College Football 2011: Predicting the Next Loss for Every BCS Conference Team

Michael PintoSenior Writer IOctober 6, 2011

College Football 2011: Predicting the Next Loss for Every BCS Conference Team

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    In college football, unlike any other major American sport, seasons are won and lost in a single game. It's the beauty and the curse of the game. 

    Lose, and your chances of winning a national championship plummet. Lose twice and forget it. In 2007 LSU became the first and only team in history to win a championship with more than one loss—don't bet on that happening again anytime soon. 

    Entering Week 6 of the season, 15 teams remain undefeated, but it won't be long before that number dwindles down to a handful. By the end of the regular season, history dictates we'll be lucky to see more than three contenders with unblemished records. 

    We have to go back to Auburn in 2004 to find the last undefeated team from a major conference that didn't play in the national championship. 

    So let's take a look at this 2011 field and start whittling away predictions for the next loss of every team from the major conferences, as well as a few notables from the mid-majors.

Notable: Air Force

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    Next Loss: @ Boise State, 10/22

    Air Force is included for a couple of reasons. One, the team showed a tremendous amount of promise before the season as not quite a dark horse, but someone who could derail some championship hopes along the way to a solid season.

    After the TCU loss we aren't as confident in this team, but still think Notre Dame and San Diego State are overmatched in the upcoming games. 

    Boise State isn't, though. The Broncos will show us the difference between a good team and an elite team.

Notabe: Boise State

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    Next Loss: Undefeated

    If there's a knock on Boise State, it's that the Broncos don't play a hard enough schedule for championship consideration. An untimely loss to Nevada derailed any title hopes last season, but there doesn't appear to be anything blocking the road this time around.

    But unlike last year, when the Broncos beat ACC champions Virginia Tech, an overrated preseason Top 25 Georgia team looks like the cream of the crop this year. There isn't enough there to give Boise a loss, but that also means it probably won't be enough to give Boise a title shot either. 

Notable: Houston

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    Next Loss: Southern Methodist, 11/19

    Houston and Boise State remain the only two undefeated teams outside of the BCS conferences, and with Case Keenum in the shotgun for one last rodeo, you really have to like the Cougars' chances of going undefeated this season. On the remaining schedule the two matchups that stand out are Marshall and SMU—both home games.

    In what should be a shootout between two of the top passing teams in the nation, SMU's superior defense will be the difference that cuts Houston a victory short of perfection. 

Notable: Notre Dame

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    Next Loss: Air Force, 10/8

    At 3-2, Note Dame makes the list as a notable for no other reason than the school's rich tradition and immense following. Fans want to know about the Irish so we won't hold back, but don't look here for good news. 

    The victory over lowly Purdue doesn't erase what should have been a loss to Pitt the week before, but you could argue that the big win over then-14th-ranked Michigan State cancels that out. OK, fine, take that—but know that Air Force's running game is legit and we're not buying in on this Irish defense. 

Notable: TCU

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    Next Loss: @ Boise State, 11/12

    We include TCU because this was a team that a year ago went 13-0 and beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Of course it's without star quarterback Andy Dalton—now with the Cincinnati Bengals—but this is still a very talented team that has gotten off to a bad start. It isn't a bad team. 

    Let's be realistic here—the losses came by way of a 50-48 shootout with Baylor and an overtime thriller against SMU. TCU might have lost out on the BCS, but no one besides Boise State is beating this team again in 2011.

ACC: Boston College

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    Next Loss: @ Clemson, 10/8

    Boston College has only managed to beat Massachusetts so far this season, and sitting at 1-4, the future looks bleak. Meanwhile, Clemson has beaten three ranked opponents in a row and is one of the best of those 15 undefeated teams.  

ACC: Clemson

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    Next Loss: @ Georgia Tech, 10/29

    Even though Clemson has emerged as one of the biggest surprises of the season and proved itself legit with victories over Auburn, FSU and Virginia Tech, it's still hard to imagine this team going undefeated.

    Away games against Georgia Tech—a matchup that's always a good one—and South Carolina will result in at least one loss. We'll pick the Yellow Jackets in a shootout. 

ACC: Duke

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    Next Loss: Florida State, 10/15

    FSU entered the season as the favorite in the ACC with many experts claiming early that the Seminoles were back.

