The Sojourn to South Beach: Week 10
It’s a new feature on what teams need to do to get to the 305.
Friends of Destiny
These three teams can win out and ensure themselves a chance to lay out.
- Texas: There’s nothing to stop the Longhorns from being in South Beach if they take care of business in Lubbock this week. Texas Tech is the only ranked foe left on the schedule, and Baylor, Kansas, and Texas A & M represent minor threats at best. The Big 12 North team Texas would play in the conference championship game could be Missouri or Kansas, and though the adage says that beating a team twice in one year is quite difficult, with Texas showing no signs of slowing up, there may not be much truth to that truism this year.
- Alabama: Rammer Jammer’s slate is the toughest of the remaining BCS undefeateds: not only is there a potentially cataclysmic and hate-fueled date at Baton Rouge that could salvage LSU’s season and might prompt Nick Saban to send a body double, Mississippi State lies in wait for a Crooming and the Iron Bowl should be competitive with Auburn flailing and affixing all their seasonal hopes to one game. And ‘Bama’s going to have to play Florida or Georgia for the SEC Championship, barring collapses by both teams; that’s two ranked teams, one on the road in a more hostile environment than any other this year, and one in a neutral-site game that would be geographically closer to both other schools, and a rivalry game, and a tussle against the SEC’s quintessential trap team. Not the easiest road.
- Texas Tech: I can’t believe this is where I have to put the Red Raiders this deep into the fall, but the simple truth is this: if the Dread Pirates win out, they are in. Winning out with a three-game gauntlet of Texas and Oklahoma State at home and Oklahoma in Norman to run is probably too steep a task for any team, but if they do, Tech should not just emerge as a BCS contender, but as the top team in the polls and the computer rankings, with more and better wins than Alabama or Penn State. Baylor wouldn’t be a problem, after that, and though Tech hasn’t played Missouri, they’ve dominated Kansas and their offense and defense compare favorably to Mizzou’s in potential conference championship matchups. That is fantastic.
Hoping Destiny is Lady Luck
Each of these three teams probably needs one loss while winning out to get into the title game.
- Penn State: The Nittany Lions need just one slip-up from the top two to slide into the BCS title game. They play the easiest schedule of any of these teams to finish: at Iowa, then home for Indiana and Michigan State. State’s ranked, and Iowa has Shonn Greene, but Indiana will be a double-digit underdog, and the boys from Happy Valley have played quite well against the dregs of the Big Ten, with their only single-digit win coming last week. If the teams ahead of them win out, Penn State gets shut out. If they could pick just one of those two teams to lose, it would be Texas: Alabama losing to one-loss Florida or Georgia may move the Tide a spot or two down, but the Gators or Dawgs would soar, and no one knows yet if the strength of schedule in the SEC would offset the loss, while a Texas loss would probably put Texas Tech at the head of the Big 12, and that’s just another undefeated in PSU’s way. It suffices to say there will be scoreboard-watching in Happy Valley.
- Florida: The blueprint at this point: beat Georgia, and steamroll the rest. Florida’s schedule is actually a little rougher than the Dawgs’, with likely bowlers Vanderbilt and South Carolina, despite a date with The Citadel, and if Florida State keeps winning, there’s another top ten BCS team Florida will be favored against. If Florida wins out, their win over Alabama at a neutral site probably looks better than Georgia’s 1-1 record against the Tide with a loss at home would, but this is another team cheering for chaos in the Big 12. But should the Longhorns falter, Florida is the most likely one-loss team to slide in; their strength of schedule and the late and/or impressive wins against LSU, Georgia, possibly Florida State, and Alabama would put them at the right place at the right time. Florida could also sneak past an undefeated Penn State, depending on the value of strength of schedule.
- Georgia: The blueprint at this point: beat Florida, and steamroll the rest. But Georgia’s got less time and lower hurdles than Florida; it’s going to be harder for the the Flying Knowshons to rise like the Gators can, especially with dates against miserable Kentucky and Auburn and what could be a three-loss Georgia Tech team. (So the Florida State-Georgia Tech game this weekend gives in-state rivals reason to root for the hated team.) Georgia could do a lot by avenging a loss to Alabama with a thrashing in the SEC Championship, and the Dawgs wouldn’t have a home loss to an unranked team as their albatross, but Florida’s schedule compares favorably, and the Gators have looked much more impressive of late. Again, if Georgia wins out while the Nittany Lions do the same, their resume is gaudier than Penn State’s, and that will have to be taken into consideration.
