College Football Rankings 2012: Biggest Remaining Hurdles for Undefeated Teams
There are five remaining undefeated teams in the 2012 college football BCS rankings. Four of them have a shot at reaching the BCS national championship game, but will likely need to stay unbeaten in order to get there.
One of the unbeaten teams hasn't earned a trip to a BCS game, let alone the title match. They will get the former, though.
Following is the remaining schedule and the biggest threat remaining for each team.
No. 9 Louisville Cardinals
Remaining Games: @ Syracuse, vs. Connecticut, @ No. 23 Rutgers
Do the Cardinals deserve a BCS game if they go 12-0?
When preparing a Week 1 summary for the Cardinals it was difficult to find a game they would lose. The season is playing out accordingly.
I don't believe Louisville would be much higher than ninth in the SEC or Pac-12, but they will ride their easy schedule to a 12-0 record and a berth in the Orange Bowl.
I've predicted they'll face Florida State in that game, making for a lopsided contest.
The team that can keep them from their 12th win is No. 23 Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights also looked like a team that could enter their final game undefeated, but a 35-23 loss to Kent State ended their run.
Yes, Rutgers is ranked even though they were beat by a team that was blown out by Kentucky (1-9). The Big East has talent issues, and most teams do very little to add a quality non-conference foe.
Louisville will beat Rutgers, giving them one win over a ranked opponent.
No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Remaining Games: @ Boston College, vs. Wake Forest, @ No. 19 USC
The next two games shouldn't require much effort for the Irish, but I said the same thing about Pittsburgh. They took Notre Dame to triple OT.
But the Trojans are a legitimate threat. Despite a few tough conference losses, there aren't many teams USC can't beat.
Notre Dame doesn't fall on that list. This game very well could take the Irish out of the ranks of national title contenders, and I've vacillated on which team will prevail.
Southern Cal has a fast, dangerous offense, but the same can be said of Notre Dame's defense. Neither team is overly affluent on the other side of the ball.
This game will be decided by Notre Dame's defense. If they can find a way to slow Matt Barkley and his talented receivers they can escape L.A. with a win.
No. 3 Oregon Ducks
Remaining Games: @ Cal, vs. No. 14 Stanford, @ No. 11 Oregon State, Pac-12 Championship Game
The Ducks have the hardest remaining schedule, and it isn't close. They will likely face three more ranked opponents and should they win out, they will build enough strength of schedule to reach the BCS championship game.
The toughest game for the Ducks will come in the Civil War, their annual matchup against the rival Beavers. Oregon State runs a balanced offensive attack and should be able to move the ball quite well on Oregon.
Oregon State also has a quality defense that should at least slow down Kenjon Barner. Add in the home crowd and this will be a difficult game for Oregon.
Will Kansas State make the Title Game?
No. 2 Kansas State Wildcats
Remaining Games: @ TCU, @ Baylor, vs. No. 17 Texas
Kansas State hasn't been challenged this season, outside a 24-19 win over then-No. 6 Oklahoma.
They faced a pair of Top-15 teams in back-to-back weeks and scored 55 points in each game. They surrendered a combined 38 points.
Texas will put up a bit of a fight, but it is hard to ignore their home loss to Oklahoma. The Longhorns were throttled 63-21.
Kansas State currently holds the edge over Oregon in the computer rankings, but the Ducks will gain ground over the final four games. A win over a ranked opponent in the championship game could be what pushes Oregon into the second spot in the BCS rankings.
Will Alabama win the Championship?
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Remaining Games: vs. No. 15 Texas A&M, vs. W. Carolina, vs. Auburn, SEC Championship Game
The Tide will have the luxury of playing their final three regular season games at home, one of which is a glorified bye-week.
They won't be so fortunate in the title game.
Georgia looks as though they will emerge from the SEC East. The title game will be played in Atlanta, giving Georgia an edge.
Conference title games pose a dilemma for schools. While they could be enough to propel them into a BCS matchup, they could also end their hopes of such a run.
I doubt Alabama or any other top team would shy away from the challenge, though, and Georgia will make for an intriguing matchup. Their defense should be good enough to keep them competitive.
The key to the game will be if their offense can score on Alabama.
I've predicted a BCS championship game between Alabama and Oregon. All four of these teams are deserving, but the new playoff format comes two years too late.
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.
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