It looks as if the National Championship picture has became quite clear. After 10 weeks in the books, we have learned that in all reality there are only 4 teams that have a chance of making the BCS National Championship Game, and that would be the BCS top four.
It's as simple as this, Auburn and Oregon control their own destinies, they rank one and two in the BCS rankings, and if they both win out, they will meet in the BCS title game. On the other hand, TCU and Boise State round out the top four of the BCS rankings. We could argue that TCU and Boise haven't exactly played the toughest schedules in the land, but these two teams from non-automatic qualifying conferences are playing lights out, and if both Auburn and Oregon slip up, we are going to see a TCU-Boise State National Championship game.
For some that is a nightmare (including me), and for others it is a dream come true. Here is a brief overview of the top four BCS teams and the remaining challenges of their seasons.
Auburn: The Tigers from Auburn, Alabama currently sit at 10-0 and are ranked #2 in the latest BCS standings. With a win at home this weekend against 5-5 Georgia, the Tigers will be crowned champions of the SEC West.
But this doesn't mean an automatic birth into the BCS National Championship game, because Auburn has an always-tough game at Alabama in the Iron Bowl, and then another challenging game in the SEC Championship game. So the question is, will the Tigers stumble?
I would say there is a good chance for a multitude of reasons. With the lone fact that the Tigers are 10-0 playing in the SEC, they have been overdue to lose a game. Auburn has had some mighty close calls this season, with a three-point overtime win against mediocre Clemson, and a three-point win over Kentucky, so the Tigers are definitely capable of losing.
Georgia is also no pushover this weekend, since they have been playing light years better ever since getting back arguably the best receiver in college football in A.J. Green.
Go top it all off, there are these distracting allegations about Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, about him and his family receiving benefits, and about him academically cheating multiple times at Florida. As you can see, there are reasons to worry if you are an Auburn fan.
Oregon: The Ducks rank #1 in the latest BCS standings, and for good reason, as they are 9-0 and have easily been the most explosive team in the nation this year, ranking in the top five in nearly every offensive statistical category.
Oregon seems to be running away with the Pac-10, seeing as how none of their games have even come close to being competitive because their offense averages a little over 55 points a game. But even though Oregon has looked nearly unstoppable, they are still human, and they have some challenging games coming up that could stunt their goal for a perfect season.
Don't sleep on Cal this Saturday, the Ducks travel to Berkeley to take on a Golden Bears team that has been very inconsistent this season, so who knows which team will show up. Note that Cal only lost by one to the 18th-ranked Arizona Wildcats earlier this year, and they also destroyed an Arizona State team 50-17 that Oregon only beat 42-31.
I'm not saying Oregon is going to lose, and they probably won't, as long as they show up. Oregon then has a challenging game at home against Arizona, who was just routed by Stanford, who Oregon also destroyed. Does that really matter though? No. Arizona has a good defense and a good offense as well, I think they will challenge the Ducks down this home stretch.
Then Oregon has it's annual finale in the Civil War against Oregon State. The Beavers have been a bit down this year under Head Coach Mike Riley, with new quarterback Ryan Katz under center replacing Sean Canfield. The Beavers have been without leading receiver James Rodgers, resulting in tough times. The Civil War will be in Corvallis this year, and it's a rivalry game, so anything can happen. At this point though, I would say Auburn has the much better shot at losing than Oregon.
TCU: The Horned Frogs from Texas don't get much respect because they play in the Mountain West, where the competition isn't exactly the caliber of competition that exists in the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, or Pac-10. Everyone understands this, but TCU looks for real, and I'm sure many other people look at them and say the same thing.
I am someone who for a long time has believed that teams from non-automatic qualifying conferences don't deserve much of a shot at a National Championship bid, and I still feel that way to an extent, but just like Boise State, TCU is hoping and praying that either Oregon or Auburn slip up so they can sneak their way into the title game.
TCU has proven all it has been able to prove, they defeated Oregon State to open the season, and this past weekend they made the #5 Utah Utes look like a high school team in their own backyard with a 47-7 win. TCU Quarterback Andy Dalton should be considered in the Heisman discussion, and their defense is ranked #1 in nearly every statistical category.
The argument is not about TCU's skill, it's about their strength of schedule, but that is not going to be a relevant factor if they win out and either Auburn or Oregon slip up.
Boise State: The Broncos round out the top four of the BCS, and are currently undefeated, surprise, surprise. They are very similar to TCU, they play in a weak non-automatic qualifying conference, they are expected to finish undefeated every season, and they are currently hoping that either Oregon or Auburn slip up so they can sneak in to the National Championship Game.
Boise State has looked basically just as impressive as TCU, dominant wins every week, great quarterback play from Heisman hopeful Kellen Moore, and a stout defense that just held the nation's number-one passing offense in Hawaii to only 151 passing yards.
Boise State also has wins over Virginia Tech, which was essentially a home game for the Hokies, and a win at home over Oregon State. Again, the situation doesn't question Boise State's skill, but the level of competition they face week in and week out. The Broncos have remaining games against Nevada and Fresno State which I expect them to handle easily.
Boise State is a very good team just like TCU, it's just a matter of their strength of schedule, which isn't going to matter much if Auburn and Oregon slip up.
Conclusion: TCU and Boise State are very likely to win out, they are just too dominant in a weak conference that doesn't challenge them. I respect the skill of these two teams from non-automatic qualifying conferences, but I don't find them very deserving of national championship bids even if Auburn and Oregon slip up, just because Auburn and Oregon have much tougher schedules than the Horned Frogs and the Broncos.
It doesn't really matter what I think, though, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks either. I have a strong feeling that Auburn is going to lose in the coming weeks, they have very tough games to finish out the season, and there is a lot of drama revolving around their leader Cam Newton right now, I think it is going to be too much to handle for them.
I think Oregon is going to win out just because the rest of their competition is rather inferior compared to them, but they can't sleep on any of the remaining teams they face.
With all this said, if TCU and Boise State both win out, TCU is going to stay ahead of Boise State because they are ahead right now, and they can't fall behind if they don't lose. If Auburn slips up, they'll be out of the picture, and it will be looking like a TCU-Oregon National Championship game.
Yes, my prediction for the National Championship game at this point is TCU vs. Oregon.