BCS standings analysis: 'Bama-Oregon?

Alabama QB A.J. McCarron

Are Alabama and Oregon destined to meet in the BCS title game? We put the latest standings under the microscope.

Despite all the craziness this weekend and all the terrific games and endings, nothing really changed. Alabama, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon all remained unbeaten, and there won't be a massive shake-up on the top for a while unless one of the big four loses.

It has to keep being stressed that the Coaches' and Harris polls are going to turn out to determine BCS pecking order up top.

The computers get one-third of the say, but once the regular season ends the formulas are going to change the numbers once the entire season is taken into account. There's going to be a razor-thin margin among the top teams, so as long as Oregon is No. 2 in the human polls, and considering there should be a 13th game in a Pac-12 championship to factor into the equation, it's in a solid position to play for the BCS championship.

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It Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame all win out, it will almost certainly be a Tide-Duck BCS championship with the Wildcats going to the Fiesta. The world will want to see Kansas State play Notre Dame, and logistics could end up making it work out that way, but the Sugar will get the first choice of teams and Rose the second – an unbeaten Irish could be more attractive than a second SEC team for the Sugar or a No. 2 Pac-12 option for the Rose. If it's Alabama vs. Oregon in the BCS championship, the Fiesta would get the next pick and would jump all over the Irish.

However, while all the focus and discussion centers around the hunt for the BCS championship, the biggest story was Boise State's home loss to San Diego State, ending any dreams of a non-BCS conference team getting into the at-large pool. Now there's an extra slot opened up for the ACC, Pac-12 or Big 12 to get a second team in.

If Alabama ends up beating Georgia for the SEC championship, the Tide will get one spot and Florida, if it finishes 11-1 with a win over Florida State, will likely get the other. However, a Georgia upset would likely mean Alabama would get the second bid.

Assuming it's Alabama vs. Oregon for the BCS title, the Big 12, Big East, Big Ten and ACC will all get their automatic spots, the SEC will get a second team in, and Notre Dame will almost certainly get a big bowl position. That would leave two spots open for five BCS conferences.

A second Big East team would be a hard sell, even if, say, Rutgers wins the league title and Louisville finishes 11-1, and the Big Ten is lucky to get one team in this season, much less two. That means it should be a fight between the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 for two openings, and the campaigning is likely to get fierce.

An 11-1 Clemson, if it beats South Carolina, should be a shoo-in for the ACC. If Oregon State beats Stanford this week and finishes 10-2 with a regular-season loss to Oregon, the Rose Bowl will probably be interested unless it's a rematch against Wisconsin. If the Beavers are 9-3, Oklahoma would be the likely choice for a BCS spot if it finishes 10-2.

KEY NOTES:

Marcus Mariota and Oregon still project well despite the No. 3 ranking. (Photo: US Presswire)

- The computers still really, really don't like Oregon. The No. 5 overall ranking continues to be a problem, but IT'S GOING TO CHANGE. Eventually, Oregon will move up, Kansas State will start moving down, and Oregon will slide up into the No. 2 spot. However, Kansas State has a nice-sized lead in the overall BCS rankings.

- How much do the computers really matter? They love Notre Dame and that didn't move the needle at all. In fact, the Irish moved down.

- Florida is poised to pounce. Georgia might be the top-ranked one-loss team, but if it loses the SEC championship, the Gators will roll up and will need some help. It'll take Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame losing, but Florida could be knocking on the door.
 
- The computers despite Florida State. The 10th-ranked Noles are just 19th overall, which is why they moved down.

1. Alabama 9-0 BCS Score: 0.996

Alabama survived the big landmine, and while many are going to think Texas A&M will have a shot next week, the game is in Tuscaloosa. It's a done deal that the Tide will play for the BCS championship by winning out, but a loss in the SEC championship would almost certainly mean an at-large BCS bid.

Predicted Wins: Texas A&M, Western Carolina, Auburn, SEC championship
Predicted Losses: None
Predicted Final Record: 13-0
Predicted Bowl: BCS championship
Loss Alert: Texas A&M

2. Kansas State 9-0 BCS Score: 0.932

The entire 2012 college football season might hinge on Collin Klein's injury concerns - there are reports that he might have suffered a concussion. Can the Wildcats get by TCU and Baylor on the road and Texas at home without the Heisman favorite? Probably not. The big-picture problem is the human polling with the Wildcats firmly entrenched at No. 3. The computers are still big fans, but in the end, it's going to be next to impossible to get into the BCS championship without moving up into the top two in at least one of the polls.

Predicted Wins: at TCU, at Baylor, Texas
Predicted Losses: None
Predicted Final Record: 12-0
Predicted Bowl: Fiesta
Loss Alert: at TCU, Texas

3. Oregon 9-0 BCS Score: 0.917

Over and over and over again, it bears repeating that Oregon's current BCS ranking doesn't matter at the moment unless there's a change in the human polls. At the very least the Ducks are a mortal lock for a BCS game of some sort, as hollow as that will be if it's not the BCS championship. Fortunately, Oregon State remains high in the standings to make the Civil War matter even more, but again, the humans are already sold. On the down side, there's no room to move with the Harris and Coaches' polls - Oregon won't get to No. 1 unless Alabama loses.

