Power Ranking the Potential BCS Spoilers
After a wild weekend of upsets, BCS chaos is upon us once again and that means there are plenty of new spoilers lurking and ready to pounce on several teams that may be feeling the pressure of closing out successful seasons.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take their undefeated record to the Los Angeles Coliseum, but where do the USC Trojans rank among the potential BCS spoilers without Matt Barkley?
Is there any chance the Auburn Tigers rise up in the Iron Bowl and upset the Alabama Crimson Tide?
Those questions and many more are answered in this slideshow!
No. 10: Auburn Tigers
Current record: 3-8 (0-7, SEC)
Whose BCS hopes they'll try to spoil: No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide
Gene Chizik's days as head coach of the Auburn Tigers are likely numbered, and a blowout loss against the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide in the Iron Bowl at Bryant-Denny Stadium to conclude a dismal 2012 season on Saturday, will probably be what gets him fired.
The Tigers' only victories this season came against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks in overtime, the 1-9 New Mexico State Aggies and the Alabama A&M Bulldogs of the Football Championship Subdivision.
Given how poorly Auburn's three quarterbacks Jonathan Wallace, Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley have played this year, there is no reason to believe the Tigers will even hang with Alabama for a single quarter, let long enough to ruin their archrival's shot to play for a second straight BCS national title.
Auburn will turn to running backs Tre Mason and Onterio McCale early in the game to try and establish a balanced offense, but will not have much success against Alabama's No. 2 ranked defense that is only allowing 240 yards per game.
Prediction: Alabama by 31
No. 9: Iowa Hawkeyes
Current record: 4-7 (2-5, Big Ten)
Whose BCS hopes they'll try to spoil: No. 14 Nebraska Cornhuskers
This game may not have BCS national title implications, but the Iowa Hawkeyes will have a chance to ruin the No. 14 Nebraska Cornhuskers' dreams of winning their first Big Ten Conference title, and playing in the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 2002.
For the Hawkeyes, this upcoming matchup with the Cornhuskers, is their bowl game since Kirk Ferentz's team assured themselves of their first losing season in six years after being blown out by the Michigan Wolverines last Saturday.
Unfortunately, Iowa does not have enough offensive firepower to keep pace with Nebraska, who will pile up plenty of points on the Hawkeyes with dual-threat quarterback Taylor Martinez calling the shots, and sophomore I-back Ameer Abdullah, stretching the field in the ground game.
Iowa has lost five straight games, and there is no reason to believe the Hawkeyes will not close out their 2012 campaign with a sixth consecutive loss.
Prediction: Nebraska by 21
No. 8: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Current record: 6-5 (5-3, ACC)
Whose BCS hopes they'll try to spoil: No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs and No. 10 Florida State Seminoles
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will have a chance to play the role of the spoiler for back-to-back weeks, but the likelihood of them knocking off the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs, this Saturday at Sanford Stadium, or the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles in the ACC Championship Game, next weekend, is not great.
There is always the potential for an upset, when a team runs the triple option as well as the Yellow Jackets do, but the Bulldogs play Georgia Tech every year, and the Seminoles have more than enough talent along their defensive line to shut down Paul Johnson's rushing attack.
The other factor going against the Yellow Jackets, in both games, is their defense, or lack thereof.
In four of Georgia Tech's five losses this season, the Yellow Jackets have surrendered more than 40 points, and gave up 50 points in their shootout victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels, two weeks ago.
Predictions: Georgia by 28. Florida State by 24.
No. 7: Oklahoma State Cowboys
Current record: 7-3 (5-2, Big 12)
Whose BCS hopes they'll try to spoil: No. 13 Oklahoma Sooners
This is another game that does not have any national championship implications, but does involve the No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys looking to beat the No. 13 Oklahoma Sooners in the Bedlam Game for a second straight season, and spoil any hopes Bob Stoops' team has at earning an at-large BCS bowl bid.
The Cowboys' offense struggled more than usual in the month of October, but after their 44-30 loss to the Kansas State Wildcats, junior quarterback Clint Chelf made his first start and threw for a combined seven touchdowns in victories over the West Virginia Mountaineers and Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Oklahoma State won both of those games handily and piled up an average of 57 points per contest.
