Each week, I’ll take a look at the BCS contenders and analyze their prospects for making the BCS championship game based on their schedule and the BCS standings. As a starting point, unless all BCS conference champs but the Big East champion ends up with at least two losses, I don’t see any way for this year’s Hawaii to make the BCS championship game due to strength of schedule issues and how that manifests itself in the various computer rankings. Utah is currently the best non-BCS team at 10th in the standings and is tied with Oklahoma State and Boise State (who is 11th in the overall standings) at 7th in the computer rankings. Boise State is 7th in the rankings? Wow.
Show them the door (teams dropped off the list this week):
-The Big East. Last week I thought there could be some way (albeit implausible way) for a one loss Big East champ to get in the BCS championship. South Florida is the highest rated Big East team at 23rd. There are three MWC teams (Utah, TCU and BYU), one WAC team (Boise State), one Conference USA team (Tulsa), and one MID FREAKING AMERICA Conference team (Ball State) in front of them. The Mountain West has more teams in the rankings (3) than the Big East (2). A one loss Utah, TCU goes before a one loss Big East champ. Mike Tranghese better figure something out before the next round of BCS talks. This will be the last time I speak of the Big East and the BCS championship game in the same post.
-Georgia Tech, by virtue of their loss to Virginia.
-Northwestern, by virtue of their loss to Indiana.
-Ohio State, by virtue of their loss to Penn State.
-LSU, by virtue of their loss to Georgia.
Clayton and Jagdish at Omega House:
- FSU: The only plausible way is for FSU to beat an eventual SEC Champ Florida that has one loss and for their opponent to be a two loss Georgia Tech team that has just rolled over a Georgia team that gave Florida all it could handle in Jacksonville, but came up just short (possibly in 5 overtimes). Ok, not very plausible.
- Minnesota: They are 17th in the BCS standings. Even if they somehow sneak into the Big 10 championship slot, I don’t see any way they could do any better than serve as the whipping boy of the Pac-10 champion in the Rose Bowl.
- Any ‘mid-major’ team: The only way is if all ‘Big 6 5″ conference champs have two losses and one of the mid-major teams really blows their competition away in the final weeks. An undefeated Utah has the best chance right now.
Kissing Your Sister:
No one is even close enough to move off the above list to be here. Frankly, this list will be sparse until ‘Bama loses or something happens with USC that makes me think they could merit moving down.
- Oklahoma: The Sooners need Texas to lose twice to Texas Tech and be sure all three end up with just one loss in the conference get to the Big 12 championship game (by virtue of a Red Raider win over Oklahoma State). The Big 12 tie breaker will allow them to go to KC if they are tied three ways, with equal division records, since presumably Oklahoma, based on their current BCS ranking, will end up ranked higher than Texas or Texas Tech. Beyond that, I just don’t see them making the BCS championship game without winning the Big 12. Oklahoma is looking like last year’s Georgia, with alot of love but no real chance to do anything about the championship. They are tied with the Dawgs in the computer rankings at fourth. At best they can only to serve as a spoiler or buffer for one loss teams below them, but I believe the human polls will push them down at the end of the season if that is the case, like those polls did Georgia last year.
- Oklahoma State: Like Oklahoma, but with less of a chance to sneak in, and a much better showing against Texas.
(h/t to oshea2002 for pointing out the possibility of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State having a better chance now than I was giving them)
The Champagne Room:
- Florida: Of all the current one loss teams, this is the one that the pundits feel is most likely go go all the way. The pundits only have 1/3 of the vote, though. They are ranked lowest by the computers (tied for 11th) of all the teams in the Champagne room. Their schedule has a fairly high upside right now with games against UGA, FSU and the winner of the LSU/Alabama game in the SEC championship. The game against the Citadel in November could be a serious problem. They are currently ranked 10th by the computers with the widest disparity between top computer ranking and bottom ranking (7th and 17th). UF could end up on the outside looking in if Texas is a one loss Big 12 champion and possibly if Southern Cal is a one loss Pac-10 champion. It’ll be interesting to see if they go over a one loss Texas Tech Big 12 champion, but I think they do.
- Georgia: Strength of schedule, a win over Florida, and an SEC Championship win over Bama/LSU puts the Dawgs in good shape. The Dawgs need Alabama to not lose to Arkansas State. The Dawgs are in the best position schedule wise. The human polls are still not showing the Dawgs a lot of love, but a win over Florida will change that. If the Dawgs win the SEC with one loss, they probably get in over everyone but an undefeated Big 12 champ.
- USC: While they look good now in the BCS, their future strength of schedule, especially relative to the other one loss teams, makes it tougher. Southern Cal really needs to have a two loss champion in the Big 12 or SEC. The Trojans have some upside with the computers (they are 6th) The Trojans definitely goes over a one loss Big 10 champ, but have to have some help in the Big12/SEC.
On the Way Home (and what happens if they call their date by the wrong name):
- Texas: I don’t see how they stay out of the BCS championship game absent a loss in the Big 12 championship game. I guess they could lose big to Texas A&M and have undefeated Penn State and undefeated Bama ahead of them, but it is hard to think that could happen as well as they are playing right now. A one loss Longhorns team will go over an undefeated Penn State team with a close loss to anyone but Texas A&M or Baylor.
- Texas Tech: Ahoy! Texas Tech probably needs to be undefeated to play in the BCS championship game. With one loss, they can play in it with two of the three champs from the SEC, Pac-10 and the Big 10 having two losses. Of this group, a one loss Texas Tech team would be the first team out if there are more than two teams with one or fewer losses.
- Penn State: The Nittany Lions are on a roll. If they end up as a one loss champ, I don’t see how they go to the championship game without everyone else being two loss champions (the probable exception being Texas Tech), although there is an outside possibility something along the lines of 1997 could happen, with the coaches just giving Joe Pa a chance to go out on top.
- Alabama: If they win the SEC with a loss (as long as the loss is to LSU), the Tide probably plays in BCS championship game. If they lose to any of the other cupcakes teams on their schedule, the Sugar Bowl is as good as it can get for them.
Thoughts? Verbal darts?