    Oklahoma and Clemson threw a wrench in that dream machine, but this is still one of the most talented teams in the country, and Duke will see its full wrath after the Seminoles get back on track against Wake Forest the week before. 

ACC: Florida State

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    Next Loss: @ Florida, 11/26

    Back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and Clemson might have ended the Seminoles' championship hopes, but playing the Tigers without quarterback EJ Manuel wasn't exactly a fair assessment of this team.

    They don't face another ranked opponent until heading down to the Swamp to end the season. That's as tough a matchup as any they'll face this season. 

ACC: Georgia Tech

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    Next Loss: @ Miami, 10/22

    Another surprise out of the ACC is the 5-0 start Georgia Tech has put together, but besides the North Carolina win, none of those victories garner much attention.

    Expect the winning to continue against Maryland and Virginia, but a trip down to Miami at 7-0 will have the Yellow Jackets riding high into a trap game. 

ACC: Maryland

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    Next Loss: @ Georgia Tech, 10/8

    The only thing worth mentioning about Maryland this season is the team's uniforms, and even that novelty is wearing off.

    We get it. Genius marketing play or not, take away the Miami win—which looks less impressive in retrospect of how poorly the Hurricanes have played this season—and the Terps have little to show. Georgia Tech, Clemson and FSU are up next, and all three of those are losses.  


ACC: Miami

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    Next Loss: @ Virginia Tech, 10/8

    Entering the season with the worst NCAA allegations of anyone in what had to be the worst rule-breaking offseason drama in recent memory, you could excuse the loss to Maryland on opening weekend with half the starters sitting out with suspensions.

    Although Miami rebounded against Ohio State, the subsequent loss to Kansas State might have put the season on ice early. The Canes simply won't win in Blacksburg against a much stronger Virginia Tech team.  

ACC: North Carolina

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    Next Loss: Miami, 10/15

    North Carolina came up just short against Georgia Tech in Week 4 to give the team its only loss of the year. But besides Rutgers—whom the Tar Heels barely escaped, 24-22—there isn't much on this team's resume.

    In Miami, with the 'Canes coming off yet another ACC loss and desperate for a lifeline, UNC will lose.  

ACC: North Carolina State

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    Next Loss: @ Virginia, 10/22

    You could make an argument that NC State will survive Virginia and then find its next loss against FSU the following week, but keep in mind that without Russell Wilson—who looks the part of a Heisman favorite—this is a bad team.

    Don't underestimate the Cavaliers either; they're better than the 4-8 squad fielded last year. 

ACC: Virginia

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    Next Loss: Georgia Tech, 10/15

    While Virginia might be better than it was a year ago, this is still a team that lost to Southern Miss just a couple of weeks ago. Georgia Tech won't have any issues here. 

ACC: Virginia Tech

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    Next Loss: @ Georgia Tech, 11/10

    If Virginia Tech has taught us anything it's that you shouldn't pay much attention to this team when it falters in September, because year after year, the Hokies seem to be the ACC team that matters in December.

    Take a look at the remaining schedule. Miami, Georgia Tech and North Carolina are the only teams that have a shot—the Yellow Jackets will be the team to capitalize. 

ACC: Wake Forest

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    Next Loss: Florida State, 10/8

    The perennial bottom-feeder of the ACC, Wake Forest should be in for an old-fashioned whopping. You think Jimbo Fisher will be running the score up much in this one? We do.  

Big 12: Baylor

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    Next Loss: @ Texas A&M, 10/15

    Baylor's 50-48 victory over TCU to open the season did two things. First, it got the voters looking the Bears' way; second, it put quarterback Robert Griffin III's Heisman campaign on the map.

    A 36-35 loss to Kansas State last week took a ton of air out of the tires, though, and we're struggle to see Baylor getting past A&M in a couple of weeks without that early momentum. 

Big 12: Iowa State

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    Next Loss: @Baylor, 10/8

    Of course, while we may not have faith in Baylor to beat a stronger Texas A&M team, there shouldn't be much trouble with Iowa State the week before. The Cyclones defense is allowing almost 30 points per game. Robert Griffin will shed this unit. 

Big 12: Kansas

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    Next Loss: @ Oklahoma State, 10/8

    Kansas opened the year with a couple cupcake victories over McNeese State and Northern Illinois, then got pummeled by Georgia Tech and couldn't hang with Texas Tech. Playing Oklahoma State on the road in Week 6 is going to be brutal. 

