With the release of the Week 11 BCS rankings, the Oregon Ducks football program finally received some long-awaited respect.
This Ducks team has been breaking records and blowing out opponents (many that were admittedly much weaker) for nine straight games.
It took a 62-51 dismantling of then-No. 17 USC (the preseason No. 1) for the human voters and BCS computers to realize that this isn’t a program to be ignored.
Now that the Ducks have jumped to No. 3—ahead of No. 4 Notre Dame, who occupied the spot last week—it seems inevitable that they’ll charge up to No. 2 and eventually face the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide in the BCS national championship game.
However, the only way that will definitely happen is if the current No. 2 Kansas State Wildcats suffer a defeat or a string of close victories over their remaining three contests.
K-State ranks third in both human polls (compared to the Ducks at No. 2), but get an overwhelming amount of respect from the computers (an area in which Oregon gets no love). For that reason, it’s going to be tough for coach Chip Kelly’s squad to jump up if both teams win out.
Fortunately, the Ducks are getting some help from the Big 12 conference schedule.
While Oregon doesn’t have it easy—with matchups vs. California, No. 14 Stanford and No. 11 Oregon State (plus a likely Pac-12 Championship)—the ‘Cats have to face an extremely feisty TCU team in Week 11, Baylor’s high-powered offense after that and then close the season with a tussle vs. No. 17 Texas.
Most concerning for K-State is the injury that Heisman-favorite QB Collin Klein suffered in the third quarter of his team’s 44-30 win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys. He didn’t return to action and his status is still questionable for Week 11.
Without Klein, it's difficult to see Kansas State escaping Fort Worth unscathed, suffering its first loss and spiraling down the BCS rankings. That would allow for Oregon to move up and have a chance to control its destiny.
If Klein is close to 100 percent and can play, it's likely the Wildcats will make it as far as Dec. 1—when they match up with the Longhorns—before finally dropping a game.
Regardless of when it happens, all Oregon fans care about is getting back to the BCS championship. The team hopes to redeem itself for the 2011 game, in which the Ducks lost to Cam Newton’s Auburn squad, 22-19.