September 1, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Cameron Saddler (5) carries the ball on a kick-off return against Youngstown State Penguins linebacker Dubem Nwadiogbu (22) during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Every week, we'll keep track of which teams remain alive for the BCS National Championship Game and which teams all-but-officially have lessened goals to play for. Oh yes, the latter list will expand rapidly as the year goes on. Follow @SBNationCFB
There are 124 FBS teams. Two of them will play for the national title. Around 15 of them have a realistic shot at being one of those two. But entering Week 1, every player on all 124 teams dreamed, "Maybe ... just maybe ... "
So here's a new season-long project. Let's track the best possible fate for every team in the nation. The question we'll answer for every team: if they went undefeated from here on out, would they have a chance of making the BCS National Championship? We'll sort teams accordingly into Still Alive, Barely Alive and Dearly Departed.
At this point in the year, it's based less on what happened in Week 1 on more on what's left to go. A team that lost to a respectable opponent -- as did Auburn, Michigan, and Georgia Tech -- could still run the table and show up at the end with a major conference championship, making a solid case for title game inclusion, assuming there aren't still two unbeaten teams.
Teams with iffy losses but decent schedules (or vice versa) -- like Colorado, N.C. State or California -- have less of an argument, but aren't officially ruled out yet. Then there are teams like Texas State, which did everything it possibly could in Week 1 by upsetting Houston on the road, yet still finds itself with a near-impossible road to the championship even if it were to go unbeaten. Even in that scenario, its best win might end up being Louisiana Tech, and it's hard to think that would ever cut it.
But for the most part, if you won, you're still some sort of alive. The exception: newcomer UTSA, whose schedule is so squishy that a 12-0 run might not even get the Roadrunners into the final top 10, let alone the top two.
And with that, the list of schools that are definitely, absolutely not going to play for the national title this year, whether due to a crushing loss or a schedule too weak to make a salvage possible or a NCAA postseason ban:
Pitt is the only BCS school to make the bottom list due to on-field matters. It still has Virginia Tech and Notre Dame on the schedule and could still win the Big East, but there's no coming back that far from a loss to a team named the Penguins. Well, more importantly, a FCS team. But they're also named the Penguins. How about Houston and Southern Miss, who last year played in the Conference USA title game for a potential BCS-busting slot, already showing up way down here?
On the second list: teams that would absolutely have to go undefeated and get lots of help the rest of the way.
It doesn't feel fair to see Colorado and Colorado State on the same list, considering CSU just beat the Buffaloes, but Colorado could still conceivably (emphasis on conceivably) win the Pac-12, while Colorado State's second-best possible victory after a hypothetical Boise State win would probably be ... Utah State? Nevada?
And finally, the list of teams still definitely in the running for the national championship. It's not entirely a list of teams that control their own destinies, but it is a list of teams that would have very solid arguments if they don't lose the rest of the way. Almost all BCS conference teams are going to require more than one loss to drop off this list. Again, it has nothing to do with who's good -- I'd take FIU, Southern Miss or Wyoming from the Dearly Departed list to beat Indiana and just about anybody to beat FAU -- but rather with each team's best possible outcome. You know, like an Oprah thing.
Check the national college football scoreboard right here, and look through SB Nation's many excellent college football blogs to find your team's community.
While we’re here, let’s watch some of the many fine college football videos from SB Nation’s YouTube channel: