BCS Eliminator: Whose Championship Dreams Are over After Week 1?
We know, we know. It's a little early to be thinking about the BCS Championship game when it's still four months away. But with the limited action we've seen so far, we can already rule out some preseason top 25 teams from title contention, and also identify some others who have dug themselves a big, if not insurmountable, hole.
In addition, we'll single out a couple of teams that were victorious this week, but had performances that caused us to raise a concerning eyebrow.
We'll start by looking at the teams that shouldn't even bother thinking about playing in the championship game anymore.
While some were calling for the potential upset of TCU, nobody could have expected things to unfold as they did against Baylor. Robert Griffin III ripped the previously impenetrable TCU defense to shreds, and although the Bears almost handed (or fumbled) the game away, they managed to hold on for a 50-48 victory.
With that loss, TCU will likely drop out of the polls. They have only one ranked opponent remaining on their schedule: Boise State. Even if they run the table, an 11-1 Mountain West champion isn't making the title game.
Eliminated: Notre Dame
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Well, this wasn't how things were supposed to go. In a game delayed multiple times by thunderstorms, the Irish, who literally doubled the Bulls offensive output, lost to South Florida, 23-20.
Like TCU, Notre Dame will likely drop out, or to the very bottom, of the polls after this loss. They have three games against ranked opponents left, but only one—at Stanford— in which they could make a serious impression with a victory. If it comes down to a one-loss Notre Dame team and a one-loss SEC team for a spot in the championship game, who do you think is going to get it?
Next, two teams who are going to need a lot of wins and a lot of luck if they're going to make it all the way back from their losses this week.
In Trouble: Georgia
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Despite the beating that they received at the hands of Boise State, we can't completely rule out the Bulldogs yet, for one simple reason: They play in the SEC.
If, and that's a big if, Georgia wins the rest of their games, that will mean they have knocked off South Carolina, Mississippi State, Florida and Auburn, as well as whoever ends up being the SEC West champion. Given the way they played today, we can hardly foresee that happening. But if it does, they stand a good chance at making the championship game.
In Trouble: Oregon
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Unlike Georgia, Oregon doesn't have the luxury of facing off against a bunch of top 25 teams. They'll get a chance to beat Stanford and USC, but other than that their schedule contains mostly average teams.
On the bright side, if this is their only loss, at least it comes early. Oregon likely won't drop out of the top 10, and if things play out the right way and a lot of the teams above them lose, they could easily find themselves back in the top five rather quickly, setting them up for a big late-season game against Stanford. If they win that, they'll at least be right back in the discussion. They almost assuredly won't beat out a one-loss SEC team, but if their competition for the final spot is, say, an Oklahoma team that just got knocked off by Oklahoma State, we could see them making it in.
Now, two teams who had questionable performances this week.
Questions Raised: Auburn
While most of you will probably be quick to point out that nobody really sees Auburn as a title contender, I must point out that last year they were ranked even lower in the preseason. So let's not count them out just yet.
Still, their defense looked just awful today, allowing 448 yards to Utah State. If it wasn't for a recovered onside kick, the Tigers could very well be 0-1 right now. They'd better figure out their defensive problems soon, as they go up against Mississippi State next week.
Questions Raised: Alabama
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Looking at the scoreboard, one probably sees little fault in Alabama's 48-7 victory over Kent State. Even if you look at total yards, it wasn't even close: 482 to 90 in favor of the Tide. They obviously have nothing to worry about on the defensive side of the ball, and Trent Richardson didn't have a great game, but we all know how good he truly is.
However, there is still a bit of uncertainty as to how good their quarterbacks will be. Both AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims got a chance to play today, and both threw two picks. While Sims didn't really have any redeeming factors, McCarron played quite well otherwise. But Nick Saban probably could have done without the two interceptions, as that won't be acceptable against most of Alabama's opponents.