College Football Rankings 2012 Week 8: One-Loss Teams with Shot at BCS Title

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIOctober 15, 2012

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 13:  Sam Montgomery #99 of the LSU Tigers celebrates after making a sack on Connor Shaw #14 of the South Carolina Gamecocks in the fourth quarter at Tiger Stadium on October 13, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

LSU's national championship hopes aren't dead. The Tigers have one loss this season, and they just knocked off the No. 3-ranked team in the nation. The win over South Carolina Saturday reignited the Tigers, but they have a murderous schedule ahead of them.

Three consecutive ranked opponents await the No. 6-ranked Tigers. This will complete a stretch of five opponents ranked in the Top 25. Texas A&M, Alabama and Mississippi State will provide the opposition. If the Tigers lose even one of those games, they should be eliminated from the BCS title picture.

Even though they have played a ridiculously hard schedule, two losses will be too much to overcome. Here's the plight of the other one-loss contenders:

(Rankings are the team's AP Poll rating)

No. 17 West Virginia

The Mountaineers may not be dead technically, but after their blowout loss to Texas Tech, their BCS title hopes are on life support. They only have one loss, but Saturday's defeat was ugly in more ways than one. 

Not only did they lose by 35 points, but the opponent wasn't even ranked. They do have some opportunities to redeem themselves with home games against Kansas State on Saturday and Oklahoma on November 17.

Even if they defeated the Wildcats and Sooners, their performance against the Red Raiders proves they can be had against presumably lesser competition. Running the table is a must for the Mountaineers, and I just don't see that happening.

No. 9 South Carolina

Coming off a close 23-12 loss at LSU, the Gamecocks can still make some noise. Saturday's game at Florida will be huge, though. If they can defeat the new No. 3 team in the nation in Gainesville, it will be an impressive win.

To only lose by two points at LSU is as respectable a loss as you'll find in college football. The Gamecocks have the possibly rewarding and unenviable task of playing their major ranked opponents on the road.

This gives them some leeway in losses, and it makes their victories stand out more. Even with that, a second loss kills their chances at a BCS title. This team is awfully good on both sides of the ball, though. The Gamecocks have a real shot at rising into the top two spots if they run the table.

No. 11 USC

The preseason favorites to reach the national championship game are slowly trying to make their way back up the rankings. The season now comes down to two games for the Trojans. Barring a collapse against an inferior team, the Trojans' postseason appearance will be based on what they do against Oregon on November 3 and Notre Dame on November 24.

Both games are at home, and both come with their own unique set of challenges. That said, if the Trojans win out, they will play for the national championship. The committee will do its best to get a non-SEC team in the title game, and if USC runs the table, the Trojans will be the best candidate.

No. 12 Florida State

The Seminoles didn't have a lot of room for error, and losing at NC State on October 6 was one of the worst things that could happen to their BCS title chances.

They rebounded with a 51-7 destruction of Boston College on Saturday, but their schedule has only two ranked opponents. They play No. 3 Florida in the season finale, but they don't have enough games against top teams to make up the gap.

The best the Noles can do is a BCS bowl; they won't play for a national championship this year.

No. 7 Oklahoma

The Sooners exposed the Texas Longhorns as an overrated team with a 63-21 beating on Saturday. In the process they also downgraded the level of competition on their schedule. 

They aren't quite in the same predicament as the Seminoles, but it's close. They have two key games remaining on the schedule, and they must impress in those games. They host No. 5 Notre Dame on October 27 and travel to Morgantown to take on the Mountaineers on November 17.

Obviously those are must-win games if they want to have a shot at playing for a national championship. The Sooners have a shot, but it isn't likely.

No. 13 Georgia

Georgia was destroyed 35-7 by South Carolina, but it was at least a road game. The Bulldogs will meet Florida in Jacksonville on October 27, but that is the only game they have left against a ranked team.

Georgia and West Virginia are in similar situations, but the Bulldogs have strength of conference in their favor. That said, winning out would probably only land them in a BCS bowl game. They would need multiple collapses from other high ranked teams to get into the national championship game.

No. 18 Texas Tech

They may have the worst shot of any team on this list, but there is a chance. The Red Raiders are in the midst of a stretch that sees them playing five straight games against ranked opponents.

They dropped the first game in this set with a 41-20 loss to Oklahoma, but they destroyed West Virginia on Saturday. If this team can somehow pull off wins over No. 23 TCU, No. 4 Kansas and No. 25 Texas, who could say they don't belong in the BCS title picture?

They would be 8-1 with four wins over ranked opponents. It is unlikely we'll ever get to answer this question, but it sure would be fun.

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