Philadelphia, PA – Just when the FBS seemed to be settling, with the cream rising to the top, a weekend like this past one comes along and throws everything into a whirl.
The fact that Upset Saturday coincided with the first BCS rankings just adds more intrigue as the 2013 season gets set for what looks to be a wild ride to the finish.
BCS BUSINESS: What we do know is that Alabama takes care of business. The Crimson Tide demolished yet another SEC foe this past weekend, shutting out Arkansas, 52-0. With 55 of the 60 first-place votes, Alabama has a stranglehold on the top spot in the national rankings. The 7-0 Tide hold a significant edge in the recently released BCS rankings (.9841) and that number will only climb (provided the team continues to win) with a schedule that features marquee matchups against LSU and Auburn down the stretch.
Things get interesting after the top spot, though. By virtue of their impressive road win at powerhouse Clemson, Florida State has earned the coveted second spot behind Alabama in the BCS rankings. However, the Seminoles hold a razor-thin advantage over Oregon, and lack the appropriate strength of schedule the rest of the way to hold off the Ducks, should the latter continue their assault on the rest of the Pac-12. With contests against UCLA, Stanford, Utah, Arizona and Oregon State in that order, Oregon can shore up a spot in the BCS Championship Game by taking care of its business the rest of the way.
Of course, if that happens, it won't matter if fourth-place Ohio State runs the table for the second straight season, the Buckeyes will be left on the outside looking in.
STATEMENT GAME: Florida State was a powerhouse under Bobby Bowden for decades, but came back to the pack in the twilight of Bowden's career. Jimbo Fisher had the unenviable task of replacing a legend, but has slowly, but surely returned the Seminoles to their place among the nation's elite. The team had steamrolled the competition for the most part this season and certainly staked its claim for the national title with its emphatic victory in Death Valley this past weekend.
The Seminoles dominated on both sides of the football, but one needs only look to FSU's freshman phenom under center to see why the team is dominating. Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston has been nothing short of remarkable in his six-game college career, and shined when the spotlight was the brightest this past weekend, throwing for 444 yards and three touchdowns and adding a fourth score on the ground in a 51-14 drubbing of Clemson.
Winston is prominently in the discussion for this year's Heisman Trophy, having completed an impressive 71.3 percent of his passes for 1,885 yards with 20 touchdowns against just three interceptions. Winston has made everyone better and his ability to command the offense has allowed the defense to play a smothering style that overwhelms the competition.
With the victory in Death Valley, Florida State has put its stamp on the BCS picture going forward. Fisher has restored the program to the lofty standards from its years as a dynasty, when the team, under Bowden, won two national championships (1993, 1999) and played in five title games between 1993 and 2001.
SEC SHAKEUP: The top conference in the FBS was thrown on its ear this past weekend as the gap seemed to close between the top two tiers in the SEC.
Tennessee's last-second field goal upended now-20th-ranked South Carolina, 23-21, leaving the Gamecocks a distant two games back in the SEC East. Things are even worse for preseason SEC East favorite Georgia, which fell to Vanderbilt, 31-27, the team's third loss on the campaign. The Bulldogs are also two games back in the divisional standings.
Misery loves company so throw the Florida Gators into the same boat as the Bulldogs and Gamecocks at 3-2 in conference play after getting manhandled by SEC darling Missouri this past weekend. The Tigers are now in rarified air with a commanding lead atop the SEC East, as they seem to be on a collision course with top-ranked Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
Of course, the SEC West had its share of landscape altering as well, thanks to Ole Miss' upset of LSU in Oxford, 27-24, and Auburn's big win over Texas A&M in College Station, 45-41.
TOP PERFORMERS: Washington State's Connor Halliday (557 yards, 4 TDs) and Michigan's Devin Gardner (503 yards, 2 passing TDs; 81 rushing yards, 3 TDs) both eclipsed 500 yards passing this week. Halliday's effort was in a loss to Oregon, while Gardner led the Wolverines to a shootout win over Indiana.