While the Cowboys have been impressive offensively, and will score at least 30 points against the Sooners, this weekend, their defense struggled against West Virginia's and Kansas State's potent offenses.
Landry Jones has been on fire, as of late, with over 1,200 passing yards and 12 touchdowns in Oklahoma's last three games, and I expect him to keep a hot hand for the Sooners this weekend, and make amends for last season's disappointing 44-10 loss in Stillwater.
This one will be a high-scoring affair, so if you love offense, this is the game you should be following this Saturday.
Prediction: Oklahoma by 4
No. 6: USC Trojans
Current record: 7-4 (5-4, Pac-12)
Whose BCS hopes they'll look to spoil: No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The USC Trojans are hosting the marquee rivalry game, this Saturday, as they look to ruin the No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish's undefeated season and national championship aspirations at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Senior quarterback Matt Barkley will not play against the Fighting Irish due to a sprained shoulder, which means redshirt freshman Max Wittek will be making the first start of his collegiate career.
Wittek has only thrown nine passes for 95 yards and one touchdown this season, but the Mater Dei product was the nation's No. 3 pro-style quarterback and No. 76 overall prospect coming out of high school, according to Rivals.com.
Luckily for Wittek, he has plenty of talent around him, and the Fighting Irish will have a hard time containing star wide receivers Marqise Lee, who has 47 receptions for 821 yards and six touchdowns in USC's last four games, and Robert Woods.
Notre Dame should be able to slow down Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd without much trouble, which will put a lot of pressure on Wittek to make some big throws.
I think the youngster is up to the challenge and will turn in an impressive performance, but USC's defense will not be able to stop Notre Dame's running back tandem of Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick.
Prediction: Notre Dame by 10
No. 5 UCLA Bruins
Current record: 9-2 (6-2, Pac-12)
Whose BCS hopes they'll look to spoil: No. 8 Stanford Cardinal and No. 5 Oregon Ducks
If the No. 17 UCLA Bruins are able to knock off the No. 8 Stanford Cardinal at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, not only will David Shaw's team be left out of the Pac-12 Conference title game, it will help the No. 5 Oregon Ducks win the North Division.
Unfortunately for the Ducks, UCLA does not match up well with Stanford, who managed to slow down Oregon's potent attack last weekend, and are not going to be able to pull off the upset.
The Bruins establish their offense by letting senior running back Johnathan Franklin go to work on the ground early to force opposing defenses to load up the box, which allows freshman quarterback Brett Hundley to stretch the field through the air.
Stanford boasts the nation's No. 2 rushing defense and should be able to keep UCLA's rushing attack in check.
Defensively, the Bruins have struggled, and even gave up 36 points to the lowly Washington State Cougars and 43 points against the Arizona State Sun Devils.
UCLA managed to win both of those games because their offense bailed them out, but the Cardinal will keep this game in the low 20s, and I expect Stepfan Taylor and Kevin Hogan to both play well enough for Stanford to top the Bruins and clinch the Pac-12 North, which will set up a rematch between the two teams in the conference title game.
Prediction: Stanford by 7
Bonus Prediction (if necessary): Oregon by 14
No. 4: Texas Longhorns
Current record: 8-2 (5-2, Big 12)
Whose BCS hopes they'll try to spoil: No. 6 Kansas State Wildcats
The Baylor Bears may have spoiled the No. 6 Kansas State Wildcats' hopes at playing for a national title, but the No. 16 Texas Longhorns will help the No. 13 Oklahoma Sooners win the Big 12 Conference crown with a victory at Bill Snyder Stadium next Saturday.
As it stands right now, the Wildcats only need to beat Texas, or for Oklahoma to lose their rivalry tilt with the Oklahoma State Cowboys this weekend, to clinch the Big 12 title.
While Texas would probably hate to see the Sooners win the conference the Longhorns would love to play the role of the spoiler against Kansas State and potentially create a four-way tie in the Big 12, which could get Mack Brown's team into a BCS bowl.
A lot has to happen for the four-way tie to take place, and the Longhorns will know whether or not they control their own destiny against Kansas State after this weekend's games.
