College Football Rankings 2012: Analyzing Which Top 3 Team Is Most Vulnerable
Three 10-0 teams occupy the top three spots in this week’s BCS Rankings and all of them must win their two remaining regular-season games to have a chance at playing for a national championship.
Kansas State benefited the most from Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M. The Wildcats are the new No. 1 team after an impressive defensive performance against TCU that led to their latest victory.
Oregon will be ecstatic with the new poll as well. After spending four weeks outside of the Top Two spots, the Ducks are now the No. 2 team in the nation and would play for a national championship if the season ended today.
Notre Dame remains on the precipice of a spot in college football’s marquee game after its latest victory, and it ranks No. 3. Here is each team’s chances at falling in their remaining matches broken down and analyzed.
No. 1 Kansas State
Remaining Games: at Baylor, vs. No. 15 Texas
Kansas State has won through Collin Klein and the offense, but it has also relied on its defense to lead victories, as was the case this past week against TCU.
Unlike the previous weeks against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State in which the Wildcats allowed their opponents to move the ball effectively, KSU clamped down on the Horned Frogs and did not need an outstanding performance from its Heisman Trophy candidate on offense.
The Wildcats are a complete team and have stormed through their Big 12 schedule. Baylor will not cause Kansas State any problems, although Texas will provide a more difficult matchup.
Fortunately, KSU is hosting the Longhorns. The Wildcats have proved that they deserve a chance to play in the national championship game, and due to their favorable schedule, they are the least vulnerable of the Top Three teams.
No. 2 Oregon
Remaining Games: vs. No. 13 Stanford, at No. 16 Oregon State
Oregon is ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation, according to the AP Top 25 Poll, the USA Today Poll and the ESPN.com Power Rankings. As these rankings suggest, there is a very legitimate argument that Oregon is better than Kansas State.
With incredible athleticism on offense, the Ducks have dominated on this side of the ball and have averaged 54.8 points per game, which is the top mark in the nation. While the Oregon defense has had its problems at times, the unit also has several playmakers.
Although the Ducks may be a better team than the Wildcats, they also face the toughest schedule of any of the Top Three teams. They will finish their schedule against two ranked Pac-12 opponents.
Still, Oregon’s dominance this season makes it a comfortable favorite in both of these contests, and now that the Ducks are so close to the ultimate prize, it is highly unlikely that they will lose either game. The difficult schedule makes Oregon slightly more vulnerable than Kansas State, but it is not the 10-0 team that is most likely to lose.
The Pac-12 championship game is also unlikely to derail the Ducks' grand aspirations, as the toughest competition in the conference is in the North Division, not the South.
No. 3 Notre Dame
Remaining Games: vs. Wake Forest, at No. 18 USC
Which of these teams is in the most danger of losing one of their remaining games?
The Fighting Irish have a spectacular defense, but their offense has been wholly unimpressive in several games this season.
The team has allowed just 11.1 points per game, which the is fewest in the nation this season. Manti Te’o certainly has the defense playing at an elite level, but Notre Dame is the least balanced team in the Top Three.
The Irish will still roll over Wake Forest, but playing USC in Los Angeles to close out its season will be a difficult game. The Trojans offense is full of NFL-caliber talent, and while Notre Dame will be the clear favorites, Matt Barkley certainly has the ability to orchestrate enough points to spoil his rivals’ undefeated season.
Of all the six remaining regular-season games for these three teams, The Fighting Irish face the toughest matchup with their trip to USC. This makes them the most vulnerable team in the Top Three.
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