Monday, November 26

The Final Contenders

In this final week before the BCS Bowl pairings are announced, the picture at the top has become amazingly clear. Realistically, I don't think more than six teams have any mathematical chance of making it into the BCS Championship. Here's what we've got:

1. Missouri
Key Wins:
* at Illinois (BCS #15) 40-34
* vs Kansas (BCS #5) 36-28
* at Oklahoma (BCS #9) 41-31
Games Remaining
* Big 12 Championship Game vs BCS #9 Oklahoma

QB: Chase Daniel (Jr, 154.7 rtg)
Off: #6 scoring
Def: #39 scoring

Missouri controls their own destiny. Should both they and West Virginia lose, there may be some small possibility that they end up a very controversial #2. I wouldn't bet on it.

2. West Virginia
Key Wins:
* at Cincinnati (BCS #23) 28-23
* Connecticut (BCS #26) 66-21
* at South Florida (BCS #21) 21-13
Games Remaining:
* Pittsburgh

QB: Pat White (Jr, 153.5 rtg)
Off: #8 scoring
Def: #7 scoring

West Virginia is in complete control of their own destiny - win and they're in, lose and they're out.

3. Ohio State
Key Wins:
* at Penn State (BCS #31) 37-17
* Wisconsin (BCS #18) 38-17
* at Michigan (BCS #30) 14-3
* Illinois (BCS #15) 28-21

QB: Todd Boeckman (Jr, 150.3 rtg)
Off: #37 scoring
Def: #1 scoring

For OSU it's simple: one of the two teams above them must lose, at which point they are basically guaranteed a BCS title berth.

Understand that if Missouri wins and West Virginia loses, the title game is Missouri vs Ohio State. If Missouri loses and West Virginia wins, the title game is West Virginia vs Ohio State. So in order for anyone currently below OSU to play in the BCS NC game, then BOTH WVU and Missouri must lose. Should that occur, Ohio State will almost certainly be in New Orleans so we have one spot still open. Also realize that while OU-Missouri is an epic matchup, Pittsburgh is a lowly 4-7 team who will probably lose the game by 40 points. But this is the year when Stanford beat USC and Appalachian State beat Michigan... so what the heck...

Should such a scenario occur, the first thing to ask is this: If Oklahoma defeats Missouri for a second time this season, is there any team more deserving than the Sooners to face Ohio State? I do not think you can answer that question "Yes." Kansas has a better record, but they have no quality wins. Georgia has the same record, but they haven't faced anybody better than 3-loss Florida. LSU has lost to two unranked teams (like Oklahoma has), but they don't have a win as good as Missouri -- and OU had to do that twice. For USC, you cannot say that Arizona State and Oregon State are the same kind of statement wins that beating Mizzou twice would be.

However, not everyone is going to be of the same opinion as mine, so let's examine the remaining teams:

4. Georgia
Key Wins:
* vs Florida (BCS #10) 42-30
* Auburn (BCS #24) 45-20
* South Carolina 16-12
* at Tennessee (BCS #14) 35-14

QB: Matthew Stafford (So , 128.8 rtg)
Off: #39 scoring
Def: #29 scoring

Georgia's situation is only slightly worse than Ohio State's. Hope #1 and #2 lose, but for them they must also hope that a conference champion (Oklahoma should this actually be relevant, LSU?) doesn't pass them in the final rankings.

5. Kansas
Key Wins:
* none
* vs Missouri (BCS #1) 36-28

QB: Todd Reesing (So, 152.4 rtg)
Off: #2 scoring
Def: #4 scoring

Though they have just one loss, it's hard to sell zero quality wins. (unless you're OSU/WVU lol) Besides that, Georgia and Kansas both don't have any games remaining, so why would the Jayhawks make up a full point in the composite BCS standings? There is a chance that if OU beats Mizzou then the Tigers won't fall below the Jayhawks. Wouldn't that suck for Kansas to be ranked in the top 5 and not be able to get one of the four at-large berths?

6. Virginia Tech
Key Wins:
* at Clemson (BCS #16) 41-23
* Virginia (BCS #22) 33-21
* at LSU (BS #7) 48-7
* Boston College (BCS #11) 14-10
Games Remaining:
* ACC Championship vs BCS #11 Boston College

QB: Tyrod Taylor (Fr, 124.1 rtg), Sean Glennon (Jr, 142.9 rtg)
Off: #55 scoring
Def: #2 scoring
As the highest-ranked team below Ohio State who still has any games remaining, they are the team with the best chance to vault above Georgia and Kansas. They are very close to Kansas and just over 1 full spot below Georgia, so I would have to think that with a really impressive win over Boston College they'd have a decent chance. Tennessee beating LSU might help, since surely some voters are still ranking LSU above VT.

7. LSU
Key Wins:
* Virginia Tech (BCS #7) 48-7
* Florida (BCS #10) 28-24
* Auburn (BCS #24)
* at Kentucky 43-37 3OT
* Arkansas (BCS #27) 50-48 3OT
Games Remaining:
* SEC Championship vs BCS #14 Tennessee

QB: Matt Flynn (Sr, 122.5 rtg)
Off: #10 scoring
Def: #23 scoring

Amazingly, Virginia Tech is ranked ahead of LSU in the Harris and Computer Polls despite the 48-7 pasting the Tigers put on the Hokies in September. The computers also have Boston College above Tennessee, so LSU probably needs Virginia Tech to lose on top of Missouri and West Virginia losing and even then hoping that they can pass Georgia and Kansas while not being passed by Oklahoma. Realistically, they're playing for the Sugar Bowl.

8. USC
Key Wins:
* Oregon State (BCS #33) 24-3
* at Arizona State (BCS #13) 44-24
* Stanford 24-23
* at Oregon (BCS #17) 24-17
Games Remaining:

QB: John David Booty (Sr, 140.6 rtg)
Off: #38 scoring
Def: #5 scoring

USC is about a quarter of a spot ahead of Oklahoma in the composite BCS rankings. So what happens if OU beats #1 Missouri and USC beats unranked UCLA? You guessed it. USC is playing for a spot in the Grandaddy of the All, the Rose Bowl.

9. Oklahoma
Key Wins:
* vs Texas (BCS #20) 28-21
* Missouri (BCS #1) 41-31
* Colorado 27-24
* at Texas Tech (BCS #28) 34-27
Games Remaining:
* Big 12 Championship vs BCS #1 Missouri

QB: Sam Bradford (Fr, 182.2 rtg)
Off: #3 scoring
Def: #11 scoring

Oklahoma is almost four full spots behind Georgia for that second spot should Mizzou and WVU both lose. Luckily for the Sooners, they are the team playing against Mizzou. Should they defeat the #1 team in the country, voters would have some incentive to move them up in the rankings. Likewise, it would be another quality win for the computer rankings (although it hurts their previous win over the Tigers). My opinion is that if OU knocks Mizzou off of their perch, they should be playing in the title game. Their best chance is hoping that enough voters feel the same way. However it's a long shot. They probably need VT and LSU to lose, possibly USC as well.

If OU beats the #1 team in the country, there is no way they are getting jumped by somebody below them like Boston College or Hawaii, so it's pointless to look any lower than this.