At this point in the NCAA Football season, the BCS rankings are quite indicative of who is and is not in the picture for the National Championship game. However, some teams outside of the current top 10 still have a legitimate shot at one of the BCS Bowl Games.
This includes some teams that were expected to contend heading into the season but may have experienced some struggles, as well as teams that could be classified as a surprise.
Either way, one thing is for certain: the race to qualify for these bowls is still wide open.
The consensus number one team heading into this season, Southern California, was thought to be a prime contender for not only the Bowl games but for the BCS National Championship as well. Surprise losses to both Stanford and Arizona have all but ruled out a trip to the National Championship, but the bowl games may still be in play.
Currently at 6-2, and ranked 17th in the BCS rankings, they would need some help. However, if they can manage to go 4-0 in their remaining games, including tough matchups against Oregon and Notre Dame, they could find themselves in the PAC-12 Championship game, thus with a direct shot at a BCS Bowl game.
With the talent that they have, and especially on offense, a run of that magnitude still is possible. With QB Matt Barkley and WRs Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, they can score with any team in the nation.
Whether or not USC can manage that kind of turnaround is yet to be determined. However with the talent that this team has, and what wins against those tough teams would mean in the rankings, they can't be counted out just yet.
Considered a Top Five team heading into the season, losses to Kansas State and Notre Dame have bumped them down to number 12 in the latest BCS rankings. Their National Championship hopes are all but gone as well, but the potential for another Bowl Game qualification still exists.
The level that this team can play at was showcased in their 63-21 domination of the Texas Longhorns on October 13th.
Their remaining five games are all winnable, making their qualification all the more likely. However, they would need some help from other teams ranked higher than them. The loss to Kansas State makes them almost unable to catch up to in the Big 12 standings, so they would have to qualify in a different manner.
Such a circumstance is possible if Oklahoma can go 5-0 in their final games, and with the product they are capable of putting on the field, they are still very much in the race for a BCS Bowl berth.
An upset loss at the hands of Washington has put somewhat of a damper in the Beavers' hopes of a BCS Bowl, but much like USC, it still remains a possibility in the PAC-12.
The road to which will not be easy with their last five games, including must-wins against Stanford and Oregon. It is those two teams that they will need to beat for a berth in the PAC-12 Championship game and thus a chance at a BCS Bowl berth. However, given how they have played throughout the majority of this season, it could happen.
Fifteenth in the nation in passing yards, the Beavers will need to convert that yardage production into more points to keep up with their impressive defense. If they can do so, what would be two impressive wins down the stretch would become more likely, giving them a better chance at a BCS Bowl as well.
Clearly it is the PAC-12, and the BCS Bowl births possibilities extending from which that remains wide open. Both USC and Oklahoma, whom were favorites in the Associated Press' Preseason Top 25, can still salvage their seasons. Oregon State, after not likely being included on many preseason polls, has the potential to continue their surprise season.
Either way the rest of the season shakes out, it is safe to say that the BCS Bowls are far from set.