Texas has rounded into form defensively and have only allowed more than 20 points in one of their last three games, compared to the 45.6 points per game the Longhorns allowed in the previous four contests.
Sophomore quarterback David Ash has regained his confidence after rough outings against the Kansas Jayhawks and Oklahoma Sooners, which is a bad sign for a Kansas State defense that just allowed Baylor to rack up 580 total yards.
This game will probably wind up being played in the mid-30s, but I expect Collin Klein and Kansas State to rebound from their loss to Baylor and win the Big 12 conference.
Prediction: Kansas State by 5
No. 3: Oregon State Beavers
Current record: 8-2 (6-2, Pac-12)
Whose BCS hopes they'll look to spoil: No. 5 Oregon Ducks
The No. 5 Oregon Ducks still have an outside shot at making it to the national title game if they have some help this weekend, but the No. 15 Oregon State Beavers will try and end any hopes their in-state rival has of earning a BCS bowl berth in the Civil War game at Reser Stadium on Saturday.
The Beavers have been one of the most surprising teams in college football this season and will test Oregon's defense, which is coming off of a strong performance in their 17-14 overtime loss to the Stanford Cardinal.
Storm Woods, Brandin Cook and Markus Wheaton will all have to come up big for Oregon State if the Beavers have any shot at upsetting Oregon.
Do not expect a repeat performance from Oregon's offense either. The Ducks may have struggled to find the end zone against Stanford last Saturday, but still managed to rack up over 400 yards of total offense.
Oregon State does not have enough offensive firepower to keep up with the Ducks in a shootout, and I expect Marcus Mariota and Kenjon Barner to help Oregon score at least 30 points against the Beavers.
Prediction: Oregon by 14
No. 2: South Carolina Gamecocks
Current record: 9-2 (6-2, SEC)
Whose BCS hopes they'll try to spoil: No. 11 Clemson Tigers
Yes, the Clemson Tigers are not going to have a chance to play in the ACC title game for an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game, but Dabo Swinney's squad can still earn an at-large berth given the current logjam of SEC teams in the top 15.
A maximum of two teams from one conference are able to play in BCS bowls, which means the Tigers are going to be pretty high in the pecking order of remaining teams if they are able to maintain or improve upon their current ranking.
South Carolina will rely heavily on their defense, which is ranked No. 13 in the country, to slow down Clemson's high octane offense, led by junior quarterback Tajh Boyd.
The Tigers have scored 44 points per game this season, but much of it has come against extremely weak competition.
Clemson has only played one team ranked in the Top 25 this season and will get quite the test from South Carolina's defense this Saturday in Death Valley.
Connor Shaw will have to be on his game, and the Gamecocks will need either Kenny Miles or Mike Davis to run the ball effectively in the absence of Marcus Lattimore.
This should not be much of a problem against Clemson's defense, though, which gave up 48 points against N.C. State last Saturday, 31 points in wins over the two-win Boston College Eagles and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets earlier this season.
Clemson's offense finally gets slowed down by a legitimate defense, and Shaw has a big day to lead the Gamecocks past the Tigers and spoil their rivals' BCS bowl hopes.
Prediction: South Carolina by 7
No. 1: Florida State Seminoles
Current record: 10-1 (7-1, ACC)
Whose BCS hopes they'll try to spoil: No. 4 Florida Gators
The No. 4 Florida Gators are lurking in the background of the BCS national title race, and need some teams ahead of them to lose, unless the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles take their in-state rival out of the mix completely by pulling off the upset at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday.
The Gators have been one of the best defensive teams in the country this season, and their play on that side of the ball is the primary reason Florida is 10-1 this season.
E.J. Manuel and Florida State can pile up points in a hurry, though, and will force either quarterback Jeff Driskel, who is coming off of an ankle injury, or speedy running back Mike Gillislee to have breakout games in order to top the Seminoles.
Florida's offensive woes will finally catch up with them this weekend, and the Seminoles will force a couple of turnovers to help take the pressure off of Manuel and the rest of Florida State's offense, which should score at least 24 points.
Prediction: Florida State by 9