BLAIR KERKHOFF

Missouri Tigers open strong in BCS standings at No. 5

Updated: 2013-10-21T12:42:39Z

By BLAIR KERKHOFF

The Kansas City Star

At this rate of upward mobility, Missouri will hover somewhere above the rest of college football in a couple of weeks.

Two weeks ago, the Tigers debuted at No. 25 by the Associated Press.

Today, Mizzou stands at No. 5 on the list that matters most —the BCS standings that launched Sunday night with Alabama leading the way.

The standings offered a surprise. Florida State, ranked third in the two polls that make up two-thirds of the standings, debuts at No. 2, a shade ahead of Oregon.

The Seminoles are coming off its most resounding victory of the season, 51-14 at Clemson, and they’ll have another opportunity to impress against a top-10 opponent in two weeks against Miami.

Florida State got a big boost in the computer rankings. The average of six computer polls, which comprise the remaining one-third of the standings, spit out the Seminoles first in that category, the Ducks fourth.

But Oregon’s most difficult chores of the season are immediate with a home date against UCLA on Saturday and a trip to Stanford on Nov. 7. Sweep those, and Oregon, assuming the Ducks remain ranked second in the polls, should edge ahead of Florida State.

Ohio State at No. 4 presents an interesting case. The Buckeyes will be favored to win out, but the only remaining ranked team on the schedule is Michigan. Ohio State may not have enough juice to overtake teams with similar records.

It’s the first of eight BCS standings, with the final one unveiled on Dec. 8, the night after college football’s regular season concludes. The top two teams will play in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif.

The Tigers are familiar with the process. They came oh so close to advancing to the 2007 title game after ascending to No. 1 in the next-to-last BCS standing.

But falling to Oklahoma for the Big 12 championship cost the Tigers a trip to the Superdome.

Missouri is one of 17 programs to spend at least one week atop the standings. Kansas State joined the list last season.

This year, Alabama, the two-time defending national champion, has a healthy lead in the first standings, and it would be difficult to see the Crimson Tide not appearing in the championship game if it wins out.

But history tells us it’s folly to project a national title game based on the debut list. Only twice since the first BCS standings in 1998 have the top two teams in first standings made it to the end.

It happened in 2005 with Texas and Southern California and in 2011 with LSU and Alabama.

Last year, the Crimson Tide and Florida opened 1-2. Notre Dame was fifth. But the Irish met Alabama in the title game.

Coming off the pace is common. In 2003, LSU was 12th in the first standings and won the championship. Five years later, Oklahoma debuted at No. 10 and met Florida for the BCS title.

If the BCS standings had debuted last week, Clemson and LSU would be stoked about their chances. But those Tigers were among six teams in the top 11 that lost over the weekend, setting the stage for teams like Missouri, Baylor and Texas Tech to move into the top 10. The Bears are eighth, the Red Raiders 10th.

But no ascent has come at a more dizzying pace than the Tigers’. They were picked to finish sixth in the SEC East in the preseason poll. But after knocking off Florida and Georgia the last two weeks, the Tigers now find themselves calculating what it takes to play for the national championship.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.

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