Never before have Clemson and South Carolina both been this high in the mix together.
The Tigers are eighth and the Gamecocks are 10th in the Week 4 BCS Standings announced Sunday night; the first time ever the rivals have been paired in the top 10 in the same week. If form holds, they will each stay there until they clash Nov. 30 in Columbia.
Clemson had only spent five weeks in the BCS top 10 over the past 13 seasons combined; it has been there all four weeks so far in 2013. The Tigers did drop one spot, below No. 7 Auburn.
When the first standings came out three weeks ago, South Carolina was No. 21. Now, it is 10th. The Gamecocks are the highest two-loss team in the standings.
With three weeks left in the regular season — plus conference championship weekend — here’s an outlook for the whole top 10 based on their remaining schedules (all rankings from BCS standings):
Top five breakdown
No. 1 Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC): at Mississippi State, vs. Chattanooga, at No. 7 Auburn, probable SEC championship. By putting away No. 21 LSU late, Alabama should ease its way to 11-0 before a trip across the state for the 78th Iron Bowl. The Tigers have won 7 of 11 meetings in Auburn, but Alabama has won four of the past five overall clashes and two straight on the road since Nick Saban took over.
If the Tide win out, obviously they play an SEC East foe in Atlanta on Dec. 7. If Auburn wins out, it stunningly ends up in the Georgia Dome one year after a 3-9 debacle.
No. 2 Florida State (9-0, 7-0 ACC): vs. Syracuse, vs. Idaho, at Florida, ACC championship. Syracuse has actually won three of four since getting pasted 49-14 against Clemson, allowing 13 points total in the three victories, but nonetheless FSU is a 38½-point home favorite.
Idaho is 1-9, and Florida is staring at its first bowl-less season in 23 years. The Seminoles punched their ticket to Charlotte; who they will face is completely muddled (per blogger Patrick Stevens, there are currently 1,024 playoff scenarios to determine the ACC Coastal champion.)
No. 3 Ohio State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten): at Illinois, vs. Indiana, at Michigan, probable Big Ten championship. The Illini and Hoosiers should not give the Buckeyes trouble, which leaves the task to the Big House to prevent OSU from back-to-back 12-0 regular seasons. On Saturday, Nebraska handed Michigan its first loss in the three-year Brady Hoke era. Michigan has only beaten Ohio State on the scoreboard once in a decade, and that was in 2011 against Buckeyes interim coach Luke Fickell, and it was 40-34 in Ann Arbor.
This Saturday’s winner between No. 16 Michigan State and Nebraska will serve as OSU’s likely Big Ten title matchup opponent in Indianapolis.
No. 4 Stanford (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12): at USC, vs. California, vs. Notre Dame, possible Pac-12 championship. Stanford’s road graters are still picking duck feathers out of their teeth. As long as the Cardinal takes care of business Saturday in Los Angeles with College GameDay on hand (no easy task; the Trojans have won three straight by 16, 17 and 34 points under interim coach Ed Orgeron), Stanford will sail past lowly Cal (1-9) to seal a return trip to L.A. against the No. 19 Arizona State-No. 13 UCLA winner Nov. 23. Notre Dame just left the rankings, but it offers yet another chance to boost Stanford’s BCS profile.
No. 5 Baylor (8-0, 5-0 Big XII): vs. Texas Tech (Cowboys Stadium), at No. 12 Oklahoma State, at TCU, vs. No. 24 Texas. The Bears were really impressive Thursday in smacking No. 18 Oklahoma, but it’s only the beginning of a defining stretch for Baylor, which really had not beaten anybody that strong before the Sooners. Texas Tech is reeling on a three-game losing skid. Since 1995, Baylor is 2-15 against the Pokes, and that game is in Stillwater. TCU beat Baylor, 45-10, last year. And Texas has won six straight despite intense scrutiny of Mack Brown’s job security. Put up or shut up, Bears.
Best of the Rest
No. 6 Oregon (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12): vs. Utah, at Arizona, vs. Oregon State, unlikely Pac-12 championship. Ducks are done with tough games, so the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day (but not Jan. 6) looks assured.
No. 7 Auburn (9-1, 5-1 SEC): vs. No. 25 Georgia, vs. No. 1 Alabama, possible SEC championship. Everything is still in the Tigers’ hands. They get the final shot at Alabama in their own building, but the Tide just trounced an LSU team by 21 that dismantled Auburn by 14 on Sept. 21.
No. 8 Clemson (8-1, 6-1 ACC): vs. Georgia Tech, vs. The Citadel, at No. 10 South Carolina. Pretty simple, folks: Tigers want an Orange Bowl (or other BCS bowl) trip? Beat the Gamecocks. Otherwise, back to the Chick-fil-A Bowl would be deserved.
No. 9 Missouri (9-1, 5-1 SEC): at Mississippi, vs. No. 11 Texas A&M, possible SEC championship. Two tough, but winnable, games remain to keep Mizzou on track for a surprise trip to the league title event.
No. 10 South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 SEC): vs. Florida, vs. Coastal Carolina, vs. No. 8 Clemson, possible SEC championship. An intriguing lurker in this whole race. Theoretically, with some advantageous results, the Gamecocks could creep into the top five by the first of December.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney talks with quarterback Tajh Boyd (10) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. Clemson won the game 59-10. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)×