Can Alabama survive a loss and make it to the title game?
The storm is churning in the land of the BCS once again. The short 14-year history of the Bowl Championship Series has been filled with controversy. In 10 seasons, at least one of the teams making it to the title game was disputed.
This is about the time of the year when the “what-if?” debate begins. The nightmare scenarios start swirling on who will be left out, which schedule is superior and which conference is better.
What happens if no team finishes undefeated?
The only season to compare it to is 2007. LSU actually lost twice, and Ohio State squeaked into the title game with one loss thanks to late collapses by West Virginia and Missouri.
The BCS Armageddon might just happen this year. If it does, the bickering will be classic.
Here are five teams that could overcome a loss and still play for the BCS national championship.
The reigning champion is the only team that gets a pass for one loss. The only way the Crimson Tide will be passed over is if they get blown out late in the season or lose in the SEC Championship game. Otherwise, they are in the title game.
Which team can survive a loss and make it to the title game?
The Longhorns have the brand and the pedigree. They also play in the second best conference, which would boost their chances of withstanding a loss.
The one team Texas cannot lose to would be Oklahoma. A loss to the Sooners would be to devastating because voters expect the Longhorns to win this game to prove they are championship worthy.
The Ducks are an enigma. They are clearly a Top 5 program, but coach Chip Kelly’s system has had mixed results against elite competition. Are they at the level where they can endure a loss and still make it to the title game?
Pollsters might forgive a minor slip if the Ducks lose a tight game on the road to a team like Arizona State, but Oregon must beat USC.
The Trojans may not be as good as expected, but they are still the benchmark team for the Ducks to beat, in order to prove they have the mettle to play for the BCS title.
The schedule is about to get exceptionally brutal for LSU. Over the next five weeks, the Tigers play four ranked teams including Florida and Alabama. Finishing 4-1 during this stretch will be enough to keep LSU in the mix again.
The Tigers have not been as dominant this year, but they are still a very dangerous team. Like Alabama, LSU is a team that will earn a pass for a loss, as long as it is reasonable.
LSU may not have to worry about a loss if the offense can get clicking like it was against Washington a few weeks ago. Voters expect this from the Tigers, and we have already witnessed what happens if they slip.
Despite passing their early-season test a few weeks ago by soundly defeating Clemson, the Seminoles are the least likely team to be able to withstand a loss and still make it into the title game.
The reason is they have no ranked opponents remaining on the schedule until a season-ending game against Florida.
The ACC is probably better than most people perceive, but it is hardly a weekly grind when you are facing Duke, Boston College and Maryland.
The remaining teams without a loss are probably not going to get the benefit of the doubt. They just don’t have pull with the voters to survive a loss.
At this point, the BCS landscape is still wide open. A lot will be determined this weekend with key games in the SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12. If history is any indication, a mess will ensue.