Sunday, November 9

Championship Game Hopes: Second Edition

The first weekend in November cleared up our title picture quite a lot. In fact, it went very far into clearing up the BCS picture as a whole. Oklahoma State was eliminated from the title race with a blowout loss, and Penn State was virtually eliminated as well.

Championship Contenders

1. Alabama
It wasn't pretty, but after getting by LSU on the road, Alabama closes with home games against two teams who might both miss the bowls this year (Auburn, Mississippi State). With Penn State's loss, the Tide could probably afford to drop one of these games and still make it to the title game by beating Florida in the SECCG.

2. Texas Tech
With a commanding blowout of a top ten opponent, Tech gained ground on Alabama in the voters' minds while further boosting their scores in the computer polls. TTU faces a slightly more difficult remaining road to being unbeaten than the Tide (at Oklahoma + B12CG > Florida), but anyone who watched them blow out Oklahoma State must realize that it is hardly a long shot.

3. Florida
Florida is ahead of our other Big 12 schools because they control their own destiny, while Texas and Oklahoma do not. If Florida wins out, they would be chosen over a one-loss USC or Penn State as they are both higher in the rankings right now and have tougher games remaining. The Gators face South Carolina, the Citadel, Florida State, and Alabama.

4. Texas
At this point, Texas' best shot at making the title game has been lost as Texas Tech defeated OSU this weekend. The good news is that both of their remaining regular season games look very winnable, so the Horns should at least get their part of the bargain done. Their two remaining realistic paths are:
a) OU > TTU + OU > OSU, then hope they wind up ahead of both of these teams in the BCS standings before the conference championship, sending the Longhorns to that game where they have a chance to win and claim the conference crown. They are helped by the fact that they are the only team of the three to face Missouri, which could put the Horns ahead in the computer polls.
b) OU > TTU + OSU > OU + TTU loss in B12CG. This scenerio would have the Longhorns tied with TTU for the Big 12 South - tiebreaker goes to TTU (head to head). Then Missouri eliminates the Red Raiders, leaving UT as the lone 1-loss team in the conference. Texas would be in for sure over Penn State, but the question is how voters would regard them compared to USC if the Trojans are Pac 10 champions but the Longhorns are not the official Big 12 champions. Currently Texas is ahead of USC in every poll component, so there's a good chance that would hold if both teams win out.

5. Oklahoma
Like everyone after #2, Oklahoma cannot afford another loss or they will be eliminated. Oklahoma's remaining regular season games are hosting Texas Tech in two weeks and then travelling to Oklahoma State the following week. If they win both, they will have to hope the voters and computers are kind enough to rank them above not only the Texas Tech team they would have just beaten (likely), but also the Texas team who defeated them earlier this season. I think that would probably be the case, but it's far from certain. Let's suppose that happens. The Sooners would then face Missouri for the conference crown. It would be a very tough stretch to go 3-0.

6. USC
What USC needs to have happen is for either Florida and Alabama, or Texas Tech and Oklahoma and Texas to all lose a game. They might need Alabama or Texas Tech to lose 2 games; it's impossible to say. This is in addition to beating Stanford, Notre Dame, and UCLA, obviously. The Trojans don't have a tough opponent left, and while that makes winning out likely, it also means it'll be tough for them to climb into the top 2 of the final BCS rankings.

7. Penn State
We mention the Lions in name only. With a recent loss to an unranked team and with the schedule they played, Penn State only gets ahead of teams based on record. Therefore, in addition to winning out, PSU needs two of:
a) OU loses to OK State, TTU loses to OU and B12CG, and Texas loses to Kansas or A&M
b) Florida loses to FSU, and Alabama loses to Auburn/Miss St and Florida
c) USC loses to Stanford, Notre Dame, or UCLA
In short, Penn State's hopes are slim.

Other Spots/At-Large

The Midmajor qualification rule is that if they finish in the top 12, the highest-ranked midmajor is automatically qualified for a BCS spot. However, this does not apply to all midmajors in the top 12. Recall that each conference is allowed at most one at-large spot.

Big 12: Oklahoma, Texas, or Texas Tech (note that Missouri can make it by winning the B12CG)
SEC: Alabama or Florida (loser of SECCG)
Midmajor: Boise State or Utah. Ball State could be chosen if both of those first teams lose.

Last Slot?
We hate this as much as you, but at this point we're left with only two real options. Either a second midmajor will be chosen. Or Ohio State will be chosen (assuming they win out). If you are a BCS Bowl and you care about money/ratings, who do you pick? That's right. Ohio State will almost surely be in the BCS.

How can this be avoided? If Oregon State wins out, then despite being 9-3 they would receive the Pac 10 automatic berth on account of being 8-1 in conference with the head-to-head tiebreaker over USC. A 11-1 or probably a 10-2 USC (and honestly, who are they going to lose to?) would then be chosen at-large over Ohio State. Go Beavers!