Nobody really likes the game Mouse Trap. I mean, there might be some people out there who claim they like Mouse Trap, but if they’re being honest with themselves, they don’t. The idea of Mouse Trap is great; look at this beautiful Rube Goldberg machine where all the moving parts come together, one influencing the other to get that cage to drop down on the mouse. It doesn’t work that way.
It never worked that way. After the first time you play it and the boot doesn’t kick the bucket, or the diver just falls over, or the cage gets stuck halfway down the pole, you’re looking for other games to play. And Mouse Trap sits unplayed until another poor kid gets wowed by the allure of a game that will never really work right.
That was the BCS in a lot of ways. It made sense on paper: humans and computers working together to pick the best two teams to play for the title. But it required everything working in harmony. College football laughs at the idea of harmony. College football is built on chaos.
So now we have the playoff. And chaos is ever-present, wreaking havoc in the background like Casper’s trouble-making relatives who were also ghosts. No machine is perfect. It just has to be good enough to relegate Mouse Trap to the back of the closet.
11Alabama Crimson Tidelast week: 4record: 9-1You know how no matter what time of day it is there’s probably a good chance the show Friends is on, and even if it isn’t, if you wait long enough it’ll be on eventually? That’s kind of how I feel about Alabama and the No. 1 ranking.
Last game: Beat Mississippi State, 25-20
Next game: Saturday vs Western Carolina
22Florida State Seminoleslast week: 1record: 10-0Over the course of this season I’ve compared Florida State to Indiana Jones tied to a pole, the show Community, Michael Myers from Halloween and John McClane. The Seminoles just keep winning and just keep making me think of new ways to explain their inexplicable run this season in which they've done everything they can to lose -- you know, aside from actually losing.
Last game: Beat Miami, 30-26
Next game: Saturday vs. Boston College
33Oregon Duckslast week: 3record: 9-1It appears Week 12 was a good week for a bye, so kudos to the Ducks for their elite scheduling prowess.
Last game: Beat Utah, 51-27
Next game: Saturday vs. Colorado
44Baylor Bearslast week: 6record: 8-1The same goes for the Bears, who had to love that Kansas gave TCU a run for its money Saturday. The Jayhawks are definitely making Art Briles’ Christmas card list this year.
Last game: Beat Oklahoma, 48-14
Next game: Saturday vs. Oklahoma State
55Mississippi State Bulldogslast week: 2record: 9-1How the committee deals with Mississippi State this week will say a lot about its process. The Bulldogs’ shaky nonconference schedule will get a closer look, as will their best wins. Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU didn’t help Mississippi State out, as all three fell (along with the Bulldogs) Saturday.
Last game: Lost to Alabama, 25-20
Next game: Saturday vs. Vanderbilt
66TCU Horned Frogslast week: 5record: 9-1After finding a way to beat the Jayhawks, TCU coach Gary Patterson said, “a lot of people would have lost that ballgame.” That’s probably true. But simply surviving at this point in the beauty pageant portion of the season might not be enough.
Last game: Beat Kansas, 34-30
Next game: Nov. 27 at Texas
77Ohio State Buckeyeslast week: 8record: 9-1I’m still cold from watching Ohio State play Minnesota in Minneapolis. And I’m still in awe of the Golden Gophers staffer who ate his Dilly Bar with a smile on his face in frigid temperatures.
Last game: Beat Minnesota, 31-24
Next game: Saturday vs. Indiana
88Michigan State Spartanslast week: 10record: 8-2The Spartans’ two losses are better than pretty much every other two-loss team’s two losses. So they have that going for them, which is nice.
Last game: Beat Maryland, 37-15
Next game: Saturday vs. Rutgers
99Ole Miss Rebelslast week: 12record: 8-2There’s still an outside chance the Rebels play for the SEC title. If Ole Miss wins out and Alabama loses to Auburn, the Rebs are in Atlanta. Before you say that’s a virtual impossibility, remember this is the SEC West we are talking about.
Last game: Beat Presbyterian, 48-0
Next game: Saturday at Arkansas
1010Georgia Bulldogslast week: 15record: 8-2After reports came in that Todd Gurley had torn his ACL, the gifted Georgia running back tweeted this:Here’s hoping Gurley has a full and swift recovery at whichever level of football we’ll see him play next.
Last game: Beat Auburn, 34-7
Next game: Saturday vs. Charleston Southern
1111Kansas State Wildcatslast week: 14record: 7-2Kansas State’s football team did not play last week, but its basketball team did. And this is basically a poor segue of an excuse to post this Vine of Brandon Bolden blocking the humanity out of a Southern Utah player.
