Week 8 of the college football season was one that saw some fairly substantial upsets, not to mention a handful of other Top 25 squads that looked to be varying degrees of shaky in victory. Saturday's slate was the precursor to tonight's initial reveal of the BCS standings, but we've got (we hope) an inside track as to what those will look like:
Alabama, of course, continues to rule college football with an iron fist, but a few contenders have risen and will need to continue winning to justify a date with the Crimson Tide in Pasadena on January 6. Oregon and Florida State, for all intents and purposes, will be neck and neck in the initial standings. The Seminoles did themselves a huge favor with their annihilation of Clemson on Saturday night, the kind of statement win that will help the computers look past a cushy non-conference slate. Ohio State has two big wins, but has hardly looked dominant outside of their matchups with the Little Sisters of the Poor (Buffalo, San Diego State and so on).
The big surprise is Missouri, who has benefited from wins against depleted Georgia and Florida teams to sit alone atop the SEC East. Their perch is a perilous one, though, with South Carolina and Texas A&M making trips to Columbia in the coming weeks. Of the next half dozen or so teams in this projection, the biggest opportunist in the immediate future is UCLA, as they travel to Eugene next Saturday for their crack at toppling the Oregon Ducks.
Once you dip outside of the top 15, your guess is as good as mine because many of the teams have had Charmin-soft schedules thus far. Fresno will rise so long as those teams above team continue to beat another, but Virginia Tech is another team to watch because they will not have to face Florida State or Clemson until the ACC title game and have just one stiff test remaining on the road in Miami. Louisville's loss ended their title game hopes, but it isn't inconceivable that Central Florida trips up before the finish line.
Off the beaten BCS path: Games to watch in Week 9
Texas Tech at Oklahoma: The Red Raiders have passed all of their tests thus far, but the meat of their schedule begins next Saturday with a trip to Norman. Blake Bell and company are not of the same caliber as past OU teams, but the defense has been the best in the conference and will challenge Davis Webb.
Stanford at Oregon State: For a team that won nine games a year ago and is already bowl-eligible in 2013, it could be considered surprising that the Beavers have zero share of the national consciousness. Their aerial assault, led by Sean Mannion, has been the best in the nation and a win could vault OSU into the BCS conversation.
Duke at Virginia Tech: It may surprise you to learn that the Blue Devils jumped out to a 20-0 lead in Blacksburg a year ago before the Hokies pitched a shutout in the final three quarters, and here they are again at 5-2 with a chance to make some noise in the ACC's Coastal division race. An upset isn't imminent, but it isn't impossible.