With three undefeateds left, who has the best chance of making the BCS Title Game? Who is still sitting in the best position to move up? Who is on the outside looking in? Who is out?
Likelihood of playing in the BCS Championship Game:
Current BCS Rankings
1. Penn State: It's not that I think Penn State is necessarily better than Texas or Alabama, it's just that I like the Nittany Lions chances of remaining unbeaten better than those of Texas and Alabama. Penn State is a terrific football team, and they'll be heavy favorites the rest of the way. The lack of a championship game could be a deciding factor here. If Texas and Alabama remain unbeaten, the extra game against a Top 15 team will solidify their spots at #1 and #2. If the Horns or Tide stumble in a conference championship game, Penn State is in.
Biggest threat on the schedule: Complacency
2. Texas: How can I have the best team in the country sitting at #2? What Texas is doing right now is nearly unfathomable in modern day football. It's almost impossible to keep a team "up" week after week. The schedule has broken right for the Longhorns with two home dates after the Red River Shootout with Oklahoma. Texas will take on its fourth consecutive Top 11 opponent; this time the Longhorns must go on the road. If Texas beats Texas Tech this weekend, there are still trap games that include @Kansas and a probable rematch with Missouri. If Texas runs the table this year, I might move the '95 Huskers from the top of "the best team I ever saw" list.
Biggest threat: @Texas Tech, @Kansas, Big 12 CG.
3. Alabama: The game against LSU no longer appears overly daunting. The Tide lost to Mississippi State and Auburn last year, but this isn't last year. Alabama will face the winner of the Georgia/Florida game in the SEC Championship Game. I've flip flopped back and forth on who has the better chance to go undefeated, Alabama or Texas, and I'm still not sure. If they both go undefeated, they'll play for the BCS Title.
Biggest threat: @LSU and Florida or Georgia
4. Florida: The Gators' loss to an unranked Ole Miss team hurt its initial BCS ranking and is still hurting in the computer polls, but if the Gators were to win out, they would go through two Top 10 opponents and a ranked Florida State team. The Gators will likely be favored in all of their remaining games including a showdown with Alabama should they get by Georgia this weekend.
Biggest threat: Georgia, @Florida State, Alabama (SECCG) - trap game: South Carolina
5. Georgia: Georgia's BCS Chances remained alive with a big win over LSU in Baton Rouge this weekend. Now the showdown with Florida looms. A win this weekend, and Georgia is positioned to get a rematch with Alabama for a possible spot in the BCS Championship game.
Biggest threat: Florida, Georgia Tech, Alabama (SECCG)
6. Oklahoma: I'm still not convinced that it's not possible to see Oklahoma in the BCS Title game without winning its division this year, but every game the big three in the SEC wins, pushes Oklahoma down, and with the likelihood of Penn State winning out, there's only one spot available should Texas and Alabama falter.
Biggest threat: Texas Tech, @Oklahoma State
7. USC: All of the teams with one loss are cursing the fact that Penn State won on Saturday. There will be fans from all conferences all over the country that will say their one loss team should play ahead of Penn State should the Nittany Lions make the BCS Title Game. Doesn't matter what they say, if Penn State is the lone undefeated, they're playing for all the marbles. USC's season accomplishments won't match up with the SEC's and Big 12's champion.
Biggest threat: it's schedule
8. Texas Tech: Tech still isn't getting a lot of respect
in the computer polls, but they can change all of that with wins at home against
Texas and Oklahoma State before getting two weeks to go on the road against
Oklahoma. Why isn't Tech ranked higher on my poll? It's a probability poll, and
I'm still having a tough time seeing Texas going undefeated with a similar
schedule, and the Longhorns have already beaten three of its four Top 11 teams,
and Tech has yet to play them. It's not taking anything away from Texas Tech to
say that I don't see them running that gauntlet unscathed.