Big 12: Kansas State

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    Next Loss: Oklahoma, 10/29

    At this point in the season there are two types of undefeated teams. Those to pay attention to and those that won't be undefeated for long. Kansas State is a bit of both. The Wildcats' 4-0 start is not to be dismissed.

    This team is better than you think, and when they face off with Oklahoma, don't be surprised when they do so undefeated, but their record won't remain unblemished after that one. 

Big 12: Missouri

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    Next Loss: @Kansas State, 10/8

    Missouri entered the year already dealing with the loss of its star quarterback Blane Gabbert—now with the Jacksonville Jaguars—but seeing younger brother Tyler transfer before the season might have stung just as bad.

    At 2-2 we just don't have faith in this team, and the same can't be said for Kansas State.

Big 12: Oklahoma

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    Next Loss: Undefeated 

    For those on the Oklahoma bandwagon this proclamation hardly comes as a surprise, but for the nonbelievers, take this into consideration.

    The Florida State team the Sooners manhandled a few weeks ago was at full strength and better than anything the Big 12 fields outside of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Kansas State, A&M and Baylor are no pushovers, but this team is on a different level.

    The Cowboys will be a serious challenge to close the regular season, but we're calling the Sooners an undefeated team at the top of the BCS standings entering this matchup. That's a game championship teams win, and Oklahoma looks as much the part of a champion as anyone this season. 

Big 12: Oklahoma State

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    Next Loss: Oklahoma, 12/3

    Oklahoma State has lately been one of the most under-appreciated teams in the nation. Perennially ranked but never really in the title discussion despite the fact this team has posted a 33-10 record since 2008. 

    Now after the Cowboys 30-29 victory over Texas A&M we have to ask ourselves a difficult question. Is Oklahoma State that good or is A&M overrated? 

    Time will tell for certain, but we're buying the Cowboys as the real deal. This team only lost to Nebraska and Oklahoma in 2010 and now the Cornhuskers are in the Big Ten. In 2011, Oklahoma State only losses to arch rival Oklahoma in the final game of the regular season. 

Big 12: Texas

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    Next Loss: Oklahoma, 10/8

    Let's quickly get one thing out of the way here. Texas is overrated. The Longhorns are 4-0, but who have they really played? Rice, BYU, UCLA and Iowa State.

    There's a long list of pretenders that would get through that stretch unscathed. Oklahoma, and then Oklahoma State, will bring Texas' expectations back down to earth. 

Big 12: Texas A&M

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    Next Loss: @ Oklahoma, 11/5

    Just a few short weeks ago experts around the country were contending that Texas A&M had a legitimate shot of winning the Big 12 over Oklahoma. Back to back losses to Oklahoma State and Arkansas have quieted that section, but this team is still no pushover.

    They'll cruise to what should be one of the top matchups of the season when the Aggies play the Sooners on Nov. 5. 

    Of course, since we've already voiced our opinion that Oklahoma won't be beat in the regular season, you can guess which way we're leaning in this matchup. 

Big 12: Texas Tech

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    Next Loss: Texas A&M, 10/8

    Some matchups are simpler that they appear. Texas Tech is 4-0 while A&M is 2-2, but don't read too much into their records. The Aggies lost a couple of heartbreakers by five combined points to two of the best teams in the country. This will be a blowout. 

Big East: Cincinnati

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    Next Loss: @ South Florida, 10/22

    Cincinnati is another team we find it hard to judge at this point in the season. At 4-1 the Bearcats have already matched their win total from a year ago, so it's safe to say this squad is improved.

    But the wins haven't come against anyone of note. USF might have gotten creamed by Pitt, but the Bulls are still a better team than the 'Cats. 

Big East: Connecticut

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    Next Loss: @ West Virginia, 10/8

    It's almost laughable to think that UConn won the Big East in 2010 with an 8-4 regular season record. Not to take anything away from the Huskies, but that just shouldn't happen—and only did because West Virginia had a down year.

    Well the Mountaineers aren't repeating that this time around, and UConn will be the fifth notch on WV's 2011 belt. 

Big East: Louisville

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    Next Loss: @ North Carolina, 10/8

    Louisville is 18-23 dating back to the start of the 2008 season. North Carolina has won at least eight games a season over that stretch, and the team's only loss this year was a 35-28 heartbreaker against Georgia Tech. Sometimes it's just simple.  

