15 Potential BCS Teams That Control Their Own Destiny

Brian PedersenFeatured ColumnistNovember 15, 2013

15 Potential BCS Teams That Control Their Own Destiny

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    With four weeks left in the 2013 college football season, it's hard to consider any team a definite lock to be among the 10 teams selected for the final edition of the BCS. Not when the teams either make it as an automatic qualifier from their league or as an at-large selection that is based on how they sit in the BCS rankings.

    Those rankings are determined by a formula that includes two polls from human voters and a compilation of computer rankings. It's been a much-maligned system, one that causes much stress for coaches whose teams suffer a late-season loss. But there are a handful of teams who control their own BCS destiny, knowing that just winning out will get them a spot in the Fiesta, Orange, Rose or Sugar Bowls or the BCS National Championship.

    The formula is simple: Win out, and you're in. Lose again (or even for the first time), and it's time to sweat and scoreboard-watch.

     

Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Current BCS rank: First

    Remaining games: at Mississippi State (4-5), vs. Chattanooga (8-2 in FCS), at Auburn (9-1), vs. TBD in SEC Championship

    While many scenarios have the defending BCS champs making it back even with a loss down the stretch, there are too many unbeaten teams to consider Alabama (9-0) a lock to get in. If the Crimson Tide were to lose in the SEC title game, by that point their chances would be a lot better, but falling to Auburn in the Iron Bowl (especially if Auburn beats Georgia this weekend) would make for a scenario where Alabama could be shut out of the BCS if, say, Auburn loses to Georgia, Missouri or South Carolina in the SEC final.

Florida State Seminoles

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    Current BCS rank: Second

    Remaining games: vs. Syracuse (5-4), vs. Idaho (1-9), at Florida (4-5), vs. TBD in ACC Championship

    Florida State (9-0) might be the safest bet to make the BCS of any team in the country, barring an epic collapse in the last month. The Seminoles could lose the ACC title game and would still probably finish high enough in the BCS rankings to get in as an at-large, and even if they fell behind Clemson odds are they'd get chosen over the Tigers by virtue of their convincing head-to-head win.

Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Current BCS rank: Third

    Remaining games: at Illinois (3-6), vs. Indiana (4-5), at Michigan (6-3), vs. TBD in Big Ten Championship

    Ohio State (9-0) would probably finish high enough in the BCS to make it in with a loss, but only if that were in the Big Ten title game. The Buckeyes get in automatically by winning that one, though a loss to a Michigan State or Nebraska in the league championship—combined with the Big Ten's overall lack of representation in the BCS—could have them on the outside without a 13-0 mark.

Stanford Cardinal

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    Current BCS rank: Fourth

    Remaining games: at USC (7-3), vs. California (1-9), vs. Notre Dame (7-3), vs. TBD in Pac-12 Championship

    Stanford (8-1) gets into the Pac-12 title game with wins in its next two games, which would then render the Notre Dame game moot for BCS qualification as long as it takes down whoever comes from the Pac-12 South. The top candidates are Arizona State and UCLA, both teams the Cardinal have already beat.

    As the top-rated one-loss team, Stanford has a chance to slip in with another loss, but not if that came in the Pac-12 championship, because that would drop it behind Oregon (assuming the Ducks win out) as the third-best Pac-12 team.

Baylor Bears

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    Current BCS rank: Fifth

    Remaining games: vs. Texas Tech (7-3) in Arlington, Tex., at Oklahoma State (8-1), at TCU (4-6), vs. Texas (7-2)

    Baylor (8-0) doesn't have to worry about going perfect in the regular season and then falling into the trap of a neutral-site league championship game, thanks to the Big 12's reduction to a 10-team league. But the Bears still need to win out to ensure a BCS spot, not lose to Oklahoma State or Texas and finish second in the conference.

    As the lowest-rated of the unbeatens from automatic qualifying conferences, Baylor is most susceptible to slipping down the rankings with a defeat, likely past other one-loss non-champs like Clemson or Missouri.

UCF Knights

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    Current BCS rank: 17th

    Remaining games: at Temple (1-8), vs. Rutgers (5-3), vs. South Florida (2-6), at SMU (3-5)

    UCF (7-1) already has beat Houston and Louisville, its top challengers for the AAC's automatic bid, while it doesn't play Cincinnati, the other team with one league loss. The Knights can lose once and still get into the BCS by virtue of either head-to-head tiebreakers or a higher BCS ranking that Cincinnati, giving them among the smoothest rides to a big-time bowl of any team in the country.

