Oregon
8. Oregon Ducks
Will the Ducks be severely penalized for losing at Boise State 19-8 in their Sept. 3 opener? Oregon has looked like one of the country's best teams in recent weeks, especially after it blasted USC 47-20 on Saturday night (the Trojans' worst loss since 1997). But voters will probably be reluctant to move Oregon past Boise State if the Broncos don't lose again.

Oregon plays four more Pac-10 games: at Stanford on Saturday, home against Arizona State on Nov. 14, at No. 18 Arizona on Nov. 21 and home against Oregon State in the Civil War on Dec. 3.

Predicted finish: 10-2
Odds of winning BCS National Championship: 25-1

LSU
9. LSU Tigers
Even though eight teams are ahead of the Tigers in the BCS standings, they control their destiny in the national championship race. If LSU wins its last four-regular season games, including Saturday's showdown at No. 3 Alabama, it would win the SEC West and play No. 1 Florida in the SEC championship game.

If the Tigers avenge their 13-3 loss to the Gators on Oct. 10, there's a realistic chance they would jump several unbeaten teams in the BCS standings.

After playing at Alabama, LSU plays Louisiana Tech at home Nov. 14, at Ole Miss on Nov. 21 and home against Arkansas on Nov. 28.

Predicted finish: 10-2
Odds of winning BCS National Championship: 25-1




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On The Mark: Big-Play Quarterbacks

Case Keenum Keenum

1. Case Keenum, Houston
He's back in the Heisman Trophy mix after throwing for a career-high 559 yards with five touchdowns -- including the game winner with 21 seconds left -- on 44-for-54 passing in the Cougars' 50-43 victory over Southern Mississippi.

2. Riley Dodge, North Texas
Dodge threw for 262 yards with four touchdowns and ran for 70 yards and three scores in a 68-49 win over Western Kentucky. North Texas tailback Lance Dunbar added 227 rushing yards and one touchdown.

3. Jeremiah Masoli, Oregon
Masoli passed for 222 yards with one score and ran for 164 yards with one touchdown in a 47-20 rout of USC, the Trojans' worst loss since 1997.

4. B.J. Daniels, South Florida
The Bulls freshman passed for 232 yards with three touchdowns and ran for 104 yards in a 30-19 upset of West Virginia on Friday night.

5. Adam Weber, Minnesota
Even without star receiver Eric Decker, Weber passed for a career-high 416 yards with five touchdowns in a 42-34 victory over Michigan State.

Off The Mark: Coaches On The Hot Seat

1. Al Groh, Virginia
The Cavaliers allowed 16 points in the final four minutes of a 28-17 home loss to Duke, which dropped their record to 3-5.

2. Dan Hawkins, Colorado
The Buffaloes had 176 yards of offense, four turnovers and eight sacks allowed in a 36-17 home loss to Missouri. Colorado fell to 2-6.

Tommy West West
3. Tommy West, Memphis
The Tigers lost to East Carolina 38-19 at home on Tuesday night, dropping their record to 2-6.

4. J.D. Brookhart, Akron
The Zips lost at Northern Illinois 27-10, their sixth defeat in a row.

5. Mike Sanford, UNLV
The Rebels had seven first downs and 160 yards of offense in a 41-0 loss to TCU, their fifth defeat in six games.

On The Mark: Ground-Churning Tailbacks

Anthony Dixon Dixon

1. Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State
Dixon set a school single-game rushing record with 252 yards with two touchdowns on 33 carries in the Bulldogs' 31-24 win at Kentucky.

2. Jermaine Thomas, Florida State
Thomas nearly equaled his production in his first seven games, running 20 times for 186 yards with two touchdowns in FSU's 45-42 victory over NC State.

3. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
Dwyer ran 22 times for 186 yards with three touchdowns, helping the Yellow Jackets score 28 consecutive points in the second half and total 404 rushing yards in a 56-31 rout at Vanderbilt.

4. LaMichael James, Oregon
When the Trojans weren't chasing Masoli, they were trying to stop James, who ran for 183 yards with one touchdown on 24 carries in the Ducks' big win.

5. Bernard Pierce, Temple
Pierce ran for 267 yards and two touchdowns in the Owls' 27-24 win at Navy, helping Temple become eligible for its first bowl bid since 1979.

Off The Mark: Slip-Sliding Away

1. Kansas
Remember when the Jayhawks were 5-0 and No. 16 in the country? They've lost three games in a row and allowed 30 points or more in each of the past four.

Michigan
2. Michigan
Can it get any worse for Rich Rodriguez? The Wolverines have lost four of their past five games (the only win came against FCS foe Delaware State). They'll have to win two of their last three games to finish better than 6-6.

3. Georgia
The Bulldogs lost to Florida for the 17th time in their past 20 meetings and will have to win two of their last four games to become bowl eligible.

4. Ole Miss
It's hard to believe the Rebels were once ranked No. 4 in the country. They lost for the third time, 33-20 at Auburn, to fall to 5-3. At least they'll play another FCS foe on Saturday.

5. Arizona State
The Sun Devils lost to California 23-21 on a 24-yard field goal with 21 seconds to go, their fourth defeat in six games.

On The Mark: Sure-Handed Receivers

1. Jerrel Jernigan, Troy
Jernigan helped the Trojans move to 5-0 in Sun Belt Conference play, catching 13 passes for 203 yards with one touchdown in a 42-21 victory over Louisiana-Monroe.

Tyshon Goode Goode
2. Tyshon Goode, Kent State
Goode caught 11 passes for 198 yards with two touchdowns in the Golden Flashes' 26-14 win over Western Michigan, which keeps them in the MAC East race.

3. James Cleveland, Houston
Keenum's favorite target had 13 receptions for 190 yards with two touchdowns against Southern Miss.

4. Tim Brown, Rutgers
Brown caught five passes for 162 yards with two touchdowns, including the winning 81-yard score with 22 seconds to go in the Scarlet Knights' 28-24 victory at Connecticut.

5. Marvin McNutt, Iowa
McNutt caught four passes for 155 yards with one touchdown, including a 92-yarder that sparked the Hawkeyes' second-half comeback from a 10-point deficit.

Highlights: Saturday's 10 Best