Big East: Pittsburgh

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    Next Loss: @ Rutgers, 10/8

    Pitt has been a tough team to dissect. First the Panthers lose to Iowa and Notre Dame back-to-back and then cream South Florida 44-17 the following week.

    So who will we get in Week 6 against Rutgers? The Knights are a scrappy bunch, and the feeling here is that they'll frustrate Pitt enough that the Panthers revert to the sloppy play that cost them the Iowa and Notre Dame games.

Big East: Rutgers

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    Next Loss: Navy, 10/15

    While we think Rutgers has enough to get by Pitt in Week 6, the matchup against Navy the following week offers an even bigger challenge.

    The Scarlet Knights have already let North Carolina and Syracuse have solid success rushing the ball. Navy will come into the game with a top-five rushing attack Rutgers won't be able to contain. 

Big East: South Florida

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    Next Loss: @ Rutgers, 11/5

    South Florida has to make you wonder. The season-opening victory against Notre Dame doesn't look all that impressive in hindsight—not after the Irish dropped the ball against Michigan the following week and just barely escaped Pitt after that.

    The Bulls are still a good team, though, despite the 44-17 beatdown they suffered at the hands of the Panthers. This is nonetheless a game Rutgers will win.

    Either way, there's another loss coming with Miami and West Virginia on the docket after that. 

Big East: Syracuse

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    Next Loss: West Virginia, 10/22

    Syracuse is on pace to play seven overtime games this season after finding themselves there in three of their last four games. We're not saying there's no chance this happens again against Tulane, but we will go ahead and say it for the West Virginia game—the Mountaineers won't let it get to that point. 

Big East: West Virginia

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    Next Loss: Pittsburgh, 11/25

    West Virginia has beaten Pitt in six of the last nine matchups between these two teams, including a 35-10 victory over the Panthers last season.

    But the Mountaineers also haven't won more than nine games in a season since 2007. Looking at the schedule this year it's hard to pinpoint where the remaining loses—if any—will come. We're going against history and picking Pitt to be WV's only remaining defeat. 

Big Ten: Illinois

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    Next Loss: Ohio State, 10/15

    Before the season Illinois might have been one of the last teams you ever would have imagined would start the year at 5-0. And while the last three victories have come by three points apiece, don't undersell the Illini's win over Arizona State. 

    The Sun Devils were ranked 22nd at the time of the game, and after the 17-14 loss went on to pummel USC 43-22 the following week. We think Illinois' magical ride ends with Ohio State, though. By that game Buckeyes' true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller should be settling into his groove. 

Big Ten: Indiana

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    Next Loss: Illinois, 10/8

    Before the year you might have called the Illinois game a toss-up—we wouldn't fault you if you did—but now that the Illini are undefeated and the Hoosiers have only claimed victory over South Carolina State, we're going to go ahead and say it: Some schools should just stick to basketball.

    Of course with Gunner Kiel—the nation's top-rated high school quarterback—committed to Indiana, those words may very well be regretted in due time.  

Big Ten: Iowa

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    Next Loss: @ Penn State, 10/8

    Ever since quarterback Ricky Stanzi went down with an injury against Northwestern in 2009, Iowa just hasn't been the same. Last year's 8-5 record was a huge disappointment for a team that entered the year with championship hopes. 

    Well Stanzi is gone now and James Vandenberg has been good, but not great, as his replacement. Iowa enters its Week 6 matchup against Penn State with both teams badly needing a win to stay alive in the Big Ten race. 

    Home-field advantage for the Lions is the difference in this one. 

Big Ten: Michigan

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    Next Loss: @ Michigan State, 10/15

    If you're a Michigan fan, you know not to get carried away with the Wolverines' 5-0 start.

    In 2010 Michigan also started the year 5-0, but then dropped six of their next eight games and finished the season at 7-6. They capped the year off with a 52-14 loss to Mississippi State in the Progressive Gator Bowl.

    So the question this time around is will Denard Robinson carry the Wolverines on his back, or will the weight be too much to bear? We're leaning toward the latter, and an extremely hostile crown in Spartan Stadium will play a major role in this one. 

Big Ten: Michigan State

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    Next Loss: Wisconsin, 10/22

    While we'll give Michigan State the win over Michigan at home, it's a very close call. But if you're really looking for a loss, you don't need to look very far. 

