Hunt for the BCS Title: Which Teams Have the Most Favorable Schedules?
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What makes college football great to watch?
Every single game matters—a lot more than in those sports that have a playoff or postseason tournament.
Alabama is undoubtedly the best team in the country right now but there are no safe assumptions in the BCS era.
Alabama won the BCS title last season after failing to win its own division. LSU won a title with two losses during the season.
Some teams have a much easier road than others, and the list considers opponents’ strength of schedule, the venue for each game and the danger of rivalry games—especially those on the road.
Having a great team and a strong schedule is key in concocting the perfect formula to reach No. 1 in the BCS standings in December.
Time to shake things up and re-rank the top 10 teams in the current BCS standings according to their chances of earning a berth in the BCS national title game.
From No. 10 (least likely to play in the BCS title game and an unfavorable schedule) to No. 1 (more favorable schedule and therefore more likely to play in the championship game), every team is good but a few have an easier path to the title than the others.
No. 10: South Carolina (7-2)
Rory Anderson goes to reel in a pass but the Gamecocks are reeling after losing RB Marcus Lattimore for the season.
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Current BCS Ranking: No. 8
South Carolina's No. 8 BCS ranking in this week's standings is quite misleading.
The Gamecocks suffered a huge loss when they lost their best player, running back Marcus Lattimore, for the season last Saturday vs. Tennessee.
South Carolina has one of the toughest schedules in the nation with games vs. LSU, Georgia, Florida and Clemson.
But with two conference losses and no shot at the SEC Championship game, South Carolina is another victim of the SEC’s rigorous lineup. Are Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky really that bad? Or do they have a tougher task than teams from other conferences?
Nov. 10 vs. (3-5) Arkansas
Nov. 17 vs. Wofford (7-1)
Nov. 24 at No. 13 Clemson (7-1)
No. 9: Louisville (8-0)
Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals have been on a magical run thus far in the season.
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Current BCS ranking: No. 10
The Cardinals haven’t been dominant, but they have been undefeated through the first eight games of the year.
Louisville seems to be on a collision course to face Florida State in the Orange Bowl, but there’s still a lot of football left to play. The Big East doesn’t have a conference championship game, and Rutgers—whose only loss was at home to Kent State—is the only team with a winning record on Louisville’s remaining schedule.
The Big East is down this season and really misses the push that West Virginia would have provided.
Before fans begin clamoring for a playoff if a one-loss team is selected ahead of an undefeated Louisville squad for the BCS title game, consider whether Louisville—currently behind in the standings to four one-loss teams and one two-loss team—would be selected in a four-team or eight-team playoff.
Nov. 3 vs. Temple (3-4)
Nov. 10 at Syracuse (4-4)
Nov. 24 vs. Connecticut (3-5)
Nov. 29 at Rutgers (7-1)
No. 8: Florida (7-1)
A punishing defense has led the way for the 7-1 Florida Gators.
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Current BCS ranking: No. 7
The Gators have an excellent defense under head coach and defensive whiz Will Muschamp, but their offense couldn’t provide enough points to beat SEC East foe Georgia in a 17-9 loss.
The Gators still have a chance to make the SEC Championship Game if Georgia loses at home to Mississippi or on the road at Auburn.
But the Gators have other pressing matters, namely a rivalry game on the road against No. 7 Florida State on Nov. 24.
Still, Florida is in the top 10 of the current BCS standings, and Alabama already proved that a one-loss SEC team, even one that doesn’t reach the SEC title game, has an outside chance to play in the BCS championship game.
Nov. 3 vs. Missouri
Nov. 10 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Nov. 17 vs. Jacksonville State
Nov. 24 at No. 9 Florida State
No. 7: Florida State (7-1)
Florida State is the top team in the ACC.
Current BCS Ranking: No. 9
The Seminoles have a very favorable schedule in 2012 with only three games outside of Florida. However, an excruciating 17-16 loss in the final minutes on the road at North Carolina State derailed the Seminoles' national title hopes.
Those hopes have been somewhat revived, and if a few teams ahead of them fall off, Florida State has a remote possibility to earn a spot in the BCS national title game.
In 1998 and 2000, FSU suffered losses in the first half of the season before earning a berth in the BCS national title game.
The Seminoles game vs. the Florida Gators on Nov. 24 could be a matchup of Top 5 BCS teams, and if that is the case, both squads would have an outside chance to make the BCS title game.
Nov. 8 at Virginia Tech (4-4)
Nov. 17 at Maryland (4-4)
Nov. 24 vs. No. 7 Florida (7-1)
ACC Championship Game
No. 6: Georgia (7-1)
Georgia still has a chance to make a run at the national title.
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Current BCS Ranking: No. 6
The Bulldogs join the Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers as teams that should earn a berth in the national championship game if they win out.
