College Football: The Hardest Remaining Schedules for the BCS Top 25 Teams
The college football season is winding down, and with a 0.0264 point difference between the No. 2 and No. 4 teams in the BCS poll, strength of schedule becomes all the more important.
And while some teams can coast into December, there are plenty in the Top 25 with difficult weeks ahead.
Here's a look at the top 10 hardest schedules remaining in the BCS Top 25.
10. No. 5 LSU
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Kicking off our list are the LSU Tigers.
At 3-1 in the SEC West, LSU still has a shot at the national championship. But first it has to get past No. 1 Alabama, followed by No. 15 Mississippi State. The only saving grace is both games will be in Baton Rouge.
9. No. 11 Oregon State
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After losing to Washington last week, Oregon State has to win out if it wants any kind of shot at a Pac-12 championship.
That's easier said than done.
The Beavers have Arizona State at home this week, before traveling to No. 14 Stanford in Week 11.
The toughest remaining challenge comes November 24, when they play host to No. 4 Oregon in the Civil War in what could be the de facto Pac-12 North title game.
8. No. 14 Stanford
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With Oregon State taking its first loss last week, the Cardinal are back in the Pac-12 North race. First, they have some big tests to pass.
Stanford faces a double whammy in Week 10 and 11. First the Cardinal take on the No. 11 Beavers at home, and the following week they travel to Autzen Stadium to take on No. 4 Oregon.
Both of these are must-wins if Stanford is to remain in the hunt.
7. No. 1 Alabama
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Alabama's schedule is difficult to rank. The Tide have some tough opponents, but seem so dominating it's hard to think any opponent will give them a challenge.
Still, you can't underestimate SEC opponents. And as everyone knows, their biggest test is this week against No. 5 LSU in Baton Rouge.
That game is followed with a visit from Johnny Football and No. 16 Texas A&M in Week 11.
After those games, 'Bama should be able to cruise through its last two—visits from Western Carolina and Auburn.
6. No. 15 Mississippi State
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Mississippi State's schedule is almost an exact mirror of Alabama's.
This week the Bulldogs have No. 16 Texas A&M at home before traveling to No. 5 LSU in Week 11. Both represent must-wins for the surprising 7-1 Bulldogs if they want to play in a BCS game.
The only reason MSU gets the nod over Alabama is that its last two games—Arkansas and at Ole Miss—are a touch harder than 'Bama's.
5. No. 17 USC
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After a disappointing loss to Arizona, USC is hanging by a thread.
The Trojans start and end their final games against Top Five opponents. This week they take on No. 4 Oregon, and their last game comes against No. 3 Notre Dame. The lone X-factor for the Trojans is that both are at home.
Sandwiched in between is a visit from Arizona State, followed by a trip to UCLA. Both are potential trap games.
4. No. 23 Texas
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With two losses on the season, Texas continues to hang tough in the rankings. But it won't mean anything if it can't finish strong.
This week, the Longhorns travel to Lubbock to take on No. 18 Texas Tech. In Week 12 they take on TCU, which—even though it's at home—could end in an upset win for the Horned Frogs.
And finally, they finish the season with a trip to the No. 2 Kansas State Wildcats.
3. No. 16 Texas A&M
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In its first season as part of the SEC, Texas A&M has done well to hold its own. The Aggies' only losses have been in close games to Florida and LSU.
But the next two weeks will be a true test for the Aggies.
They face off against No. 15 Mississippi State this week, before squaring off with No. 1 Alabama in Week 11. Both games will come on the road.
If A&M can come out unscathed, the Aggies will have more than earned their spot in the SEC.
2. No. 4 Oregon
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After Week 9 losses for USC and Oregon State, many are underestimating the Ducks' final stretch.
Three of their final four games are on the road, and they're one of only two Top 25 teams that has to face at least three ranked opponents down the stretch.
They kick things off this week against the No. 17 Trojans. Though USC has been a disappointment, it's still capable of a home upset.
Oregon finishes the season with No. 14 Stanford at home, followed by a trip to in-state rival No. 11 Oregon State. Both team's feature a stifling run defense and could challenge the Ducks.
1. No. 24 Oklahoma State
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Oklahoma State is the only Top 25 team that will face four ranked opponents down the stretch.
While the Cowboys have a great offense, the games they've lost this year have been shootouts against Arizona and Texas.
Remaining on the schedule is a visit to No. 2 Kansas Sate, No. 21 West Virginia, No. 18 Texas Tech and a trip to rival No. 12 Oklahoma.
All three of these teams feature elite passing games—the kind that have outpaced OSU all season—and should give the Cowboys fits.