If you're like us, you're probably disappointed that the Alabama-Oregon clash—the nation's best defense against the nation's best offense—probably won't happen at the BCS National Championship, thanks to Texas A&M pulling an improbable 29-24 upset in Tuscaloosa.
But it's not as if Oregon's now in line to face, like, Nicholls State for the title (though those two are opening the season next year). Kansas State features putative Heisman favorite Collin Klein and a surprisingly stout defense. KSU has beaten all but two of its opponents by double digits, and we can forgive one of those—it was a 24-19 win at Oklahoma.
Let's suppose Oregon or Kansas State can't make it through the rest of the season unscathed. There's also a resurgent Notre Dame team waiting in the wings.
Alabama still isn't far behind. Behind Alabama in the BCS standings are five more SEC teams in a row, all of whom are dying for a shot at breaking into a BCS bowl berth and reminding the world who the best conference in college football is.
But since there can only be two teams from the SEC or any other conference in the five BCS-level bowl games, we get to dig deeper, and there's still quality to be found.
FSU and Clemson feature some of the most exciting offensive players in all of college football, and if it weren't for the computers' serial disregard for ACC teams in general this year, they'd both be in the Top 10 of the BCS standings—which is where the human voters have them.
Even the automatic bid qualifiers that usually make viewers turn up their noses in disgust should be appointment viewing this year.
Nebraska's in line to represent the Big Ten, and even if you toss aside the decades of history that the Huskers bring to the table, you've still got a high-powered offense and a team that has completed four straight double-digit comebacks thus far in Big Ten play. Three more wins and Nebraska takes on a "team of destiny" look as it heads to the Rose Bowl.
Louisville, meanwhile, took a big hit from its loss to Syracuse this past weekend, but if all you see is a low-ranked Big East team you're not paying attention. Cardinals QB Teddy Bridgewater is one of the most exciting players in the nation, and while the Cardinals' recent loss of leading rusher, Sinorise Perry to a torn ACL hurts, it does open the door to some ridiculously exciting football coming into the BCS mix.
Allow us to explain.
Right behind Louisville in the BCS standings is Louisiana Tech, who currently averages 576 yards of offense and 53 points scored per game. Louisiana Tech currently leads the WAC at 9-1 (4-0). As of right now, Louisiana Tech isn't eligible for an at-large BCS bid, thanks to its low place in the standings.
However, should Louisville lose again—and a trip to No. 22 Rutgers still looms at the end of the year—Rutgers would assume the Big East title, and if that happens without Rutgers passing up Louisiana Tech in the BCS standings, Louisiana Tech would be granted an automatic bid in the BCS.
Oh, and Cincinnati's also still in this Big East title mix, and it's not even ranked in the BCS. You can bet there are plenty of Cincy fans right about now at Louisiana Tech.
So, take a look around.The offenses in this BCS mix are tantalizing.
Oregon's high-octane spread offense is almost assuredly in a BCS bowl. So is Heisman favorite Collin Klein and his team's version of the Tebow spread. When Oklahoma's up-tempo passing attack is clicking, it's unbeatable. Then there's Nebraska running a 1970's-era option with Taylor Martinez and doing it marvelously.
Meanwhile, Alabama and its top-ranked defense are still around, lurking.
So is fellow defensive juggernaut Notre Dame, who's one fortuitous loss away from national title contention. LSU's defensive line is ferocious and deep, and it can derail any offense you put in front of it. And then there's Louisiana Tech, who plays no defense whatsoever and somehow makes games even more entertaining as a result.
How can you not love this BCS landscape right now?
No, it's not perfect—especially with Ohio State excluded and no playoff in place—but there are so many teams worth watching that this is still just about as good as you could ever hope for from the BCS bowls.
We're looking forward to it.