Why Oregon, Kansas State or Notre Dame Will Play SEC Winner for the BCS Title

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Why Oregon, Kansas State or Notre Dame Will Play SEC Winner for the BCS Title
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The Ducks are rolling

Benjamin Franklin once said, "Nothing is certain except death and taxes."  He probably would amend his statement today to include chaos in the BCS, but the picture is clearer than it looks.

Looking at the current BCS rankings, we know that Louisville, Cincinnati and Rutgers are out of the picture because they will not leapfrog any one-loss team from the SEC, ACC or Pac-12.

Ohio State is ineligible this year, and Ohio University plays in the MAC.

Assuming that Oregon State and Mississippi State fall in conference play, the list of teams that will play for the national championship would really be down to four. 

After six consecutive BCS titles, it is a lock to say that the winner of the SEC will be in the game. Insert Alabama or Florida, or maybe South Carolina.

The remaining teams are Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame.

Which team will make it?

 

Oregon

Obviously, the Ducks felt slighted in the first BCS poll, but similar to Alabama, their schedule is backloaded with challenging games. 

Nick Saban may not like the brand of football played in Eugene, but the offense is a thing of beauty to watch.

Marcus Mariota, De’Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner are leading an explosive unit that is averaging 52 points per game. 

Thomas might be the best all-purpose player in college football.  Mariota has seamlessly replaced Darron Thomas at quarterback.  Barner is a burner and a legitimate threat to take it to the house on any play. 

It is a given that the Ducks will score at will against the feeble defenses in the Pac-12.  They proved it again on Thursday night by throttling Arizona State 43-21 in Tempe. 

The question most voters want answered is whether the offense is good enough to beat an elite-level defense.  We may not know that unless the Ducks make it to the title game. 

Stanford and USC were supposed to provide regular-season tests, but both teams are struggling more than expected.

This is why Oregon needs either Oklahoma or USC to beat Notre Dame if they want a chance to play for the BCS title.

 

Kansas State

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Besides Saban, is there a better coach than Bill Snyder?

Snyder’s story is well known.  He took over a pathetic Kansas State team in 1989, built the pee wee football squad into a consistent Top 10 program, flirted with retirement in 2005, returned in 2009 and once again has the Wildcats contending for Big 12 championships. 

Given the strength of the Big 12, the Wildcats might achieve even more if they continue winning. 

Bob Stoops and Mack Brown probably agree on very little, but they are both thinking that Snyder needs to retire again. Astonishingly, a little team from Podunk, Kansas has supplanted the Big 12’s finest. 

Kansas State torpedoed Oklahoma’s chances for a BCS title a few weeks ago, and given Texas’ recent struggles, the Wildcats will bury the Longhorns at the end of the year as well.

Snyder’s success rests mainly on his unique skill for molding a bunch of misfit players into a tougher-than-nails team.  This year is a perfect example.

Collin Klein, John Hubert and Jarard Milo were good players coming out of high school, but not top-level recruits.  Arthur Brown was a phenomenal linebacker prospect, but came to Kansas State only after a failed beginning at the University of Miami.  Nigel Malone had to hone his skills at City College of San Francisco before coming to Manhattan. 

Brett Deering/Getty Images
Riding high again

Amazingly, Klein is now a Heisman candidate, Hubert is on the Doak Walker watch list, Brown is a Butkus finalist and Malone is on the Thorpe Award watch list.  Milo played sparingly last year, but is making the most of his senior season. 

Outside of the SEC, Kansas State’s schedule is the toughest.  The Wildcats have road games at West Virginia, TCU and Baylor and still have Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas. 

Even if they finish the season unbeaten, the Wildcats would likely be left out of the title game. They need to root for USC and Oklahoma to beat Oregon and Notre Dame, respectively, to have any chance.

 

Notre Dame

For the past two decades, ND had stood for No Defense.  To the joy of the Fighting Irish faithful—and the chagrin of most everyone else—this year is different. 

Good recruiting combined with solid coaching and mature leadership is finally paying dividends, and the defensive resurgence has Notre Dame back in the title hunt for the first time since 1993. 

Led by Heisman candidate Manti Te’o, the Fighting Irish have the nation’s second-ranked scoring defense, yielding just eight points per game, which puts them in SEC territory when it comes to defensive statistics. 

Granted, Notre Dame has not been playing offensive juggernauts like Oregon and Baylor, but allowing less than 10 points per game is still impressive. 

The team is struggling offensively to produce points, which could cost them a game.  What they are doing well, though, is protecting the ball.  This will keep them in every game.

Regardless of what most people think or want, Notre Dame is in the driver’s seat for making it to the BCS Championship.  If they beat Oklahoma in Norman, they’ll jump over Kansas State, and if they beat USC, they’ll jump over Oregon.

 

Conclusion

Oregon is the team most equipped to take on the SEC for the title.  They are the most complete team, and they also have the speed to match up against SEC defenses.

Notre Dame lacks the offense to beat any of the top SEC teams, and Kansas State’s lack of balance on offense would kill them against any SEC defense that has a month to prepare for them. 

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