The initial BCS standings are out and with them comes the usual hullabaloo. The loudest hollers? Easily, the anti-SEC faction that, regardless of what's in front of it, is going to find a way to complain about where the SEC stands. It is as certain as death and taxes: Big 12, Pac-12, ACC, Big Ten, Big East and any other non-SEC fan is going to get their panties in a bunch if the SEC looks good.
However, instead of complaining, folks should be looking at what we really learned in this week's initial BCS numbers; we've got all sorts of de facto elimination games. From the hated SEC to the Pac-12, Big 12, Big East and Notre Dame, the undefeated picture will solve itself. At the most, where major teams are concerned, there can only be five come December.
Not following me? Let's lay it out for you:
Right now Oregon, Oregon State, Kansas State, Alabama, Mississippi State, Florida, Ohio State and Notre Dame are the only undefeated squads. Ohio State is a toss-out because it can't even get invited to the party. They all can't win out. In fact, only one Pac-12, Big 12, SEC, Big East and Notre Dame can finish the season unscathed.
Oregon and Oregon State will take each other out, and that doesn't even take into account the Stanford game for each of them or Oregon playing USC or the Pac-12 championship game. Alabama, Mississippi State and Florida will sort itself out. In the regular season Florida still has UGA and South Carolina, while Alabama plays Mississippi State. Both the Tide and Bulldogs have LSU as their major impediment, then there's the SEC Championship Game.
As for the Big 12, Kansas State is THE OPTION. The Wildcats have to fight their way to an undefeated year through high-powered offenses like West Virginia, Baylor, Texas Tech and the like. Should they come through that fire, they'll be in position to hope for a BCS bid.
Cincinnati, Rutgers and Louisville all deserve their due. They are further down the charts but the Big East trio is in the mix. The three will all play each other and if this is anything like 2009, it will be tough for the league to elbow their way into the top two spots.
How many teams do you expect to finish undefeated?
Which brings us to Notre Dame. The Irish will get a crack at an Oklahoma team that Kansas State already beat. They will also take on USC, a team that Oregon will play this season, as well as possibly Oregon State for the Pac-12 title.
At the most we're staring at just five teams who can truly go undefeated, as we stand here going into the third weekend of October. Doesn't seem like much? It's the fewest since 2008, when Boise State and Utah qualified as "major contenders" because of their stature in the marketplace.
Don't freak out about the "what if" undefeated scenario. Things have a way of sorting themselves out. We already know the ACC and Big Ten won't be battling out to be undefeated. As the season progresses and chips fall, expect teams to go the way of West Virginia or South Carolina—epic collapses or frustrating close losses.
Either way, they'll lose. Odds are the five possible undefeateds don't sack up and get it done. The real worry should start as the teams begin to drop. If two can remain unscathed, then we'll have a nice, neat BCS picture. However, come November, we'll see who the last men standing are.