Baylor plays with a sense of organized chaos, which is exactly what the Bears need to make it to their first BCS title game.
Checking in at No. 5 in the latest BCS standings, Baylor is hanging out quietly on the fringe, waiting for someone to slip up over the next few weeks.
Its strength of schedule, which has been the subject of criticism throughout the season, has already improved with a 41-12 win over Oklahoma. Should Baylor go undefeated, that strength of schedule will continue to get better, thanks to late-season games against Oklahoma State and Texas.
Speaking of the Cowboys, they're not entirely out of the BCS championship picture either. OSU, ranked No. 12 in the BCS, needs a lot more help, but a heaping pile of unexpected losses could catapult the Pokes up the rankings.
And Oklahoma State's remaining schedule—at Texas, and then at home against Baylor and rival Oklahoma—is more than good enough to merit a place in the BCS title discussion.
So what would need to happen for Baylor or Oklahoma State to make an appearance in the BCS title game?
Alabama and Florida State seemed destined to meet in the BCS championship game—at least that's the presumed outcome.
And it makes sense. Alabama hasn't lost a game in a calendar year, and other than a close encounter with Texas A&M in Week 2, has been dominant every step of the way.
That dominance should continue against Mississippi State and Chattanooga, but things get more interesting on Nov. 30 when the Tide travels to Auburn for the Iron Bowl. Tigers coach Gus Malzahn has his team ranked. No. 7 in the BCS and playing at a high level once again.
With so much at stake, with so much emotion, could Auburn pull the upset? It could decide which team represents the West Division in the SEC championship game.
It could also throw a wrench in the national title picture. Not only could Alabama be out of it, but Auburn could suddenly become an intriguing candidate at season's end. (In that case, for good measure, Baylor may want Auburn to lose to Georgia this Saturday.)
Everything that can be said about the dominance of Alabama can be said for Florida State.
That's actually somewhat of a break from the recent trend.
By now, old Florida State would have 10 wins...but would also have lost to Boston College or Wake Forest and everyone would still be scratching their heads. That simply hasn't been the case with this team.
What Baylor needs, besides an undefeated season of its own, is for the old Florida State to return.
That's hard to envision with FSU's schedule, which has Syracuse, Idaho and a Florida squad whose injury report rivals the length of "War and Peace." Even the ACC championship game, which could feature Duke (Duke!), shouldn't pose too insurmountable a challenge.
(However, it is worth pointing out that FSU's home game against the 5-4 Orange this Saturday would perfectly fit the letdown narrative.)
Baylor fans will argue that the Bears' end-of-season schedule is more difficult than FSU's, and they'd have a point. However, if best wins are a leading factor, FSU's 51-14 beatdown of Clemson (then the No. 3 team in the country) on the road is going to get the nod over anything Baylor's done.
That's unfortunate, but it's the truth.
If one of the first scenarios occur, Baylor could be jockeying for that second BCS title-game slot with Ohio State.
One of the worst parts about major college football's postseason is the politicking, the comparing of résumés between two teams who are probably awesome and have earned a chance to play for it all. No matter the conference, it's hard to get 18- to 22-year-olds to be good enough to win every week.
Now, try to tell those players their perfection won't be rewarded because, obviously, it's their fault that no one else in their conference is considered elite.
That could be the case between Baylor and Ohio State, and it would stink something fierce. To avoid that possibility altogether, the Buckeyes would need to lose. On paper, that would most likely happen against either Michigan or whomever Ohio State plays in the Big Ten title game.
Baylor should have the late-season advantage over OSU if it comes down to what each team has done for voters lately, but that's not something the Bears would want to leave to chance.
Oklahoma State isn't even in the BCS Top 10, so how could it possibly be thinking about a national championship?
It's crazy, make no mistake. It's also not out of the realm of possibility, which is why it's crazy, and around and around we go.
The Cowboys would have to win out. That much is clear. Do that and Oklahoma State can sit back, relax (to a degree) and watch college football's best beat each other up.
The Cowboys, of course, play No. 5 Baylor on Nov. 23. A week later, No. 1 Alabama plays No. 7 Auburn. Other Nov. 30th games include No. 8 Clemson at No. 10 South Carolina and No. 11 Texas A&M at No. 9 Missouri.
That's assuming those rankings hold up at the time of the game. Point being, Oklahoma State has the chance to make up some significant ground in the BCS rankings without doing anything other than winning.
Remember the 2007 season, when absolutely no one wanted to play for a BCS championship? When Arkansas upset top-ranked LSU on Nov. 23, and then No. 4 Missouri beat No. 2 Kansas (!!!!!!!!!) a day later? And then when 4-7 Pitt stunned 10-1 West Virginia, which was on the verge of its first BCS title-game appearance, on Dec. 1? And when Oklahoma upended No. 1 Missouri that same night? And, through it all, LSU and Ohio State backdoored their way into the national title game.
Yeah, that was wild. And it's exactly what Oklahoma State needs to have happen this year.
Baylor only needs Alabama or Florida State to lose once. Oklahoma State needs a full-on meltdown from one of them.
Nothing would work better for Oklahoma State than a one-loss Alabama backing into the SEC championship...only to lose to, say, 9-3 Georgia. That would require the Bulldogs to beat Auburn this weekend on their way to winning the SEC East, and the Tigers turning around and beating the Tide.
Yeah, back-to-back losses ought to do it.
Or, the 'Noles can really go "old Florida State" and lose a couple of its final four games, including the ACC championship game.
The Pac-12 can do its part to ensure Oklahoma State gets a national title shot with some late-season weirdness.
In essence, both Oregon and Stanford will need to lose another game. It doesn't matter to whom so long as it happens. In fact, it could be in the Pac-12 title game. The later in the season, the better.
But if nits are being picked, a sub-.500 team should do the trick. For instance, Oregon, still down off its loss to Stanford, could hit a hard-nosed Utah team at the wrong time. Or, Stanford could get the game it wasn't expecting from rival Cal, a team with nothing to lose.
Of course, nothing would derail BCS title hopes for the Pac-12 like a two or three-loss South Division champion—say, Arizona State or UCLA—upsetting the Cardinal or Ducks in the conference title game.
Oklahoma State would take it anyway it can get it.
Alabama isn't the only SEC school that could stumble late in the year. If Oklahoma State wants a shot at a BCS title, the Tide can't be the only one who loses at the wrong time.
What the Cowboys need is SEC parity. They need Georgia to beat Auburn, which then beats Alabama. They need Missouri to lose to Ole Miss and then beat Texas A&M. The combinations are numerous, but what Oklahoma State would like more than anything is for the SEC champion to have at least two losses.
The SEC is still regarded as the best conference in college football, but it is not the end-all, be-all conference of 2013. A one-loss Oklahoma State would absolutely get into the BCS title game over a two-loss SEC team.
This scenario is more for good measure.
Clemson isn't going to the ACC championship game, but since the BCS has been known to work in mysterious ways, its national title hopes aren't completely gone.
It would seem unlikely at best that a one-loss Oklahoma State team that won the Big 12 would get passed by a one-loss Clemson team that didn't even win its division, but let's assume the weirdest possible outcome.
To ensure this doesn't happen, Oklahoma State would like Clemson to lose its fifth straight game to South Carolina on Nov. 30. The Gamecocks, already with two losses, are probably out of the title picture as it is.
If most to all of these scenarios take place, Oklahoma State could find itself in the national title discussion in a few weeks. It's a lot, but it's not impossible.