Last game: Lost to TCU, 41-20
Next game: Saturday at West Virginia
1212UCLA Bruinslast week: 17record: 8-2The Bruins got exactly what they needed to remain in play in the Pac-12 title race when Arizona State fell to Oregon State late Saturday night. Win out, and UCLA will claim the South division. That’s easier said than done as the Bruins have USC and Stanford to close out the regular season.
Last game: Beat Washington, 44-30
Next game: Saturday vs. USC
1313Arizona State Sun Devilslast week: 7record: 8-2Todd Graham didn’t mince words in his press conference this week following the team’s loss to Oregon State. "There is a certain standard to how we do things,” Graham said, “and as a leader I fell short on this one."
Last game: Lost to Oregon State, 35-27
Next game: Saturday vs. Washington State
1414Arizona Wildcatslast week: 19record: 8-2The Wildcats have played six games this season in which the final score differential was a touchdown or less. They are 5-1 in those games. That seems significant.
Last game: Beat Washington, 27-26
Next game: Saturday at Utah
1515Wisconsin Badgerslast week: 23record: 7-2There’s no proper way to put into context just how dominant Melvin Gordon’s performance against Nebraska really was. He rushed for an FBS-record 408 yards in three quarters on just 25 carries. It goes to show that you can watch football every Saturday for your entire life and you still might see something you’ve never seen before.
Last game: Beat Nebraska, 59-24
Next game: Saturday at Iowa
1616Auburn Tigerslast week: 9record: 7-3Rather than belabor the Tigers’ loss to Georgia, I would like to point out that in consecutive weeks Auburn plays the Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium and then the Samford Bulldogs.
Last game: Lost to Georgia, 34-7
Next game: Saturday vs. Samford
1717Marshall Thundering Herdlast week: 20record: 10-0Waiting for Marshall (To Be Ranked) may not be the hot new Waiting For Godot interpretation we need, but it is definitely the one we deserve.
Last game: Beat Rice, 41-14
Next game: Saturday at UAB
1818Colorado State Ramslast week: 22record: 9-1Garrett Grayson doesn’t get a lot of love, but he’s put together a pretty solid senior season. He has 26 touchdowns to just five interceptions, improved his yards per attempt from 7.73 last year to 9.72 this year and is completing more than 65 percent of his passes.
Last game: Beat Hawaii, 49-21
Next game: Saturday vs. New Mexico
1919Georgia Tech Yellow Jacketslast week: 24record: 9-2The Yellow Jackets defense has scored four touchdowns in its past two games. Those guys all deserve a burger and a milkshake (or three) at the establishment of their choosing.
Last game: Beat Clemson, 28-6
Next game: Nov. 29 at Georgia
2020Nebraska Cornhuskerslast week: 11record: 8-2Before playing Wisconsin, Nebraska had allowed 1,114 rushing yards this season on 3.73 yards per attempt. After playing Wisconsin, Nebraska has allowed 1,695 yards on 4.83 yards per attempt. That's the Melvin Gordon difference.
Last game: Lost to Wisconsin, 59-24
Next game: Saturday vs. Minnesota
2121Missouri Tigerslast week: 25record: 8-2We are faced with the very real possibility that Missouri could defend its SEC East title in a season in which the Tigers were shut out 34-0 at home to Georgia and lost at home to Indiana.
Last game: Beat Texas A&M, 34-27
Next game: Saturday at Tennessee
2222USC Trojanslast week: NRrecord: 7-3If you were able to get past all the flags Thursday, you got to see another remarkably good performance out of Trojans wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who had 16 catches for 216 yards and two scores. That game put him over 1,000 yards and got him to double-digit touchdowns on the season.
Last game: Beat Cal, 38-30
Next game: Saturday at UCLA
2323Oklahoma Soonerslast week: NRrecord: 7-3For as disappointing as Oklahoma’s season has been to this point, there’s been nothing disappointing about the play of freshman Samaje Perine, who was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after piling up 213 yards and three touchdowns in the Sooners' win over Texas Tech.
Last game: Beat Texas Tech, 42-30
Next game: Saturday vs. Kansas
2424Duke Blue Devilslast week: 16record: 8-2The sky is not falling for Duke. The Blue Devils can still win the Coastal if they win their next two games. Both of those games are at home against in-state opponents.
Last game: Lost to Virginia Tech, 17-16
Next game: Thursday vs. UNC
2525Utah Uteslast week: NRrecord: 7-3Utah out-Stanforded Stanford on Saturday in a season in which the Utes seem to have stolen the Cardinal's power like the Monstars trapping the NBA players’ talent in that glowing basketball in Space Jam.
Last game: Beat Stanford, 20-17 (2OT)
Next game: Saturday vs. Arizona