Alabama head coach Nick Saban
It's hard to believe, but here we are at the midway point of the season with several undefeated teams still jockeying for position when the initial BCS standings come out on Oct. 20.
So how would the remaining unbeaten teams stack up against two-time defending BCS National Champion Alabama?
Oregon, Clemson, Stanford and Florida State are all nipping at the heels of the Crimson Tide, but other programs like Michigan and Texas Tech are still on the periphery, banging on the door to get into the title game discussion.
What would the lines be for Alabama versus the remaining undefeated non-SEC teams? Todd Fuhrman of DonBest.com and Fox Sports was kind enough to provide some hypothetical lines for those matchups (you can follow Todd on Twitter at @ToddFuhrman).
So what stands out from Fuhrman's lines?
|Texas Tech, Houston, Fresno State, Northern Illinois||NL ("a MASSIVE number")|
* Would Play Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, not BCS National Championship Game
Alabama and Oregon Would be a Lot of Fun
The world wants to see the high-octane Oregon offense go up against the stout Alabama defense, and judging from that one-point spread, it'd be as close to a pick 'em as you can get.
It's no secret that Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban doesn't like hurry-up, no-huddle offenses, and Oregon runs its offense better than anyone on the planet. Led by quarterback Marcus Mariota and first-year head coach Mark Helfrich, the Ducks are the nation's second-highest scoring team (59.2 PPG) and second in total offense (630.4 YPG).
"All you're trying to do is get lined up [on defense]," Saban told ESPN.com last month. "You can't play specialty third-down stuff. You can't hardly scheme anything. The most important thing is to get the call so the guys can get lined up, and it's got to be a simple call."
While the oddsmakers are confident enough that Oregon will give Alabama a game, there's still some skepticism out there.
"Oregon has closed the gap on Alabama for most oddsmakers, but who have the Ducks really beaten?" Fuhrman said. "We'll learn a lot more about them soon; however, in a national title I think Alabama with Nick Saban has a huge intangible edge over Mark Helfrich."
That's where Saban is at his best. He's 18-5 during his Alabama tenure with more than a week to prepare for an opponent; including season openers and bowl games.
The anticipation for this matchup would be huge on the field and in Las Vegas.
Florida State is Clearly the Power of the Three ACC Unbeaten Teams
I said in our video on The Program this week that Florida State is the best of the remaining ACC powerhouses.
Apparently Las Vegas agrees, although I didn't expect the gap to be so wide.
Florida State as a four-point dog to Alabama, with Clemson and Miami both being in the double digits, tells me that Las Vegas is buying the Jameis Winston hype machine and that Florida State defense, which is giving up just 276 yards per game.
Clemson got a scare from N.C. State a couple of weeks ago but will face the 'Noles a week from Saturday with Florida State coming off a bye week. That will create quite an elimination game for the BCS; and judging from Fuhrman's lines, Alabama fans may want to don their purple and orange that night.
While all eyes are on Clemson and Florida State, Miami is lurking with a potent offense led by quarterback Stephen Morris, running back Duke Johnson and a surprisingly solid defense that's giving up just 307 yards per game.
Cinderella Has Left the Building
What do potential BCS busters Fresno State and Northern Illinois have in common with Michigan, Houston and Texas Tech?
All five aren't being taken seriously.
The group of four, excluding Michigan, would be such heavy underdogs versus Alabama, that Fuhrman is reluctant to even guess at what the spread would be. The Wolverines would be three-touchdown underdogs to Alabama after falling 41-14 to the Tide in last season's opener.
"There's a reason no one's talking about Texas Tech, Michigan, Houston or Fresno State as BCS title game candidates, because their inclusion at the big kid's table is as likely to occur as the Jaguars winning the Super Bowl," Fuhrman said.
For reference, the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars are 0-5, have been outscored 163-51 and only scored five touchdowns all year long.
No Faith in Ohio State
While Michigan gets lumped in with the longest of long shots, its rival, Ohio State, fared a bit better in Fuhrman's hypothetical point spreads. The Buckeyes would still be 12-point underdogs, but when compared to the fellow Big Ten undefeated Michigan, that's certainly a step in the right direction.
Despite being much more respected than its rival to the north, it's clear that there's not much faith in Ohio State.
Braxton Miller is back running that offense after Kenny Guiton filled in admirably at quarterback, and the defense has been solid giving up 326.2 yards per game.
The Buckeyes have failed miserably on the game's biggest stage against SEC teams, but the current crop of Buckeyes are different than the teams that got blown out by Florida and LSU following the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
Head coach Urban Meyer has a championship pedigree, and if there's any coach outside of the SEC who knows what to expect from a Saban-coached team in a big game, it's the former Florida head man.
*All lines came direct from Todd Fuhrman of DonBest.com. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.