So here we are…week 11 is in the books, week 12 is coming up and we now have it…total chaos. While many believe a 4-team playoff would answer the questions we all have, the real question is, would it? The USA Today Coaches Poll (the one that matters of the two “big ones”) currently has three unbeaten teams, and 8 1-loss teams. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument that the only teams who have a chance to make it to the BCS Title game are the three unbeatens and any of the 1-loss teams currently ranked within the Top 10 of the coaches’ poll. We’re not using the BCS rankings because there’s three 2-loss teams in there that really have zero chance of making the title game when it is all said and done. So here we go:
Oregon: Oregon definitely controls its own destiny. Win the rest of their games and they will be headed to Miami for the BCS National Championship Game. While they’re currently below K-State in the BCS rankings, they will reach #1 if they win out. They still have ranked Stanford and ranked Oregon State on their schedule, plus the PAC-12 Championship Game where they’ll face the winner of this week’s USC/UCLA game. If Oregon does stumble, they’d need quite a bit of help to get to the title game because of the late nature of their loss…and the fact that they’re not in the SEC.
Kansas State: Like Oregon, win out and they’re in. K-State has two more games, at Baylor and home against Texas. Win those and Kansas State will likely be packing their bags for sunny Miami. There’s no Big 12 Championship Game, so the risk of a post-Thanksgiving loss isn’t there for them like it is Oregon. Kansas State has done enough to deserve its ranking and winning out should send them to the to the big game.
Notre Dame: It’s hard to imagine a scenario where an undefeated Notre Dame team doesn’t play for the National Title, however, that’s exactly what we’re faced with. If all three teams above go unbeaten, Notre Dame is odd man out. However, if one of the two above stumbles and ND is undefeated, they will be playing for all the marbles. Notre Dame has two games left, Wake Forest and at USC. Lose one of those two and ND is done. While they have a lofty ranking now, they would fall behind several of the 1-loss teams, especially the winner of the SEC Championship Game.
Now the fun begins. There are 5 1-loss teams still in the top 10 of the USA Today Coaches Poll. They are 4. Georgia, 5. Alabama, 6. Florida State, 7. Florida and 9. Clemson. The ridiculous BCS Rankings have LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M, all with 2-losses, ahead of 1-loss FSU and Clemson. Let’s, again, assume that the 2-loss SEC teams are out of it (as they should be). What happens next?
4. Georgia and 5. Alabama: One of these two teams will lose, there’s no question about that. Either Alabama will lose to Auburn (NOT likely) or Alabama will lose to Georgia, or Georgia will lose to Alabama. Like I said, one of these two teams is out of it by virtue of beating the other. Should a combination of two unbeatens falter, the winner of the SEC Championship Game is next in line to make it to the big game. I’m going to go against conventional wisdom and pick UGA to upset Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. I like more of what I’ve seen out of Georgia since their loss than I have from Alabama in the past two weeks. Alabama’s biggest weakness seems to be their secondary and Aaron Murray, despite what you saw against South Carolina, can flat-out sling the pigskin.
6. Florida State and 7. Florida: Like Georgia and Alabama, one of these two teams will lose. Florida travels to Doak Campbell Stadium to face the Seminoles on November 24th. This is a classic return for one of College Football’s most storied rivalries. I was in Doak Campbell when Peter Boulware and Reinard Wilson made Danny Weurffel their own personal tackling dummy. I was at the Swamp when Samari Rolle fell down allowing Jacquez Greene to break free setting up a game winning touchdown, dashing the Seminoles 1997 National Title hopes. College football is better when these two teams are battling it out for the state title, and this year we will likely have two 10-1 teams fighting for bragging rights…but little else. It’s highly unlikely that all three unbeatens lose, which is exactly what would need to happen to vault the winner of this game to #2 in the polls. That said…I also remember 1998 and 2000 when the Seminoles needed a lot to happen to make it to the big game…and it all happened. I won’t make a pick in this game because I am too emotionally attached, but I will say, it’s going to be LOUD in Doak Campbell and a bad offense against a good defense could be trouble.
9. Clemson: And that leaves the Tigers. Many people don’t believe the Clemson Tigers are a legitimate Top 10 team. I disagree. This offense is one of the best in college football and while the defense leaves some to be desired, they can outscore anyone, any time. The Tigers however would need way too much to happen in order to make it to the National Title game, and the biggest thing they need is to beat South Carolina. Beating Spurrier’s team would not only give Dabo bragging rights, it likely brings them a chance to shine on one of the biggest stages, the Sugar Bowl, against the winner of the SEC Championship Game.
Well there you have it. While I don’t foresee all three unbeatens losing, there’s certainly a chance for college football, and even better, BCS chaos. One thing is for sure, these next few weeks of college football will be entertaining and give us a lot to talk about. I, for one, am looking forward to everything that’s to come! – Jared Ross (@fsunole21)