It's time for a new installment of Deadspin's college football rankings. As always, the teams are ranked according to the logic and values of college football, no matter how bizarre or contradictory they may be.
1. LSU (12-0) Last week: 1
The Tigers beat hapless Ole Miss, 52-3, then beat Arkansas in a Friday game, billed as a showdown between national championship contenders, 41-17. Quiz! Can you tell which performance came from the SEC cellar-dwelling Rebels and which came from the BCS-aspiring Razorbacks?
1. Gave up 353 rushing yards.
2. Allowed LSU to hold the ball for 37:09 of game time.
3. Averaged 1.7 yards per carry.
4. Averaged 2.5 yards per pass play.
5. Sacked five times by LSU.
6. Allowed 35 unanswered points.
(Answers: 1. Ole Miss, 2. Arkansas, 3. Arkansas, 4. Ole Miss, 5. Arkansas, 6. Ole Miss.)
LSU is much better than anybody else.
2. Houston (12-0) Last week: 3
The undefeated Cougars beat SMU, 37-7, then beat Tulsa in a Friday game, 48-16. Quarterback Case Keenum threw for a combined 775 yards and six touchdowns, extending his career records for yardage and TDs, and claimed the records for most completions and most 300-yard games along the way. Houston is the only team that would deserve to play LSU for a national title if the season ended now.
But but but MY team is much better than Houston! No, it's not. Or if it is, it doesn't matter. Besides LSU, there are two kinds of teams in college football this year:
1. Teams in the SEC West.
2. Teams that are not as good as the teams in the SEC West.
This is all a preview of the world to come when the superconferences have finished seceding from the NCAA and pursuing their own deals. The SEC West is the major league this year. If your team is in the SEC West, it has been beaten by LSU, and therefore doesn't need to lose to LSU in the national championship game. If your team isn't in the SEC West—and hasn't been beaten by an SEC West team in an interconference game—it's played an inferior schedule.
Unlike everyone else, Houston has played its inferior schedule flawlessly so far. And it has a record-setting quarterback. People may argue that those are bogus credentials. Maybe they are bogus. You know what's a good way to test that? Let Houston play LSU.
3. Harvard (9-1) Last week: unranked
Here's a guest from the division formerly known as 1-AA. While BCS comes conceptually unglued and the Big Time schools sink toward a holiday season of anxiety and recrimination and sophistry, hoping to impress pollsters and arbitrary computer formulas, Harvard strolls off the field as an undisputed football success. The Crimson shook off a season-opening loss to run the table the rest of the way, rolling over Penn to clinch the Ivy League title and then, finally—a hundred times more importantly than any league title, let alone any BCS foolishness—pounding Yale senseless on the Elis' home field, 45-7. Harvard has beaten Yale five years in a row and nine of the past 11. Children will enter kindergarten next fall who have never seen Harvard lose to Yale in their lifetimes.
4. [Vacant] Last week: 4
Nothing but losers from here on down.
5. USC (9-2) Last week: 10
The outlaw Trojans went to Oregon and broke the Ducks' 21-game home winning streak, 38-35. Even if they beat UCLA and finish with the best record in their division, their NCAA penalties will keep them out of the conference championship game. In Oregon, Matt Barkley threw four more touchdowns, extending his season lead over Andrew Luck to 33-31. Maybe the Downtown Athletic Club will assert its independence from the NCAA and give Barkley the Heisman, huh? They probably can't wait to give Southern Cal a boost, what with their rich shared tradition and all.
6. Virginia Tech (10-1) Last week: 6
The Hokies beat North Carolina, 24-21, to set up an intra-Virginia showdown with UVA for the ACC's dognail zagr as kdttttttt—whoa, sorry, dozed off there! ACC fever!
7. Alabama (10-1) Last week: 11
The Greatest Defense in the History of College Football surrendered two touchdowns to Georgia Southern, and Alabama's kickoff team allowed another, which gave the Eagles the highest-scoring performance by any Crimson Tide opponent this year, losing only 45-21.
8. Arkansas (10-2) Last week: 5
The Razorbacks beat Mississippi State, 44-17. Then they played LSU. Did you see the play where LSU's Spencer Ware got wrapped up by an Arkansas player at the line of scrimmage and Ware just twisted free like he'd walked through a spiderweb by mistake and plunged on into the end zone? That was Arkansas.
9. South Carolina (9-2) Last week: 12
Against the Citadel, the Gamecocks offense called a rushing play for defensive end Melvin Ingram on fourth-and-2, and Ingram went 19 yards. Ingram's season rushing stats: two carries, 87 yards, one touchdown. South Carolina won, 41-20.
10. Georgia (9-2) Last week: 19
OK, fine, Georgia. The Bulldogs beat Kentucky, 19-10, to win their SEC division and, with that, the right to play LSU. Have a ball.
11. Oklahoma State (10-1) Last week: 2
The Cowboys blew a 24-7 lead and their entire season, allowing Iowa State to catch up and "beat" them in "double overtime," "37-31." College overtime is absurd, but a 10-0 team failing to beat Iowa State is more absurd.
12. Kansas State (9-2) Last week: 14
Quarterback Collin Klein carried the ball 26 times for 4 yards, a robust 0.2 yards per carry, as the Wildcats were outgained by Texas, 310-121. Nevertheless, 3 of Klein's forward yards were a touchdown run, and he threw for another touchdown, and Kansas State won, 17-13. A Longhorn Network Instant Classic!
13. Stanford (10-1) Last week: 16
Beat Cal, 31-28, as the Cardinal's superior running game made up for another undistinguished performance by quarterback Andrew Luck.
14. (tie) Clemson (9-2) Last week: 6
14. (tie) Oklahoma (8-2) Last week: 8
The Sooners did the gentlemanly thing and refused to take advantage of Oklahoma State's shocking setback against Iowa State, losing to Baylor 45-38. No, we insist—our season will be the disappointing one.
Clemson likewise withdrew from any discussion of revived national championship hopes, getting clobbered by a mediocre North Carolina State team, 37-13.
16. Oregon (9-2) Last week: 13
Maybe Nike can make them special flashy duds for the Alamo Bowl.
17. (tie) Michigan State (9-2) Last week: 17
17. (tie) Wisconsin (9-2) Last week: 17
The Spartans beat Indiana, 55-3. Wisconsin beat Illinois, 28-17. These results added important shadings of meaning to the Big Ten picture. The Big Ten picture is drawn in No. 2 pencil and is kept tucked inside a social studies textbook in the knapsack of a Dexter, Michigan, sixth-grader, who takes it out every week and adds a little more detail, when he remembers to.
19. Michigan (9-2) Last week: unranked
OK, fine, Michigan. The Wolverines looked respectable again, beating Nebraska, 45-17.
20. TCU (9-2) Last week: 20
The best team in the Mountain West beat Colorado State, 34-10.
21. Boise State (9-1) Last week: 15
The second-best team in the Mountain West beat San Diego State, 52-35.
22. Arkansas State (9-2) Last week: 21
The Red Wolves beat Middle Tennessee, 45-17.
23. Baylor (7-3) Last week: unranked
Of Baylor's three losses—Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and Texas A&M—only A&M turns out to have been crappy. But the Bears will be chortling about the Oklahoma victory long after they've forgotten there even was such a school as Texas A&M.
24. Southern Miss (9-2) Last week: 9
The Golden Eagles lost to UAB, 34-31. They still do lead their division in Conference USA, and they're still going to a bowl game. No reason to get too downhearted.
120. Penn State (9-2) Last week: 120