Power Ranking College Football's 1-Loss Teams with a Chance at the BCS

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIINovember 4, 2013

Power Ranking College Football's 1-Loss Teams with a Chance at the BCS

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    While much of the BCS talk is surrounding the five undefeated teams—Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor—at the top of the rankings, there is still a mob of one-loss squads vying for BCS berths of their own.

    All of the major conferences still feature one-loss BCS hopefuls. 

    Stanford is carrying the one-loss flag for the Pac-12 with a crucial test against Oregon coming this week, but the Cardinal might not even need the win over the Ducks to make the BCS.

    Rivals Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are still in contention for the Big 12 title, but which has the best chance at beating out Texas and Baylor for the league crown?

    The SEC features two one-loss BCS hopefuls, Missouri and Auburn, but both have tough roads to close the season. Could that end up opening the door for a current two-loss SEC squad?

    The ACC also has a pair of one-loss clubs, but both have plenty of work left to do to make the BCS. And in the Big Ten, can Michigan State continue its climb and take down OSU at the top of the league?

    Finally, find out why the lowest-ranked team on this list actually has the best chance at making the BCS.

    Note: All rankings based on Week 11 BCS standings.

10. Louisville

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    Week 11 Ranking: 20

    Key Games: Nov. 16 vs. Houston, Dec. 5 at Cincinnati, all of UCF's games

    Louisville was a shoo-in for a BCS berth early in the season but will now need a lot of help after its loss to UCF.

    The Cardinals aren't completely finished, but they'll likely need two losses from the Knights to retake control of the American Athletic Conference and earn its BCS berth.

    UL shouldn't have any problem winning out with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm, but that won't be enough.

    The Cards will become big fans of Houston, Rutgers, South Florida and SMU. Even if UCF loses one, it will hold the tiebreaker over UL. 

    An at-large bid is out of the question for the Cards.

9. Miami (Fla.)

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    Week 11 Ranking: 11

    Key Games: Nov. 9 vs. Virginia Tech, Dec. 7 ACC title game

    Miami's BCS prospects took a big hit with its loss to Florida State over the weekend. Those BCS hopes took an even bigger hit when the Hurricanes learned they lost star running back Duke Johnson for the remainder of the season with a broken ankle.

    Without Johnson, the Hurricanes will lean on a capable replacement in Dallas Crawford. They'll also likely need more from quarterback Stephen Morris. The senior has shown signs of being a very good quarterback, but has struggled to consistently play mistake-free football.

    The U must take down Virginia Tech this week to have another shot at Florida State in the ACC title game. The 'Canes also must take down Duke, Virginia and Pitt to end the regular season. Given their struggles against North Carolina and Wake Forest, that might be easier said than done.

    Even if they make it, they'll still need to figure out how to beat FSU for the ACC championship. With so many variables still playing against the 'Canes, their BCS prospects are not looking good.

8. Oklahoma

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    Week 11 Ranking: 11

    Key Games: Nov. 7 at Baylor, Dec. 7 at Oklahoma State, all of Texas' games

    Of the several contenders still alive in the Big 12, Oklahoma has the bleakest BCS outlook.

    OU will need to win key road games against Baylor and Oklahoma State, which have arguably looked like the Big 12's best teams.

    If the Sooners do manage to win out and pick up those two improbable road wins, they'll still need Texas to lose twice. The Longhorns beat the Sooners in October and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.

    Texas also has a rough road, so that very well could happen. But OU doesn't control its own destiny, which is always a tricky situation.

7. Auburn

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    Week 11 Ranking: 9

    Key Games: Nov. 9 at Tennessee, Nov. 16 vs. Georgia, Nov. 30 vs. Alabama, Dec. 7 SEC title game

    Auburn is sitting pretty at No. 9 in the BCS but has a lot of work left to do.

    The Tigers must avoid upset against a talented and gritty Tennessee team this week. Then they'll have to do the same against a Georgia team that is on an upswing after bringing back star running back Todd Gurley to the lineup.

    If they can traverse those two games, they'll still have to beat rival and national title favorite Alabama. Then they'll have to win the SEC title game. 

    Auburn has the talent to play with any team in the country. However, if the Tigers do lose, it'll be a late-season loss, which will cripple their BCS hopes.

    Unless that loss is a very close one to the Crimson Tide, an at-large bid is unlikely.

6. Missouri

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    Week 11 Ranking: 8

    Key Games: Nov. 23 at Ole Miss, Nov. 30 vs. Texas Tech, Dec. 7 SEC title game

    Missouri has proven time and time again that its 8-1 record isn't a fluke, most recently with a decisive 31-3 win over Tennessee.

    The Tigers still control their own destiny in the SEC East Division, but they also have no room for error. Without the tiebreaker over South Carolina, Mizzou will have to win out to make the SEC title game.

