National Championship and BCS Projections
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 11/25/2008
The jigsaw puzzle that is the collegiate football national championship picture becomes more and more clear each week. However, with two weeks of college football remaining I would not be so quick to count any team out of this just yet.
The SEC Championship Game, pitting Alabama vs. Florida, should be a de facto semifinal game with the winner advancing to the BCS National Championship Game. The key word there is "should" because both Florida and Alabama face off against bitter rivals this week with games that have no bearing on the conference championship game.
Florida State and Auburn are both two touchdown underdogs but both could spoil a potential national title appearance for their rivals, Florida and Alabama respectively. For the Gators and the Crimson Tide, the last unbeaten team in a BCS conference, it's as simple as winning out. For every other team, it's a little more confusing.
The Big 12 South has the distinction of having half of its teams in the hunt for the national title game. That is simply mind boggling. No. 2 Texas, No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 7 Texas Tech all have legit arguments to reach the BCS title game but only one can even advance to its own conference title game. Voters will be hard pressed to let a team advance to the national title game that cannot even win its own conference.
Texas Tech and Texas have pushovers this week with games against Baylor and Texas A&M, respectively, while Oklahoma has a showdown in the Bedlam game in Stillwater, Oklahoma against No. 12 Oklahoma State. The 7.5-point underdog Cowboys are out of the title game discussion but can still play a major factor in it. A Cowboys win over Oklahoma would send Texas Tech to Kansas City to play for the Big 12 title against Missouri as long as they take care of business against Baylor as 20-point favorites. This creates an interesting scenario because Texas is sitting at No. 2 and could you imagine the cries from Austin if a team were to leap the Longhorns from all the way back at No. 7? Of course the folks in Lubbock will counter with the fact that they beat Texas earlier this season.
If you want to blame the BCS confusion on anyone this year, blame it on the Big 12 South. Texas Tech beats Texas but gets crushed by Oklahoma who lost to Texas earlier this season. All that has the BCS computers sweating right now. Those BCS computers absolutely adore Texas, however, ranking them second behind only Alabama.
USC is another interesting case sitting at No. 5. The Trojans have games remaining against Notre Dame as 30-point favorites and rival UCLA in what should be another lopsided point spread. The computers are not big fans of USC but the voters have done enough to keep them at No. 5. It is conceivable that teams like Texas Tech and Penn State at No. 8 can leap USC based on the fact that USC will probably not win its own conference this year. That hinges on No. 21 Oregon State hosting No. 22 Oregon in the civil war. In the biggest game in program history, the Beavers have a potential Rose Bowl bid on the line if they can win as three point favorites this Sunday.
Only in the BCS does a game between the No. 21 and No. 22 team have a bearing on the national title picture. Of course, human voters would love any excuse to bump Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions into the title game. They would need a lot of help, though, most notably upsets by either Florida State or Auburn this week and Oklahoma State. You cannot forget the BCS wildcard in Utah. The Utes have no realistic shot at the BCS title game despite wins over possible Pac-10 champion Oregon State and ranked teams TCU and BYU. But with their season already over they are assured of a trip to a BCS game.
Literally, though, just about anything is possible. Look at the BCS rankings at this point last season.
2007 BCS Rankings after Week 13
No. 1 LSU
No. 2 Kansas
No. 3 West Virginia
No. 4 Missouri
No. 5 Ohio State
No. 6 Arizona State
No. 7 Georgia
Of course, those top five would be in for a major shakedown. After a monumental upset, LSU fell from the top spot but things looked more certain heading into Dec. 1.
2007 BCS Standings after Week 14
2) West Virginia
3) Ohio State
6) Virginia Tech
Then the dominoes started to fall the right way for LSU just a week removed from a home loss to Arkansas, with Missouri losing in the Big 12 title game, West Virginia losing at home as nearly four-touchdown favorites and the Bayou Bengals knocking off Georgia the improbable BCS title game was set with teams that had entered the final week ranked No. 3 and No. 7.
If last year is any indication this thing is far from set in stone.
Current BCS Standings
No. 1 Alabama .9961
No. 2 Texas .9042
No. 3 Oklahoma .9116
No. 4 Florida .9277
No. 5 USC .8375
No. 6 Utah .7414
No. 7 Texas Tech .7432
No. 8 Penn State .7674
No. 9 Boise State .6670
No. 10 Ohio State .6411
BCS National Championship Game
Alabama vs Texas Tech
The Crimson Tide take care of rival Auburn and upset Florida in the SEC title game. Texas Tech watches Oklahoma State stun the Sooners, sending the Red Raiders to the Big 12 title game where they knock off Missouri. The voters place them ahead of Texas based on the head-to-head game. It is a long shot, but after last year what else would you expect?
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Texas vs USC
Two teams that did what they had to do in the final weeks of the season but could not get the help they needed. To get in the national title game Texas would have to cheer for Oklahoma to beat Oklahoma State but not convincingly enough to leap them in the BCS standings. USC would love an Oregon State loss to win the Pac-10 and then enter the national title discussion.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Florida vs Utah
With a loss to Alabama in the SEC title game, Florida's national championship hopes would be derailed much like Georgia's last year and, much like the Bulldogs, they would have a non-BCS school who they would like to take their anger out on.
FedEx Orange Bowl
Florida State vs Cincinnati
If Florida State can win at ALLTEL Stadium in the ACC title game they would earn a BCS bowl and face Cincinnati after the Bearcats get past Syracuse this Saturday. A BCS dud of a bowl game but with restrictions in place, teams like undefeated Boise State and Ball State and a third team out of the Big 12 will be denied a trip.
Penn State vs Oregon State
With all the marbles on the table, Oregon State gets it done in the Civil War and denies USC a trip to either the Rose Bowl or even the National Championship Game.