Wisconsin has fallen off the table, Oklahoma exposed Kansas State, Georgia Tech stung Clemson, and Stanford barely escaped a controversial shootout with USC. Just another week in college football. Heading into Alabama-LSU week, here are the six unbeaten, ranked teams that remain. Here are their chances to play for the BCS Championship in 2012.
#1 LSU (8-0)
Here is a trivia question for you. What is the one undefeated college football team without a serious Heisman candidate? The answer is LSU. Against a strong schedule that has included five wins over ranked teams, the closest the Tigers have come to losing this year are 13-point wins over Oregon and Mississippi State. Apparently, the two-quarterback system between Jarrett Lee (the passer) and Jordan Jefferson (the runner) is working. Everything will be on the line this Saturday at Alabama, although some have speculated that a close loss by one team or the other could result in a BCS Championship rematch. LSU also has to play a one-loss Arkansas team to finish the regular season on November 25.
#2 Alabama (8-0)
Led by arguably the most effective running back in the country, Alabama has not been closely contested at all this season (even by one-loss teams Arkansas and Penn State). Alabama will have home-field advantage Saturday against LSU and will also be coming off a bye week. If the Crimson Tide can find a way to sneak by LSU, they may not be tested the rest of the way (go ahead and prove me wrong, Auburn, if you'd like).
#3 Oklahoma State (8-0)
The Cowboys dismantled a Robert Griffin III-led Baylor team over the weekend, 59-24. Quarterback Brandon Weeden continued his stellar play, completing 24 of 36 passes for 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Cowboys are second in the nation in point-scoring, behind Houston (see below). If the Cowboys can find a way past the likes of Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Iowa State, the stage will be set for a huge game between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma to finish the regular season. The Cowboys will need their home crowd on that day, as an unbeaten season might just be enough to jump into the BCS Championship, after LSU or Alabama loses against the respective other.
#4 Stanford (8-0)
The Cardinals have some work to do (they still have to beat Oregon and Notre Dame), but after Saturday's thrilling 56-48 win over USC, it is not outside of the realm of possibility that the Cardinals could find their way into the BCS Championship. They will definitely need some help (read: losses) from the three teams ahead of them in the BCS standings. Finishing the season undefeated and being left out of the BCS is also a possibility, despite the fact that they are led by a quarterback you may have heard of who lowly NFL teams are drooling over. If the Cardinals win out and are still left out of the championship, be prepared for the (justified) lack-of-playoff lament to start all over again.
#5 Boise State (7-0)
Getting left out of the BCS championship seems like almost an annual event for the Broncos. Veteran quarterback Kellen Moore leads his (not surprisingly) unbeaten team into this weekend's match-up with a struggling UNLV team. Like Houston (see below), Boise State does play a week schedule, but do you think the college football big boys are exactly lining up to play them? BCS-conference schools Oklahoma, Oregon, and Georgia are a few of the teams Boise State has knocked off in recent years. My prediction is that Boise State will stay unbeaten during the regular season, earn an invitation to another BCS game, and then beat whoever they play. If there is a coach who has reason to gripe about the current system, it's Broncos' head coach Chris Peterson, but he always sidesteps questions about it. I suppose Boise State's potential switch to a BCS conference is their solution to the problem.
#13 Houston (8-0)
Let's be clear about one thing: Houston is not going to play for the BCS Championship, no matter what happens. It is sad that the NCAA operates out of such an unjust structure that teams like Houston cannot break into that mix no matter what the Cougars do, but nevertheless we go with what we have. It's also true that the Cougars do play a very weak schedule, which increases the likelihood that they would stay undefeated and in the BCS top 18, thus qualifying for a BCS game. (An interesting scenario "what-if" to consider: Let's say Houston stays unbeaten and continues to rise to say, tenth or so in the BCS. Notre Dame also wins out the rest of their season, including a win on the road against Stanford, which boosts their win total to nine and boosts the Irish into the BCS top 18. The last BCS at-large comes down to these two teams. Which team do you think the committee would select?) What-ifs aside, the Cougars are an offensively potent bunch,led by veteran quarterback Case Keenum, who tossed nine touchdown passes last Thursday night against Rice. Keenum and the Cougars take on UAB this Saturday.
One-loss teams that could still factor into the BCS Championship picture include Oklahoma, Arkansas, Oregon, South Carolina, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Kansas State, Michigan, and Penn State.