The BCS uses human polls. Those polls are based largely on preseason thoughts and inertia. BREAKING: Alabama and Oklahoma will play in the BCS title game if they go undefeated and LSU and Florida State will be waiting, should one of them slip. Still, there is at least a possibility of chaos. The Big Ten and Pac 12 may be hard to emerge from unscathed. There’s a chance an outside team could slip through the meticulously constructed mosquito net and be offered the chance to play (and pay) for all the Tostitos.
Such an outsider must be talented, consistent, taken seriously by the media and, most importantly, have a credible chance of going undefeated. Here are four long-shots that might fit that description.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies have won 10 games for seven-straight seasons. They play App. State, East Carolina, Arkansas St. and Marshall non-conference. They skip FSU in the ACC and play Clemson, Miami, Boston College and North Carolina at home. Tech has an inexperienced quarterback with Logan Thomas (who was a highly touted recruit), but should, as always, have a strong running game, a swarming defense and effectual special teams play. Virginia Tech has concerns that could be troublesome against an elite team. They should make the ACC Title Game without playing one.
Notre Dame: The Irish had a first-year coach, catastrophic injuries, a decade’s worth of off-field distractions and just bad luck last season but Brian Kelly reeled off a four-game win-streak at the end, brought in a strong recruiting class and has the program on an optimistic footing heading into 2011. Notre Dame should be favored in every game until their Nov. 26 showdown in Palo Alto. MSU and USC have question marks and travel to South Bend.
Notre Dame has a solid defense, offensive line and receiver corps. The season should be more stable. Whoever starts at quarterback should throw fewer interceptions. If the Irish are merely as good as they should be, that means 10 wins. Some good fortune could carry them further.
Boise State: The Broncos were a missed field goal away from going undefeated last season. This year, they face two tough opponents, Georgia and TCU. Georgia has talent, but a host of issues. TCU replaces 11 starters including Andy Dalton and the MWC did them a solid by moving that one-off conference showdown to Boise. Bryan Harsin is gone, as are some talented wide receivers, but Kellen Moore and a strong running game should still pummel teams. Their strong pass rush should tee off on teams playing from behind. Last year’s Boise team was better, but this one still has an excellent opportunity to go undefeated.
West Virginia: So, the Bill Stewart scandal happened, but West Virginia still has one of the best offensive coordinators in the game on both sides of the ball, a potential star at quarterback and the most talented team in the Big East. They will be favored in every game except the Sept. 24 matchup at home with LSU. Les Miles is erratic and the Mountaineers nearly beat the Tigers last year in Baton Rouge. An SEC scalp would vault West Virginia into the national discussion. A benign Big East schedule could keep them there.