With just one week of play remaining before the BCS bowls are determined, a number of teams are closing in on a BCS berth, but the events of this past week proved that there are no guarantees in college football.
The Alabama Crimson Tide entered Saturday as the No. 1 team in the nation. However, a shocking loss to then-No. 4 Auburn in the Iron Bowl shook things up significantly, as seen in the Week 15 BCS rankings:
The loss dropped Alabama to No. 4, and it is now in need of a miracle in order to reach the BCS National Championship Game. The Tide will not play in the SEC Championship Game, as Auburn and Missouri will do battle, but that doesn't mean that 'Bama is 100 percent out of it.
If Florida State loses to Duke in the ACC Championship Game and Ohio State loses to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game, then Alabama may very well leapfrog both of those teams as well as the loser of the SEC Championship Game.
Based on how well the Seminoles and Buckeyes have played this season, though, that scenario seems far-fetched, to say the least. Florida State is clearly the dominant team in college football now that Alabama has lost, as evidenced by the fact that it has won by fewer than 30 points just once this season.
Freshman quarterback Jameis Winston is playing at an incredibly high level for the No. 2 scoring offense in the country at 53.7 points per game. Also, Florida State has the No. 1 defense in the nation at 11 points allowed per contest.
Things haven't always been quite so easy for Ohio State this season, but it has earned its No. 2 ranking. The Buckeyes boast an explosive, quick-strike offense led by quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde. Beating Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game will be no easy task, but Ohio State finally controls its own destiny.
Should either Florida State or Ohio State falter, though, the winner of the SEC Championship Game will almost certainly earn a berth in the National Championship Game. Both Auburn and Missouri have had spectacular seasons, but only one Tigers squad can reign supreme in the SEC.
Even though Mizzou is currently behind Alabama in the rankings, it would most definitely surpass the Tide in the event of a victory.
Things get even more interesting outside the top five since there are a number of teams that appear to be on the same level. No. 6 Oklahoma State is a win over Oklahoma away from a Big 12 title, while No. 7 Stanford must defeat No. 11 Arizona State to secure the automatic bid in the Pac-12.
Who will win the BCS National Championship?
No. 8 South Carolina is likely to be left out of the proceedings since no more than two teams in the same conference can receive a BCS berth. Either Auburn or Missouri as well as Alabama will take the SEC's two spots, so a strong Gamecocks team will be left out in the cold.
No. 9 Baylor out of the Big 12 and No. 12 Oregon from the Pac-12 are both in BCS position as well. The Bears are essentially locked in, but the Ducks will likely be rooting for Stanford against Arizona State since a Sun Devils loss would drop them below Oregon in the standings.
Fans of underdogs across the country will also keep a close eye on No. 14 Northern Illinois. The Huskies crashed the BCS party last year, and they are on the verge of doing so again this season. A win over Bowling Green in the MAC Championship would clinch an undefeated season and keep Northern Illinois in the all-important top 14.
Even if the National Championship Game race turns out to be anticlimactic with Florida State and Ohio State winning, the Week 15 BCS standings definitely present a ton of intriguing scenarios that will make this upcoming weekend's college football action exciting from start to finish.
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