Oregon Ducks

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    Current BCS rank: Sixth

    Remaining games: vs. Utah (4-5), at Arizona (6-3), vs. Oregon State (6-3)

    Oregon (8-1) will be the top-rated non-champion if it wins out, and could still make the Pac-12 title game if Stanford loses again. Assuming that doesn't happen, the Ducks' resume is strong enough to get an at-large selection at 11-1 unless the doomsday scenario of Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor all failing to win their leagues happens.

    In other words, Oregon has a very solid shot if it keeps on winning.

Auburn Tigers

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    Current BCS rank: Seventh

    Remaining games: vs. Georgia (6-3), vs. Alabama (9-0)

    Auburn (9-1) has the toughest remaining road of any top BCS contender, though the Tigers wouldn't have to leave home unless it were to play in the SEC title game. That scenario would involve them beating Alabama on Nov. 30, which by itself could get them into the BCS regardless of a league championship game result.

    Losing to Alabama, though, puts Auburn into the logjam of many other potential two-loss teams, not to mention the likelihood that the SEC East champ (assuming a loss to Alabama) would be picked over the Tigers as the SEC's second BCS entrant.

Missouri Tigers

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    Current BCS rank: Ninth

    Remaining games: at Ole Miss (6-3), vs. Texas A&M (8-2), vs. TBD in SEC Championship

    Missouri (9-1) makes the SEC title game by winning out, while a second regular-season loss creates a muddy situation with Georgia and South Carolina that would find the Tigers much farther down the league's pecking order. Losing in the SEC title game, though, might not be enough to knock Mizzou out of the at-large spots, as long as that's the Tigers' only loss.

Texas A&M Aggies

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    Current BCS rank: 11th

    Remaining games: at LSU (7-3), at Missouri (9-1)

    Texas A&M (8-2) is going to get a BCS at-large bid if it wins out—that's almost a certainty, considering the star power of quarterback Johnny Manziel. The only way the Aggies wouldn't be an at-large pick at 10-2 would be as a result of the SEC East champion knocking off Alabama, thus making the Crimson Tide the second choice.

    If A&M wins out—which means likely knocking Missouri out of the SEC championship—and Alabama beats either Georgia or South Carolina, the BCS powers that be are going to want Manziel ahead of Aaron Murray or The Head Ball Coach.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Current BCS rank: 12th

    Remaining games: at Texas (7-2), vs. Baylor (8-0), vs. Oklahoma (7-2)

    Oklahoma State (8-1) has a simple—if not easy—route to the BCS: Win out. Taking down the two teams with unbeaten league records, followed by rival Oklahoma in the Bedlam game, and the Sooners get in as the Big 12 champion.

    It's their best, and probably only, route to the BCS.

UCLA Bruins

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    Current BCS rank: 13th

    Remaining games: vs. Washington (6-3), vs. Arizona State (8-1), at USC (7-3)

    UCLA (7-2) has to win the Pac-12 South, then knock off Stanford (or Oregon) in the league championship to get in. That would require winning out, unless some abject craziness occurs in the South standings in the last three weeks of the regular season.

    Winning out is the safer route.

Michigan State Spartans

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    Current BCS rank: 16th

    Remaining games: at Nebraska (7-2), at Northwestern (4-5), vs. Minnesota (8-2)

    Michigan State (8-1) needs to win out just to get into the Big Ten title game, then would need to knock off Ohio State in the league championship. Simple enough, right?

    It still counts as controlling your own destiny if it means having to knock off three strong teams in four weeks, correct?

Arizona State Sun Devils

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    Current BCS rank: 19th

    Remaining games: vs. Oregon State (6-3), at UCLA (7-2), vs. Arizona (6-3)

    Like UCLA, Arizona State (8-1) must win the Pac-12 South, then win the league championship, to get into the BCS. Four wins over four bowl teams, not so difficult.

Texas Longhorns

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    Current BCS rank: 24th

    Remaining games: vs. Oklahoma State (8-1), vs. Texas Tech (7-3), at Baylor (8-0)

    The Longhorns are unbeaten in Big 12 play, and staying that way will get them into the BCS as the league's automatic qualifier. Losing once would create a scenario where the Longhorns could only claim the Big 12 title if another team had one league loss and it came against Texas.