The Oregon Ducks had been resting comfortably at No. 2 in both human polls through seven weeks of play this season. A mighty offense and opportunistic defense helped the Pac 12 North leaders surge through the first half of the season in impressive fashion, beating their first seven opponents by an average score of 57-17.
But on Sunday night when the initial BCS Standings were released, the Ducks were unceremoniously forced to flee their second-ranked roost. Oregon is still ranked behind No. 1 Alabama in both human polls, but now finds itself ranked No. 3 in the only poll that matters from here on out – largely because of No. 2 Florida State’s dominant 51-14 win at No. 9 Clemson.
It certainly wasn’t a reflection of anything the Ducks did, or didn’t, do – while FSU was crushing Clemson, Oregon was beating up on Washington State, 62-38. Though the Seminoles have the early edge in the BCS Rankings, it’s Oregon, not FSU, that has a direct path to the national title game.
Why? It’s simple. All five of the Ducks’ remaining opponents have winning records and two – No. 12 UCLA and No. 6 Stanford – are ranked in the Top 15. Furthermore, Oregon State could be ranked by the time the Civil War comes around and Oregon might also have a second game against the Bruins in the Pac 12 title game.
On the flip side, Florida State’s final six games include just one against a ranked opponent, No. 7 Miami, and just three against teams that are currently above .500. The Noles would also have the ACC Championship Game, which could be a showdown with No. 14 Virginia Tech or a rematch with the Hurricanes.
Florida State holds the second spot in the polls by the narrowest of margins (.9348 to .9320), but Oregon definitely holds the advantage moving forward with strength of schedule. Regardless of what happens around them, if the Ducks win out, they’ll be playing for the national championship come Jan. 6.