The Oregon Ducks' hopes of reaching their second BCS national championship game in three seasons are fading fast because there are two supremely talented teams ahead of them in the rankings and polls that have a great chance to finish the year undefeated.
Heading into Week 10 of the college football season, Oregon is fourth in the BCS standings with No. 2 Kansas State and No. 3 Notre Dame standing in their way of a return trip to the title game. The Wildcats and the Fighting Irish both have just one more difficult game remaining on their schedules.
Oregon must also worry about LSU, who at 7-1 is right behind the Ducks in the latest BCS rankings. The Tigers play No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, and if they upset the Crimson Tide, they will likely jump Oregon in the next round of polls and BCS standings.
The Ducks obviously need to finish the regular season undefeated to get into the title game, but even if they accomplish this goal, they need the rest of their opponents to play well in the final weeks of the season too.
USC's disappointing year has not helped the Ducks' strength of schedule, and has lessened the number of quality wins that head coach Chip Kelly's team can put on its BCS resume. When Oregon State and Stanford play each other this week, the team that loses will look less impressive on Oregon's resume if the Ducks are able to defeat both of these teams over the final few weeks of the year.
Oregon's only hope to earn a place in the BCS title game is for the teams ahead of them and LSU to lose before the end of the regular season.
They might also need Alabama to lose twice in that same period of time. The Crimson Tide lost to the Tigers last year, but didn't fall too far in the BCS rankings and were able to climb back into the top two spots en route to another national championship in January.
The Ducks need too many things to fall their way to get a chance to play for the national championship, so it's unrealistic to think that they will finish the season ranked No. 1 or 2 in the final BCS rankings.
It's unfortunate because Oregon is for real. They are a team that would give Alabama, or any other top school in the nation, a really good game. However, under the current system college football uses, the Ducks have little hope of reaching the title game.