USA Today Coaches’ Poll Week 14: Notre Dame finishes on top, Northern Illinois at No. 16

The tension is building.

Northern Illinois lands at No. 16 in the final regular season Coaches’ Poll, while key members of the BCS pack, UCLA (No. 19), Nebraska (No. 21) and Boise State (No. 15) pile around them.

Will it be enough? Stay tuned.

USA Today Coaches’ Poll – December 2

Rank Team Votes Share of Vote
1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 1470 .997
2 Alabama Crimson Tide 1417 .961
3 Oregon Ducks 1313 .890
4 Florida Gators 1287 .872
5 Georgia Bulldogs 1216 .824
6 Kansas State Wildcats 1190 .807
7 LSU Tigers 1111 .753
8 Stanford Cardinal 1047 .710
9 Texas A&M Aggies 1039 .704
10 South Carolina Gamecocks 947 .642
11 Oklahoma Sooners 890 .603
12 Florida State Seminoles 853 .578

Projected BCS Standings: Quiet Across The Land As Notre Dame and Alabama Lead The Final BCS Rankings of 2012

The opportunity for chaos always stirs college football fans. And it looked like we were in store for some this year.

Projected Final BCS Rankings
Rank Team
1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2 Alabama Crimson Tide
3 Florida Gators
4 Georgia Bulldogs
5 Oregon Ducks
Scroll down for more

Six top-flight SEC teams emerged early. Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Louisville and Florida State looked every bit the flag bearer for their conferences. Chaos was certainly coming.

Then it arrived in November in the form of unbeaten Alabama, Oregon and Kansas State suffering surprising first losses. But then all was quiet.

And when all was said and done in the 2012 college football season, it was pretty clear. Notre Dame, on the strength on an undefeated season, and Alabama, winners of the battle-testing SEC, will finish 1-2 in the final BCS standings and meet for the BCS title at the end of the expansive bowl season.

Championship weekend served as a clarifying moment for many of the thing college football fans thought we knew, but couldn’t guarantee. Alabama, Florida State, Stanford, Louisville, Wisconsin and Kansas State secured BCS bids in traditional fashion.

Florida, tomorrow’s No. 3 team will claim a bid as the top-ranked member of a AQ conference to not actually win that conference. Oregon, set to land at No. 5 with one overtime loss to Rose Bowl-bound Stanford, will almost certainly be snatched up by a BCS bowl right away. That’s nine.

Then that 10th and final bid.

Coming into the weekend it was all about the non-AQ and the chance at a BCS buster. But the hope will stop here. Not enough happened for the MAC champion Northern Illinois or MWC champion Boise State to make a BCS bowl bid. And so, for a second straight year, we will forgo the non-AQ storyline taker and have a set of BCS bowls with 10 AQ conference members.

The best shot the non-AQs had at a BCS bowl was Northern Illinois. And the Huskies will just miss out at No. 17. That’s the long and short of it.

We’ll be here to take you through the entire process tomorrow — human polls, computer rankings, bowl pairings and BCS rankings  Follow along @BCSKnowHow and right here to stay up to the second with projections, mathematical breakdowns of the computers, human polls and everything in between. We’ll put up a chat room for questions and general discussion, too.

Got all that? Hope so.

Here’s what the final BCS standings will likely look like when they are released tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN:

Projected BCS Standings – BCS Week Eight (December 2nd)

Rank Team
1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2 Alabama Crimson Tide
3 Florida Gators
4 Georgia Bulldogs
5 Oregon Ducks
6 Kansas State Wildcats
7 Stanford Cardinal
8 LSU Tigers
9 Texas A&M Aggies
10 Oklahoma Sooners
11 South Carolina Gamecocks
12 Florida State Seminoles

Heisman Watch Week 14: Season Draws To A Close For Unusual Heisman Field

Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel’s redshirt freshman season was something of revelation for a conference that had already seen the likes of dual-threat quarterbacks Cam Newton and Tim Tebow dominate the nation and the conference in Heisman-winning years. But as Manziel rose to national prominence and broke the record for all-purpose yards first set by Tebow and then broken by Newton, his ability and Heisman potential was undeniable.

The 19-year-old they call Johnny Football finished with 3,419 passing yards, 1,181 rushing yards and 43 combined touchdowns — a stat line that would knock people out from a senior, but one that came from a redshirt freshman. There is little wonder so many believe Manziel is on track to become the first freshman winner in the trophy’s history.

Manti Te’o

Manti Te’o became a household name and the most visible defensive player in the country in 2012, and it wasn’t because of his nation-leading seven interceptions for a linebacker. It wasn’t his 1.5 sacks or 103 tackles, the second and third best performances in those categories in his four-year career.