Other quarterbacks with big days included Oregon State's Sean Mannion (481 yards, 4 TDs), Texas Tech's Davis Webb (462 yards, 2 TDs), Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (454 yards, 4 TDs, 1 rushing TD), Florida State's Jameis Winston (444 yards, 3 TDs, 1 rushing TD), BYU's Taysom Hill (417 yards, 4 TDs), Fresno State's Derek Carr (412 yards, 4 TDs), Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch (155 passing yards, 1 TD; 316 rushing yards, 3 TDs), Ohio's Tyler Tettleton (375 yards, 4 TDs), Houston's John O'Korn (363 yards, 3 TDs), Ole Miss' Bo Wallace (346 yards), Baylor's Bryce Petty (343 yards, 2 TDs), Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater (341 yards, 2 TDs), Ball State's Keith Wenning (324 yards, 3 TDs) and Cincinnati's Brendon Kay (300 yards, 4 TD passes, 1 TD rushing)
Tailbacks across the nation ran wild this week, with several posting over 200 yards on the ground in Eastern Michigan's Bronson Hill (257 yards, 1 TD), Pittsburgh's Isaac Bennett (240 yards, 3 TDs), Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey (236 yards, 1 TD), Boise State's Jay Ajayi (222 yards, 3 TDs), Buffalo's Branden Oliver (216 yards, 1 TD) and Colorado State's Kapri Bibbs (201 yards, 3 TDs),
Oregon's Byron Marshall (192 yards, 3 TDs) wasn't far behind, followed by Auburn's Trey Mason (178 yards, 1 TD), Texas State's Robert Lowe (177 yards, 1 TD), Stanford's Tyler Gaffney (171 yards, 2 TDs), Rice's Charles Ross (167 yards, 1 TD), Arizona State's Marion Grice (158 yards, 2 TDs), Western Kentucky's Antonio Andrews (154 yards, 1 TD), Toledo's David Fluellen (153 yards, 1 TD), Navy's Noah Copeland (153 yards), Michigan's Fitzgerald Toussaint (151 yards, 4 TDs), Ohio State's Carlos Hyde (149 yards, 2 TDs), Utah State's Joey DeMartino (144 yards, 3 TDs), Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (142 yards, 3 TDs), Colorado's Michael Adkins II (137 yards, 4 TDs) and Miami (Fla.)'s Dallas Crawford (137 yards, 2 TDs).
Michigan's Jeremy Gallon ran away with the top receiving game of not only the week but the season, hauling in 14 passes, for a whopping 369 yards and 2 TDs against Indiana. Texas A&M's Michael Evans was masterful as well, posting 11 catches, for 287 yards and 4 TDs, as was Oregon State's Brandin Cooks (13 catches, 232 yards, 1 TD) and Fresno State's Devante Adams (8 catches, 221 yards, 4 TDs).
Other prolific receiving efforts came from North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron (8 catches, 199 yards, 1 TD), Houston's Daniel Spencer (7 catches, 186 yards, 1 TD), Baylor's Antwan Goodley (11 catches, 182 yards, 2 TDs), Florida State tight end Nick O'Leary (5 catches, 161 yards), Ohio's Donte Foster (11 catches, 143 yards, 1 TD), BYU's Cody Hoffman (7 catches, 156 yards, 1 TD), Florida State's Rashad Greene (8 catches, 146 yards, 2 TDs), Washington State's Gabe Marks (13 catches, 143 yards, 1 TD), Oklahoma State's Josh Stewart (10 catches, 141 yards), Texas Tech's Jace Amaro (9 catches, 136 yards, 2 TDs), and Wake Forest's Mike Campanaro (11 catches, 122 yards, 1 TD).
SNEAK PEEK: There are three Top 25 matchups on the docket this weekend, starting in Norman, Okla., as 10th-ranked Texas Tech will test its Big 12 candidacy against 17th-ranked Oklahoma. The fifth-ranked Missouri Tigers get a chance to really put the SEC East away when they play host to 20th-ranked South Carolina. Finally, there is no rest for the weary, as 12th-ranked UCLA tries to shake off a tough loss against Stanford when the Bruins invade Eugene, Ore., to battle second-ranked Oregon.
Other games with intrigue include 25th-ranked Nebraska at Minnesota, Tennessee at top-ranked Alabama and Penn State at fourth-ranked Ohio State.