BCS Standings 2011: 5 Games That Could Royally Screw Up the BCS Picture

David LutherFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2011

BCS Standings 2011: 5 Games That Could Royally Screw Up the BCS Picture

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    Now that we have our first glimpse of the BCS rankings for 2011, it's time to start looking down the road a bit to see where the potential bumps, potholes, and cliffs might be.

    Everyone has a firmer grasp of where each team stands, and what each team's chances are for a BCS berth this season, but that doesn't mean all is written in stone.

    In fact, previous seasons have taught us that there are usually a few thrills and shocks along the way before the final BCS picture is brought into focus.

    So where are the sinkholes this season for the BCS? What games could really thrown a wrench into the entire system?

    Here are five good candidates for games that could really screw up the 2011 BCS picture.

Notre Dame at No. 8 Stanford, Nov. 26

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    By the time this game comes around, it's possible that Notre Dame could find its way into the BCS rankings, or Stanford could have found its way out of the top ten. It's also possible the Cardinal could climb into the top five, depending on how the next few weeks shake out, and this game could really be an important match-up for the BCS number-crunchers.

    After stumbling out of the game early, Notre Dame has really been able to patch things together, and is on the verge of salvaging a season many thought would be a break-out season for Kelly and the Irish.

    Stanford doesn't quite have the résumé yet, but a lot will happen between now and November 26. This annual rivalry meeting between the Cardinal and Irish will likely be for a lot more than the Legends Trophy—it could in effect become a BCS play-in for either, or both teams.

No. 7 Clemson at No. 22 Georgia Tech, Oct. 29

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    Georgia Tech surprised many by starting the season 6-0, and it's probably safe to say that the Clemson Tigers weren't on most people's ACC watch-list in late August.

    But after Georgia Tech's surprising loss this past weekend at Virginia, the Clemson Tigers remain the lone ACC unbeaten at 7-0, and also find themselves at the No. 7 position in the initial BCS rankings.

    Clemson is struggling to shake of the demons of the past, where highly ranked Tiger teams with a heavy burden of expectation buckled under the pressure down the stretch. So far, the Tigers have been able to continue their unexpected run.

    But the Tigers will meet their fellow surprise team Georgia Tech on October 29 in Atlanta, and if the Tigers fold under the pressure, as so many Clemson fans are fearing, then the ACC will lose its last unbeaten team, and it also opens up the possibility that once-beaten No. 12 Virginia Tech—a team beaten by Clemson—will leapfrog the Tigers in the BCS rankings, creating more than enough grumbling and controversy from the ACC's point of view.

    A Clemson loss would also likely mean only the ACC Champion will reach the BCS.

No. 25 Washington at No. 8 Stanford, Oct. 22

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    For most observers, Washington has been a bit of a surprise this season.

    After losing Jake Locker to graduation, many expected the Huskies to take a step back from their seasons past—which weren't particularly spectacular to begin with.

    But quite the opposite has happened at Washington. The Huskies are an impressive 5-1 heading into the Pac 12 North showdown with unbeaten Stanford next weekend.

    Stanford finds itself in the initial BCS Top 10 for the first time in school history, but the success may be fleeting.

    To this point, Stanford is really absent any decent opposition. Washington will be the first ranked team for the Cardinal this season, as the previous opponents have consisted of pretty bad non-conference opponents (San Jose State and Duke) and Pac 12 cellar-dwellers (Arizona, UCLA, Colorado, and Washington State).

    Should Washington manage to upset Andrew Luck and the Cardinal this weekend, it will throw a pretty hefty wrench in the early BCS Top 10.

No. 6 Wisconsin at No. 16 Michigan State, Oct. 22

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    For some reason, Wisconsin and Michigan State have a history of upsets in their budding rivalry.

    Because of a scheduling quirk with the Big Ten's new divisional play, Wisconsin will make the trip back to East Lansing for a second-straight season, where the Spartans are unbeaten since November of 2009.

    Michigan State is also coming off of an epic victory over then-No. 11 Michigan, and are riding high with their own No. 16 BCS ranking.

    These two teams split the Big Ten title last season, even though MSU was the victor in the meeting last year at Spartan Stadium.

    Wisconsin seems to be an improved team this season, but another MSU victory would not only put the Spartans in the driver's seat in the Big Ten, it would also throw a bit of uncertainty into the BCS top 10, as the eventual Big Ten champion will likely be at least a one-loss team.

No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 11 Kansas State, Oct. 29

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    This game has the potential to not only screw up the Top 10 BCS rankings, it has the potential to affect other teams down the road, most notably Oklahoma State—which we'll get to in a moment.

    Was the anyone talking about the Wildcats when the season started? If there was, it probably wasn't in a Top 10 conversation. But Kansas State is one of the three Big 12 teams with a 6-0 (3-0) record, and are current tied for first in the conference.

    The Wildcats are also just on the outside of the BCS top ten, ranked No. 11. A win over Oklahoma would certainly propel KSU into the top ten, and would likely set up another potential BCS chaos-inducer for the following week at Oklahoma State.