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Rose Bowl

Contenders to potentially play in the 2015 Rose Bowl

After a wild week in college football, the Associated Press Top 25 has a drastically new look this week, with several major college football playoff contenders suffering losses. In one of the most memorable weeks in college football history, Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA Bruins and Texas A & M all suffered losses, greatly impacting the outlook for the inaugural college football playoff. This season the Rose Bowl in Pasadena will hold one of the two college football semifinal games.

Here’s a look at the top contenders to potentially play in the Rose Bowl after the major upsets of the past week:

Florida State: The defending national champions take over the top spot in the AP poll and if they can go undefeated, should be a shoo-in for the national semifinals. Although the Seminoles have been undefeated, they haven’t been as impressive as a year ago. Two weeks ago the FSU gave up 41 points to North Carolina State, the second time they’ve given up over thirty points this season. The big test for Florida State will come on October 18 when they host undefeated Notre Dame.

Auburn: With Alabama losing the Auburn Tigers are now the highest ranked SEC team and currently in the driver’s seat to compete for the National title. This past week Auburn steamrolled the LSU Tigers in one of the more impressive performances of the college football season thus far. In a brutal upcoming schedule the Tigers have five remaining teams currently tanked in the top fifteen on their schedule. If they can somehow navigate their schedule they’ll be a leading candidate to potentially play in the Rose Bowl.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have made an impressive rise to the top of the AP Poll with consecutive wins over top ten teams, LSU and Texas A & M. The Bulldogs can cement their ranking with a defeat of Auburn this coming Saturday. In addition to Auburn the Bulldogs still play Alabama and Ole Miss, both ranked in the top ten. In quarterback Dak Prescott the Bulldogs have one of the most exciting players in all of college football.

Mississippi: In a remarkable turn of events, Mississippi joints Mississippi State in the AP top 5 after an impressive home victory over Alabama. In their first test of the season, Ole Miss came back from a halftime deficit to defeat Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. They’ll be tested immediately this coming weekend when they travel to College Station to face the Texas A & M Aggies.
Baylor: With Oklahoma losing the Baylor Bears are now the highest ranked Big 12 team, with a real shot to go undefeated. The Bears will get immediately tested this weekend when they host 9th ranked TCU. The Horned Frogs are coming off of an impressive victory over Oklahoma. Baylor has one of the most dynamic offenses in all of college football under quarterback Bryce Petty.

Notre Dame: The Irish aren’t blowing teams out, but they are collecting victories over solid opponents, most recently their defeat of Stanford this weekend. Notre Dame has two remaining ranked teams on their schedule, Florida State and Arizona State, as well as the season finale versus USC. If the Irish can manage to go undefeated they’ll have a strong case for the college football playoffs.

Arizona Wildcats: The most surprising team on the list, and the team that made the biggest rise in the polls, is Arizona. The undefeated Wildcats knocked off second ranked Oregon in Eugene this past weekend, vaulting them from unranked to number ten in the country. Arizona has upcoming games versus UCLA, USC and Arizona State on their schedule. Although it’s unlikely, if the Wildcats can go undefeated they’ll have a strong case for one of the two national semifinal games.

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Contenders for the BCS Championship game

Four weeks into the young 2012 college football season, it is clear that the Alabama Crimson Tide are the nation’s best team. But are there any sleepers out there? Is there a team that may be able to sneak up the polls and contend for a shot at–the very least a BCS bowl bid–the BCS title? Here’s a look at the best prospects after four weeks.

1. Kansas State Wildcats (4-0)
The Wildcats are usually quiet year in and year out, and you can never count out a Bill Snyder-coached team. KSU has a senior dual-threat QB in Collin Klein who can beat you with his arm and his legs, but most importantly, his head. Snyder’s defenses are always sound, this year is no exception, and they play solid special teams. The drawback? A brutal Big 12 schedule. KSU beat No. 6 Oklahoma a week ago and faces five more ranked opponents.

2. Stanford Cardinals (3-0)
After their 21-14 win over a USC team that everyone thought would challenge the SEC dominance of the BCS championship trophy, the Cardinal are a legitimate contender. Tough defense…check. Powerful run game…check. Sound special teams…check. Can they get through the Pac-12 schedule and, more importantly, beat Oregon?

3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0)
The Irish are 4-0 for the first time in a decade and with convincing wins over both Michigan and Michigan State are in a position they have not been in for quite some time. And, minus an Oct. 13th date with Stanford and the season-ending clash with USC, the schedule gods look favorably upon the Irish. Should ND get through the balance of its schedule, coach Brian Kelly’s squad will be in the BCS picture.

4. Texas Longhorns (3-0)
The Longhorns took a few years off it seems after their BCS championship appearance in 2009. Head coach Mack Brown has his team back to the level of play Texas fans had become accustomed to–tough defense, powerful ground game, great QB play. Are they a contender? The biggest drawback is the Big 12 schedule. The Longhorns will play no less than five ranked league opponents. If they truly belong in the BCS picture, they will come out of league play unscathed.

5. TCU Horned Frogs (3-0)
It seems like each year the college football world is talking about TCU being a BCS-buster. Well, no more. Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs are now part of the very talented Big 12 and won’t have to “bust” into the BCS anymore. That is, if they can somehow fight the same battle as Kansas State and Texas–Big 12 schedule–and win. Since 2005, TCU has won at least eleven games in every season but one. If they do it again, they may be playing for a national title.

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