The BCS released its initial rankings. Upsets trimmed down the field. About seven teams, barring upsets and improbable circumstances, look like they are still in the title race. Here is how their schedules play out the rest of the season. We’ll discuss Miami and Texas Tech when they pull off the upsets needed to enter this discussion. Team rankings used are from Chase Stuart’s SRS.
Notable Wins – Virginia Tech (30), Texas A&M (16), Ole Miss (29)
Remaining Schedule – Tennessee, LSU (7), at Mississippi State, Chattanooga, at Auburn (18), SEC Title Game
Alabama began the season No. 1. Provided they keep winning, the Tide will remain No. 1. They play three tough-ish games remaining against LSU, Auburn and the SEC East Champ. They should be double-digit favorites in each game. Human polling will get them to the game. Even if they did need to rely on computers, five or six Top 25 wins should give them sufficient schedule strength. Should they lose to LSU, they cut back in line atop the other one-loss teams.
Notable Wins – Washington (15)
Remaining Schedule – UCLA (11), at Stanford (8), Utah (24), at Arizona (26), Oregon State (28), Pac 12 Title Game
Oregon trails Florida State slightly thanks to a computer poll gap. That gap will erase as Oregon plays through its backloaded schedule. Every game from here forward helps the Ducks, both on paper and in perception. They should almost undoubteldy reach the game if they finish undefeated.
Florida State (6-0)
Notable Wins – Clemson (10)
Remaining Schedule – N.C. State, Miami (14), at Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho, at Florida (25), ACC Title Game
Florida State obliterated the No. 3 overall team by 40 on the road. That’s as big of a one week bump as a team could get. It was not enough to push them past Oregon. Miami may falter. Florida has faltered. Miami again or Virginia Tech in the ACC title game won’t push them ahead of Oregon. The Seminoles must get to the top two in the polls to reach the title game. That only happens with an Oregon or Alabama loss.
Notable Wins – Wisconsin (9)
Remaining Schedule – Penn State, at Purdue, at Illinois, Indiana, at Michigan (31), Big Ten Title Game
Ohio State’s schedule can’t change and won’t be enough to get them to the game on merit. Northwestern has jumped the track, meaning their only quality win is Wisconsin. Best case: they get two more with Michigan and Michigan/MSU/Nebraska in the Big Ten title game. Ohio State had to make its case to pollsters. Doing just enough to beat Iowa is not accomplishing that.
The Buckeyes are in somewhat of a Catch-22. If they win the final two games big, it looks like they weren’t real tests. If they win them by a small margin, it looks like Ohio State is not that good. The Buckeyes need two of the three teams in front to win. Even then, a Baylor or a one-loss Stanford could pressure them from behind.
Notable Wins – Georgia (19), Florida (25)
Remaining Schedule – South Carolina (21), Tennessee, at Kentucky, at Ole Miss (29), Texas A&M (16)
Missouri is here and the favorite to win the SEC East. Their route is direct, but daunting. Win their remaining regular season games. Beat Alabama in the SEC title game. That win and their schedule strength vaults them past Florida State, Oregon, Ohio State, Baylor and anyone else.
Notable Wins – Kansas State (35)
Remaining Schedule – at Kansas, Oklahoma (33), Texas Tech (23), at Oklahoma State (22), at TCU (36), Texas
Baylor is currently 8th in the BCS standings. But they have a back-loaded schedule. Their five final games will improve their paper position and put them on national televisions. The first question is can they go undefeated. Baylor did not look so dominant against Kansas State. The Bears, despite unprecedented success as a program, are 2-7 in true regular season road games since the start of 2011. If they finish undefeated, the Bears don’t have that marquee game to propel them to the forefront. Whatever happens, it is incredible that Baylor is in this position.
Notable Wins: Arizona State (6), Washington (15), UCLA (11)
Remaining Schedule: at Oregon State (28), Oregon (3), at USC (32), Cal, Notre Dame (39), Pac 12 Title Game
Stanford will be the computer poll darling with their schedule strength (8th overall right now via SRS). They need to win out, which includes beating Oregon and four other Top 40ish teams. They would likely need Baylor, Florida State and Ohio State to lose as well. None of those things, in isolation, is impossible. A really interesting debate would be one-loss Stanford vs. one-loss Alabama (to LSU) if it came to it.
Oregon and Alabama should continue to win. There is too much inertia to keep either team out. Each team behind them may be capable of beating those two favorites. The only teams with the chance to prove it or get the voters to consider it are Missouri and one-loss Stanford.
[Photos via USA Today Sports]