John, when all is said and done OSU will be at about #100 in SOS (preseason #102 by Phil Steele). It's no slam dunk an undefeated OSU goes over a 1-loss SEC team. The voters have already knocked them down to #4, because of SOS, and we're just getting started. Assuming all undefeated teams, obviously Oregon/Stanford, LSU/Ala and FSU/Clemson winners will be above them. Louisville I doubt because they're the only team hanging around the top 10 with an easier schedule than OSU. So OSU's only hope is that two of those matchups don't produce an undefeated. I also think the epic matchups the SEC is producing almost every week, will sway voters to reward those SEC one-loss teams. Regardless of how it goes, it's gonna be a fun ride! Good piece - thanks.
One quarter of the way through the 2013 football season, the hopes for another SEC win in the BCS championship game seemed to have dimmed. Yes, there are currently four league squads in the top 10 with one more sitting just outside that pack, but a quick check of the loss column should cause some concern.
Here is the current AP Poll (with USA Today Coaches’ Poll rankings in parentheses when different):
1. Alabama 3-0
2. Oregon 3-0
3. Clemson 3-0 (#4)
4. Ohio State 4-0 (#3)
5. Stanford 3-0
6. LSU 4-0
7. Louisville 4-0
8. Florida State 3-0
9. Georgia 2-1 (#10)
10. Texas A&M 3-1 (#9)
11. Oklahoma State 3-0
12. South Carolina 2-1 (#13)
13. UCLA 3-0 (#14)
14. Oklahoma 3-0 (#12)
15. Miami, FL 3-0
16. Washington 3-0 (#20)
17. Northwestern 4-0 (#16)
18. Michigan 4-0 (#17)
19. Baylor 3-0 (#18)
20. Florida 2-1 (#19)
Now let’s look see who in that list plays one another:
* In the SEC, undefeated Alabama will face undefeated LSU later in the season, so that means one of those squads will have a loss. Missouri and Ole Miss are also undefeated at this point and they, too will play this season. Ole Miss, of course, will play both Alabama and LSU, too. So the odds are stacked against the Rebels finishing unscathed. Mizzou isn’t expected to come close to an undefeated season, either. Which means the SEC needs for the winner of the Alabama/LSU game to finish undefeated and win the SEC Championship Game in order to “guarantee” the league a spot in the BCS title game. Could a one-loss SEC team make it? Certainly. But the more undefeated squads there are across the country, the tougher it will be for a one-loss SEC team to make that jump.
* In the Pac-12, Oregon and Stanford will meet. So basically one of those squads already has a loss. UCLA and Washington — who are also clean at this point — will have to meet the Ducks and Cardinal, too. UCLA will play Stanford and Oregon back-to-back and then Washington. The Huskies also draw Stanford and Oregon back-to-back before their date with UCLA. Oregon and Stanford appear to be the best hopes for the Pac-12. One of those teams will need to survive the other, UCLA, Washington and the Pac-12 championship game to finish unbeaten.
* In the ACC, we’ll slash Miami from the list as they’re not expected to keep winning. Clemson and Florida State will play one another which means one of them already has a loss. Should the winner of that game run the table and win the ACC title game, it could be bad news for the SEC (especially if the undefeated champ is a Clemson squad that’s already knocked off Georgia).
* In the Big Ten, Ohio State appears to be on cruise control. They’ll face Wisconsin this weekend and Michigan to close the season. They will also face Northwestern. The Big Ten Championship Game is also on the horizon. But it appears as though the Buckeyes are the best bet from north of the Mason-Dixon line. While their weak schedule might hurt them when the BCS system spits out its final championship game matchup, an unbeaten Ohio State squad will be hard to keep out of the national title game.
* In the Big 12, Baylor would have to be a shock team to climb all the way into the BCS championship picture. That leaves Oklahoma and Oklahoma State who will play one another. The Big 12 will need one of those two squads to finish unscathed to nab a slot in the BCS finals.
* Finally, Louisville of the American Athletic Conference faces these eight foes the rest of the way: Temple, Rutgers, UCF, South Florida, UConn, Houston, Memphis, and Cincinnati. Uh, yeah. You’d have to say that the Cardinals will be favored in all of their remaining contests.
So what does that leave us in BCS championship race? The winner of the Alabama/LSU game — if unbeaten — has the best shot at reaching the final game from the SEC. The Oregon/Stanford winner in the Pac-12 would have a shot. In the ACC, it looks like the Clemson/Florida State winner will be in the pole position. The winner of the Oklahoma/Oklahoma State contest will need to win out and jump a lot of teams to be considered. And Ohio State and Louisville face easier paths in their leagues.
So barring upsets — and there will be upsets — the BCS Championship Game picture for right now, looks to be:
Unbeaten Alabama/LSU winner in the SEC
Unbeaten Oregon/Stanford winner in the Pac-12
Unbeaten Clemson/Florida State winner in the ACC
Unbeaten Oklahoma/Oklahoma State winner in the Big 12
Unbeaten Ohio State in the Big Ten
Unbeaten Louisville in the AAC
So who is most likely to run the table? In our view, the Clemson/FSU champ, Ohio State and Louisville. Now, if three of those four teams finish undefeated, would a one-loss SEC team jump two of them and reach the BCS title game in Pasadena?
SEC fans need to start pulling against those non-conference teams listed above if they want to chant S-E-C, S-E-C at the Rose Bowl in January.
(This is a conference-by-conference look at schedules. There are non-conference games that can still factor into the equation, of course. Florida State/Florida, Clemson/South Carolina, etc)