At the season’s midway point, 14 undefeated teams remain in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Clearly, that number will not remain the same -- and not just because two of them, Florida State and Clemson, play Saturday.
Beyond the top crop of elite teams, which undefeated schools could rise in the second half? I’ve ranked five of the unblemished programs outside the top eight, evaluating which team or teams from this group -- Baylor, Miami, Missouri, Texas Tech and UCLA -- has the best chance to continue its rise toward the 2013 elite. (This list nearly went to four Thursday night, but Miami somehow managed to remain unbeaten.)
1. Baylor Bears
Key games remaining: Nov. 7 versus No. 18 Oklahoma; Nov. 16 versus No. 16 Texas Tech (Dallas); Nov. 23 at No. 21 Oklahoma State; Dec. 7 versus Texas
Bears continue rise if ...
The defense plays like it did in the season’s first month and not like it did last week, when Kansas State rushed for 327 yards, including 199 by quarterback Daniel Sams. Prior to that outburst, the Bears were first in the country in red zone defense and No. 8 in yards per play allowed. That was a prodigious pace, but settling somewhere in the middle would make Baylor extremely dangerous, given all that offensive weaponry.