Biggest threat: Texas, Oklahoma State, @Oklahoma, Big 12 CG
9. Oklahoma State: There's a lot of logical anomalies when using a beauty contest as a method of determining participants in a BCS Title game, but this is one I always find interesting. Follow this line of logic for me if you will: Oklahoma State is a big road underdog to the #1 team in the country. They lose to a team ranked ahead of them. The Cowboys play them closer than expected. They move down in the polls. Huh? Are the polls a power ranking (partially), are they based on record (partially). So the team that you expected to lose based on your own rankings loses, and you move them down in the polls for it? Were they worse than you expected? Sorry, but that's a symptom of an illogical system.
To the point. Oklahoma State moves way down in the likelihood category, because the polls have deemed that they showed worse against Texas than Oklahoma did. I still think Oklahoma has a slight chance of being selected to the BCS Title game if there are a host of one loss teams to choose from, but Oklahoma State now has too many teams to climb over. The only reason Oklahoma is ranked ahead of Oklahoma State right now, is because Oklahoma started the season ranked #1.
Biggest threat: @Texas Tech, Oklahoma
10. Utah: This isn't the Hawaii team from last year that squeaked by a bunch of bad football teams. This is closer to the Boise State team of 2006 that beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. With out of conference games against Michigan and Oregon State to go with a ranked TCU and BYU, this Utah team is one ranked BCS opponent away from having an argument to the BCS Title Game that would stand up.
Last week I mentioned that the non-BCS schools are playing good enough football that they should have an "and 1" system and crown their own Champion. How about Utah/Boise State? Utah has the better schedule and the better argument to be playing with the BCS schools in January, but giving the winner of this game a shot at the BCS Champion might be kind of fun.
Biggest threat: TCU, BYU
*Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are playing themselves into the "Control your own destiny" category. Texas Tech dismantled its first ranked opponent in the same manner in which it has handled its non-ranked opponents: convincingly. The Red Raiders will have a four game gauntlet to run against Texas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Missouri. If Texas Tech can win those four games, they'll be no keeping them out of the BCS Championship game.
*The SEC: Last week there were four teams from the SEC with one loss or less. This week, that number is down to three, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Alabama continues to control its own destiny with a #2 ranking and future games with LSU and either Georgia or Florida.
A one loss SEC team is still in terrific position to make the BCS Title game
should Texas or Penn State falter. Georgia and Florida won convincingly last weekend with the Bulldogs getting a win on the road against a Top 15 team. The
World's Largest Cocktail Party this weekend pairing Georgia against Florida will
serve as an elimination game for the loser.
*USC: Forget that USC needs to look otherworldly against its mediocre schedule and didn't last night; it doesn't matter what USC does if there are undefeateds or one loss teams to choose from in the Big 12 and SEC. Bad news for USC, everyone won excepts LSU on Saturday.
Here's the kind of scenario that needs to play out to get USC in the BCS Title game: LSU beats Alabama, the winner of the Georgia/Florida game this weekend loses to its out of conference rival Georgia Tech (UGA) or FSU (UF), then beats Alabama in the SEC Championship game, making the SEC Champion a two loss team.
Texas losing to Texas Tech, Texas Tech losing to either Oklahoma State or Oklahoma, the Big 12 South Champ losing to Missouri in the Big 12 Championship game AND pray that you still look more attractive than a 1 loss team from the Big 12 South.
Stranger things have happened, but I still can't find a way to put USC in the BCS Title Game.
*Oklahoma: Penn State beating Ohio State really hurt Oklahoma's chances. At most, there's only going to be one spot open for a one loss team, and it looks like the Big 12 and SEC Champions are going to have at most one loss.
LSU and Ohio State: A one loss team in the Big 10 was a longshot this year anyway, and the Buckeyes moved from the outside looking in, to the Out category. LSU was still lurking with one loss, and they seemed to be getting overlooked after the beating they took at the hands of Florida. With back to back beatings at the hands of the elite of the SEC East, their chances at a repeat are done.