Got Transitive Football Herpes From Destiny (And Want Her To Love Someone Else)
The picture gets cloudier here; a spot in Miami may require two losses by other teams.
- Oklahoma: The Sooners picked the wrong game to lose. By falling to Texas, they ensured that the only way they could even make the Big 12 Championship is through complex logic. (Your Big 12 Championship Game tiebreakers are here; basically, the highest-ranked team in the BCS takes the spot if there conflicting wins.) Whichever team wins in Lubbock this week becomes the only undefeated vying for the South’s berth: if Texas wins, Oklahoma’s basically out of that chance, and, in all likelihood and in part because of Georgia’s experience last year, out of the national title picture, but if Texas Tech wins, the Red Raiders leapfrog the Sooners, and even if the Sooners should beat them in Norman, Tech has a win against a Texas team that will keep them afloat in the BCS. It may not be enough to keep them ahead of the Sooners, but, then, Oklahoma has to go to Stillwater to play a Cowboys team that played Texas better than the Sooners did. Oh, and the impact of a lust for vengeance following last year’s 49-17 pasting will make sure State’s up for this one. Basically, Oklahoma’s cheering for Texas Tech this Saturday, and needs to win out, and even that might not help if the SEC champion is good; I can’t see a one-loss team that won’t have a chance to beat Texas or Alabama as a viable BCS title game participant.
- Oklahoma State: See above. Pretty much everything that applies to OU applies to State, too, though they have to go to Lubbock for a chance to knock off Tech. The Cowboys almost beat Texas on the road, which is more than Oklahoma could say about a double-digit loss at a neutral site, so Mike Gundy’s guys have already been screwed by simple chronology. Basically, winning out, getting into the Big 12 Championship, and winning it is the best this team can hope for, and there’s nothing that suggests to me that that would be more impressive than a one-loss or undefeated SEC champion and Penn State.
- USC: The Trojans were pulling for Terrelle Pryor to pull the upset on Saturday. Not only would it have sent the Nittany Lions plummeting, SC’s blowout of the Buckeyes would have looked much, much better. Now, with only Ohio State and Oregon likely to be ranked at the end of their season, and with no currently ranked teams on the schedule, USC can win out and still be passed up for hotter teams that beat stronger foes down the stretch. If Penn State loses, the Trojans would slot in above them; then again, if Penn State loses, the Nittany Lions will probably just meet SC in Pasadena. The best-case scenario for SC probably has all four of the BCS undefeateds losing, and Alabama still winning the SEC. That’s highly improbable.
Destiny’s Just Not That Into You
No way, no how, no BCS Championship Game.
- Boise State/Utah: The Broncos have a thumping of Oregon on their schedule, but apart from all four of the undefeateds losing and two of Florida/Georgia/USC taking another loss, I don’t see the Smurf Turfers rising high enough to make it to the title game with five games against weak WAC teams to come. Utah at least has TCU and BYU, both ranked and at home, to make some noise, but they would need similar circumstances to befall other teams. Each of these teams (and TCU, should they win out) is like 2007’s Hawai’i or their own undefeated and BCS-busting predecessors: their dance card can get punched, but it won’t be for the last song.
- Ohio State/LSU: Each exited the national stage with losses Saturday, and though LSU could beat Alabama to monkey with the BCS a little more, there’s no way either team wins its conference, and that just screws everything up.
- ACC/Big East Champions: Please. Each of you two will be lucky to make a BCS bowl, considering that there’s a host of non-BCS conference teams in the top 16; of your candidates, Florida State’s got the best shot, and they’ll be a two-loss team before all is said and done.
My BCS Guesses
- Rose: USC (Pac-10 champion) vs. Ohio State (at-large)
- Orange: Florida State (ACC champion) vs. Alabama (at-large)
- Fiesta: Oklahoma (at-large) vs. Boise State (WAC champion, automatic bid)
- Sugar: Florida (SEC champion) vs. Utah (MWC champion, automatic bid)
- BCS Championship: Texas (BCS #1) vs. Penn State (BCS #2)
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