After No. 5 Florida State stormed Death Valley and humbled No. 3 Clemson, 51-14, the Ducks and Noles should be neck-and-neck behind Alabama in the BCS standings for most of the rest of the year. That's assuming neither loses. But Oregon's schedule, its advantage the rest of the way as far as the BCS is concerned, also provides an opportunity for Florida State.
You can imagine Oregon tripping up against Stanford, UCLA, or Oregon State or in the Pac-12 championship against, say, Arizona State. It doesn't seem likely, but you can see it. But Florida State's toughest remaining games are Miami at home, Florida, and the ACC title game, maybe against Virginia Tech. If either of these teams is losing, it's more likely to be Oregon, simply based on opponents. Now that I've said that, everyone in the top five will lose two games.
At the moment, the Ducks have looked dominant enough that I don't see them dropping one. But after a full offseason (and seven full weeks) of looking more or less like a two-team race, it's up to three right now.
|Bowl||Matchup (Won't necessarily match standings)||Team||Team|
|1/6/2014||BCS National Championship (Pasadena)||BCS 1 vs. BCS 2||Alabama||Oregon|
|1/3/2014||Orange (Miami)||ACC 1 vs. At-large 1||Florida State||Wisconsin|
|1/2/2014||Sugar (New Orleans)||SEC 1 vs. At-large 2||Missouri||UCF|
|1/1/2014||Rose (Pasadena)||Pac-12 1 vs. Big Ten 1 (At-large 3)||Ohio State||Stanford|
|1/1/2014||Fiesta (Glendale, AZ)||Big 12 1 vs. At-large 4||Baylor||Fresno State|
|1/5/2014||GoDaddy (Mobile, AL)||MAC 2 vs. Sun Belt 2||Bowling Green||Western Kentucky|
|1/4/2014||BBVA Compass (B'ham)||SEC 9 vs. AAC 5||Tennessee||Rutgers|
|1/3/2014||Cotton (Arlington)||Big 12 2 vs. SEC 3||Oklahoma||LSU|
|1/1/2014||Capital One (Orlando)||Big Ten 2 vs. SEC 2||Nebraska||Texas A&M|
|1/1/2014||Gator (Jacksonville)||Big Ten 4 vs. SEC 6||Michigan||Georgia|
|1/1/2014||Heart of Dallas||Big Ten 7 vs. Big 12 8||Northwestern||Utah*|
|1/1/2014||Outback (Tampa)||Big Ten 3 vs. SEC 4||Michigan State||Auburn|
|12/31/2013||Chick-fil-A (Atlanta)||ACC 2 vs. SEC 5||Clemson||Ole Miss|
|12/31/2013||Independence (Shreveport)||SEC 10 vs. ACC 7||Vanderbilt||Boston College|
|12/31/2013||Liberty (Memphis)||C-USA 1 vs. SEC 8||East Carolina||Florida|
|12/31/2013||Sun (El Paso)||ACC 4 vs. Pac-12 4||Virginia Tech||Oregon State|
|12/30/2013||Alamo (San Antonio)||Big 12 3 vs. Pac-12 2||Texas Tech||Arizona State|
|12/30/2013||Armed Forces (Ft. Worth)||MWC 3 vs. C-USA 3/Navy||Utah State||Navy|
|12/30/2013||Holiday (San Diego)||Pac-12 3 vs. Big 12 5||UCLA||Texas|
|12/30/2013||Music City (Nashville)||ACC 6 vs. SEC 7||Pitt||South Carolina|
|12/28/2013||Belk (Charlotte)||AAC 3 vs. ACC 5||Houston||Georgia Tech|
|12/28/2013||Buffalo Wild Wings (PHX)||Big 12 4 vs. Big Ten 5||Oklahoma State||Iowa|
|12/28/2013||Pinstripe (New York)||Big 12 7 vs. AAC 4||Notre Dame*||Cincinnati|
|12/28/2013||Russell Athletic (Orlando)||AAC 2 vs. ACC 3||Louisville||Miami|
|12/27/2013||Kraft (San Francisco)||Pac-12 6 vs. BYU/ACC 9||Washington||BYU|
|12/27/2013||Military (Annapolis)||ACC 8 vs. C-USA 5||Duke||Rice|
|12/27/2013||Texas (Houston)||Big 12 6 vs. Big Ten 6||West Virginia||Minnesota|
|12/26/2013||Little Caesars (Detroit)||MAC 1 vs. Big Ten 8||Northern Illinois||Arkansas State*|
|12/26/2013||Poinsettia (San Diego)||MWC 2 vs. Army||Wyoming||Toledo*|
|12/24/2013||Hawaii||MWC 5 vs. C-USA 2||Ohio*||Marshall|
|12/23/2013||Beef O'Brady's (St. Pete.)||AAC 6 vs. C-USA 4||Buffalo*||North Texas|
|12/21/2013||Idaho Potato (Boise)||MAC 3 vs. MWC 6||Ball State||Troy*|
|12/21/2013||Las Vegas||MWC 1 vs. Pac-12 5||Boise State||Arizona|
|12/21/2013||New Mexico (Albuquerque)||MWC 4 vs. Pac-12 7||San Jose State||USC|
|12/21/2013||New Orleans||Sun Belt 1 vs. C-USA 6||Louisiana-Lafayette||Tulane|
* Filling in for another conference that couldn't meet all its tie-ins.
The Sugar gets first pick if Alabama's No. 1, since it will have given up a team to the national title game. It will prefer to stick to its SEC ties, and odds are good a one-loss (or two-loss) Mizzou will be the obvious pick. No one woke up yesterday thinking Mizzou would be the obvious anything, but here we are.
The Rose would go next, and while Arizona State, UCLA, and Notre Dame make for potential Oregon replacements, I'm not convinced any of those teams will win out. Stanford still looks like the safest bet to finish with the record and ranking most worthy of the 100th Rose Bowl.
If Fresno State or Northern Illinois go unbeaten from here on out, one of them will be in. Each already ranks very well in the projected BCS standings, and Sunday night we could see one of them (likely Fresno) already within a spot or two of the No. 16 spot. If either can reach that ranking without being passed by an AQ-conference champion, it's in. Otherwise, No. 12 is the goal, which is also within reach.
Let's say Fresno State does go undefeated, which now looks more likely, with Wyoming struggling and both Boise State and Utah State losing their starting quarterbacks. That plus the American champion (which looks to be UCF) means the Orange gets the last remaining shot to bring in a big-name school with a national following. It can't take from the Pac-12 or SEC, though, since each will already have two BCS teams, and it likely won't take another ACC team.
While Notre Dame will be the pick if the Irish finish 10-2, the Irish still have tough games to go and haven't beaten anyone besides Temple by more than a single score. Wisconsin looks like a better bet at the moment to win out, especially when we remember it played well enough to beat Arizona State in Tempe. The Badgers have a huge fan base, and nothing sells better than offense. Florida State vs. Wisconsin pairs two of the country's highest-scoring teams. Oklahoma, Nebraska, Michigan State, or maybe even Texas Tech could be other potential picks.
After that, it's UCF or Fresno State for the Sugar, which means we get a rematch of 2012's Missouri-UCF thriller. No one remembers it.
What do you think we do with this mess? Anything we should discuss? What am I flagrantly, flagrantly wrong about?