CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Weeding them out for the Rose Bowl title game

There are four solid contenders left in Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and Florida State, but there are only two spots for the big game and there's still time for slips or surprises.

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There are 10 unbeaten major-college football teams and a couple potential interlopers trying to cram into the Bowl Championship Series title game at the Rose Bowl.

Oregon already got passed in the standings after scoring 62 points in a blowout win.

Leaves are starting to turn and so are some stomachs, but the committee led by Tom Osborne and the Hastings Selection Singers can't help until next year.

Is it time to panic?

Well, it depends. If you are Oregon the answer is no and if you are Ohio State the answer is yes. If you are Texas Tech the answer is "please take a seat and fill out these application forms."

You can't blame the system if it turns out the playoff should have started this year, because the BCS is under contractual obligation to screw it all up one last time.

At this point, it looks like there are four serious final-game contenders in Alabama, Florida State, Oregon and Ohio State.

Everything after No. 4 in the BCS standings is the Missouri Compromise.

Before we assess the top 10, let's excuse the undefeated teams of Fresno State and Northern Illinois. The Bulldogs of the Mountain West and Huskies of the Mid American are battling for an automatic berth in the Fiesta Bowl.

Beyond the top 10, No. 11 Auburn and No. 12 UCLA technically must be considered national contenders because Auburn still plays at No. 1 Alabama and UCLA plays at No. 3 Oregon. You can leapfrog a lot of teams pulling off upsets of that magnitude.

Here is our first BCS standings top-10 power assessment:

1. Alabama (7-0): The Crimson Tide will stay in the top spot despite a schedule rank of No. 43 in the Sagarin Ratings. Alabama's remaining schedule includes two-loss Louisiana State and an Auburn team that barely escaped Washington State at home, and then Missouri (probably) in the Southeastern Conference title game.

Coach Nick Saban is doing his best drumming up interest for incoming Tennessee (4-3), which has found some Southern comfort in the SEC after losing at Oregon, 59-14. "Tennessee has emerged as a very good football team," Saban said.

2. Florida State (6-0): The Seminoles own the two most impressive wins of the season, 63-0 over then-ranked Maryland and 51-14 over No. 3 Clemson. The problem is, Florida State won't be able to hold off No. 3 Oregon forever. The Ducks are No. 2 in both polls and will rise in the computers with closing games against three teams ranked in the BCS top 25 — UCLA, Stanford and Oregon State.

3. Oregon (7-0): Here's why Oregon has nothing to worry about as long as it goes undefeated: Sagarin's top four conference divisions are the SEC West, Pac-12 North, SEC East and Pac-12 South. The Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division, where Florida State resides, ranks No. 9. The teams left on Oregon's regular-season schedule are 25-8; Florida State's opponents are 21-20.

4. Ohio State (7-0): It's hard to believe the Buckeyes could go undefeated two straight seasons and not make the BCS title game. Last season, NCAA sanctions kept them out. This season was the wrong season to play California in nonconference and for the Big Ten Conference to be weak.

5. Missouri (7-0): Missouri rode a gravy train to 5-0 and then caught Georgia and Florida teams decimated by injuries. Legitimacy will come if Missouri beats visiting South Carolina on Saturday. What Missouri has working in its favor is the chance to play No. 1 Alabama in the SEC title game.

6. Stanford (6-1): The Cardinal got back in the chase thanks to a nice win over UCLA and half the top 10 losing. LSU taking a second loss made Stanford the highest rated one-loss team. Stanford's problem is getting through the rest of a schedule that includes Oregon State, Oregon and Notre Dame.

7. Miami (6-0): The Hurricanes needed a last-minute drive to beat dreadful North Carolina, but, hey, they did it. The sense is this team is overrated, but also that it could take off knowing NCAA sanctions won't keep the team out of postseason play. Winning at Florida State on Nov. 2 would make Miami a serious contender.

8. Baylor (6-0): The Bears are averaging 64.7 points a game and get lowly Kansas on Saturday. No one will really know if this is Oregon Light until Baylor closes against Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Texas Christian and Texas.

9. Clemson (6-1): The Tigers were lucky much of the top 10 collapsed the same day they got blown out at home by Florida State. Clemson deserved a bigger drop and it can safely be said there is no way the Tigers can get back into contention. Coach Dabo Swinney should have been administered smelling salts for saying Clemson could beat Florida State five times out of 10.

10. Texas Tech (7-0): The Red Raiders are a great story under first-year Coach Kliff Kingsbury, but the team's best win is over TCU. The heavy lifting starts Saturday at Oklahoma.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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