The news was too weighty too ignore. After all, it’s not everyday the No. 1 college football team in the country falls from grace. On Saturday, hours before Oregon took Cal to the woodshed in its own 59-17 win, defending national champ Alabama lost to SEC newcomer Texas A&M 29-23.
The Aggies win sent shockwaves through a nation fully expecting the invincible Tide — top-ranked for the last 10 weeks — to cruise through the rest of their regular season.
Meanwhile, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame, the last of the major unbeatens, will continue to battle for the two spots in the title game. Only if two of the three drop a game will Bama get another shot.
“That’s what’s so good about this team,” wideout Josh Huff said after Saturday’s win. “We don’t pay attention to the rankings and whats around us. We just play Oregon football. We’ll pick our heads up in December and we’ll see where we’re at.”
Sunday’s slate of rankings told the same story. With 45 of 60 first-place votes, the Ducks took over the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll for the first time since their run to the national championship game in 2010. The Wildcats, who likely still have the edge over the Ducks in the BCS computer rankings, took 14 of the remaining 15. The Fighting Irish picked up the last first-place vote.
The Coaches and Harris Polls, two other components of the all-important BCS, also have the Ducks on top.
What does it mean? Well, if Oregon wins out, regardless of its opponents, chances are the the Ducks will get another shot at a national title. If Oregon is tripped up by Stanford next Saturday at Autzen Stadium (or, for that matter, against Oregon State the following week) another trip to Pasadena looks like the highest Oregon fans can hope for.
Its a testament to how far the team has come that another Rose Bowl trip would largely be considered a disappointment.