College Football: Handicaping Each Contenders Chances of Reaching the Title Game

Gustavo DestroSenior Analyst INovember 10, 2008

Week 11 provided us collge football fans with some, say, closure. Penn State's loss cleared the way to what most fans believe is the rightful national title matchup, a Big 12 vs. SEC showdown.

Nittany Lions fans may not like this, but the truth is that the both the SEC and Big 12 champs, even one-loss champs, would look much more attractive to play in the championship game than an undefeated Penn State team—those are just the cold-hard facts. Would it happen? Probably not, if PSU were to finish undefeated, they would go to Miami, nobody would have liked it, but they would go.

Each team will have a different path to reach the title game, some easier than others, here's my take on how easy each team's road to Miami will be.


1. Alabama Crimson Tide

The Tide have an easy schedule before the SEC title game (home dates against Mississippi St. and Auburn), but anyone that has seen them since the Georgia game know this is not the same Alabama team. They haven't dominated opponents and have relied too much on their defense to win games that should have been much easier. That bodes badly when they face the Gators in Atlanta.

Path to Miami: Win out regular season schedule, beat Florida.

Chances of it happening: 30 percent. The Tide will most likely than not win out and reach the SEC title game undefeated. To beat the Gators the Tide will have to play at a level they haven't for over one month.


2. Texas Tech Red Raiders

The new media darlings are red-hot and have dominated every team they played this year and did not let up as some predicted they would last week against Oklahoma St. Now comes their biggest test of the year, a visit to Norman that will determine the Big 12 South champs (sorry, Texas). Do I believe they can win it? Yes, I do (in fact, I have since the spring, points 14 and 15 show that much) and from what I've seen so far this year, they will knock out the Sooners. Need a reason why? Two words, Sooners' defense.

Path to Miami: Beat Oklahoma, run over Baylor and beat Big 12 North champ.

Chances: 90 percent. If you are a Tech fan, I'd start planing my trip to South Beach; should be fun.


3. Florida Gators

Florida has only one game left in their SEC schedule and no matter the outcome of ther game against South Carolina, they are already penciled in as the East champion and will square off against the Crimson Tide. To say that the Gators are playing as good as any other team in the country is an understatement and if they keep their foot on the gas, Alabama will be in bad shape come Dec. 6.

Path to Miami: Win out during the regular season and beat Alabama. Simple enough.

Chances: 85 percent.


4. Texas Longhorns

Now it starts to get complicated, only because Texas doesn't control its own destiny. If they win out, just like the above teams, it will be all fine and good, but it won't take them to the title game.

Path to Miami: First of all, they have to stop their mini-skid against Texas A&M, a team that has beaten them twice in the past two years. Then, Texas Tech has to lose at least once, preferably against Baylor (ye, right), but since that most likely won't happen, Texas has to hope that Oklahoma beats Tech and hope that their win over the Sooners on October 11th can somehow keep them above Oklahoma on the polls. Oh, yes, and then they must beat the Big 12 North Champ.

Chances: 20 percent. Texas has a very good chance of finishing 11-1, but to reach the title game, they need to place ahead of an Oklahoma team that would have just beat Texas Tech and Oklahoma St., not likely.


5. Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma, unlike Texas, has a much cleaner path to Miami, if they run the table, they will most likely win the Big 12 South championship because of one technicality. See, if Tech, Texas and Oklahoma finish 11-1, the winner is decided by which team is the highest ranked in the BCS and since Oklahoma would have the the earliest loss (Texas) and the latest impressive win (No. 2 Texas Tech) they would be more likely to be ranked higher than either Texas or Texas Tech.

Path to Miami: Beat Texas Tech, then Oklahoma St., and then beat the Big 12 North champ.

Chances: 40 percent. If they beat Tech the path seems easy enough. That is a big if, however, and one I feel the Sooners cannot overcome. Two words, Sooners defense.


6. USC Trojans

The Trojans may be playing the best football of any team in the country for the past month; the opponents, however, haven't been the most impressive. If the Pac-10 was any worse, USC would be considered a mid-major.

Path to Miami: Oh boy, here we go—please bear with me, as this will get complicated...For starters, Texas Tech has to lose, twice; then Oklahoma, who would've just beaten Tech, would have to lose to Oklahoma St. Mizzou would have to beat the Big 12 south champ and Alabama would have to lose to Auburn (or Miss. St.) and then beat Florida. Making USC the only conference champion with one loss, they would have to go to the title game, right?...

Chances: 0.0000001 percent. No really, if the scenario above does occur, it just might kill the BCS. Um, wait, that might not be such a bad idea...