No, instead, Te’o became the vocal leader of a Notre Dame team that surprised everyone by making their way from a fringe preseason top-25 to the nearly undisputed No. 1 team in the country and earning a berth in the national title. That alone — being the best and most visible player on the nation’s No. 1 team — means a lot in the Heisman race, and Te’o took advantage.

Marqise Lee

Few, if any, pegged Marqise Lee as USC’s leading Heisman hope headed into the 2012 season. But when quarterback Matt Barkley faded toward the middle of the season, Lee’s named slowly but surely crept up into the national radar. Despite his quarterback’s relatively lackluster production, Lee showed an uncanny ability to put up mind bending numbers. Capped by a 469-total-yard, two-touchdown day against Arizona,

Lee accounted for 1,680 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns — both career highs for the sophomore.

Collin Klein

Collin Klein’s season was a lot of things, but it certainly was not boring. Up and down, Klein provided the spark behind a Kansas State team that made its way to the top of the BCS rankings, but suffered such a crushing loss on national television in primetime that neither their BCS impact nor Klein’s Heisman hopes could be revived.

Still, Kansas State is on its way to a BCS bowl, and that’s thanks in large part to Klein, who was the trophy’s front-runner until a kid named Johnny Football showed up and stole the dual-threat quarterback attention of the country. Klein finished the year with 37 combined touchdowns on the ground and through the air, a season that will certainly get some Heisman attention, but will likely fall short in the end.

Braxton Miller

Braxton Miller had an unusual sophomore campaign at the helm of Ohio State. Leading a team ineligible for postseason play in a down year for the Big Ten conference, Miller was spectacular, passing for 2,039 yards and rushing for 1,271 more to go with 28 combined touchdowns. Most importantly, Miller led the Buckeyes, with little to play for but each other and their coaches, on an undefeated run through their regular season.

Sure, many discounted the Buckeyes’ 12-0 finish to the year because of their relatively weak schedule, but Miller’s dominance was undeniable at times. Though the sophomore will likely not get the trophy this year, he will certainly have a lot to say about the 2013 Heisman race.

BCS implications and strength of schedule worksheet for Week 14

So, what has your team accomplished in 2012?

With the season coming to a close on Saturday, now’s the time to take stock of what 2012 will be remembered for. Some teams have been short-changed, others have perhaps been given more than their fair. Most notably, at least one of the top six BCS teams this week will not make a BCS bowl, and perhaps more than one.

As the season draws down, we do have a bit of drama in the lower ranks of the BCS, with a non-AQ chase for a BCS buster bid. All that is explained further in our in-depth look at the battle, but for reference, we’ve included Kent State, Boise State and Northern Illinois in this week’s edition of the implications worksheet.

As we have all season, we compiled our implications and schedule strength worksheet suing the BCS rankings and Jeff Sagarin’s computer ranking to look at what the nation’s best teams have accomplished, where they’re headed and the potential pitfalls and dangers associated with their upcoming schedule.

What will you find here? The top eight BCS teams (or smaller, if the “striking distance” shrinks), along with their record and strength of schedule, according to Sagarin.

Each team is also listed with key games already played, and key games to come. Key games are any against the BCS top 25 or the Sagarin top 60. If teams are unlisted in the BCS, they are listed with their Sagarin rank, and SOS is Sagarin-based.

Games for the upcoming weekend are bolded.

Note: All teams are included in the Sagarin data, including bowl-ineligible teams.

BCS No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-0) SOS: 30

Important games already played:

  • BCS No. 8 Stanford Cardinal (10-2) SOS: 5 — Won 20-13
  • BCS No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners (9-2) SOS: 11 — Won 30-13
  • BCS No. 19 Michigan Wolverines (8-4) SOS: 32 — Won 13-6
  • Sagarin No. 19 USC Trojans (7-5) SOS: 6 — Won 22-13
  • Sagarin No. 36 Michigan State Spartans (6-6) SOS: 29 — Won 20-3
  • Sagarin No. 44 BYU Cougars (7-5) SOS: 57 — Won 17-14
  • Sagarin No. 51 Miami Hurricanes (7-5) SOS: 45 — Won 41-3
  • Sagarin No. 58 Purdue Boilermakers (6-6) SOS: 49 — Won 20-17

Important games remaining:

  • None

BCS No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) SOS: 39

Important games already played:

  • BCS No. 7 LSU Tigers (10-2) SOS: 27 — Won 21-17
  • BCS No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies (10-2) SOS: 25 — Lost 29-24
  • BCS No. 19 Michigan Wolverines (8-4) SOS: 32 — Won 41-14
  • Sagarin No. 33 Ole Miss Rebels (6-6) SOS: 22 — Won 33-14
  • Sagarin No. 34 Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4) SOS: 50 — Won 38-7
  • Sagarin No. 42 Missouri Tigers (5-7) SOS: 2 — Won 42-10
  • Sagarin No. 52 Tennessee Volunteers (5-7) SOS: 28 — Won 44-13

Important games remaining:

  • BCS No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (11-1) SOS: 42 — Dec. 1

BCS No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (11-1) SOS: 42

Important games already played:

  • BCS No. 4 Florida Gators (11-1) SOS: 13 — Won 17-9
  • BCS No. 10 South Carolina Gamecocks (10-2) SOS: 34 — Lost 35-7
  • Sagarin No. 23 Vanderbilt Commodores (8-4) SOS: 40 — Won 48-3
  • Sagarin No. 33 Ole Miss Rebels (6-6) SOS: 22 — Won 37-10
  • Sagarin No. 42 Missouri Tigers (5-7) SOS: 2 — Won 41-20
  • Sagarin No. 52 Tennessee Volunteers (5-7) SOS: 28 — Won 51-44

Important games remaining:

  • BCS No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) SOS: 39 — Dec. 1

BCS No. 4 Florida Gators (11-1) SOS: 13

Important games already played:

  • BCS No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (11-1) SOS: 42 — Lost 17-9
  • BCS No. 7 LSU Tigers (10-2) SOS: 27 — Won 14-6
  • BCS No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies (10-2) SOS: 25 — Won 20-17
  • BCS No. 10 South Carolina Gamecocks (10-2) SOS: 34 — Won 44-11
  • BCS No. 13 Florida State Seminoles (10-2) SOS: 72 — Won 37-26
  • Sagarin No. 23 Vanderbilt Commodores (8-4) SOS: 40 — Won 31-17
  • Sagarin No. 42 Missouri Tigers (5-7) SOS: 2 — Won 14-7
  • Sagarin No. 52 Tennessee Volunteers (5-7) SOS: 28 — Won 37-20

Important games remaining:

  • None

BCS No. 5 Oregon Ducks (11-1) SOS: 31

Important games already played:

  • BCS No. 8 Stanford Cardinal (10-2) SOS: 5 — Lost 17-14
  • BCS No. 15 Oregon State Beavers (8-3) SOS: 3 — Won 48-24
  • Sagarin No. 19 USC Trojans (7-5) SOS: 6 — Won 62-51
  • Sagarin No. 20 Arizona Wildcats (7-5) SOS: 8 — Won 49-0
  • BCS No. 25 Washington Huskies (7-5) SOS: 16 — Won 52-21
  • Sagarin No. 32 Arizona State Sun Devils (7-5) SOS: 35 — Won 43-21
  • Sagarin No. 45 Frenso State Bulldogs (9-3) SOS: 103 — Won 42-25

Important games remaining:

  • None

BCS No. 6 Kansas State Wildcats (10-1) SOS: 24

Important games already played:

  • BCS No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners (9-2) SOS: 11 — Won 24-19
  • Sagarin No. 21 West Virginia Mountaineers (6-5) SOS: 12 — Won 55-14
  • BCS No. 23 Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-4) SOS: 14 — Won 44-30
  • Sagarin No. 27 TCU Horned Frogs (7-4) SOS: 19 — Won 23-10
  • Sagarin No. 30 Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5) SOS: 23 — Won 55-24
  • Sagarin No. 31 Baylor Bears (6-5) SOS: 7 — Lost 52-24
  • Sagarin No. 35 Iowa State Cyclones (6-6) SOS: 9 — Won 27-21

Important games remaining:

  • BCS No. 18 Texas Longhorns (8-3) SOS: 20 — Dec. 1

And for a bonus:

BCS No. 17 Kent State Golden Flashes (11-1) SOS: 122

Important games already played:

  • Sagarin No. 41 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-2) SOS: 92 — Won 35-23
  • Sagarin No. 43 Ball State Cardinals (9-3) SOS: 78 — Won 45-43

Important games remaining:

  • BCS No. 21 Northern Illinois Huskies (11-1) SOS: 129 — Nov. 30

BCS No. 20 Boise State Broncos (9-2) SOS: 113

Important games already played:

  • Sagarin No. 36 Michigan State Spartans (6-6) SOS: 29 — Lost 17-13
  • Sagarin No. 44 BYU Cougars (7-5) SOS: 57 — Won 7-6
  • Sagarin No. 45 Frenso State Bulldogs (9-3) SOS: 103 — Won 20-10
  • Sagarin No. 53 San Diego State Aztecs (9-3) SOS: 101 — Lost 21-19