    After Michigan the Spartans get a visit from Wisconsin and then travel to Nebraska in back-to-back weeks. They'll exit those matchups with a 5-3 record. 

Big Ten: Minnesota

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    Next Loss: @ Purdue, 10/8

    When you play in a major conference and you've already lost to New Mexico State and North Dakota State, you can't be taken seriously. 

    That's why so many of us hardly took notice when Michigan lit this team up in a 58-0 blowout. Well, up next is Purdue, and for as bad as the Boilermakers are, the Golden Gophers are worse. 

Big Ten: Nebraska

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    Next Loss: Undefeated Remainder of the Season

    Nebraska was given a brutal reality check in Week 5 after Wisconsin clearly demonstrated what the difference is between a great team and an elite team. That's how you need to look at the 48-17 loss. 

    The rest of the way Michigan is the only ranked opponent on the schedule, and the Wolverines very well could be on the outside of the Top 25 looking in by the time we get to that game. Nebraska will see Wisconsin in the inaugural Big Ten Championship for another round.  

Big Ten: Northwestern

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    Next Loss: Michigan, 10/8

    There's really no need to complicate this one. Northwestern allowed Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase to collect over 400 total yards and four touchdowns in last week's 38-35 loss. 

    Denard Robinson is going to have a field day. 

Big Ten: Ohio State

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    Next Loss: @ Nebraska, 10/8

    Things can't seem to get better for the Buckeyes. After arguably the worst offseason of scandal in school history—one that cost the team its coach and quarterback—Ohio State found itself in the news with yet another case of inappropriate benefits. 

    This team has lost two of its last three, and unfortunately the Buckeyes draw Nebraska on the road after the Cornhuskers got embarrassed on the national stage.  

Big Ten: Penn State

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    Next Loss: Illinois, 10/29

    You have to ask yourself a simple yet complicated question if you're a Penn State fan these days. How much longer do you want Joe Paterno as the team's coach? 

    Don't think that issue doesn't hang over this program. It's not enough to slow them down against Iowa or Purdue, but it might be against Illinois and it will be against Nebraska. 

Big Ten: Purdue

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    Next Loss: @ Penn State, 10/15

    You don't need to look past Purdue's last two games to see what you'll get out of this team. The Boilermakers dominated Southeast Missouri State 59-0 and then got handed a 38-10 loss against Notre Dame the following week. 

    That's a perfect example of what Purdue will give you against bad and then average teams. They play Minnesota in Week 6 and then Penn State the following week. Minnesota is bad. Penn State is average. 

Big Ten: Wisconsin

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    Next Loss: Undefeated 

    If you had your doubts about Wisconsin entering last week's matchup with Nebraska, chances are you've settled them by now. 

    When you dominate the No. 8 team in the country the same way you did South Dakota the week before, it means two things. One, your team is legit. Two, your top player (Russell Wilson) is as good a Heisman candidate as anyone. 

    Illinois is the only ranked team left on the schedule. Ohio State is having down year and Michigan State isn't as good a team as it was in 2010, 4-1 or not. Penn State is still in rebuilding mode, Michigan still has to prove itself. There's not a loss left on the Badgers regular season schedule.

Pac-12: Arizona

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    Next Loss: UCLA, 10/20

    It's tough to properly judge Arizona this season. The Wildcats have lost four straight games, but when your opponents are Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon and USC, that's not the most telling of samples. 

    There's only a handful of teams in the country—if even that—that would walk away from that stretch without a loss.

    Meanwhile, Arizona's next opponent, Oregon State, seems to have forgotten how to win entirely. The Wildcats will get through that one, but UCLA should provide the measuring stick we're looking for.  

Pac-12: Arizona State

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    Next Loss: @Oregon, 10/15

    Arizona State's 17-14 loss to Illinois was a really tough break, but not for the Sun Devils. It was tough for Oregon. Sure, Arizona State has its own aspirations, but realistically speaking this team wasn't BCS-bound.

    Had Arizona State remained undefeated heading into its Week 7 matchup with Oregon, the victory for the Ducks would have been enough to jump-start an outside shot at the title game—assuming two team from the majors weren't both undefeated and Oregon would go on to beat Stanford.

    Now, Arizona State will enter that matchup as a fringe Top 25 team and exit unranked.  

