Saturday was quite a shake-up in the college football world with three of the Top Five teams in the nation taking losses. With the defeats, Florida State, LSU and Georgia all hit major road bumps in their quest for a BCS bowl bid.
Still, it's not out of the question that one of these teams could get back on track. Let's take a look at which team has the most realistic chance of finding themselves in a BCS game come January.
Of the three, I don’t think many would argue that the Bulldogs looked the worst in their defeat at the hands of the South Carolina Gamecocks. Georgia came out completely flat on both sides of the ball and little resembled a Top 25 team, much less a Top Five team.
From the very beginning, the Gamecocks pretty much had their way with the Bulldogs. Until a meaningless late touchdown, the only thing Georgia did right was win the toss.
So where does Georgia go from here? They have a bye week to prepare for Kentucky, which should be a win for the Dawgs. But the next week, the Bulldogs will head to Jacksonville for their annual rivalry game with the Florida Gators.
Florida looked very good in their upset of No. 3 LSU in the Swamp. Barring some major improvements on the offensive line and the entire defense, Georgia is going to have its hands full with a Florida team that has basically owned them for the past few decades.
A second conference loss would all but end any chance of a return trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game or any shot of an at-large bid to the Sugar Bowl for the Bulldogs, assuming the SEC champions head to Miami for the national championship game.
The LSU Tigers fell to a resurgent Florida Gators team in Gainesville Saturday afternoon. The Tiger defense looked strong, but has taken a step backward from last season’s dominant unit.
Probably the most surprising aspect of this game was Florida's success in the run game. In the second half, Will Muschamp and the Florida offense completely abandoned the passing game, and for good reason: They didn’t need it. Running back Mike Gillislee racked up 146 yards and both Gator touchdowns on 34 carries.
But the real problem with LSU is that it has absolutely no offense this season. Yes, the Tigers have piled on some points against the cupcakes. But against Auburn and Florida, LSU only managed 16 points combined.
Zach Mettenberger was supposed to come in and be the answer for LSU's passing game. But up to this point he’s been anything but. The Tigers are 100th in the nation in passing yards with only 195.7 per game.
Regardless of this loss to Florida, LSU would almost certainly have had to beat Alabama for a return trip to Atlanta for the SEC title game, which seems unlikely, to put it mildly. A trip to the BCS via an SEC championship seems out of the question for the 2012 Tigers.
And an at-large bid for LSU into the Sugar Bowl—again, assuming the SEC champs will play for a national title—seems a little far-fetched at this point. After its beat down of Georgia, expect South Carolina to come to Baton Rouge with soaring confidence and probably the favored team. LSU also faces potential losses against a very good Mississippi State team at home and on the road against Texas A&M.
The Seminoles were edged out in a one-point loss against a middle-of-the-pack NC State team to hand FSU its first loss of 2012. While this was a division loss, NC State already has one conference loss and will almost assuredly lose at least one more when it travels to Clemson in late November.
So, Florida State most likely controls its own destiny to get to the ACC Championship Game, owning the tiebreaker with Clemson after defeating the Tigers in Week 4.
The Seminoles will be tested in road games against Miami and Virginia Tech, but Jimbo Fisher should right the ship and come away with wins in those games.
Should Florida State win out in the ACC and take the Atlantic division, it should be favored against the eventual Coastal division representative and be headed to the Orange Bowl.
Georgia and LSU both have tough roads ahead and will probably take a least one more loss this season, all but ending any shot of a conference championship or an at-large bid to the Sugar Bowl.
Florida State, on the other hand, has a manageable schedule the rest of the way, and should be in the ACC championship against a team from the much weaker Coastal division.
Despite a crushing one-point loss against NC State that most likely ended the Seminoles' hopes of a national championship, look for FSU to bounce back nicely, take the ACC and play in the Orange Bowl come New Year’s Day.