Breaking Down the Best BCS Championship Games at Week 5

Jeff Bell@@JrayBellCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2013

With both the AP and Coaches polls featuring the same Top 10 teams, the 2013 season is finally starting to spit out some viable contenders for the BCS championship game.

Of course, we surmised before the season that many of these programs would be great, so it shouldn't come as a shock that Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and others are in great position in late September.

But as we look down the schedule and begin to project what kind of presents bowl season will bring, it becomes impossible to ignore the question of which teams will be squaring off in Pasadena for all the marbles.

A lot of times, you can simply look at the the difficulty of a team's schedule and remove them from consideration immediately. While playing quality opponents may help in the polls, it makes it that much more difficult to reach December unscathed.

However, a larger part of the thought process should go toward the strength of the teams themselves. For example, LSU may play in the SEC and have an incredibly difficult road ahead, but the Tigers are a talented team that can play and beat anybody. That's more important than anything else when trying to come up with BCS championship game scenarios.

To whet your appetite, we've come up with the best BCS championship games at Week 5, but to throw a bit of a twist in, it's not simply mixing and matching the Top 5-8 teams. We're looking at three of the more intriguing matchups and tossing rankings (for the most part) out the window.

Here are three of the best possible BCS championship games through Week 5.

The Favorite

Oregon vs. Alabama

It's the matchup that everyone was talking about in the offseason and through the first five weeks of the 2013 season. It's the game that we may be headed toward in January.

Last season both teams stumbled in November, but the Crimson Tide's strength of schedule and victory in the SEC championship game allowed them to reach the title, where they subsequently throttled Notre Dame.

Oregon fell at home to Stanford and was thus left out of the Top 2, settling instead for a Fiesta Bowl victory over Kansas State.

This year, the two squads are at it again, playing their own brands of football and striking fear into future opponents everywhere.

Nick Saban's guys have arguably the most impressive resume through three games, having beaten Virginia Tech in a neutral-site contest before venturing on the road to face Texas A&M, a game they won 49-42.

The Oregon Ducks don't have a marquee victory to their name but they've been destroying BCS conference teams with ease and pulling the starters before the fourth quarter. Some were quick to scoff at a 59-10 win over Virginia, but the victory looks better when you consider that the Cavaliers topped BYU the week before.

Against Tennessee, Mark Helfrich's team raced out to a 59-7 victory, and though the Volunteers will end up near the bottom of the SEC, it's difficult to imagine anyone else laying that kind of beatdown on Butch Jones and company.

Alabama has a home date with Ole Miss on Saturday and will get a visit from LSU in early November, but aside from those two contests, the schedule is extremely manageable.

As for Oregon, the steepest part of the mountain is up ahead. The Ducks will travel to Washington and Stanford, while a visit from UCLA is sandwiched in between. Both teams would also likely have to win their respective conference championship games for this to happen.

The Ducks have a dizzying offense, and the Crimson Tide play physical, dominant football. Saban and co. have won back-to-back titles, while Mark Helfrich is in his first year as head coach. Each team can play the game better than anybody at times, and if neither trips up before the end of the season, the college football world will finally get to see them square off.


Still in the Running

Ohio State vs. LSU

This game is an interesting one because both teams are flying under the radar after the first four weeks. You know times are changing when LSU, along with an Urban Meyer-led Ohio State team, can be undefeated and not get national headlines.

But it's early, which is partly why this particular matchup is still in the running.

Ohio State can certainly stake its claim as one of the most talented teams in the nation with an athletic defense led by linebacker Ryan Shazier and an offense that features dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller.

The Buckeyes have looked pedestrian by their own lofty standards, especially in a 52-34 victory at Cal, but they'll have a chance to prove themselves over the course of the next two weeks by facing Wisconsin and Northwestern.

A visit to Michigan comes at the conclusion of the regular season, which would be followed by the Big Ten championship game should the Buckeyes emerge from the Leaders Division.

LSU, meanwhile, opened up the season against TCU before scoring easy wins over UAB, Kent State and Auburn.

Quarterback Zach Mettenberger is playing the best football of his life, having thrown for 10 touchdowns with just one interception. Running back Jeremy Hill is quickly emerging as one of the nation's top backs and the defense, while young, isn't lacking in talent.

The Tigers' schedule stiffens up on Saturday when they play at Georgia. Games against Florida, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Alabama will also be difficult, but if Les Miles' team makes it through that gauntlet, they'll undoubtedly deserve a place in Pasadena.

Depending on how teams like Clemson and Oregon hold up, the Buckeyes may need more than a perfect run to reach the title. LSU controls its own destiny, but the road is a rocky one. Both teams are in great shape through four weeks, however, which keeps this matchup in the running for the BCS championship game.


The Long Shot

Clemson vs. Baylor

In a game that would surely cause a scoreboard malfunction, Clemson and Baylor both make the list as long shots to face off in the title game.

And come on, how much fun would this one be?

The Tigers are led by quarterback Tajh Boyd, another dual-threat weapon whose strong arm and tough build allow him to make plays all over the field. At receiver, Sammy Watkins is a physical specimen with elite speed and the ability to go up and get the ball, and running back Roderick McDowell is quietly churning out an excellent season thus far.

Dabo Swinney's team has already beatan Georgia, an SEC heavyweight, and has future dates with Florida State and South Carolina. Wins against those programs, coupled with an unbeaten run through the rest of the ACC slate, would put the Tigers in the conference championship game with a solid shot at landing in the BCS title.

As for the Baylor Bears, the odds are slimmer. Art Briles' team has absolutely obliterated its first three opponents, but Woffard, Buffalo and Louisiana-Monroe didn't exactly provide challenges.

The schedule, however, isn't incredibly difficult. A four-game stretch in November will shape the destiny of this team as it plays host to Oklahoma and Texas Tech before traveling to Oklahoma State and TCU.

The offense, led by quarterback Bryce Petty, is averaging a hair under 70 points per game and looking rather scary in the process. The defense is only allowing 7.7 points per game, but it's tough to make long-term judgements before seeing it go up against a proven opponent.

This game may not be on anyone's radar at the moment, but a few odd bounces of the ball and this is what we'll be looking at. Jokes will be made and many will laugh at how the BCS era is ending appropriately with a ridiculous matchup.

But if these teams continue to prove themselves each week as the schedules get more difficult, Baylor and Clemson will deserve to play for it all in January.



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