With November upon us, it’s time for the speculation about the BCS standings to shift into full gear.
The latest rankings have Florida State moving into No. 2 behind Alabama, but that position seems pretty shaky at the moment.
That’s because it all depends on how the schedule shakes out. Here’s a look at the schedules for the prime BCS contenders the rest of the way:
No. 1 Alabama: No. 13 LSU (7-2), at Mississippi State (4-4), Chattanooga (FCS 7-2), at No. 9 Auburn (8-1), SEC title game (possibly).
The schedule will keep Alabama firmly in the No. 1 spot if it wins out. Even an absurd scheduling of an FCS team in week 13 of the season won’t matter much. Can the Tide rebound in time if it loses to LSU on Saturday? Possibly, but it would need Auburn to keep winning, then it would have to beat the Tigers and hope its foe in the SEC title game was an 11-1 Missouri team. A win in that game would be enough to save Alabama’s quest for a third title if there was only one other undefeated team left.
No. 2 Florida State: at Wake Forest (4-5), Syracuse (4-4), Idaho (1-8), at Florida (4-4), ACC title game (possibly).
The Seminoles may have reached their high water mark with their big win over then-No. 7 Miami. The combined win-loss record of their remaining foes is 13-17 and their likely matchup in the ACC title game with, say, Miami or Virginia Tech wouldn’t impress the computers or the pollsters that much. It looks like FSU needs Oregon to lose to get the BCS title game berth.
No. 3 Oregon: at No. 5 Stanford (7-1), Utah (4-4), at Arizona (6-2), Oregon State (6-3), Pac-12 title game (possibly).
Oregon’s remaining opponents have a combined record of 23-10 and then it would likely play a ranked UCLA or Arizona State team in the Pac-12 title game. Simply put, if the Ducks win out, they’ll finish either first or second in the BCS rankings and make it to the title game for the second time in their history. It’s unlikely that Oregon could rebound from a loss to Stanford in time to leapfrog other teams, unless a bunch of teams screw up — always a possibility in college football.
No. 4 Ohio State: at Illinois (3-5), Indiana (3-5), Michigan (6-2), Big Ten title game (possibly).
Ohio State is playing at a very high level, but its schedule continues to hold it back. It didn’t help that Michigan lost to Michigan State over the weekend and it’s possible the Wolverines could lose a couple more times before the big game against the Buckeyes. Because of the weakness of the Big Ten, OSU could very well win 25 in a row and not make it to the BCS title game. Of course, maybe the reason it could get to 25-straight is because the Big Ten is so weak.
No. 5 Stanford: No. 2 Oregon (8-0), at USC (6-3), California (1-8), No. 23 Notre Dame (7-2), Pac-12 title game (possibly).
It seems like an iffy proposition for Stanford to grind its way into the title game, but since it is the highest-ranked one-loss team, it makes sense to gauge the possibility. Obviously, the Cardinal would make a huge jump with a win over Oregon and beating an improving USC team and Notre Dame would also help. But it seems highly improbable that it would be able to jump an undefeated FSU, Ohio State or Baylor team with a win in the Pac-12 title game. The Cardinal needs all three of those teams to lose a game.
No. 6 Baylor: No. 10 Oklahoma (7-1), No. 25 Texas Tech (7-2), at No. 14 Oklahoma State (7-1), at TCU (3-6), Texas (6-2).
If Baylor is going to make a miracle run to the BCS title game, it will have earned it by getting through a really tough November gauntlet. Its next three opponents are all ranked and have a combined 21-4 record. A win against the suddenly-lifelike Longhorns would serve as a de facto conference championship game for a league that is at a bit of a BCS disadvantage by not having one. I think an undefeated Baylor would jump an undefeated Ohio State. I don’t think it would jump FSU and definitely not Oregon or Alabama. The Bears need some help if they are going to get to Pasadena.
No. 9 Auburn: at Tennessee (4-5), Georgia (5-3), No. 1 Alabama (8-0), SEC title game (possibly).
Auburn would need a slew of miracles to happen for it to get to the title game for the second time in four seasons. Obviously, it must win out. But it would also need Stanford to beat Oregon and for FSU to lose to Florida or in the ACC title game. Baylor and Ohio State would also have to lose. Sounds easy right?
If history has taught us one thing, it’s that college football and the BCS process is never predictable. This time next week, we’ll probably have a completely different calculus. For now, this is the best we’ve got.