What contenders need to make title game

What does each contender need to play for the national title? Below are all the top BCS teams left standing -- at least the ones with an honest shot to play for the BCS Championship -- and what has to happen for each team's dream shot.

1. Alabama (6-0)

Remaining Schedule: at Tennessee, Mississippi State, at LSU, Texas A&M, Western Carolina, Auburn


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It's not a tough situation for Alabama. As long as it wins out, it's going to play for its third national title in four years under Nick Saban. There are still some major tests, but the Tide is so respected and so revered that even one loss, like a close call at LSU, could still mean a trip to Miami. As long as 'Bama wins the SEC championship, it's going to be hard to be out of the BCS championship.

There will be tests, though. The Tide might have missed all the big boys from the East with no Florida, Georgia or South Carolina on the slate, but going to Tennessee and finally facing a real passing game could be a dangerous test. Mississippi State is still unbeaten, Texas A&M is nasty, and of course, the showdown at LSU still might be college football's Game of the Year.

2. Florida (6-0)

Remaining Schedule: South Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, Louisiana-Lafayette, Jacksonville State, at Florida State

Florida is one of the few teams that controls its own destiny. 13-0 guarantees a spot in the BCS championship, however, the big question will come into play if the Gators either go 12-0 but lose the SEC championship or have one loss but win the SEC title. If Florida loses to, say, Georgia, but beats South Carolina and Florida State before upsetting Alabama in the SEC championship, there might be so much respect given to beating the Tide that a national title shot would be in the mix. 12-1 Florida wouldn't beat out an unbeaten Oregon or Notre Dame, but it could come close to getting in over an unbeaten Kansas State.


Even going unbeaten might not be enough Marcus Mariota for Oregon. (US Presswire)

3. Oregon 6-0

Remaining Schedule: at Arizona State, Colorado, at USC, at California, Stanford, at Oregon State

It might not be as clear cut as win-and-you're in. The Ducks might have the right ranking and the right position, but they still have to be impressive to hold off Notre Dame. If the Irish go unbeaten, considering its schedule, there will be a groundswell of support to put them in the BCS championship game. However, Oregon will get one final shot to make a statement with a possible Pac-12 championship appearance. If there's one loss, as long as it's a close call at USC, there's still a chance to get in if there's a revenge victory in the Pac-12 championship.

4. Kansas State (6-0)

Remaining Schedule: at West Virginia, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, at TCU, at Baylor, Texas

Step one will be to win out. 11-1 Kansas State doesn't get to the BCS championship unless there are a slew of major miracles. In the pecking order, an unbeaten Wildcat team would be behind an unbeaten SEC champion, an unbeaten Notre Dame and an unbeaten Oregon, but that's it. The Irish and Oregon have to lose, and again, there's no way the Cats get in without getting to 12-0.

5. Notre Dame (6-0)

Remaining Schedule: BYU,at Oklahoma, Pitt, at Boston College, Wake Forest, at USC

Welcome to the ultimate X factor. If the Irish go 12-0 with wins over Michigan, Michigan State, Miami, Stanford, BYU, Oklahoma and USC on the résumé, it's going to be a very, very tough sell to put Oregon in the BCS championship against an SEC team. Notre Dame will always be behind the SEC in the pecking order, but that might be it. If there's only one unbeaten BCS conference team, a one-loss Notre Dame would almost certainly get in over anyone but an SEC champion. However, that one loss can't come against one of the easier foes on the schedule -- it has to be against Oklahoma or USC in a dogfight, not an ugly blowout.

6. LSU (6-1)

Remaining Schedule: at Texas A&M, Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, at Arkansas

The Tigers will be on the doorstep if they win out with victories over Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Alabama and an SEC championship to point to. Oregon or Notre Dame would have to lose, and it would be a flip of the coin over whether or not a one-loss Tiger team would get in over an unbeaten Kansas State. Because there's no Big 12 title game, 12-1 might trump 12-0. If it comes down to several teams with one blemish, LSU would go to the top of the charts.

7. South Carolina (6-1)

Remaining Schedule: at Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Wofford, at Clemson

The Gamecocks aren't in LSU's position, but they could be. If they beat Florida on the way to the SEC East title, and if they roll past Tennessee and Clemson on the way to an 11-1 record and an SEC East title, then the SEC championship might be for a shot at the whole ball of wax. They don't completely control their own destiny because, fair or not, they might not get the same respect a one-loss Alabama would, but they'd be on top of the pecking order of one loss teams. However, they wouldn't get in if Oregon, Notre Dame and/or Kansas State are unbeaten.

8. Oregon State (5-0)

Remaining Schedule: Utah, at Washington, Arizona State, at Stanford, California, Oregon, Nicholls State

The humans will quickly move Oregon State up the charts if it can get by Washington, Arizona State and Stanford, but it'll all come down to the Oregon game. If both teams are magically unbeaten for what amounts to the regular season finale -– the Nicholls State game was moved to December –- then the Beavers will likely play for it all if they can get to 13-0 with a Pac-12 championship. It might be a stretch to say they're in if they win out –- they wouldn't leapfrog over an unbeaten Kansas State or Notre Dame, but they'd almost certainly get really, really close. If they're one of two unbeaten BCS conference teams, they're in over a one-loss SEC champion.


Landry Jones and Oklahoma may have the toughest BCS title game path of anyone in the top 10. (Getty Images)

9. Oklahoma (4-1)

Remaining Schedule: Kansas, Notre Dame, at Iowa State, Baylor, at West Virginia, Oklahoma State, at TCU

It's going to take some work and it's going to take a lot of help, but most of all it's going to take an impressive win over Notre Dame on the way to an 11-1 record. If the Sooners can blow away the Irish, or at least win impressively, they'll be cemented in the top five and should hover just on the outside of the top two. However, Kansas State will have to lose at least twice –- it'll be tough to convince the world that a team that couldn't win the Big 12 championship deserves to play in the BCS championship –- and Oregon and Notre Dame each has to lose.

10. USC (5-1)

Remaining Schedule: Colorado, at Arizona, Oregon, Notre Dame, Arizona State, at UCLA

There's a lot of work to do. Just winning out and beating Oregon twice for a 12-1 record and a Pac-12 title might not be enough to get on top of the one-loss heap. It's going to take impressive performances in wins over Notre Dame and Arizona State on a big stage to get more respect from the human polls, but the computers need the most convincing. The Trojans are still alive and kicking, but they're going to need teams in the top nine to start dropping quickly. Fortunately, USC will pass everyone who loses from here on.


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