CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Top college football teams survive scares but all have issues

Alabama appears vulnerable. Oregon gives up 51 points. Notre Dame gets past lowly Pitt. And Kansas State seems to have an injured quarterback.

Only the presidential candidates had to make their closing arguments over the weekend.

For the four undefeated college football teams vying for this year's national title, winning for now was good enough.

It won't be like this in two or three weeks, when more microscopic analysis may be required to separate this year's winners and losers.

The Bowl Championship Series standings Sunday gurgled out the same Fab Four, with Oregon jumping into the No. 3 spot ahead of Notre Dame.

Alabama, despite its near-loss experience at Louisiana State, remained a solid BCS No.1, followed by Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame.

Let's break from serious BCS news, however, to acknowledge a major ripple at border-skirmish level, with UCLA springboarding to No. 18 ahead of … No. 19 USC.

This was about as thinkable in August as Stephen Colbert becoming president.

UCLA, the first No.1 in BCS history back in 1998, is leading USC by the margin of .2533 to .1706.

In the BCS, that's almost like 50-0.

Only a few weeks ago, USC (6-3) was a national title contender. Now the Trojans are trying to hold off Louisiana Tech.

Three of the four national title contenders — Alabama, Oregon and Notre Dame — all survived and advanced. All were poked, prodded and tested in some form or fashion.

Notre Dame nearly flunked its low bar exam. The Irish needed three overtime periods to outlast Pittsburgh, a team that lost to Youngstown State in September.

This was the weekend, though, to get away with it. Notre Dame paid a BCS poll tax, but it was still way better than losing to Pitt.

Oregon scored 62 against USC but gave up 51, sparking the old "they-don't-play-defense" refrain.

Even almighty Alabama was not immune to criticism after nearly blowing a 14-3 halftime lead in Baton Rouge.

The Crimson Tide clearly did not know how to react to trailing in the second half for the first time in two seasons.

"We didn't execute anything until the last 50 seconds of the game," center Barrett Jones said of his team's last-minute win. "Sometimes you have to win them like this, especially in a place like this. This is a great environment. What a night, something I'll never forget."

LSU needed one first down to put Alabama away, yet the Crimson Tide woke up Sunday to find it was still everybody's sweetheart.

Kansas State's victory over Oklahoma State was the most emphatic of the four contenders, but the Wildcats have a more pressing issue: the possible injury to quarterback Collin Klein.

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