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Scoping out BCS title game picture
Every Wednesday we dive into the BCS rankings and examine how many teams are still alive for the title and what they would need to do to make that title happen.
Here are the present BCS standings.
So how many teams still have BCS title dreams?
Nine. Which nine?
Let's dive in below.
It's simple: Win and you're in.
The Tide still have three games against teams ranked in the BCS top 14 — LSU, at Auburn and either Missouri or South Carolina in the SEC title game — but figure to be double-digit favorites in all of these games.
Want a crazy stat?
Alabama has been favored in 49 consecutive games.
The Tide will be favored in the five remaining games of this season as well, which will run the tally to 54 straight games. The last time Alabama was an underdog was the 2009 SEC title game. Yep, Tim Tebow was the quarterback.
Oregon has won every game by 21 or more points, and the final four Duck games are at Stanford, Utah, at Arizona and Oregon State.
Toss in a Pac-12 title game against Arizona State, and the Ducks will be substantial favorites in each of these games.
Put simply, I don't think Oregon or Alabama are losing. That's why these two were my preseason national title game pick.
The Seminoles will play in the BCS title game if they win out and either Alabama or Oregon loses.
Absent that, Florida State will join the undefeated 2004 Auburn team as the most screwed team in the history of the BCS.
Baylor needs two of the three teams ranked above it to lose and then the Bears have to catch Ohio State.
This isn't far-fetched at all.
I believe a 12-0 Baylor team would end up ranked ahead of 13-0 Ohio State. Why?
The schedule, stupid.
Baylor plays BCS No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 15 Texas Tech and No. 18 Oklahoma State in its next three games. Plus, the Bears also play Texas, which could easily find its way into the top 20 of the BCS by the end of the year, in the final week of the season. That means Baylor could play four Top 20 teams in the BCS before the season finishes.
Right now, Ohio State doesn't play a single team ranked in the top 20 of the BCS this entire year. So Baylor's schedule would be infinitely better.
Combine that with the fact that Las Vegas would make Baylor a favorite over Ohio State on a neutral field, and what rational reason can you give me for Ohio State being ranked above Baylor?
5. Ohio State
The Buckeyes' biggest problem is their awful schedule.
Ohio State could slide in the computer rankings over the next several weeks as the Big Ten's weakest teams pile up on the schedule. In the next two weeks, Ohio State plays two winless Big Ten teams — Purdue and Illinois. The week after that comes Indiana. Those three teams are a combined 1-8 in a weak Big Ten this year.
Ohio State's season finishes off with Michigan, but the Wolverines are probably not going to be ranked in the Top 25 by then.
The best case scenario for Ohio State is it then plays 11-1 Michigan State in the Big Ten title game, but the problem is Michigan State is unlikely to be 11-1. The Spartans still have Michigan and Minnesota at home and Nebraska and Northwestern on the road. They will probably lose at least one more game.
So even that win won't be impressive for the Buckeyes.
Sure, Ohio State is currently 20-0 under Urban Meyer, but the Buckeyes haven't played a top-15 team the entire time.
You know who else is 20-0 in the regular season without playing a top-15 team over the same timeframe? Northern Illinois. (I'm not counting the bowl game against Florida State since Ohio State also didn't play a bowl game. Just the regular season).
Is anyone arguing that Northern Illinois should be playing for the BCS title?
Despite their undefeated record, the Hurricanes are a BCS pretender.
Our Vegas poll has them at 27th in the country, and Florida State is more than a three-touchdown favorite in this weekend's game.
In order to contend for a BCS title they'd have to beat Florida State twice — once on the road and then again in the ACC title game — as well as sweep their final four games to climb in the rankings.
Irrespective of what the Hurricanes do against Florida State — and I believe they'll lose big — I think Miami loses at least one of its final four games — either Virginia Tech, at Duke, Virginia, at Pitt.
An undefeated Miami, even with two wins over Florida State, wouldn't be able to jump over undefeated Baylor and Ohio State. So three of the other four teams ranked above the 'Canes would have to lose for Miami to play for the BCS title.
The Cardinal aren't dead yet.
With a head-to-head game against Oregon followed by a regular-season finale against Notre Dame, the Cardinal still have a chance to make a move up the board.
In fact, no one is talking much about this because I think most expect that Stanford will lose to Oregon, but could Stanford leap undefeated Ohio State and Baylor in the BCS standings?
I think it could.
If so, all the Cardinal would need to do to play for the BCS title is upset Oregon and then hope that either Alabama or Florida State loses a game.
Don't sleep on the Tigers.
It may sound crazy given all the love shown to Alabama, but if Auburn wins out, the Tigers would win the SEC West over the Tide.
In this scenario Auburn, whose remaining schedule is at Arkansas, at Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, finishes the regular season 11-1 with a victory over the No. 1 team in the country.
Advancing to the SEC title game, the Tigers would likely play either Missouri or South Carolina, teams right around the top 10 in the present BCS standings.
A 12-1 SEC champion Auburn, whose only loss would be on the road at LSU in September, wouldn't get above undefeated Oregon or Florida State, but could the Tigers jump undefeated Ohio State or Baylor?
It's certainly possible.
Yes, the Tigers choked against South Carolina down the stretch, but Mizzou's still not entirely out of the national title picture.
Win games against Tennessee, at Kentucky, at Ole Miss and beat Texas A&M to end the regular season and the Tigers would be 11-1.
Then would come a game against No. 1 Alabama — assuming the Tide aren't upset by Auburn.
If Mizzou could beat the No. 1 Tide, a 12-1 Missouri would still need Florida State or Oregon to lose.
But could 12-1 Mizzou with just one overtime loss make a run at passing undefeated Ohio State and undefeated Baylor?
I think so.
We'll be back next Wednesday where it's likely not much will have changed other than the elimination of the Miami Hurricanes from the BCS title race.
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