Predicted Wins: at California, Stanford, at Oregon State, Pac-12 championship
Predicted Losses: None
Predicted Final Record: 13-0
Predicted Bowl: BCS championship
Loss Alert: Stanford, at Oregon State

4. Notre Dame 9-0 BCS Score: 0.905

The Irish need lots and lots of help. Even with a blowout win over USC in the regular season finale to finish 12-0, there's almost no room to move up unless two of the top three teams in the human polls lose. Even if the computers like the overall body of work, the Irish have to be ranked in the top two in at least one of the human polls to be in the discussion for a BCS championship slot.

Predicted Wins: at Boston College, Wake Forest, at USC
Predicted Losses: None
Predicted Final Record: 12-0
Predicted Bowl: Fiesta
Loss Alert: at USC

5. Georgia 8-1 BCS Score: 0.817

Georgia is still in the national championship chase, but first it has to win out. If the Dawgs close strong getting by the layups against Auburn and Georgia Southern before the rivalry date with Georgia Tech, at 11-1 they'll be knocking on the doorstep with the SEC championship against, most likely, Alabama meaning everything. At 12-1, the Dawgs might be able to finish ranked ahead of an unbeaten Notre Dame or even Kansas State in the final BCS standings. However, if Florida wins out to go 11-1, despite the win over the Gators, they will probably miss out on an at-large BCS slot with a loss.

Bill Snyder and Kansas State could miss out on the BCS title game even with an unbeaten season. (Photo: KStateFans.com)

Predicted Wins: at Auburn, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech
Predicted Losses: SEC championship
Predicted Final Record: 11-2
Predicted Bowl: Capital One
Loss Alert: Georgia Tech

6. Florida 8-1 BCS Score: 0.786

Just keep on winning. The Gators need a miraculous performance out of Auburn against Georgia to play for the SEC championship, but here's the more likely dream scenario. Notre Dame loses to USC, Kansas State loses to TCU or Texas, and Oregon is shocked in the Pac-12 championship. If that happens, if Alabama beats Georgia, the Gators will likely slide up up to the No. 2 spot after closing out the regular season with a win over Florida State. The Gators and Tide didn't meet in the regular season, making a BCS championship between the two SEC teams a bit more palatable than last year's Alabama-LSU rematch. More likely, Florida wins out, Alabama beats Georgia, and it's off to the Sugar for Will Muschamp's team.

Predicted Wins: Louisiana-Lafayette, Jacksonville State, at Florida State
Predicted Losses: None
Predicted Final Record: 11-1
Predicted Bowl: Sugar
Loss Alert:  at Florida State 

7. LSU 7-2 BCS Score: 0.705

LSU outplayed the unquestioned No. 1 team in the country until the final moments and it got punished in the rankings?! If anything, the Tigers should move up after showing they can go toe-to-toe with the best team in the land. They came within one late drive of being deep in the hunt for the national title chase, and now they need a few minor miracles to get an at-large BCS slot. It would take Florida losing once more - probably to Florida State - and Georgia would need to lose twice.

Predicted Wins: Mississippi State, Ole Miss, at Arkansas
Predicted Losses: None
Predicted Final Record: 10-2
Predicted Bowl: Cotton
Loss Alert: Mississippi State

8. South Carolina 7-2 BCS Score: 0.621

The Gamecocks are playing out the string. Barring a total collapse from Florida and Georgia over the last few weeks, they have no reasonable hope of getting an at-large BCS bid and can only hope for a decent New Year's Day bowl and a possible 11-2 season.

Predicted Wins: Arkansas, Wofford
Predicted Losses: at Clemson
Predicted Final Record: 9-3
Predicted Bowl: Outback
Loss Alert: at Clemson

9. Louisville 9-0 BCS Score: 0.604

The Cardinals just don't have the schedule. Even if they close out 12-0 and win the Big East title going away, it's going to be tough to move ahead of a one-loss Florida or Florida State to play for the BCS championship - and that's assuming almost all of the big boys up top slip up. The bigger issue could be what happens if the Cards lose a game and don't win the Big East title. Will 11-1 be enough for an at-large BCS bid? Probably not. Being unbeaten will be nice, but simply winning the Big East title will likely have to be the prize.

Predicted Wins: Connecticut
Predicted Losses: at Syracuse, at Rutgers
Predicted Final Record: 10-2
Predicted Bowl: Russell Athletic
Loss Alert: at Syracuse, at Rutgers

10. Florida State 8-1 BCS Score: 0.597

The NC State loss is weighing like an anchor. Florida State would probably be No. 2 in the BCS rankings if it hadn't fallen to the Wolfpack, and at worst would've been third. Rising up enough to get into the top two would require a slew of major crashes, but there's an outside shot at getting really, really close with an impressive win over Florida in the regular season finale and an easy win in the ACC championship. Style points matter the rest of the way.

Predicted Wins: at Virginia Tech, at Maryland, ACC championship
Predicted Losses: Florida
Predicted Final Record: 11-2
Predicted Bowl: Orange
Loss Alert: at Virginia Tech, Florida

11. Oregon State (7-1) .597
12. Oklahoma (6-2) .581
13. Clemson (8-1) .577
14. Stanford (7-2) .509
15. Texas A&M (7-2) .506
16. Nebraska (7-2) .398
17. Texas (7-2) .359
18. UCLA (7-2) .253
19. USC (6-3) .171
20. Louisiana Tech (8-1) .158
21. Mississippi State (7-2) .145
22. Texas Tech (6-3) .142
23. Rutgers (7-1) .121
24. Northwestern (7-2) .096
25. Toledo (8-1) .080
 

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