There's some movement in the race for the national championship in this week's BCS standings:
- Kansas State
- Notre Dame
- Texas A&M
- South Carolina
- Florida State
The SEC is pretty much the definition of a top-heavy league. It has six teams in the top ten and none in the rest of the poll. Mississippi State finally picked up enough losses to fall out, so we are down one from last week. The conference has a decent shot of keeping all six in the top ten through the end of the regular season too. Alabama will beat Auburn to sew up the West in two weeks, so the only games between any of them left is between one-loss Bama and Georgia. If South Carolina beats Clemson, it'll stay there. Florida could even remain there with a loss to FSU provided it's not too bad. That'd be something to see.
Of course, all of the focus this week is on Alabama's fall and whether it can get back up. The three unbeatens at the top all have games they can lose left. Kansas State could lose to Texas, Notre Dame could lose to USC, and Oregon has three consecutive games against ranked teams yet to go. The Ducks are probably the least likely to lose given their dominance this year, while Texas's porous run defense probably won't get the job done against Collin Klein. Notre Dame is the most likely to lose, but having just one of them fall won't be enough.
If the current standings hold, it would be our first national championship game made of certified outsiders. Oregon has been good lately, but it's by no means a traditional power in the way that Notre Dame and Alabama are. Of course, it looked like we could have a nontraditional title game a few years back with Missouri and West Virginia in 2007. We ended up with Ohio State and LSU instead. Never count BCS chickens before they hatch.
1. Kansas State
Best wins: No. 12 Oklahoma, No. 23 Texas Tech, No. 24 Oklahoma State
Best remaining opponents: No. 15 Texas
At this point, there may not be enough superlatives left for Bill Snyder's coaching job this year. His recruiting classes never show up near the top of the rankings, and Klein is now a Heisman finalist despite barely being recruited by anyone. They have Baylor and then Texas left, which both are winnable games (especially with the closer being in Manhattan). It's safe to pencil this team in the national title game with its sterling computer rankings to go with its approval from the humans. That's an amazing thing to say for this program.
Best win: No. 18 USC, No. 25 Washington
Best remaining opponents: No. 13 Stanford, No. 16 Oregon State, possibly No. 17 UCLA or No. 18 USC again in the Pac-12 Championship Game
The last of the Ducks' Pac-12 chaff went away with yesterday's game versus Cal. Now comes the toughest stretch run for any national title contender. I have little doubt that Oregon is up for it; my only real concern would be for a letdown with them finally having gotten into the No. 2 spot. If they take things for granted, they could lose this weekend to Stanford. With that said, Chip Kelly has only lost two Pac-12 games in his almost four years in charge in Eugene. Letdowns aren't his style.
3. Notre Dame
Best wins: No. 12 Oklahoma, No. 13 Stanford, No. 21 Michigan
Best remaining opponents: No. 18 USC
Boston College is an awful team with a fired coach, but Notre Dame couldn't even put them away in a nice looking way. This Irish outfit is just a grinder, and that's not going to get it enough style points to move up at all. The computers love this team, probably because they can't count for margin of error, but it still needs immense help from the human polls to move up. Oregon's computer rankings are going to climb with the Ducks' upcoming opponents, so you can put any ideas of ND sniping the second spot out of your head.
Best wins: No. 7 LSU, No. 21 Michigan
Loss: No. 8 Texas A&M
Best remaining opponents: possibly No. 5 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game
Alabama is suddenly back to where it was this time last year, sitting on a loss and hoping for losses ahead of it in order to move up. It's a tougher spot now because it needs two teams to lose rather than one, but hey, did you have Oklahoma State losing to Iowa State? For now though, the Tide should just focus on correcting the problems that it displayed the past two weeks to avoid falling to Georgia in Atlanta.
Best win: No. 6 Florida
Loss: No. 9 South Carolina
Best remaining opponents: possibly No. 4 Alabama, No. 7 LSU, or No. 8 Texas A&M in the SEC Championship Game
The Bulldogs are now second in line among one-loss teams, but they do hold the key to their own destiny on that front at least. What is good news to Alabama is good news to Georgia because a win in Atlanta gets them to basically switch places. This is still a wait-and-see situation, however, as a poor computer ranking and weak strength of schedule has this team firmly planted in the five spot.