FanIQ Top 25: Iron Bowl is game of the year
1. Alabama Crimson Tide: 11-0 (LW: No. 1)
Alabama has beaten Auburn in the Iron Bowl four out of the last five years, but this year’s matchup presents as much intrigue as it did when Cam Newton’s Tigers won in 2010. The Crimson Tide are a -10.5 favorite and are expected to take the SEC once again and make another trip to the BCS National Championship, but don’t sleep on War Eagle.
2. Florida State Seminoles: 11-0 (LW: No. 2)
Scoring a school-record 80 points would have been more impressive against just about any other team other than Idaho. Still, as long as Jameis Winston isn’t charged with assault and arrested, the Seminoles are still on the path for the BCS title game.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes: 11-0 (LW: No. 3)
Braxton Miller didn’t have his best game throwing the ball, but finished with 144 yards and two touchdowns in a convincing win over Indiana. Even though he missed a chuck of the season earlier in the year, Miller now has 2,364 total yards and 24 touchdowns with three games to play.
4. Auburn Tigers: 10-1 (LW: No. 6)
No matter the outcome on Saturday, Gus Malzahn is already one of the top candidates for Coach of the Year. But if Auburn can come away with the colossal upset in Tuscaloosa, it will play in the SEC Championship Game with an outside shot of playing in the national championship—and that would be incredible.
5. Missouri Tigers: 10-1 (LW: No. 7)
James Franklin wasn’t exceptionally crisp, but his presence in the pocket meant a lot for Missouri. A healthy starting quarterback goes a long way for a team that is vying for a spot in its conference championship, and that’s exactly where Mizzou sits—as long as it can beat Texas A&M this week.
6. Clemson Tigers: 10-1 (LW: No. 8)
Clemson hasn’t beat South Carolina since 2008, and have lost all four matchups by an average of 17.5 points. There’s a lot more on the line for the Gamecocks, who clinch the SEC East with a win—but we should expect a great game nonetheless.
7. Oklahoma State Cowboys: 10-1 (LW: No. 11)
With the blowout win over Baylor, Oklahoma State is now set up to win the Big 12 title and go on to play in the Fiesta Bowl—that is if it can take care of business against the Sooners at home.
8. Baylor Bears: 9-1 (LW: No. 4)
We have to give credit where it’s due. Baylor may not of had its best performance, but Mike Gundy put together an incredible game plan and have had his Cowboys on the rise ever since their loss to West Virginia. If the Bears can beat TCU and Texas, there’s an excellent chance they’ll still make a BCS bowl.
9. Stanford Cardinal: 9-2 (LW: No. 9)
Oregon’s loss to Arizona means Stanford will represent the Pac-12 North Division in the conference championship in a re-match against Arizona State.
10. South Carolina Gamecocks: 9-2 (LW: No. 12)
The Gamecocks need some help this week if they’re wanting a shot against Alabama in the SEC title game. A win over Clemson—which hasn’t been a problem as of late—and a Missouri loss to Texas A&M would give them exactly that.
11. Michigan State Spartans: 10-1 (LW: No. 13)
No matter what happens this weekend against Minnesota, the Spartans have earned themselves a visit to Indianapolis for a chance to beat No. 3 Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.
12. Wisconsin Badgers: 9-2 (LW: No. 17)
Could Wisconsin make a BCS bowl? Jerry Palm of CBS Sports seems to believe so. Whether the Badgers deserve it or not—the argument is they should have won the Arizona State game—a lot of things are going to have to fall their way in order for that to happen.
13. Fresno State Bulldogs: 11-0 (LW: No. 15)
The Bulldogs’ path to the BCS may have gotten a little bit easier with Boise State’s loss to San Diego State over the weekend. Derek Carr and Co. are now projected to face Utah State in the MWC title game.
14. Oregon Ducks: 9-2 (LW: No. 5)
Wide receiver Josh Huff and all-purpose back De’Anthony Thomas were so upset that they were going to play in the Rose Bowl instead of the BCS National Championship that they forgot they had to play Arizona. Now the Ducks will probably be left out of a BCS game altogether.
15. Arizona State Sun Devils: 9-2 (LW: No. 20)
Todd Graham cried following his clinching of the Pac-12 South Division, so what will he do if he can beat Stanford in the conference championship and earn a bid to the Rose Bowl?
16. Central Florida Knights: 9-1 (LW: No. 16)
Wins over lowly South Florida and SMU over the next few weeks will give the Knights their first AAC title in as many years as a member and the keys to the Orange Bowl.
17. LSU Tigers: 8-3 (LW: No. 18)
What’s the only way to make a 21-point loss from Alabama feel any better? By hanging 34 on Texas A&M and holding Johnny Manziel to just 10 points.
18. Northern Illinois Huskies: 11-0 (LW: No. 19)
More Tuesday MACtion with 1-10 Western Michigan is the only thing in between Northern Illinois and its chance to three-peat for the conference title.
19. Texas A&M Aggies: 8-3 (LW: No. 10)
Johnny Manziel is 18-5 as a starter, but 0-2 against LSU. In his two games against the mad-hatter, he is 45-of-97 (46.9 percent) for 500 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions, also averaging just 2.8 yards per carry.
20. UCLA Bruins: 8-3 (LW: No. 14)
Brett Hundley came oh-so-close to an awesome comeback against Arizona State, but failed miserably on the final drive of the game. UCLA won’t have the chance to play for the Pac-12 title, but there’s still a lot on the line with its rivalry game at USC.
21. Oklahoma Sooners: 9-2 (LW: No. 22)
Oklahoma can’t win the Big 12, but man would it shake things up in the BCS by beating the Cowboys on the road Saturday.
22. Louisville Cardinals: 10-1 (LW: No. 21)
A top-10 preseason ranking gave Louisville far too high of expectations. The Cardinals have 10 wins—which is an extremely successful season for most teams—but haven’t really been impressive. Beating UConn, Houston and Memphis by a combined 35 points has dropped them even further in the rankings.
23. Duke Blue Devils: 9-2 (LW: No. 23)
Oh hello, Duke. Tying the school record of nine wins for the first time since 1941 are the Blue Devils, who will likely break that record next week in Chapel Hill.
24. USC Trojans: 9-3 (LW: No. 24)
Ed Orgeron could really plea his case for the vacant coaching position if he can take care of business at home against crosstown rival UCLA—especially since the Bruins took the city back in 2012.
25. Cincinnati Bearcats: 9-2 (LW: unranked)
If you go back a few weeks ago, the Cincinnati-Louisville matchup didn’t really mean a whole lot. Now a UC win (at home, by the way) and a Central Florida loss puts the Bearcats in a BCS bowl for the first time since their Brian Kelly days.
Dropped from rankings: Ole Miss (25).
Other receiving votes: Texas, East Carolina, Georgia, Notre Dame, LA-Lafayette, North Dakota State, Ole Miss, Minnesota, Arizona, Ball State.
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