BCS Rankings 2012: What Happens If All the Top Teams Finish with One Loss?
So, the main discussion in college football right now is about what happens if everyone finishes undefeated. While that's a great argument to have, college football hasn't seen a scenario with more than two undefeated teams from major conferences since 2008 and the Utah situation.
The bottom line is that there are airtight arguments for every undefeated team left in the BCS Top 10. What we need to be asking ourselves, especially in a season that has already seen so much movement at the top of the rankings, is what would happen if everyone pulled an "Oklahoma State" and dropped a game between now and December 2nd.
For all the top teams have one loss, Alabama, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon would all have to lose only one game between now and the final whistle of championship weekend. (Georgia already has its loss.)
We will explore the two scenarios that are possible with this hypothesis and make an informed prediction as to who would appear in the 2013 BCS National Championship.
How Everyone Other Than Oregon Loses
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There are two ways this whole situation can happen, thanks to Oregon and USC probably meeting in the Pac-12 title game. We will cover both a regular-season and postseason loss for the Ducks in this piece. First, we'll cover what happens to everyone else.
First, we assume that everyone loses to the highest-ranked team scheduled from now until the end of the season.
1) Georgia loses to no one, since the Bulldogs already have a loss. Georgia is the SEC champion.
2) Alabama can only lose one game, and Georgia has to win the SEC championship. Georgia beats Alabama for the SEC title.
3) Notre Dame loses to USC.
4) Kansas State loses to Texas, who is the current BCS No. 23. (Oklahoma State is No. 24.)
Scenario One Breakdown and Results
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In the first scenario, Oregon has lost to USC in November but avenged that loss in the Pac-12 title game. Georgia has swept the remainder of its schedule. Kansas State has one loss, to No. 23 Texas in the last game of the season. Alabama has just lost the SEC title to Georgia. Notre Dame has lost to USC in the last game of the season, but USC had moved up in the rankings at the time of that loss by beating the Ducks in the regular-season match.
In this case, you have a one-loss Pac-12 champion who just avenged its loss in the conference championship. The Ducks are available for selection. Kansas State's loss was to the lowest ranked team that anyone on this list lost to, so they're out of the conversation. Alabama just lost to what would be the No. 2 team in the country, and that Georgia squad holds the head-to-head against the Tide. Notre Dame lost to then-No.5 USC, so the Irish are available for discussion.
Notre Dame, Georgia and Oregon are available for selection. Kansas State and Alabama are out due to the timing and gravity of their losses.
Let's look at the schedule breakdown of ranked teams faced by the contenders:
1) Notre Dame defeated the No's 10, 18, 17 and 8 teams in the nation but lost to No. 5 in the final game.
2) Georgia lost to the No. 6 team but defeated the No. 2 and No. 1 teams after that loss. Georgia is a conference champion that was ranked No. 2 at the time of that conference championship due to the other teams' losses on this list.
3) Oregon lost to the No. 17 team but beat them in the conference championship game after they had knocked off then-No.-3 Notre Dame to gain the No.-3 ranking themselves. Oregon had also defeated the No's 22, 23, 14 and 11 teams throughout their season. Oregon is a conference champion.
Oregon has defeated five ranked teams, Georgia two and Notre Dame four. Georgia's ranking of No. 2 when they defeated the No. 1 Tide in the SEC title game earns them a spot in the national championship.
Oregon's defeat of the No.3 Trojans earns it the other spot. As difficult as Notre Dame's schedule was, the loss to USC was too late to overcome. Oregon's defeat of that same USC team one week later gives the ducks the edge.
National Championship Prediction: Oregon Ducks vs. Georgia Bulldogs.
Scenario One Alternate:
If LSU defeated 'Bama in the regular season and went to the SEC title game, the above logic would still apply. If LSU defeated the Bulldogs to be the one-loss SEC champion, LSU would go to the national championship in their place. Scenario One Alternate Prediction: Oregon Ducks vs. LSU Tigers.
Scenario Two Breakdown and Results
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In scenario two, Oregon defeats USC during the regular season but loses the Pac-12 title game to the Trojans. All the losses of the other teams from Scenario One remain the same.
This affects the teams' schedule strengths as follows:
Notre Dame's loss is to a three-loss USC, not a USC that defeated the Oregon Ducks. Oregon is not a conference champion. This changes things a good bit, as the "conference champion" bargaining chip weighed heavily into the first scenario. We will need to revisit all five teams quickly here.
1) Alabama has wins over No's 8, 11, 5 and 16. Alabama lost to No. 2 in the conference title match.
2) Georgia is unaffected by the Oregon situation, remains conference champion and advances.
3) Notre Dame's loss is to No.-10 USC instead of No.-5. Notre Dame's loss actually gets worse.
4) Oregon has now won and lost the same quality of games as in Scenario One, but is not a conference champion.
5) Kansas State's strength of schedule remains unchanged, but this time around the Wildcats are the champions of the Big 12 by virtue of a head-to-head win over Oklahoma.
Now we have an issue. Alabama's only loss was to the No. 2 team in the nation, but it was in December. Notre Dame has a late loss that has pushed it down out of the top five, as have Kansas State and Oregon.
The BCS No's 1-5 have all taken a late loss that drops them out of the conversation. The No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs have earned a spot in the national championship by claiming the SEC title.
Since all those teams can't go, and South Carolina (current BCS No. 8) has two losses, it comes down to the two teams in the BCS whose losses were earlier in the season.
Those two teams are Florida (current BCS No. 7) and Florida State (current BCS No. 9), who play on Nov 24. The winner of the Florida vs. Florida State game goes to the national championship against the Georgia Bulldogs.
Heaven help the BCS staff members if that ends up being Florida!
National Championship Prediction: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Florida State Seminoles
This is the same as in Scenario One. If LSU earns its way to Atlanta by beating Alabama and takes Georgia down in the SEC title game, LSU goes instead of Georgia. Scenario Two Alternate Prediction: LSU Tigers vs. Florida State Seminoles.