Clemson, Ohio State, Louisville: Who'll Be Left out of the BCS?
"Playoffs?" asked the elder Jim Mora once. "Are you kidding me?"
There wasn't a playoff for the 2001 Indianapolis Colts. And there won't be one for the 2013 college football season.
That's a shame, because we really could use one. The way this season is shaping up, there might just be four quality teams vying for a shot at the BCS national championship. That won't be a problem next season, as the College Football Playoff kicks off. But it'll be coming a year too late.
The latest simulated BCS standings reveal that there are seven unbeaten teams at the top, exactly the same ones as last week, in a slightly different order. They come from four different conferences, and conveniently, six of those teams will meet later this season, essentially serving as quarterfinal games to narrow down the field.
But the question is, where do we go from there?
Alabama and LSU will meet on Nov. 9 to decide the SEC West, and perhaps the SEC title as well. Two days before that, Stanford will take on Oregon to settle the Pac-12 North, and also maybe the conference. Florida State and Clemson have a death match in Death Valley on Oct. 19, with at least the ACC Atlantic crown on the line.
If there were a four-team playoff, Ohio State is poised to seize that last spot, as it seems to be cruising toward a second consecutive undefeated regular season, thanks to a Big Ten that so far has had no answer for Urban Meyer, who's 16-0 and counting since taking over in Columbus a year ago.
But this is where we rudely awaken you from that nice dream. There is no four-team playoff this season, but the same ol' BCS for one last go-around. Only two teams get to play for the BCS title, and the rest will receive nice parting gifts from one of those sunny bowls out West or down South.
With that being the reality, we already know which team has no shot.
Louisville, currently No. 9 in the simulated BCS standings, won't be playing for the national title even if it goes 12-0. Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals simply won't get enough love from the voters and computers to end up in the top two—even if there are no more than two unbeaten teams.
The Cardinals' schedule is too uninspiring for the voters to take them seriously or for the computers to swoon.
In the four BCS computer rankings currently available, they're ranked 10th, 17th, 18th and 40th. And with a remaining schedule ranked No. 120 (out of 125 FBS teams), there is no chance for Louisville to ascend to the top of the computers, which account for one-third of the BCS standings. As for the humans: The Cardinals demolished FIU, 72-0, on Saturday...and dropped a spot in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
The Big 12, with four teams ranked in the top 25 but none in the top 10 of the polls, also has a perception issue. There isn't a dominant team in the conference, and whoever emerges as the champion likely will have one or two losses. Add the fact that none of the Big 12 teams have (or will have) narrative-altering nonconference wins, it's likely the league's BCS title-game drought will extend to four years.
That brings us back to the final four teams—and which two teams will be left out. Right now, it looks like Ohio State and the ACC champ.
The Buckeyes humanely destroyed Florida A&M, 76-0, on Saturday and held on to the No. 3 ranking in the Coaches Poll...but plummeted four spots in the simulated BCS standings. Why? Because the computers did not appreciate the mismatch.
Ohio State is in the top 25 in only two of the four BCS computers, and its strength-of-schedule ranking of No. 89 also won't help its cause. Unless the Buckeyes are one of only two unbeaten teams at the end of the regular season—and even in that event it's no guarantee—they'll be playing in Pasadena, but only for the Rose Bowl.
Then there's the Clemson-Florida State winner, which is now firmly parked in the on-deck circle. Only if either the eventual Pac-12 or SEC champion finishes with at least one loss, the conference champion will be consigned to the Orange Bowl no matter what. Too bad Louisville isn't joining the ACC until next season—just like the playoffs, it'll come a year too late.
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