The 2011 college football season is in full swing and already the top teams are positioning themselves nicely for a berth into the BCS Championship game.
Currently, Oklahoma is the top-ranked program and the odds-on favorite to win it all, but they're far from clinching anything. Two top-ten teams reside in their conference in Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. They'll have to defeat those teams to keep their ranking.
As for No.2 LSU? Easy is probably the worst adjective to describe their schedule this season.
They've already begun the gantlet of facing Oregon and West Virginia in non-conference games. The SEC West awaits, where No.3 Alabama, No.14 Arkansas and Auburn wait in the wings.
Who has the easiest path to BCS title glory? Let's look at three contenders who have it on easy street.
There's no question that Wisconsin is a very strong team, but they got a pretty big gift on their schedule this season.
For starters, five of their first six games are at Camp Randall Stadium, where they play extremely well. They've outscored their opponents 135-24 this season; what does that tell you?
Those numbers came against UNLV, the worst Oregon State team in a while and Northern Illinois. They host South Dakota today in what will be a stomping.
Wisconsin get to break in their new starting quarterback Russell Wilson for a full month before they play their toughest game of the season, at home against Nebraska. That's easily the biggest test on the schedule, as currently only two teams that the Badgers play this year are ranked in the top 25.
The Big Ten this year appears to be weaker than it was a year ago. Michigan State, a team that beat the Badgers last year, looked shaky against Notre Dame. Ohio State had a horrible offseason and fell out of the rankings for the first time since 2004.
There's no reason to think that Wisconsin can't run the table and go undefeated on this schedule. They'll likely win the Leaders division and play Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship game.
Other than that, there are many easy victories for this ultra-strong Wisconsin team.
Sometimes the best answer is the most obvious one and clearly Boise State faces fewer challenges than any other top-five team in college football.
The only reason they don't have the easiest path to the title game is because they play in a non-AQ conference and the stigma has been that they don't deserve to play in the BCS Championship.
This is Boise State's first season in the Mountain West conference and they enter the league as the odds-on favorite to win it immediately. TCU is still good, but they lost quite a bit of talent and experience when Andy Dalton graduated last season.
I'll give Boise State credit—they try to schedule tough non-conference games. This year's opening week win against Georgia proved that Boise State can hang with the big boys. Outside of that, they play few quality teams.
The Mountain West isn't terrible, but it's not great either. Tulsa, Nevada and San Diego State all boast great players with high-octane offenses.
Boise State is better than them all and recruits players far above the skill set that any team in the conference can.
The Broncos were tripped up last year against Nevada in a thrilling overtime game. Don't count on that happening this season with Colin Kaepernick gone to the NFL.
Boise State have no excuse not to be undefeated by season's end. If they do, they may finally convince the BCS to extend an invite to the title game.
There isn't a team sitting prettier in college football than Andrew Luck's Stanford Cardinal bunch.
They're ranked No. 5 right now, led by the leading Heisman Trophy candidate Luck. Luck is a fantastic player, but his presence probably overrates how good Standford's team is as a whole.
It doesn't really matter, though. Stanford only have to play two ranked teams this whole season, USC and Oregon. The Pac-12 is a mediocre conference across the board. The top teams are great, but after that there aren't too many teams that will challenge the Cardinal.
As for the non-conference schedule, Duke and San Jose State aren't programs to write home about. They do play Notre Dame to close the season, but at the rate Notre Dame is turning over the football these days that could be a wash.
They play USC on the road as a favorite for once and they get No. 10 Oregon in Palo Alto. Oregon made mincemeat of them last season, but if Stanford can beat them this year than they will likely win the Pac-12 North crown.
That could be the de facto conference championship game with no clear favorite in the Pac-12 South division. USC on the road will be their second toughest game.
But only two challenging games for the No. 5 team in the nation? That sounds like a gift to me. Stanford get to watch as No. 2 LSU and No. 3 Alabama slug each other later in the season, which will knock one of them out of the way.
As long as Stanford win their two tough games, they will be well positioned for a berth to the BCS Championship game.