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LSU, Alabama atop BCS rankings; Stanford moves up two spots after win

Stanford's first win of the season against a ranked team helped Andrew Luck and the Cardinal move up in the BCS standings.

While LSU (8-0), Alabama (8-0) and Oklahoma State (8-0) remained locked into the top three spots in the standings released Sunday, Stanford moved up two places to fourth after beating Southern California, 56-48, in triple overtime.

Boise State (7-0) slipped a spot to fifth, while Clemson (7-1) fell from fifth to 11th after its first loss.

LSU and Alabama will play Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for first place and the inside track to the BCS national championship game.

Oklahoma State seems to be in position to win out and reach the title game in New Orleans on Jan. 9. The computer ratings have the Cowboys No. 1.

The BCS standings use the Harris poll, the coaches' poll and computer ratings to determine which teams play for the national championship.

LSU is No. 1 in both polls and Alabama is No. 2 in each. The Tigers and Crimson Tide are tied for the second-best computer rating.

Oklahoma State is No. 3 in the Harris poll and No. 4 in the coaches' poll, and Stanford is No. 4 and No. 3. But the difference between the Cowboys (.9310 BCS average) and the Cardinal (.8615) is the computer ratings.

Stanford is sixth in the computers because of a weak early season schedule. The Cardinal should be getting a boost from here on out.

After a road game Saturday against Pac-12 rival Oregon State, the Cardinal play Oregon, eighth in the BCS standings, at home. They finish with California and Notre Dame at home, and could play in the Pac-12 championship, too -- probably against Arizona State.

It might not be enough to catch Oklahoma State. The Cowboys face Big 12 rival Kansas State, 14th in the BCS standings, on Saturday, have road games against Texas Tech and Iowa State, and finish with a home game against Oklahoma.

The Big 12 no longer has a championship game.

For Boise State, the formula is the same as it has always been. The Broncos' conference schedule -- this year in the Mountain West -- presents few stiff challenges, so Boise State probably needs to go undefeated just to play in one of the four marquee bowl games. The Broncos have done that twice. To reach the national championship game for the first time, Boise State will need the teams ahead of it to lose.


Irish hopes for turnaround

No one is about to anoint Notre Dame a player in next year's national title race, and it's way too early to even say the Irish have regained their place among the country's elite programs.

But Notre Dame's merciless dissection of Navy on Saturday showed signs of its progress, and gave a glimpse of the team the Irish could become.

"We want a consistency about how we play each and every week," coach Brian Kelly said after the 56-14 rout. "Today was a great example of the kind of football (we want to play): Everybody together, everybody playing hard for each other. And that's what we expect. We don't want to just do it for four weeks. We want to do it for eight, 10, 12."

The rout followed a dust-up over comments Kelly made about having to "retrain" the players he inherited from Charlie Weis. Some veterans, including star linebacker Manti Te'o, took offense at what they perceived as a slight, and Kelly apologized at a team meeting Friday.

It may sound like much ado about nothing. But when a team is struggling and still getting used to each other, as Kelly and the Irish (5-3) are, even the slightest controversy can cause irreparable damage.

Instead, this game might prove to be a turning point.

"We're going to go from here and finish out these last four, five games," offensive tackle Zack Martin said. "Every team goes through adversity. We worked too hard to let something so small tear us apart."

Notre Dame scored on five of its first six possessions, and its seven rushing touchdowns were a 19-year high. Jonas Gray scored three times and Cierre Wood twice, giving the Irish two running backs with multiple touchdowns for the first time since 2001. The offensive line did not give up a sack, the fourth straight game it has kept opponents from getting to the quarterback. And a week after managing just 28 yards, Michael Floyd had six receptions for 121 yards.

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