The BCS Chaos Scenarios That Will Put Stanford in the National Championship
Stanford was already the most highly ranked one-loss team prior to its 26-20 defeat of Oregon on Nov. 7. Scoring that victory over the third-ranked Ducks catapulted the Cardinal back into the Top 4, ahead of its Pac-12 North rival and in shouting distance of a BCS Championship berth.
In order to play for the program's first national championship since Clark Shaugnessy's 1940 "Wow Boys," Stanford needs some help. Three undefeated teams sit ahead of the Cardinal: Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State. A fourth, Baylor, is likely to move ahead of the Cardinal should the Bears continue winning.
Stanford needs a little bit of the chaos it helped start against Oregon to ripple through the college football landscape.
Down Goes Baylor
The last thing Stanford needs between it and a national championship opportunity is a fourth team ranked ahead of it in the BCS standings. The sooner undefeated Baylor loses, the better for David Shaw's Cardinal.
Kansas State is the only opponent to really challenge the Bears' high-tempo offense, and they still scored 35 points. Grounding Baylor looks increasingly difficult with each new week. Of course, recent Big 12 history suggests a title contender can be taken down in a shootout.
A Week 14 matchup with Oklahoma State looms large in that capacity. The Cowboys have found their stride recently, with three straight games of 58, 52 and 42 points.
And the conference's Lazarus, the Texas Longhorns, have scored at least 30 in every outing since their Week 3 loss to Ole Miss. The regular season finale pitting Texas against Baylor could very well be for the Big 12 championship, with huge BCS implications at stake—both for the participants and Stanford.
A Sunshine State Shocker
Jameis Winston is winning the Heisman and Florida State is on an inevitable collision with No. 1 and two-time defending champion Alabama. At least, that's how the script's supposed to go.
When does college football ever play out as planned?
On its face, it's easy to understand why some are penciling in the Seminoles for a spot in January's BCS Championship. The ACC Coastal's title game contenders all have glaring flaws: Virginia Tech's offense, Duke's defense, Miami's inconsistent quarterback play. Conversely, Florida State is a well-oiled machine.
Idaho isn't beating Florida State, no matter how crazy precedent tells us November can get. That leaves Florida.
The Gators are sputtering through a historically trying season, which in turn has put some pressure on head coach Will Muschamp. What could alleviate some of the heat on the third-year head coach? Ruining his in-state rival's championship dreams.
Indianapolis Becomes Sparta
The Michigan State defense may employ only 11 Spartans, but it has a way of making it seem like there are 300 on the field.
That overwhelming defensive presence—No. 3 in points allowed (11.6 per game) and No. 1 both against the rush (43.4 yards per game) and overall (210.2 yards per game)—is the Big Ten's best remedy for the explosive Ohio State offense.
Michigan State still must navigate the remainder of its schedule, which features three Legends division teams. Two—Nebraska and Northwestern—Sparty must play on the road. The third is surprising Minnesota in the finale, which could determine the Legends' participant in next month's Big Ten championship.
Should the Michigan State-Ohio State collision that appears to be on course come to fruition, the Spartans will have plenty of supporters in the Bay Area.
Stanford winning out means beating Notre Dame, which gave Michigan State its one loss. Even if Michigan State were to rise enough to challenge the Cardinal in the BCS rankings, that outcome will almost assuredly keep the Cardinal ahead of Sparty.
The Cock-of-the-Walk in the SEC Is South Carolina
Whereas Stanford's Pac-12 counterpart Oregon likely needs a massive shake-up in the SEC, Stanford is positioned to sneak into one of the two BCS Championship spots with just a single SEC outcome: South Carolina wins the conference's title game.
Now, to get to Atlanta, the Gamecocks do need some help of their own. South Carolina holds a hypothetical tiebreaker with Missouri, but only if the Tigers suffer a second conference loss. With games against Ole Miss and Texas A&M remaining, that's a distinct possibility.
Should Missouri drop one or both and the Gamecocks handle Florida, South Carolina would play in the SEC championship game for the first time since 2010. Coincidentally, that was also the last season South Carolina met Alabama.
The Gamecocks upset the then-No. 1 Crimson Tide that October day three years ago. Should the "Head Ball Coach" Steve Spurrier have another bit of magic up his sleeve against Nick Saban's Alabama team, it would rock the BCS world.
Bonus points to Stanford if South Carolina comes in off a loss to Clemson.