9 Teams Still In The BCS Title Hunt
We are a month away from the final BCS rankings of the season. There are still a number of teams in the title hunt. Oregon and Auburn lead the way and if they can avoid any slip ups, they will be facing off in Glendale on January 10.
However, if college football teaches us anything it’s to expect the unexpected. Early this season it seemed a lock that Alabama and Ohio State were headed to the title game but that train was dismantled earlier last month.
Since then three teams have claimed the no. 1 ranking. Oklahoma was numero uno for one week before being upset.
Oregon and Auburn have each held the top spot and TCU is not far behind and could slip into the title game should either of the top two teams fall. Boise State and LSU round out the top five and will need some help if they want a shot at playing for the crystal ball.
The voters and the computers have yielded the same top four teams each of the past three weeks.
One has to wonder what the final rankings will hold. Can Boise St. and TCU hold off a one loss Big Ten or Big 12 champion? Only time will tell.
Here are the 9 teams who could back into the BCS title game and the scenarios it will take to make it possible.
1. Oregon Ducks
Seven! That is the number of points Oregon has given up in the 4th quarter this year. They look to be invincible. They average just under 55 Pts/G and 567 yds/G. Chip Kelly’s squad is the conference’s best team since Pete Carroll’s squads of 2004 and 2005. They are really that good and some folks in Eugene might say better.
The only way for Oregon to get to Glendale is to win out and that is no easy task. They play @ California this Saturday in a game they will be heavily favored in.
Their next game won’t be for thirteen days and they will host a dangerous Arizona team at home. Their final test will come in the “Civil War” showdown in Corvallis against the Oregon State Beavers.
The forecast for the Ducks: Win three and we'll see you in Glendale.
2. Auburn Tigers
In the 2004 season, Auburn finished the regular season 12-0 and won the SEC championship. It wasn’t good enough for the voters and the team was left out of the BCS championship. Now, six years later all they need to do is win three more games and they guarantee themselves a shot at the title.
Auburn’s road to glory figures to be a bit more challenging than Oregon’s but they will be favored in every game. Auburn plays Georgia on Saturday in the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.” Coach Mark Richt might be able to save his job if his team can knock off Auburn.
The day after Thanksgiving will be Auburn’s toughest game of the year. The Tigers will play an aggravated Alabama Crimson Tide team at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Coach Saban is 2-1 in the Iron Bowl and would love to cap the year by ruining Auburn’s title hopes.
If Auburn survives those two games, they will play either South Carolina or Florida in the SEC title game on December 4th.
Forecast: Tougher road than Oregon but win out and we’ll see them in Glendale.
3. Oklahoma State Cowboys
A game at Texas seemed a lot scarier in September. There’s a good chance Oklahoma St. will walk into Austin and beat down the Longhorns.
After that it’s a road game at Kansas and the season finally at home against the Sooners in the “Bedlam Game.”
Survive the next three Saturdays and it’s a December 4th game most likely against Nebraska. Oklahoma State currently ranks 10th in the BCS but winning out could propel them ahead of the remaining one loss teams. Along with Nebraska they are the only top 10 team who has the opportunity to boost their resume by beating a highly regarded BCS contender.
The question that beckons is does a one loss Oklahoma State team deserve to be ranked over undefeated TCU and Boise St. teams?
Forecast: Oregon and Auburn must fall and a loss for any other top five team could sneak them into the title scene. The window is cracked but not much.
4. Nebraska Cornhuskers
It’s been a decade since the Sea of Red saw their team play in a title game and longer than that since they’ve won one.
Nebraska currently ranks 8th in the BCS polls. Their next three games; Kansas, @ Texas A&M, and Colorado aren’t exciting anybody. However a rematch with Oklahoma St. in the Big 12 championship or a matchup with Oklahoma could impress human voters.
As is the case with Oklahoma St. will the BCS prefer a one loss, Big Six conference champion over an undefeated Boise St. and or TCU? The most important thing to remember is human voters can be skewed by style points and they tend to suffer from "what have you done for me lately syndrome." Stanford jumped from 13 to 6 after their victory over Arizona on Saturday.
Forecast: Nebraska could jump Wisconsin and Stanford in the next few weeks. The teams aren't separated by much in the BCS rankings. The fact that they play a title game could increase their chances. As is the case for everyone not ranked 1 or 2 they need Oregon and Auburn to fall and have to get some help from the voters to get in.
5. TCU Horned Frogs
TCU put a hurting on Utah last weekend and it was enough to jump fellow BCS buster Boise St. but where they finish is still a virtual unknown. Games at home against SDSU and a trip to New Mexico don’t appear to pose much of a threat and TCU should finish 12-0.
Forecast: A loss by Oregon or Auburn should guarantee them a spot in the title game but something tells me it won’t be that simple for the Horned Frogs. I’m predicting the BCS finds a way to keep them out.
6. LSU Tigers
A win over Alabama saved their title hopes. The “cardiac cats” are on the outside looking in but are not completely out of the race just yet.
Home games with Louisiana-Monroe and Mississippi await before a finale on the road against Arkansas.
Forecast: LSU still could wind up in the SEC title game. If Auburn loses to Alabama and Georgia then LSU would reap the benefits and represent the SEC West in the championship. The biggest Bulldogs fans won’t be in Athens this weekend, they’ll be in Baton Rouge. It doesn’t seem likely LSU could jump any higher at this point unless the teams above them lose. LSU has a realistic chance of getting in the title game should Oregon or Auburn drop.
7. Stanford Cardinal
The Stanford Cardinal might be the no. 2 team in the country. Other than a loss at Oregon that was closer than the final score indicated; this team has smoked the competition.
They might finish as the best team without a conference championship, should Oregon win out.
The Cardinal play @ Arizona St. and Cal the next two weeks, and their final game is at home against Oregon St. win out and Pasadena will more than likely be their post season destination.
Forecast: Stanford might be left out no matter what happens the next four weeks. Their best shot at getting into the title game would mean Oregon and Auburn and possibly LSU would need to lose. Stanford’s a long shot but never say never.
8. Boise St. Broncos
How does a team start the season ranked no. 3, never lose a game and drop to no. 4 in the BCS polls? Boise St. defeated Virginia Tech when they were ranked 10th and Oregon St. when they were ranked no. 24. Both games were in primetime and Boise St. was impressive in both outings.
Nonetheless, eight weeks later, the Broncos find themselves moving in reverse. Wins over Idaho, Fresno St. and Utah State are not going to help them but a Nov. 26th game at no. 21 Nevada will be their third win over a ranked opponent this season. What will the BCS say about that?
Forecast: Boise St. might need every team in America to lose twice if they hope to play for a BCS title. It seems simple enough to understand, no matter whom they beat or how much they win by, the BCS is not interestd in putting them in the title game.
9. Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin is caught in an ugly Big Ten title race. The Badgers could win their next three games; Indiana @ Michigan and Northwestern and still not be awarded the Big Ten championship.
There is no big game left on the schedule but they sit in a nice position at no. 7 in the BCS.
Forecast: Wisconsin needs Oregon, Auburn, LSU and Stanford to lose and maybe then they can back into the title game. As crazy as it sounds, fellow Conference mate Ohio State backed into the championship in 2008 in a similar fashion. All the teams ranked ahead of them lost and that paved the way for the Buckeyes to play in the National title game.