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Power Dozen: Most Important Week Of The Year

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Can Marcus Mariota and Oregon escape Stanford's clutches this year? Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images.
Can Marcus Mariota and Oregon escape Stanford's clutches this year? Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images.

It's a wacky time of the year in that for the second consecutive week, only half our Power Dozen play Saturday.

Lucky for us, that includes the annual LesNick standoff. The Tigers from Baton Rouge are the only team to consistently give Alabama problems in the Nick Saban era, and LSU is the best overall team the Tide will face all season. It's ironic, because the LSU fan base may be the most envious group in the country, referencing Bama fans as "The Gumps" and blasting away at their former coach. (Side note: Alabama had its worst score of the season this week, with three voters placing the Tide below No. 1, including its first No. 3 vote of the year.)

But we don't have to wait that long for a crucial game. This is the most important regular-season week in college football this year, mostly because of LSU-Bama and Oregon-Stanford. The latter kicks off Thursday evening in Palo Alto. Can Stanford prevent the Ducks from a BCS title shot for a second consecutive season, or will Oregon start to book hotel rooms in Pasadena (for a game Jan. 6, not Jan. 1)?

Thursday's undercard isn't half bad as Baylor plays its first real football team of the season, hosting our No. 11 Oklahoma. Too bad the Sooners are down at least three key starters due to injury.

Oh, lest we forget, Miami dropped out of our rankings after getting mowed down by Florida State. The BCS decided to torture Seminoles fans by letting them savor the No. 2 slot for one more week, but if Alabama and Oregon win, they won't sniff it the rest of the year. You didn't think we'd get to the College Football Playoff without Mr. BCS issuing one last giant middle finger, did you? Well, right now, FSU and Ohio State both may get one directed at them.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they'll have to make do without running back Duke Johnson, who broke his ankle against FSU. That's too bad. Without Johnson, Miami probably has three losses by now.

Don't look now, but the SEC claims five members of our Power Dozen once again, with South Carolina hovering.

And perhaps it's time we take Clemson out of our jail cell. Those Tigers fell to No. 8 (yes, I resisted the urge to write "TIGERS" in capital letters for Nos. 7-10), but perhaps the earlier blowout loss to Florida State isn't as bad as we thought.

Rank Team Record Score Gap Next Prev. Rank
1 Alabama 8-0 7 vs. No. 10 LSU 1
2 Oregon 8-0 32 +25 at No. 6 Stanford (Thursday) 2
3 Florida State 8-0 38 +6 at Wake Forest 3
4 Ohio State 9-0 58 +20 at Illinois (Nov. 16) 4
5 Baylor 7-0 86 +28 vs. No. 11 Oklahoma (Thursday) 5
6 Stanford 7-1 92 +6 vs. No. 2 Oregon (Thursday) 6
7 Auburn 8-1 120 +28 at Tennessee 9
8 Clemson 8-1 123 +3 vs. Georgia Tech (Nov. 14) 8
9 Missouri 8-1 139 +16 at Kentucky 10
10 LSU 7-2 151 +12 at No. 1 Alabama 11
11 Oklahoma 7-1 167 +16 at No. 5 Baylor (Thursday) 12
12 Texas A&M 7-2 170 +3 vs. Mississippi State

Less Than Max Score Of 225: Miami (197), South Carolina (214), Louisville (215), Michigan State (221), Fresno State (222), Oklahoma State (223).

Dropped Out: Miami.

Power Dozen Scuttlebutt

Rank Team Buzz
1 Alabama Most dangerous week for Tide fans in all of 2013 (January included).
2 Oregon Ducks can all but secure BCS title shot with revenge win.
3 Florida State Seminoles have crushed two Top-10 teams. Still need help.
4 Ohio State The Buckeyes may have to prove selves in Big Ten title, Rose Bowl.
5 Baylor Meat of sched starts at home on short week against depleted D.
6 Stanford Nation's best hope to slow Oregon offense outside of BCS title game.
7 Auburn Will Neyland Stadium continue to be dangerous with Vols' backup QB?
8 Clemson Perhaps penalized more than fair for blowout loss to FSU?
9 Missouri Will the Tigers get QB James Franklin back in time for stretch run?
10 LSU Les Miles can move to 4-3 vs. Nick Saban in regular season with win.
11 Oklahoma Can banged-up Sooners still punch back against Baylor?
12 Texas A&M Likely is Johnny Manziel's last-ever game at Kyle Field.

Comparing Rankings

Team Football.com BCS AP Coaches
Alabama 1 1 1 1
Oregon 2 3 2 2
Florida State 3 2 3 3
Ohio State 4 4 4 4
Baylor 5 6 5 5
Stanford 6 5 6 6
Auburn 7 9 7 10
Clemson 8 7 8 7
Missouri 9 8 9 9
LSU 10 13 10 12
Oklahoma 11 10 12 8
Texas A&M 12 15 11 13

Football.com Range

So much for consensus. Alabama fell to No. 3 on the low end for the first time all season, while half of our Power Dozen failed to appear on at least one ballot. Only the Top 5 and Missouri (?) appear in each voter's Power Dozen. That means Stanford, Auburn and Clemson rank below No. 12 on some ballots, which I don't understand. Only the four true BCS contenders are sacred. The rest of the teams are more or less interchangeable in our rankings.

Team High Low
Alabama 1 3
Oregon 1 4
Florida State 1 4
Ohio State 3 4
Baylor 5 8
Stanford 5
Auburn 5
Clemson 6
Missouri 7 12
LSU 8
Oklahoma 9
Texas A&M 8

Voters: Christopher Smith, David Seigerman, Joe Coughlin, Joe Jenkins, Dan Harralson, Chris Wuensch, Ken Pomponio, Matt Natali, Jon Coffey, Veair Green, Chris Stephens, Henry McKenna, Eric Russell.