BCS Championship Contender or Pretender for Every Top 25 Team
While we are just three weeks into the college football season, it is not too difficult to tell which Top 25 college football teams have a chance to contend for the BCS National Championship.
Contending for a title is not only an indication of how good a team is, but also the type of schedule it plays and the conference it plays in.
At the beginning of the season, there were plenty of teams that could be considered national title contenders, but after three weeks, that group has been narrowed down.
So which Top 25 teams are legitimate national title contenders?
Here is a list of the contenders and pretenders in the AP Top 25 Poll.
No. 25 Texas Tech Red Raiders
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Texas Tech has been one of the surprising teams in the country this season. The Red Raiders are off to a 3-0 start with a win against TCU on their resume.
They vaulted into the national rankings for the first time this week.
The schedule is very favorable coming up with games against Texas State, Kansas, Iowa State and West Virginia over the next four weeks.
The Red Raiders could be 7-0 heading to Norman to take on Oklahoma.
There are plenty of challenging games at the end of the year, but all of those are winnable, particularly if quarterback Baker Mayfield can continue to develop.
While it still might be somewhat of a long shot, the Red Raiders have a chance to win every game the rest of the year.
No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers
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Wisconsin already has a loss on its resume, so there is no chance the Badgers will make the national championship game.
The 32-30 defeat at Arizona State on Saturday effectively knocked Wisconsin out of the race.
The schedule is very favorable down the stretch for the Badgers, with Ohio State and Northwestern being the only ranked teams remaining.
Still, even if they finished 12-1 and Big Ten champions, they likely wouldn't qualify for the BCS National Championship Game this season.
No. 23 Arizona State Sun Devils
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Arizona State had a very impressive win over Wisconsin on Saturday. The Sun Devils are the second team on the list that is new to the rankings this week.
Their schedule is not the most difficult in the Pac-12, but a road contest against Stanford looms large this weekend.
There are plenty of other challenging games on the schedule, including USC, Notre Dame, Washington, Oregon State, UCLA and in-state rival Arizona.
While it might still be possible for this team to go undefeated, that would be very hard to imagine with the upcoming schedule.
Although this team is talented, it is not national championship-quality talent.
No. 22 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
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Even though Notre Dame is one of the most talked about teams in the country, after three games this season it is easy to tell that this is not a national title contender.
The Fighting Irish are 2-1 right now with a 41-30 loss at Michigan in Week 2.
With the talent in the SEC and Pac-12, even if Notre Dame runs the table, there are going to be too many undefeated and one-loss teams ahead of the Fighting Irish.
Running the table against the likes of Michigan State, Oklahoma, Arizona State, USC, BYU and Stanford is very unlikely to happen.
Either way, this team will be in most games because of its solid defense.
No. 21 Ole Miss Rebels
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Ole Miss is another team that has turned some heads this season. The Rebels are 3-0 with a victory over Texas last weekend and a road win against Vanderbilt to start off the season.
Now the schedule gets a little more challenging. The next four games come against Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU.
There's no way the Rebels make it through that gauntlet with a record better than 2-2.
Just one loss during that stretch will put this team out of national title contention.
No. 20 Baylor Bears
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Baylor is in a similar boat as Texas Tech. The Bears are 2-0 and have a favorable schedule in the Big 12.
There is a chance they will be 7-0 heading into a Thursday night contest against Oklahoma.
That is the first game in a stretch that also features Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. The Bears then close out the season against TCU and Texas.
While it is not likely, Baylor still has an outside shot to win all of its games and be in the conversation for the BCS National Championship Game.
No. 19 Florida Gators
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Florida is the next team on the list with a loss on its resume. It is possible for a one-loss SEC team to play for a national title, but with how low Florida is ranked and the challenging schedule ahead, that is not likely to happen.
There are four Top 15 teams remaining on the schedule for the Gators. That is not good news for a team that struggles to put points on the board.
Look for Florida to be closer to the bottom of the national rankings than the top by the end of the season.
No. 18 Northwestern Wildcats
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Northwestern is the first of a few undefeated Big Ten teams. While the others might be legitimate national title contenders, the Wildcats are not.
