Prior to Week 12, the BCS rankings placed the Stanford Cardinal at No. 4 and the Baylor Bears at No. 5. It was a surprising development considering Stanford had already lost a game and Baylor was still undefeated.
During Week 12, the college football gods made things right as Baylor defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders by a wide margin of 63-34 and Stanford lost 20-17 to the USC Trojans. In turn, the national championship picture was altered in a dramatic manner.
The question is, how does Stanford's loss impact Baylor's path to the BCS title game?
|Projected BCS Rankings|
|4||Ohio State||10-0||Big Ten|
|12||Oklahoma State||9-1||Big 12|
|16||Michigan State||9-1||Big Ten|
|Rankings by BCS Guru|
Baylor moved to 9-0 after surviving an invigorating and high-scoring first quarter en route to its sixth 60-point performance of the season. Bryce Petty accounted for five touchdowns, and both the run game and the passing game tallied more than 335 yards of offense.
As for that whole six-games-with-at-least-60-points thing, that's unparalleled offensive brilliance.
It's balanced, well-coached and led by a poised quarterback. Baylor is the real deal.
Stanford fell to 8-2 after USC kicker Andre Heidari converted a 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Tyler Gaffney ran for 158 yards and two touchdowns, but the passing game never got going and the Cardinal committed costly turnovers.
Barring a miracle, Stanford has been all but officially eliminated from the hunt for the BCS National Championship Game.
What this means for Baylor is that there are only two teams standing between it and an opportunity at the national title. The Alabama Crimson Tide and Florida State Seminoles have been consistently dominant, and the Ohio State Buckeyes have now won 22 consecutive games.
Unfortunately for Baylor, that means it has at least two teams to go through. Sort of.
Baylor could potentially overtake Ohio State. It will face the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Texas Longhorns in upcoming games, and wins over those teams could elevate Baylor to No. 3 regardless of what happens above it in the BCS rankings.
Unfortunately, Alabama is the two-time defending national champion, and Florida State's resume is purely brilliant. In order to enter the national championship conversation, Baylor would need one of those teams to falter.
Either way, Baylor has made a statement.
If they can win out and emerge as the Big 12 champions, the Bears could potentially top the Buckeyes in the rankings. If either Alabama or Florida State loses by season's end, Art Briles' club could take the biggest step of all into the BCS National Championship Game.
At this point, all Baylor can do is win and accept that its fate is in the hands of the college football Gods.