Last Monday, it seemed pretty apparent that the BCS National Championship game would finally, for the first time in seven years, exclude an SEC team.
No. 1 and No. 2 in the BCS standings lost Saturday night, as Oregon fell 17-14 in overtime to No. 13 Stanford and Kansas State was thumped 52-24 in Waco, TX, by the Baylor Bears.
All of a sudden the BCS is shaken up, and we've still got a regular season weekend and a conference championship weekend left.
Let's blow away the dust and make some educated guesses as to how the BCS bowl matchups will look in a few weeks.
The Pac-12 just really shook up. Stanford now controls its own destiny. A win over UCLA will put Stanford in the conference title game against, well, UCLA. Oregon has to defeat a very good Oregon State team and have Stanford lose to return to the championship game.
Stanford has beaten USC, Oregon State, Oregon and barely lost to Notre Dame. It should handle a big-game environment again, but the Bruins will get the best of the Cardinal in the rematch and make a surprise showing in their own stadium for the Rose Bowl as the conference champion.
Nebraska will not have to play Ohio State or Penn State, the two best teams in the Big Ten Leaders division, in the Big Ten title game. The Huskers could lose to Iowa and still likely make the title game because Michigan has to beat an Ohio State squad that is hungry for one more meaningful win.
The Huskers will beat Wisconsin to earn a trip to Pasadena.
Florida State might be the most sure team in this entire cloud of dust. Win or lose against Florida next week, the Seminoles will be getting Miami (FL) or Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship game. A win there sends FSU to the Orange Bowl.
The only weird scenario? If somehow Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia, Kansas State and Oregon all screw up again, a 12-1 FSU team, which would have beaten Florida, could be in the second BCS game in Miami. But, that's not likely. That's not to say FSU has not been more deserving all season, as has their divisional counterpart, Clemson.
Rutgers controls its own destiny for the Big East title. It should win at Pittsburgh next week and will have Louisville at home for, what is for all intents and purposes, the Big East championship game. A close win will send the Fighting LeGrands to their first BCS Bowl in team history—something that was almost a reality in an equally crazy year in 2007.
No team has been overlooked more this year than the Clemson Tigers. The paws have won every game aside from a shootout, not a blowout, against the Seminoles.
A win against bitter rival South Carolina in their final game will bode well for the Tigers and finally give them some national love, but unfortunately this very worthy team doesn't have a chance to dance in Miami.
A Sugar Bowl win over an SEC opponent would definitely, at least, give Clemson something to build on. The loser of the SEC Championship, assuming Georgia and Alabama both take care of business against Georgia Tech and Auburn, respectively, will represent the conference in the Sugar Bowl.
Here's where things get interesting. Assuming the scenarios set, Oregon will win its final conference game but not qualify because Stanford will get a win vs. UCLA to go to the conference title game.
Florida, who could even be 12-1 here if it beats FSU (who can make the Orange Bowl with a Florida loss because it doesn't count for conference play), could be a good pick here and ranked higher than the Ducks, but the Gators won't be able to play in the BCS series because Alabama and Georgia will fill the BCS quota of two teams per conference.
Oregon gets in here as an at-large team, while Kansas State gets in by winning the conference with a win over Texas. If Kansas State loses to Texas, Oklahoma has to beat Oklahoma State and TCU to take the conference.
Notre Dame should fight off the Matt Barkley-less USC Trojans to finish 12-0 and easily clinch a spot in the title game. The question is, who takes the No. 2 spot?
It will come down to the SEC Championship between 12-1 Alabama and 12-1 Georgia.
Georgia has one bad loss, 35-7, against the previously No. 6-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks, on the road. Alabama has a close 29-24 loss to Texas A&M, at home.
Either way, the winner here should go, but Georgia might need a little bit more style points if it wins to shake off any doubts and any teams lurking behind it.
In an upset, Georgia's Aaron Murray will finally get that monkey off his back and win a big game. It won't be by much, but a close victory will send the Bulldogs into a national championship for the first time since they had a chance to finish as champions in the Sugar Bowl in 1982.
This game would also be the first time Notre Dame and Georgia had met since the 1981 Sugar Bowl, where the Bulldogs and Herschel Walker won 17-10 to claim the team's first national championship of the modern era.