    That road will go through a tough venue in Oxford, Miss., against a talented Ole Miss squad. Then it'll go back through Columbia, Mo., against an explosive Texas A&M team led by one of college football's best players, Johnny Manziel.

    If the Tigers can pass those two tough tests, they will still have to take down Alabama in the SEC title game. Like Auburn, Mizzou is in danger of being passed in the BCS after a late-season loss.

    Mizzou will have to continue to impress voters and likely put together a very strong showing against the Tide to prove it is worthy of an at-large bid, even if it doesn't win the SEC.

5. Clemson

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    Week 11 Ranking: 7

    Key Games: Nov. 14 vs. Georgia Tech, Nov. 30 at South Carolina

    Clemson is still alive for a BCS at-large berth, though it has almost no chance at the ACC title. 

    The Tigers' BCS hopes will hinge on what is sure to be a thrilling clash with in-state rival South Carolina in the final week of the regular season.

    The bad news for Clemson: That game will take place on the road in the hostile Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. Even more bad news: South Carolina has been playing well lately.

    That contest could end up as a head-to-head matchup with the winner earning a BCS at-large bid. Right now, South Carolina looks like the more complete team between the two rivals.

    The Tigers didn't show up in their last crucial game this season against Florida State. They'll have to be much better to beat the Gamecocks.

4. Michigan State

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    Week 11 Ranking: 17

    Key Games: Nov. 16 at Nebraska, Nov. 23. at Northwestern, Nov. 30 vs. Minnesota, Dec. 7 Big Ten title game

    One of the oldest adages in football is "defense wins championships." Michigan State just happens to have the No. 1 defense in college football.

    The Spartans looked weak, particularly on offense, early in the season. However, they have improved with each week, which is what BCS-caliber teams do.

    MSU still has plenty of work left to do but has looked like the clear No. 2 in the Big Ten. Nebraska, Northwestern and Minnesota won't be pushovers, but if the Spartan defense continues its suffocating play, all three of those games should swing in their favor.

    Then it will come down to a huge test in the Big Ten title game against national title hopeful Ohio State. The Buckeyes have been clobbering their foes lately, but MSU will be its toughest test of the season.

    Especially if it looks like OSU will be left out of the national title game, don't be surprised if the Spartans come out and shock the conference favorites.

3. Oklahoma State

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    Week 11 Ranking: 14

    Key Games: Nov. 16 at Texas, Nov. 23 vs. Baylor, Dec. 7 vs. Oklahoma

    Of all the Big 12 title hopefuls, Oklahoma State looks to have the best shot at knocking off Baylor.

    The Cowboys have caught fire lately behind the play of quarterback Clint Chelf and running back Desmond Roland. They have playmakers on defense and have the build and philosophy offensively that is necessary to keep up with the Bears.

    What's even better for OSU: It will play Baylor and Oklahoma at home. The Cowboys looked to be out of the Big 12 title race after losing to West Virginia, but now they are right next to Baylor as the two most likely conference champions.

    Their Nov. 23 date with the Bears could end up as the de facto conference championship game.

2. Stanford

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    Week 11 Ranking: 5

    Key Games: Nov. 7 vs. Oregon, Nov. 16 at USC, Nov. 30 vs. Notre Dame, Dec. 7 Pac-12 title game

    The best thing Stanford has going for it is its standing within the computers and its favor within the human polls. 

    With a strong computer average and a good place in the mind of voters, the Cardinal could make a BCS at-large berth without even beating Oregon. A close loss would actually set Stanford up nicely to do just that.

    Many believe that the Pac-12 is deserving of a second at-large bid and that would likely go to Stanford, the perceived No. 2 team in the league.

    Unlike Auburn, Clemson, Missouri and other one-loss teams, if Stanford loses another game, it'll be early (this week against Oregon) rather than late. That will give the Cardinal time to climb back up, especially if they take down Notre Dame in their final regular-season game.

    However, Stanford must first prove that it is on par with Oregon. A blowout at the hands of the Ducks would be crippling to its BCS hopes.

1. UCF

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    Week 11 Ranking: 21

    Key Games: Nov. 9 vs. Houston, Nov. 21 vs. Rutgers, Dec. 7 vs. SMU

    Every other team on this list would gladly trade its "key games" for the tests ahead for UCF.

    The Knights can take a huge leap toward a BCS berth by beating Houston, the only other team undefeated in AAC play, this week. From there, the Knights could likely afford a loss and still make the BCS.

    As well as the Knights have been playing with Blake Bortles and Storm Johnson in the backfield, they shouldn't have much problem winning out and earning a BCS berth at 11-1.

    UCF came with strong showings, proving it is BCS-worthy in a three-point loss to South Carolina and a three-point win over Louisville, two BCS hopefuls.

    The work is already done for the Knights. Now they just have to close the door and they'll be BCS bowling at season's end.