It appears Nick Saban and Will Muschamp are on a collision course, but looks can be deceiving.

In the season's initial BCS standings released on Sunday, Alabama and Florida claimed the top two spots, respectively, by piecing together impressive wins behind lights-out defense and strong running games. As it stands, a showdown in Atlanta at the SEC Championship game is within range.

But there's plenty of season to play, and BCS suitors litter the ranks of the fresh standings' top-25. 

Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame round out the BCS top-five, followed by the two one-loss SEC programs that delivered this weekend's primetime thriller — No. 6 LSU and No. 7 South Carolina. Despite a relatively weak schedule, the Ducks have looked untouchable offensively (against Pac-12 defenses) while neither Wildcats' coach Bill Snyder nor Irish headman Brian Kelly could have hoped for a better start to the 2012 season.

The road is long and narrow for most of the teams left in contention, especially the top-tier programs. Every top-10 team faces at least two future opponents that are currently ranked, not including conference title games. Alabama faces Mississippi State, LSU and Texas A&M in the next four weeks. Then either the Gators, Gamecocks or Georgia Bulldogs, just to earn a trip to Miami.

Of the top-10 teams, perhaps surprise No. 8 Oregon State, which has already beaten two ranked foes, faces the easiest regular season path — two-loss Stanford and rival Oregon are the largest obstacles remaining. How much magic does Mike Riley have? Check back in a few weeks.

The final BCS Standings will look nothing like Sunday's rendition.

 

MIDSEASON HARDWARE

Any Given Saturday dishes out the highlights of the college football season at the halfway mark, including the Heisman favorite and a top coach who schedules inner tube sumo wrestling.

Stiff Arm Suspect: If the season ended today, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith — with his 26 touchdowns, no interceptions — would deserve the Heisman Trophy. Yes, it was an ugly loss at Texas Tech, but last season's winner ended up in the Alamo Bowl. Smith has been even better.

COY: Magic Mike Riley schedules water balloon fights and tennis home run derbies for his players ... oh yeah, he's also led Oregon State to a shocking 5-0 start.

Fresh heat: Get to know Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel; he's going to be around a while. Johnny Football is second nationally in both total offense and touchdowns (24), which might wrap up the season's top freshman honors in just six outings.

No luck necessary: Georgia All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones got off to a terrifying start, but Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o has been the nation's preeminent defender. He's leading an Irish resurgence — No. 5 in the BCS, second-ranked scoring defense — en route to what looks like a lucrative NFL Draft selection.

Top game: Most will remember West Virginia's two Texas shootouts (Baylor, Texas), but this past weekend's South Carolina-LSU clash was a dogfight in the nation's toughest venue. Ending in a 23-21 Tigers' victory, it was the best game concluded in regulation — both quarterbacks were on Life Alert.

Top team: Saban reloaded and still has all the tools to make a run at another undefeated campaign. Three national titles in four years sounds impossible in the BCS era, but the Crimson Tide is so balanced and disciplined, it's tough to see any team other than LSU giving them a scare before postseason play.

Title track: In TSL's season preview, Alabama and Oregon were predicted to be in the BCS title game. Nothing has changed seven weeks later. This meeting would only renew the "SEC defense vs. high-powered offense" storyline, Beast vs. Beauty, tale as old as time.