Alabama and Notre Dame Will Earn the Right to Play for BCS Championship
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If history teaches us anything about college football, it warns us not to get too comfortable. Chaos is always on the horizon.
Alabama controls its own destiny, and Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame will continue jockeying for the coveted No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings.
Outside of these four, a handful of teams are waiting in the trenches to take advantage of a misstep.
Over the years we have learned that anything can happen, and it likely will.
The 1998 season is a perfect example. Going into the last weekend, UCLA and Tennessee were the favorites, and Kansas State, Florida State and Ohio State were waiting on the outside.
Miami dumped UCLA in the hurricane make-up game, Texas A&M slayed Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship and Mississippi State had Tennessee on the ropes until Tee Martin staged a miracle comeback in the SEC Championship game.
Just as the BCS started with a bang, it may just be itching to make some noise in one of its last swan songs.
Unlike 1998, though, 2012 may provide a different twist by giving us four undefeated teams. Sorting out that mess will be legendary.
With four teams undefeated teams left, which two will make it to the BCS Championship? Here is a breakdown of the contenders.
No. 1 Alabama showed why they are the best team in the land by engineering a late touchdown drive to beat No. 7 LSU 21-17 in Death Valley last Saturday.
In the dramatic victory, the Crimson Tide revealed a rarely seen vulnerability that may give opponents a glimmer of hope in knocking off the defending champs.
First on the list is No. 15 Texas A&M, who comes to Tuscaloosa this Saturday hoping to crush Alabama’s dreams of repeating.
LSU gave the Aggies a blueprint for hanging with Alabama. Can they pull the upset?
Not likely. Even though the Aggies are better than expected, going on the road in a hostile environment is a monumental hurdle to overcome.
To have any chance of winning the game, quarterback Johnny Manziel will have to play a perfect game which is much easier said than done.
Manziel is young, fearless and has taken the SEC by storm this year. He is leading a prolific attack that is averaging 556 yards and 45 points per game. He must have forgotten to read the memo that you are not supposed to be successful in the SEC in your first year.
The glaring problem is the Aggies’ offense was held in check in their two losses against Florida and LSU, especially in the second half after the defenses were able to adjust.
Alabama will have little trouble slowing the Aggies down too.
Once the Crimson Tide defeat Texas A&M as expected, the only thing standing between them and the title game is No. 5 Georgia.
The Bulldogs have rebounded from their loss to the Gamecocks to put themselves in position to win the SEC, but they are still led by Mark Richt and Aaron Murray.
Coach Nick Saban will find a way to beat them, and Alabama will finish the regular season unbeaten.
The hype is in full force. No. 3 Oregon’s high-octane, super-charged offense has made them media darlings once again.
Forgive me if I am unimpressed with the Duck’s ability to score points. We have seen this movie several times and the ending is always the same.
Explosive offenses may look great in the regular season, but they collapse like a house of cards when matched against elite level scoring defenses.
Oklahoma in 2000, Miami in 2001, Ohio State in 2002, LSU in 2003, USC in 2004, Florida in 2006 and 2008 and Alabama in 2009 all proved that championships are largely won by suffocating defenses.
We are hearing that this year will be different. Oregon’s players are better and the system is improved.
That’s nonsense. Until it works in a title game, label me skeptical.
Regardless, the Ducks are in prime position to make it back their second title game in three years.
Their next two games are a joke. Cal will lose by 50 and Stanford is overrated.
The Civil War might be interesting because No. 11 Oregon State is putting together a fine season, but eventually the Oregon’s attack will wear them down.
This leaves UCLA or USC in the title game to pull the upset.
After watching the Ducks rack up 730 yards and 62 points last week against the Trojans, it is difficult to believe they have enough to win a rematch.
The Bruins run defense is just as bad as USC’s so it would take a miracle for them to stay remotely in the game.
Oregon will finish the season unbeaten.
This has been a season of learning curves for No. 3 Notre Dame, and none was more significant than the win against Pitt.
The best teams know how to quickly recover from emotional wins to avoid the trap games. Coming off the program’s biggest victory in years against Oklahoma, the Fighting Irish thought they would cruise against the Panthers. It almost cost them.
They were fortunate to pull out the win, but the lesson will not be forgotten.
Notre Dame is now the hunted and will get everyone’s best shot. No opponent can be overlooked.
Coach Brian Kelly will make sure the team is more focused the rest of the way. They should have little trouble with Boston College and Wake Forest over the next two weeks, but the season finale against USC in the Coliseum looms large.
The Trojans are wounded right now, but this is an immensely heated rivalry. USC would love to ease the pain of their lost opportunity by crushing the Fighting Irish’s golden season. It will be a classic battle.
To win, Notre Dame will need to replicate their defensive strategy from the Oklahoma game, run the ball well and win the turnover battle.
Against the Sooners, the Irish completely shut down the running game and forced Landry Jones and Co. to move the ball in short chunks down the field. They were also efficient in the Red Zone.
They need to do the same with Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. If they can stop them from making big plays, they will be playing for the BCS title.
Notre Dame will find a way to beat USC and finish the season unbeaten.
If you secretly asked Saban which team he would like to coach this season if he was not the coach of Alabama, the favorite is probably No. 2 Kansas State.
The talent level is not as good and the scheme is different, but the formula for winning is exactly the same.
The Wildcats run the ball well, stop the run and create turnovers. This is why they will easily win the Big 12.
They experienced a slight scare last week when Collin Klein left the game with an undisclosed head injury.
If ND, Alabama, Oregon and KState finish undfeated, who will play for the title
The road for Kansas State is a little bumpy, but definitely manageable. The most difficult game is the game against TCU.
The Horned Frogs have a formidable defensive front that is allowing just 97 yards per game, so they should be able contain the Wildcats’ running game.
Klein may have to go to the air to win the game, which could be a good thing in the long run.
Snyder typically does not have to rely on Klein’s arm, but he is more than capable of doing it. He has thrown for 1875 yards with 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions this year.
It will be a tight game, but Kansas State will pull away late.
The Wildcats will throttle Baylor next week. Klein will pad his Heisman campaign stats against the porous Bears defense that is allowing 200 yards rushing and 40 points per game.
They wrap the regular season against Texas. Unless they crumble under the pressure, the Wildcats should have no trouble knocking off the vastly overrated No. 17 Longhorns.
Texas’ defense is yielding 446 yards and 31 points per game. The Sooners put up 63 points against them. Expect the Wildcats to score more and finish the season 12-0.
All four teams will go undefeated, but which two will play for the BCS Championship?
Alabama is a lock and Notre Dame will earn that No. 2 spot.
The Fighting Irish will have defeated the second best team in the Big 12 and two of the best teams from the Pac-12. They also beat Michigan which is a common opponent with Alabama.
The bickering will be endless, and no one outside of the Irish community will give them any chance at beating Alabama.
The crazy thing is that it may just take the luck of the Irish to pull off one of the biggest upsets in college football history and end the SEC’s reign on BCS titles.
*All statistics provided by NCAA.com
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