Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 16, 2012 at 2:00 AM
Don't ever let it be said that you can't rise through the rankings during the course of a long/hard College Football Season.
Hey, sometimes you can even rise from outside the rankings too!
Just check out the current BCS Standings and you'll see #1 Kansas State started off at #22 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll;
The #2 team in the here-and-now BCS - the Oregon Ducks - were right there in the middle of the preseason discussion to win it all while getting a #5 AP ranking and so they didn't make a dramatic leap or anything but they did pass by the likes of preseason #1 USC, #2 Alabama, #3 LSU and Oklahoma;
Last but not least, #3 Notre Dame wasn't even part of the AP Top 25 as the ND Fighting Irish had to settle for that famed "Others Receiving Votes" category.
All three of these FBS unbeatens - remember that ineligible Ohio State (10-0) is the only other unbeaten squad in the land following last weekend's losses by Alabama and Louisville - get our center stage treatment here in today's edition of Jim Sez plus we'll put a proverbial cherry on top when we bring you our quick-hitter previews on a pair of ultra-important non-BCS games behind the WAC's Utah State at Louisiana Tech along with the Conference USA collision between Central Florida at Tulsa.
So, here goes with the BCS #1, #2 and #3 guys first ...
#1 KANSAS STATE (10-0, 7-0 Big 12) at BAYLOR (4-5, 1-5 Big 12) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Who says it's lonely at the top? The K-State Wildcats - hoping that they are not the latest team to get zapped by being on the cover of Sports Illustrated - just need to win here and beat Texas in Manhattan on the first Saturday and December and they'll be en route to the BCS Championship Game - no ands, ifs or buts about it!
Bill Snyder's crew has beaten eight foes by 13 points or more this year and now the 'Cats find themselves 12-point road favorites for this clash with QB Collin Klein hoping to put a wallop on a Baylor defense that has surrendered 35-or-more points on six different occasions. Klein has thrown for 2,020 yards this year with 12 TDs and 3 INTs but here he'd like to re-connect with top-flight WR Tyler Lockett who nabbed just two receptions in last weekend's 23-10 triumph at TCU.
Note that Baylor ranks 116th nationally in pass defense while allowing 321 yards a game ... ouch!
Spread Notes - Kansas State's a spiffy 9-1 versus the vig overall this year and that includes the current seven-game spread winning streak. Note K-State's covered the last three in a row in this Big 12 series while dating back to the 2007 season. Baylor is 5-4 ATS (against the spread) this season and the Bears have covered both of their games this year when snapping up double-digit points (pointspread wins against 11 ½-point home favorite West Virginia and last weekend at 21 ½-point fav Oklahoma).
#13 STANFORD (8-2, 6-1 Pac-12) at #2 OREGON (10-0, 7-0 Pac-12) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC
The good news for the Oregon Ducks? Just beat Stanford and Oregon State and you finish 12-and-oh on the year and grab a berth in the Pac-12 title game.
The bad news?
The fact that Oregon - unlike Kansas State of Big 12 fame or independent Notre Dame - would even have to win a conference title game just to get a shot at the BCS Championship Game.
Hey, that's just how the proverbial cookie crumbles for an Oregon team that is 32-2 SU (straight-up) in its last 34 conference games and zips into this clash having scored 59, 62 and 70 points in its last three games - with promises they can do even better!
Let's see the condition of Oregon RB Kenjon Barner (knee) who needed QB Marcus Mariota to throw for six TDs and 277 yards in last week's 59-17 win at California while all eyes will be on Stanford slinger Kevin Hogan who wrested the job away a couple of weeks ago from inconsistent QB Josh Nunes.
If Hogan - who didn't get rattled with the Cardinal down 14-0 last week and finished with three TDs and 254 yards in a thrilling 27-23 win against the Beavers - can keep hold of the ball for minutes at a time with a ball-control passing attack than this could be a whole lot closer than the "experts" think.