Pac-12: California

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    Next Loss: @ Oregon, 10/6

    In the 2010 regular season Cal gave Oregon by far its biggest scare, with the Ducks barely escaping with a 15-13 victory to preserve their undefeated record. 

    This year Cal comes into the game on a short week after a 31-23 loss to Washington. Oregon will not forget what happened a year ago. 

Pac-12: Colorado

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    Next Loss: @ Stanford, 10/8

    We could enter into some detailed analysis of Colorado. Or, we could tell you this team is 1-4 and headed to Stanford next to play Andrew Luck on the road. 

Pac-12: Oregon

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    Next Loss: @ Stanford, 11/12

    Take a brief look at the remaining Pac-12 schedule and you're sure not to find a better matchup than Oregon-Stanford. In what promises to be a showcase of some of the nation's top offensive talent, we'll also get the answer to who will represent the Pac-12 in the BCS. 

    Short answer: Stanford. Long answer: Andrew Luck is going to make the Ducks miss their 2010 defense in a way no other quarterback is capable of. 

Pac-12: Oregon State

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    Next Loss: Arizona, 10/8

    We already discussed the Arizona-Oregon State game a bit earlier, so there's no need to be redundant here. The Beavers lost in OT to Sacramento State in opening weekend and haven't gotten within seven points of a victory since. That elusive victory won't be against Arizona. 

Pac-12: Stanford

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    Next Loss: California, 11/19

    There are three teams we feel comfortable predicting to go undefeated in 2011. Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Boise State. Stanford is just on the cusp of that group. 

    It's a combination of talent and scheduling, but the gut feeling here is there's a loss waiting somewhere in conference play that isn't the obvious choice (Oregon). We'll instead give that designation to Cal. A sneaky team that will pull off the sneaky upset. 


Pac-12: UCLA

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    Next Loss: Washington State, 10/8

    Is there anyone out there who still thinks Rick Neuheisel is the right coach for UCLA? Anyone? 

    This team is 2-3, and its only victories came against Oregon State—this year's Pac-12 doormate—and San Diego State. Kansas State isn't a great team, but UCLA isn't even an average one. 

Pac-12: USC

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    Next Loss: Stanford, 10/29

    USC has been shaky at best this season and those who were worried after the 19-17 win over lowly Minnesota in opening weekend had their fears confirmed when Arizona State lit the Trojans up in an embarrassing 43-22 loss. 

    Cal, Notre Dame and Stanford are up next and if you made an argument for USC losing any of these games you probably have a point. But Cal just lost to Washington and Notre Dame has hardly impressed outside of the Michigan State win.

    Stanford on the other hand is an easy choice. Andrew Luck will get his third straight win over the Trojans and finish his college career having never lost to USC as a starter. 

Pac-12: Utah

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    Next Loss: Arizona State, 10/8

    It's been a rough start for Utah in the Pac-12. The Utes have yet to win a conference game in two tries and just got embarrassed by Washington, 31-14.

    Arizona State is a much better team than Washington. Utah will move to 0-3 in conference play.

Pac-12: Washington

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    Next Loss: @ Stanford, 10/22

    Washington is a tough team to peg. The Huskies are 4-1, but looks can be deceiving. Washington has solid wins over Cal and Utah, but watch Nebraska put up 51 points in the team's only loss. 

    With Colorado up next the Huskies will live another day, but when Andrew Luck comes around in a couple of weeks the show's over.  

Pac-12: Washington State

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    Next Loss: Stanford, 10/15

    Washington State has started the year off 3-1 and should get its fourth victory this week. But after that things get a whole lot tougher with Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State all on the books between Oct. 15 and Nov. 12. 

    The Cougars will be another causality standing between Andrew Luck and the accolades he'll collect throughout his senior season. 

SEC: Alabama

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    Next Loss: Louisiana State, 11/5

    If Alabama was playing LSU on the road, this would be a different story. In Baton Rouge the Tide have the Tigers' number—even though LSU managed to pull off a 24-21 victory at home last season. 

    This year, like every year, is a different story, though, and these are arguably the two best teams in the country. It's a shame they both play in the SEC West, because their regular season matchup is really the SEC title game. 

    The winner of this game is the odds-on favorite to win the SEC and likely a national championship as well. Two mammoth defenses paired with exceptional running games. It's an old-school fan's dream matchup. 