Important games remaining:

  • None

BCS No. 21 Northern Illinois Huskies (11-1) SOS: 129

Important games already played:

  • Sagarin No. 43 Ball State Cardinals (9-3) SOS: 78 — Won 35-23
  • Sagarin No. 49 Toledo Rockets (9-3) SOS: 104 — Won 31-24

Important games remaining:

  • BCS No. 17 Kent State Golden Flashes (11-1) SOS: 122 — Nov. 30

Harris Interactive Poll Week 14: Alabama Stays Far Enough Ahead of Oklahoma State


Oklahoma State rises to No. 3, but its not enough to leap Alabama here or in the BCS standings.

Harris Interactive College Football Poll – December 4

Rank Team Votes Share of Vote
1 LSU Tigers 2875 1.000
2 Alabama Crimson Tide 2723 .947
3 Oklahoma State Cowboys 2654 .923
4 Stanford Cardinal 2504 .871
5 Oregon Ducks 2372 .825
6 Boise State Broncos 2236 .778
7 Arkansas Razorbacks 2163 .752
8 Wisconsin Badgers 2060 .717
9 South Carolina Gamecocks 1833 .638
10 Kansas State Wildcats 1733 .603
11 Virginia Tech Hokies 1498 .521
12 Michigan Wolverines 1447 .503

Final BCS Rankings of 2011: LSU and Alabama Finish an SEC-Dominated Season On Top

The rematch is on.

With the release of the final BCS standings, the Bowl Championship Series has spoken, and we’re headed for the first-ever rematch of a regular season game in the BCS title game.

LSU and Alabama did enough in the eyes of the voters and the computers to do just that, and come Jan. 9, the entire country will be tuned in to see whether LSU’s defense can once again stifle Alabama or if the Crimson Tide can turn the tide on the Tigers.

Oklahoma State lands on the outside looking in, instead headed off to the Fiesta Bowl to take on a very game Stanford team, who finishes in the No. 3 slot.

No. 5 Oregon, boosted on the power of huge leaps in human poll support, is on its way to the Rose Bowl to take on No. 10 Wisconsin, whose Big Ten title game victory over Michigan State brought the Badgers back into the top 10 and ensured one of the best looking matchups among the BCS bowls, at least on paper.

The four teams that follow Oregon were all left out of the BCS picture, as Arkansas, Boise State, Kansas State and South Carolina will have to settle for non-BCS bowls after commendable seasons in three tough conferences.

A surprise berth for No. 11 Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl certainly ruffled some feathers, but the Hokies had an impressive season, and will face off against No. 13 Michigan in New Orleans on Jan. 2.

All in all, the BCS standings once again brought about debate, consternation and excitement until the end. Whether you agree with the decisions the system made, it’s what we’ve got, and we’re not headed for a slate of 35 bowl games — some duds and some spectacular matchups — that will certainly provide for entertainment value throughout December and January. Enjoy.

Here’s the final BCS rankings of 2011:

BCS Standings Week Eight — December 4

Rank Team BCS Score
1 LSU Tigers 1.000
2 Alabama Crimson Tide .9419
3 Oklahoma State Cowboys .9333
4 Stanford Cardinal .8476
5 Oregon Ducks .7901
6 Arkansas Razorbacks .7687
7 Boise State Broncos .7408
8 Kansas State Wildcats .6827
9 South Carolina Gamecocks .6553
10 Wisconsin Badgers .6374
11 Virginia Tech Hokies .5190
12 Baylor Bears .4977
13 Michigan Wolverines .4794
14 Oklahoma Sooners .4603
15 Clemson Tigers .4218
16 Georgia Bulldogs .4119

Some thoughts:

USA Today Coaches’ Poll Week 14: Oklahoma State to No. 3


Oklahoma State receives the third spot. Is it enough?

USA Today Coaches’ Poll – December 4

Rank Team Votes Share of Vote
1 LSU Tigers 1475 1.000
2 Alabama Crimson Tide 1399 .948
3 Oklahoma State Cowboys 1367 .927
4 Stanford Cardinal 1286 .872
5 Oregon Ducks 1232 .835
6 Boise State Broncos 1128 .765
7 Arkansas Razorbacks 1112 .754
8 Wisconsin Badgers 1085 .736
9 South Carolina Gamecocks 971 .658
10 Kansas State Wildcats 878 .595
11 Virginia Tech Hokies 835 .566
12 Michigan Wolverines 789 .535