Spread Notes - Oregon is 6-4 spreadwise so far in this 2012 season but the Ducks rock-n-roll into this prime-time game having covered their last five in a row. Plus, Oregon's 8-2 ATS against Stanford the past 10 years. The Cardinal, meanwhile, is 6-4 against the Las Vegas prices this year and Stanford's 27-15-1 ATS in league games the past four-plus seasons.
WAKE FOREST (5-5) at #3 NOTRE DAME (10-0) - 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Here's the three words the ND Fighting Irish should have in their heads before taking the field in South Bend this weekend - margin of victory.
Suffice to say Notre Dame's not exactly bludgeoned visiting sides this year with a three-point win against Purdue, a 7-point triumph over Michigan, a seven-point OT win against Stanford, a 3-point win versus BYU and that epic triple-OT 29-26 win against Pittsburgh two weekends ago.
Now, the Irish must tattoo 24-point dog Wake Forest or even a perfect season might not be good enough to get these golden domers into a BCS Championship Game.
Let's see how Notre Dame QB Everett Golson fares here one week after he threw for two scores in that rather ho-hum 21-6 road win at Boston College - expect Golson and Company to put pedal to the floor here and maybe even run some rare no-huddle plays. Go ahead, guys, live a little!
Spread Notes - Notre Dame's split its first 10 pointspread verdicts this year and did you know the Irish is just 5-10-3 vig-wise as hosts in the Brian Kelly Era that started in 2010? Wake Forest is a dead-even but vig-losing 5-5 spreadwise this year.
Now, for those key non-BCS showdowns on Saturday, it's ...
UTAH STATE (8-2, 4-0 WAC) at #20 LOUISIANA TECH (9-1, 4-0 WAC) - 4 p.m. ET
Okay, so neither of these two teams will be part of the WAC mix next year - Louisiana Tech's headed for Conference USA while Utah State will depart for the Mountain West.
But here U-State could clinch the WAC crown with a win while Tech could inch closer to that goal with a "W" and one major key here is can the road-favored Aggies step in and steal any of the passing attempts by Louisiana Tech QB Colby Cameron who has thrown for 27 TDs and 0 INTs this year and now he's coming off a 337-yard, three-TD showing in last week's 62-55 non-cover win against Texas State.
Utah State - a two-point loser at Wisconsin and three-point loser at BYU earlier this year - rolls into this one on a four-game winning streak and with 35 quarterback sacks on defense which ranks 'em sixth in the country.
Spread Notes - Louisiana Tech is 5-4-1 ATS this year including this current three-game spread losing skid but since 2005 the Bulldogs have covered five of their seven head-to-head showdowns against Utah State. Note that the Aggies enter this WAC bash are perfect 10-0 against the odds this year ... amazing!
CENTRAL FLORIDA (8-2, 6-0 C-USA) at TULSA (8-2, 6-0 C-USA) - 12 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Network
Both of these teams are perfect in Conference USA play and might wind up playing one another again in the conference championship game in another two weeks but that would be played at the site of this game's winner and so still plenty on the line here:
Central Florida's won six games in a row behind the nation's 20th-best pass defense but gotta believe Tulsa will run it 80-to-85 percent of the time here especially after the Golden Hurricane (now averaging 245 yards rushing per game) ran it 60 times for 350 yards in last week's rollicking 41-7 win at 3 ½-point underdog Houston.
Both Tulsa RB Alex Singleton and ultra-physical QB Cody Green registered two touchdowns apiece in that C-USA victory and better believe they'll get 20-or-so carries each here.
What defense bends - and which one breaks? Bragging rights in Conference USA is on the line!
Spread Notes - The UCF Knights are 5-5 spreadwise this season but go back to the start of 2009 and George O'Leary's crew has posted an overall pointspread mark of 28-18 (a .609 winning rate). On the flip side, Tulsa is 6-4 against the odds this season and a solid 11-7 ATS as hosts since late in the 2010 campaign.
NOTE: Catch our key NFL Week 11 previews coming in tomorrow's Jim Sez and we'll have a one-two punch of Sunday Night/Monday Night Previews in our Sunday column ... so don't miss out!