The ranking is too low, meaning even if Northwestern goes undefeated, the Wildcats will likely be left out of the national title picture.
There are games against Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State down the stretch.
This team has certainly made some positive strides, but they are not at a national championship level yet.
No. 17 Washington Huskies
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Washington is one of the most talented teams in the country when it comes to skill-position players.
That was on full display in a 38-6 blowout win against Boise State to kick off the season. The Huskies then came back last week with a 34-24 victory against Illinois at Soldier Field.
While they are still undefeated, there is not much of a chance for this team to run the table, particularly with the schedule ahead.
After taking on Idaho State and Arizona the Huskies then go to Stanford and come home one week later to take on Oregon.
That might be the toughest two-game stretch for any team in the country. Not much of a chance for the Huskies to get through that without a loss.
No. 16 Miami Hurricanes
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It might be safe to say Miami is back.
The Hurricanes knocked off in-state rival Florida in Week 2 and only have one ranked team remaining on the schedule. That game is a road contest against Florida State. The ACC championship game might also be on the horizon.
This team appears like it is a year away from being a legitimate contender, but looking ahead, it is not out of the question for this team to be right in the mix at the end of the year.
No. 15 Michigan Wolverines
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For as bad as Devin Gardner and Michigan looked against Akron in a 28-24 victory, all is not lost for the Wolverines.
There are only two ranked teams on the schedule the rest of the way. One of those teams is Ohio State in the season finale.
Even if Michigan wins all of its remaining games, playing for the national title is still not likely.
But this is a squad that can not be counted out, particularly with the possibility of being undefeated.
No. 14 Oklahoma Sooners
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Oklahoma might not be as talented as it has been in past years, but this is a team that has a chance to win all of its games.
If that happens, a national title is not out of the question.
There are some huge games still remaining on the schedule, including a road contest next weekend against Notre Dame. There are also three ranked opponents in the Big 12 coming up down the stretch.
While this team is likely to slip up somewhere along the line, a BCS National Championship is still a possibility.
No. 13 UCLA Bruins
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UCLA is another very talented team that is undefeated but appears to be in trouble when it comes to contending for a national title because of a grueling schedule.
The Bruins have back-to-back road games against Stanford and Oregon in October. They also finish the season with Arizona, Washington, Arizona State and USC.
Not many teams in the country could get through that gauntlet without at least a loss or two.
UCLA is no different, despite the fact that it is one of the most talented teams in the conference.
No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks
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South Carolina already has one loss and still has to face Florida and Clemson toward the end of the season. But the Gamecocks somehow miss out on Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M.
There is still a chance it could win the SEC East Division and be in the conference championship game against Alabama or LSU.
If that happens, the Gamecocks might be a win away from playing in the national title game.
South Carolina is one of the few one-loss teams still with a shot at the national title.
No. 11 Oklahoma State Cowboys
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Oklahoma State will likely be in a battle with in-state rival Oklahoma and a few other teams for the Big 12 title.
If that team is undefeated, there is a chance it could be playing for a national championship.
The Cowboys were impressive in a season-opening win against Mississippi State. Like the rest of the Big 12 teams, the schedule is not very challenging.
Even though it is not likely to happen, this is a team that has a shot to go undefeated and be in the national title picture by season's end.
No. 10 Texas A&M Aggies
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Texas A&M is another SEC team with one loss, but the Aggies must not be as fortunate as South Carolina.
The Aggies would need some help from Alabama to play for the SEC Championship. The Crimson Tide would need to lose two games, or there would need to be a three-way tie for Texas A&M to have a chance.
Even if this team wins out, it does not appear likely either of those scenarios will happen. With the way the defense has played in recent weeks, winning out does not seem likely.
Still, this team will be fun to watch the rest of the way, similar to last season.
No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs
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Georgia is the third consecutive one-loss SEC team in the top 25. The Bulldogs fell to Clemson the first game of the season.
A win over South Carolina in Week 2 put the Bulldogs in the driver's seat for the SEC East title.
