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Baylor Looking To Join ‘Elite’ Teams Atop Rankings

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WACO, TX - OCTOBER 19: Bryce Petty #14 of the Baylor Bears drops back to throw a pass against the Iowa State Cyclones on October 19, 2013 at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Bryce Petty of the Baylor Bears (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

(AP) – The line has been drawn.

On one side, the top four teams in the nation: Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State. On the other, everybody else.

Baylor is the lone team still toeing that line.

The Bears moved up to No. 5 in The Associated Press college football poll Sunday, their best ranking in 60 years. Baylor fit nicely with the first group Saturday as the top teams romped.

No. 1 Alabama received 55 first-place votes after beating Tennessee 45-10. No. 2 Oregon got three first-place votes following a 42-14 victory over UCLA. No. 3 Florida State pounded North Carolina State 49-17 and drew two first-place votes from the media panel. No. 4 Ohio State handed Penn State its worst loss in more than a century, 63-14.

Nitpick with the order if you’d like, and there’s no guarantee that any of those teams will get through their schedules unbeaten, but right now it’s hard to argue that isn’t the top four. That’s the way they lined up in the BCS standings this week, too.

Unless you’re Baylor.

Baylor beat Kansas 59-14, which actually lowered the Bears’ national-best scoring average to 63.9. The only time the Bears have been better ranked in the AP poll came in November 1953 when they were third. Baylor lost three of its final four games that season and finished unranked.

The Bears (7-0) are hoping to avoid a similar finish to this season against a back-loaded schedule. More than halfway through, Baylor has played only one FBS team with a winning record — Buffalo (6-2).

The Sagarin ratings have Baylor’s schedule strength at 96th in Division I. For comparison’s sake, Alabama’s is 41st, Oregon’s is 54th, Florida State’s is 68th and Ohio State’s is 69th.

In their favor, the Bears have also played only one game that has been competitive in the second half — a 35-25 victory at Kansas State.

“We’re playing really, really good defense, we’ve got guys that are very explosive offensively and we have a great offensive line. We’re a tough football team,” coach Art Briles said after the Kansas game.

Finally, we’ll find out how tough on Nov. 7, when Baylor hosts a Thursday night showdown against No. 13 Oklahoma.

After that comes No. 15 Texas Tech at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, at No. 18 Oklahoma State, at TCU and finally return home for the finale against Texas on Dec. 7.

Soon enough, we’ll know what side of that line Baylor falls.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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