Georgia already has a bad loss against a two-loss South Carolina team, but the Bulldogs, with wins in their final three games plus another victory in the SEC Championship game, would most likely earn a spot in the BCS title game.
The Bulldogs have the talent it takes to win it all, and the SEC Championship game will be down the road at the Georgia Dome.
Nov. 3 vs. Mississippi
Nov. 10 at Auburn
Nov. 17 vs. Georgia Southern
Nov. 24 vs. Georgia Tech
SEC Championship Game
No. 5: Oregon (8-0)
Can any team slow down the Oregon Ducks?
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Current BCS Ranking: No. 4
Like Alabama, Oregon has been extremely dominant this season, but has had to wait until the final games of the season to face its toughest competition.
Oregon will play three currently ranked teams and possibly a fourth in the Pac-12 Championship game.
The Ducks’ explosive offense provides a mismatch for most of their opponents, but USC quarterback Matt Barkley’s Trojans will put pressure on the Ducks defense and Oregon State hosts their rivalry game this year.
Nov. 3 at No. 17 USC (6-2)
Nov. 10 at California (3-6)
Nov. 17 vs. No. 14 Stanford (6-2)
Nov. 24 at No. 11 Oregon State (6-1)
Pac-12 Championship game
No. 4: Alabama (8-0)
Still No. 1: Alabama remains undefeated.
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Current BCS Ranking: No. 1
The defending national champions have played up to the title. They haven’t played a close game all season and have been as dominant on the road as they have been at home.
However, hindsight is 20-20 and Alabama has had the weakest schedule of all the top 10 teams in the current BCS standings.
Don’t blame ‘Bama, though; Michigan and Arkansas were highly-ranked heading into this season.
If Alabama can go on the road and beat LSU, it should be ranked No. 1 until the final BCS standings are released Dec. 9.
Nov. 3 at No. 5 LSU (7-1)
Nov. 10 vs. No. 16 Texas A&M (6-2)
Nov. 17 vs. Western Carolina (1-8)
Nov. 24 vs. Auburn (1-7)
SEC championship game
No. 3: LSU (7-1)
LSU relies on its tough defense to win games.
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Current BCS Ranking: No. 5
Can a team that faces the No. 1-ranked defending champions on Saturday have an easy route to the championship game?
The Tigers will face the nation’s toughest opponent when Alabama heads to Baton Rouge on Saturday night.
But Death Valley on a Saturday night is just what LSU head coach Les Miles ordered for the biggest game of the year. This is the third consecutive time the teams will meet in “the biggest game of the year” and three of the Tigers’ last four games are at home.
An LSU win vs. Alabama would put the Tigers back on the road to the BCS championship—if the Tigers ever deviated from that path at all.
Nov. 3 vs. No. 1 Alabama (8-0)
Nov. 10 vs. No. 15 Mississippi State (7-1)
Nov. 17 vs. Mississippi (5-3)
Nov. 23 at Arkansas (3-5)
SEC Championship Game
No. 2 Kansas State (8-0)
Most surprising team of 2012? The Kansas State Wildcats are undefeated.
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Current BCS Ranking: No. 2
The Wildcats exposed the Oklahoma Sooners and the West Virginia Mountaineers but still haven’t gained as much exposure as Alabama or Oregon.
Kansas State’s offense has steamrolled the opposition, and its defense has been just as effective. The Wildcats already beat the league’s second-best team (Oklahoma) on the road and dominated its third-best team (West Virginia) at home.
The Big 12 is still a very unpredictable conference, but the Wildcats wouldn’t have to play a Big 12 Championship game this year.
Nov. 3 vs. No. 24 Oklahoma State(5-2)
Nov. 10 at Texas Christian (5-3)
Nov. 17 at Baylor (3-4)
Dec. 1 vs. No. 23 Texas (6-2)
No. 1: Notre Dame (8-0)
Theo Riddick and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a favorable schedule in their last four games.
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Current BCS Ranking: No. 3
The biggest surprise on this list with an excellent defense and a young quarterback, the Fighting Irish have a great chance of earning a berth in the national championship game if they win their remaining games.
They face one ranked team—on the road at USC—and will likely be favored in each game.
Notre Dame has to stay focused each game and not overlook its unranked opponents while looking ahead to facing the Trojans in Los Angeles on Nov. 24 with a chance to reach the national title game on the line.
As an FBS independent, the Fighting Irish have a huge advantage: They don’t have to worry about a conference championship game at a neutral site.
Nov. 3 vs. Pittsburgh (4-4)
Nov. 10 at Boston College (2-6)
Nov. 17 vs. Wake Forest (4-4)
Nov. 24 at No. 17 USC (6-2)