There are some daunting games coming up, including LSU and Florida, but this team has the talent to win its remaining games, including the SEC Championship and play for a BCS National Championship.
Only time will tell if that pans out.
No. 8 Florida State Seminoles
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Florida State has three very challenging games that remain. If the Seminoles win all three of those games, they might be in contention for a national title.
But those three games come against Clemson, Miami and Florida. Even with a quarterback as talented as Jameis Winston, it will be no easy task for the Seminoles.
With a ranking already at No. 8, Florida State certainly has a better shot than any of the other teams on the list so far.
Look out, as this team could continue to improve as the season progresses.
No. 7 Louisville Cardinals
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There is no question that Louisville has the easiest schedule of any team on this list. The Cardinals do not play a ranked team all season.
The biggest challenge might come in the final game of the year on the road against Cincinnati.
With that being said, even if the Cardinals go undefeated it is nowhere close to a guarantee that they will play for the national title.
But at 12-0, this team will be knocking on the door if all the other teams in the country suffer a loss somewhere along the line.
No. 6 LSU Tigers
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LSU has some very challenging games remaining on its schedule, but with the way the Tigers have played so far this season, a few ranked teams might not be much of a problem.
The defense for the Tigers appears to be good enough to keep the team in the game every night.
The challenges that await LSU include Georgia, Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and Texas A&M. It is not likely this team will win all of those games, but one loss does not necessarily eliminate the Tigers.
This team certainly has a shot to play for the BCS National Championship.
No. 5 Stanford Cardinal
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It is obvious that both Stanford and Oregon cannot both play for the national championship, but at this point they both have an excellent chance.
Stanford gets Oregon at home on a Thursday night. That is a huge advantage for a Cardinal team that knocked off the Ducks a season ago.
With the amount of challenging games on the schedule, Stanford would be likely to play for a title if it won its remaining games, including a Pac-12 title.
Winning out would include victories over Arizona State, Washington, UCLA, Oregon State, Oregon, USC and Notre Dame.
Head coach David Shaw will likely have his team ready for each of those contests.
No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes
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Coming into the season Ohio State was one of the popular choices to take on Oregon for the national championship.
Right now, it appears the Buckeyes are going to need some help from two of the three teams in front of them. With the schedule those teams play, there is an excellent chance that could happen.
Ohio State, on the other hand, has an extremely easy schedule down the stretch, but the Buckeyes do have to take on Michigan in Ann Arbor the final game of the year.
With the schedule Ohio State plays, this team might have as good a shot as anybody to be right there in the end for the BCS National Championship.
No. 3 Clemson Tigers
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There is no doubt that Clemson has been one of the most impressive teams this season. The Tigers knocked off Georgia in the season opener.
While there are some challenging games on the schedule, the only two that stick out are Florida State and South Carolina. Clemson could easily lose a few of its other remaining games, but those are the two that stand out.
With the way Tajh Boyd has played and the leadership he possesses, this team will likely be right there at the end of the year.
Look out for the Tigers in 2013.
No. 2 Oregon Ducks
The Oregon Ducks showed just how talented they are with a 59-14 win over Tennessee in Week 3.
If Oregon wins its remaining games, it will almost certainly find itself playing for the BCS National Championship.
However, there are some tough games remaining on the schedule. There are three games that could cause a problem, but only Stanford appears to be a real threat to the Ducks.
While a road game against Washington and a home date with UCLA are going to be challenging, there is just too much offense for Oregon to be slowed down against those two teams.
A road contest against Stanford will likely decide the fate of the Ducks this season.
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
The Alabama Crimson Tide are not only contenders for a national title, but they are the favorites at this point in the season.
After knocking off Texas A&M 49-42 in Week 3, Alabama is now entering the easy part of its schedule.
The only ranked teams remaining for the Crimson Tide are Ole Miss and LSU. While Alabama might not have as challenging a schedule as a lot of other SEC teams, beginning the year ranked No. 1 certainly does not hurt.
This team just needs to win out and it will find itself playing for the BCS National Championship on January 6, 2014.