    LSU takes it by a hair. Why? Because we have less faith in Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron than LSU quarterback Jarret Lee. Same goes for Zach Mettenberger over Phillip Sims. And that doesn't even take into account the X-Factor Jordan Jefferson has morphed into.

    But let's be honest about this—quarterback play is the biggest weaknesses of both teams. 

SEC: Arkansas

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    Next Loss: Auburn, 10/8

    Arkansas looked overmatched and out of its league in the first half of its Week 5 matchup with Texas A&M. With the Razorbacks down 35-17 at the half, it had the makings of a blowout. 

    Then Tyler Wilson reminded us why he entered the year with serious Heisman potential, and somehow the Razorbacks escaped with a 42-38 victory. 

    This week Auburn comes to town, and after the way the Tigers defense finally came to life against South Carolina, it's just hard to pick against the defending champs. 

    Especially when Arkansas allowed Aggies running back Christine Michael to rush for 230 yards and three touchdowns. Are you familiar with Michael Dyer? 

SEC: Auburn

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    Next Loss: @ Louisiana State, 10/22

    While Auburn has the talent to get past Arkansas and Florida, LSU is a different beast. Especially at home in what could very well be a night game—still TBD. 

    Momentum from three straight wins over ranked teams could play a huge roll in this—Auburn would need to beat South Carolina, Arkansas and Florida in a row—it still doesn't seem like enough to get past LSU.

    Not against that defense.

SEC: Florida

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    Next Loss: @ LSU, 10/8

    Unfortunately for Florida, timing is certainly not playing in the Gators' favor. Not only does Florida have to play Alabama and LSU back-to-back, but starting quarterback John Brantley has already been ruled out against LSU after suffering an injury against the Tide. 

    You have to feel sorry for true freshman Jeff Driskel. It really doesn't get worse than starting your first game on the road against the No. 1 team in the country. 

SEC: Georgia

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    Next Loss: Florida, 10/29

    The good news for Florida is that it gets easier after LSU. Not a whole lot easier, but after Alabama and LSU back-to-back you won't hear the Gators complain about Auburn and Georgia. 

    Let's set aside the Auburn matchup for a second and move over to Georgia. Mark Richt is at the end of his rope and very well could be out the door right around this game.

    Florida should do fine, and if it's lucky will either have John Brantley back or at the very least gotten Jeff Driskel some much needed experience. 

SEC: Kentucky

65 of 71

    Next Loss: @ South Carolina, 10/8

    Kentucky has lost three games in a row and now draws South Carolina next. Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia might have been benched for this one, but it's still a routine warmup for South Carolina. 

SEC: Louisiana State

66 of 71

    Next Loss: Arkansas, 11/25

    And here comes the curveball. Yes. We have LSU beating Alabama and then dropping the ball against Arkansas in the last game of the regular season.

    Why? Because that's so Les Miles. 

SEC: Mississippi State

67 of 71

    Next Loss: South Carolina, 10/15

    Mississippi State entered the season ranked and ready to roll, but things just haven't worked out for them. Put the Bulldogs in another conference and this team wins 9-10 games annually. 

    But the SEC is the SEC, and that means losses to the likes of Auburn and LSU. It doesn't excuse or explain dropping the ball against Georgia as well, though, and you shouldn't expect things to get easier against South Carolina. 

SEC: Mississippi

68 of 71

    Next Loss: Alabama, 10/15

    Here's a new rule for this college football season. If you lose to Vanderbilt you don't get to beat Alabama. 

SEC: South Carolina

69 of 71

    Next Loss: @ Arkansas, 11/5

    Arkansas and South Carolina are two of the most evenly matched teams in the SEC, but the feeling here is that Arkansas will be on the rise by this point in the season and the quarterback situation in South Carolina will be volatile.

    With Tyler Wilson on the other side of the field, that would be a decisive advantage.  

SEC: Tennessee

70 of 71

    Next Loss: Georgia, 10/8

    It's a shame that Georgia and Tennessee are bottom-feeding in the SEC lately. What's been a great rivalry in the past now makes us shrug. 

    There aren't a whole lot of people outside of Athens and Knoxville that will be too invested in this matchup, but the edge has to go to the Bulldogs considering Georgia is coming off a win over Mississippi State and Tennessee's biggest win of the year came against Cincinnati. 

SEC: Vanderbilt

71 of 71

    Next Loss: @ Alabama, 10/8

    Feel free to fill in your own punch line.