What Needs to Happen for Oregon Ducks to Reach BCS National Championship Game
As I watched Texas Tech take down Oklahoma—an upset I never could have called—I started to realize just how necessary it was for Oregon to have a chance at reaching the national championship game. Luckily for Duck fans, it did happen, and the Wisconsin upset didn't hurt either.
Oregon's road to the Natty took a big step this week, but a few more things still need to happen if it's going to get there.
Oregon Beats Stanford, Wins out
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If this doesn't happen, the rest of this slideshow means nothing, so I figured I might as well put it first.
This is the only thing Oregon has control of going forward, and it's definitely the most important.
It's going to be tough for Oregon to take down No. 6 Stanford, especially on the road, but it can be done. If the Ducks can expose Stanford's defense with their explosive running game (which will hopefully include LaMichael James and Darron Thomas) and at least contain Andrew Luck, they'll come out of Palo Alto with a much-needed victory.
The only other game that poses a little bit of a threat is Washington, which just fell out of the Top 25 with a loss to Stanford, a week before the Ducks go south to face the Cardinal.
Oklahoma State Loses
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The No. 3 Cowboys' door to the Natty was opened with Oklahoma's loss. All they have to do is win out and they'll be playing the LSU-Alabama winner in the Big Easy come January.
However, that task is easier said than done, as they still have to face Baylor, No. 8 Kansas State and, of course, No. 9 Oklahoma, which may be even more of a threat after a maddening loss. It's very possible that this giant might tumble, especially since Justin Blackmon's health is in question.
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Clemson has been the surprise team not only in the ACC but in NCAA football. The Tigers' outrageously explosive offense has led upsets over Virginia Tech, Florida State and Auburn. They sit at No. 5, two spots above the Ducks, so Oregon will probably need them to fall if their title dreams are to come true.
The best chance of this happening may come this weekend against Georgia Tech, which may have the only offense that can match the Tigers' (except the Ducks, of course). They also have to play sleeper team Wake Forest and No. 13 South Carolina, both possible upsets.
It Would Be Nice If...
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(These are things that are not necessarily essential for Oregon to reach the title game, but would offer some reassurance.)
- Boise State loses: Because of their overall weak record, the Broncos will probably be overlooked (again). However, it would be good if they lost to clear the way for the Ducks. The best chance of this would be against TCU, a dream matchup a year ago but not so much now.
- Kansas State loses: As the only undefeated team (besides Houston) below the Ducks in the BCS rankings, Kansas State may present some sort of a threat to Oregon. However, the loss that would put the Wildcats out of the picture is probable and looming, as they face No. 9 Oklahoma, No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 16 Texas A&M and No. 24 Texas all in a row, starting next weekend.
- Michigan State loses again: The team that took down Wisconsin will probably be a legitimate contender if it gets past No. 14 Nebraska this weekend. It's the Spartans' third straight big game, and Nebraska, which many thought would beat Wisconsin earlier this year, will be yearning for at least an indirect victory over the Badgers.
- The fallen giants lose again: This means Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Clemson and the loser of the LSU-Alabama game. As demonstrated by Oklahoma's ranking this week at No. 9, one loss doesn't necessarily take the team out of the picture. If it wins out from here, it could get right back in the picture—the same goes for the rest of them. Stanford has the worst chance of losing again out of these teams, but that won't matter anyway since Oregon would have to be the one to take the Cardinal down.
Rankings If These Things Happened
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(If all the essential things happen and if select "nice" things happened.)
1. LSU (if it wins)
3. Boise State
4. Alabama (if it loses)
6. Oklahoma State