1. LSU (12-0): beat Arkansas, 41-17
Some years Heisman voters follow a simple theory: give the trophy to the best player on the best team. If I stole a Heisman ballot, my vote would go to Tigers sophomore defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. The 5 ft. 9 in. Mathieu is the best playmaker on the best defense, and team, in the land. Another stellar performance in a big profile game against Arkansas only confirms that he is deserving of the trophy. The New Orleans native burned the Razorbacks by scoring on a 92-yard punt return to compliment his eight tackles and two forced fumbles. (Next: vs. Georgia)
2. Alabama (11-1): beat Auburn, 42-14
In all likelihood, Coach Nick Saban’s ball club sealed a grudge match with LSU. But this time it won’t be the “Game of the Century,” it’ll just have to settle for the “Game of the Year” title as the BCS trophy will be on the line. Even though the Tide lost the first rendition earlier, there is no one else in the country who has proven it deserves a chance to play LSU for a national title. ‘Bama currently sits at No. 2 in the BCS rankings, right ahead of Oklahoma State. (Next: TBD).
3. Stanford (11-1): beat Notre Dame, 28-14
The Cardinal, lead by quarterback Andrew Luck, have been highly rated in the CUI poll throughout the season. I was once convinced that Stanford’s offensive line and rushing defense provided a outside-in framework for dethroning the SEC. I was wrong. Not only did the Oregon loss prove how the Cardinal don’t have the necessary speed on the edges to keep pace with elite teams, but it also brought Luck down to earth. The junior still remains the Heisman frontrunner after throwing four touchdown passes against the Irish, but he won’t be able to add a national title to his résumé. (Next: TBD).
4. Oklahoma St. (11-1): Idle
After having a week to collect their thoughts, the Cowboys must still be in shock from the loss at Iowa State. At the time it looked like OSU would be completely dropped from the national title conversation. But now, as they sit at No. 3 in the BCS standings, the Cowboys need to beat in-state rival Oklahoma by a large margin if they expect to jump Alabama. The offense is poised to breakout, but the defense has given up at least 24 points in eight games this season. Something has to give in the Bedlam Series. (Next: vs. Oklahoma)
5. Virginia Tech (11-1): beat Virginia, 38-0
The Hokies are one of the hotter teams in the nation and will again be favored to win the ACC Championship against Clemson. Quarterback Logan Thomas, a first-year starter, has come a long way to turn the boys from Blacksburg into the league’s best team. Since a loss to Clemson in October, Thomas has thrown for 14 touchdowns and run for nine more. Now he’ll look to avenge his team’s only loss as the Hokies square off with the Tigers for the ACC crown. (Next: vs. Clemson).
6. Houston (12-0): beat Tulsa, 48-16
Quarterback Case Keenum’s passing ratio of 43 touchdowns to three interceptions has Houston in serious contention for a BCS bowl bid. The nation’s top scoring offense can’t let up yet, as the Cougars take on the only ranked team of the schedule to date. When No. 24 Southern Miss comes to town, Keenum and company will have everything to lose, including the school’s first undefeated season. (Next: vs. Southern Miss).
7. Arkansas (10-2): lost to LSU, 17-41
Arkansas’ only two losses have come to the nation’s top two teams. However, they lost to LSU and Alabama by a combined score of 79-31. Even more discouraging to a program that wants to act like on of the SEC’s elites was the action of head coach Bobby Petrino following the game. The coach who once walked out on an NFL team in the middle of a season took his team’s loss like a spoil sport. Arkansas, which ranks No. 8 in the newest BCS standings, is looking at a likely BCS bid since the better SEC teams will be playing in the national championship. (Next: TBD).
8. USC (10-2): beat UCLA, 50-0
Quarterback Matt Barkley has certainly vaulted himself into the Heisman conversation. Even though the Trojans can’t play for a postseason bowl game or the Pac-12 championship, they remain one of the top programs nationally. Barkley tossed six touchdowns against the Bruins and his 39 touchdowns lead a conference known for it’s passing prowess. Fans gave out cheers of “One more year” for the junior, who’s a projected first-round draft pick. If Barkley does return, the Trojans will start as one of the top five teams in 2012. (Next: Season over).
9. Oregon (10-2): beat Oregon State, 49-21
If you want to see who really benefits the most from USC’s last year of probation, look no further than Eugene, Ore. That’s where the Ducks will play a 6-6 UCLA team that just fired it’s coach for the inaugural Pac-12 title. Good news for Oregon, who is likely to return to a third straight BCS bowl game. Coach Chip Kelly is 0-2 in the previous bowls. (Next: vs. UCLA)
10. Georgia (10-2): beat Georgia Tech, 31-17
The Bulldogs have reeled off ten straight wins since a rocky opening to their season. UGA avoided playing LSU, Alabama, or Arkansas on the favorable schedule. Now, the Bulldogs can prove they belong at this spot with a meeting against the nation’s No. 1 squad. Quarterback Aaron Murray, who leads the SEC with 32 touchdowns, will be tested against the Tigers secondary. But Georgia’s defense should be up for the challenge. (Next: vs. LSU)
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Michael Krumholtz at Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org.