That playoff the college football poobahs are bringing along will be here about two years too late. There's a pretty good chance that four teams with BCS ties (and that includes Notre Dame) will finish the regular season undefeated.
How good of a chance? Let's put it this way: Of the 18 remaining games that Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame have yet to play, there are only four in which these teams won't be favored by double digits, and only one in which one of those teams might even be an underdog.
That's why the beauty pageant is really going to start in earnest.
Projected BCS standings Top 15, Week 10 (last week's full BCS Top 25):
- Kansas State
- Notre Dame
- South Carolina
- Florida State
- Oregon State
- Mississippi State
For only the third time in BCS history but the second time in four years, there might be at least three undefeated BCS conference winners. In 2004, Auburn was shut out by USC and Oklahoma. In 2009, Alabama and Texas got in, but Cincinnati didn't. So this time, who's going to be left out?
There are six unbeaten teams left in FBS, and interestingly, they represent each of the six BCS conferences, with Notre Dame standing in for its future non-football home of ACC. Ohio State is ineligible to win the Big Ten but remains in the running to win the AP national title (that's a topic for another day), but the other five teams all still have aspirations for the two spots in the BCS title game.
So what are their chances of staying unbeaten? Let's take a peek in order of probability:
Kansas State - The Wildcats will be the heavy favorites in their four remaining games - home to Oklahoma State and Texas and visiting TCU and Baylor. Piloted by the current Heisman frontrunner Collin Klein, Kansas State also has the advantage of not having to play in a conference title game - but that same fact may very well hurt its cause in the final BCS standings. My odds on running the table: 90 percent.
Alabama - The Tide's toughest game will come next week at Death Valley against LSU. Though the Tigers don't have much of an offense, they still have that world-class defense that can shut anybody down. But if 'Bama gets by LSU, there should be no resistance left on its remaining schedule, including the SEC championship game, where the Tide likely will face an outclassed Georgia team. 85 percent.
Notre Dame - The Irish just ran through their eight-game gauntlet and will have three near cupcake games to enjoy as the fruits of their labor. And that season finale at the Coliseum suddenly doesn't look as foreboding as it did when the season began, as USC continues to stumble. Basically, this is now a one-game season for Notre Dame. 55 percent.
Oregon - The Ducks seemingly can't catch a break with the BCS standings, but they have the toughest remaining schedule, to make up some ground in the computers. Games at USC and Oregon State and a home game against Stanford still remain, as well as the Pac-12 championship game. Oregon will be favored to win all of those games, but ironically because both USC and OSU lost on Saturday, the Ducks won't get nearly as much credit when they finally play (and win) these games. 50 percent.
Louisville - The Cardinals squeezed out another victory, this time on Friday night against Cincinnati in OT. They have four games remaining, all against very beatable Big East foes, with the toughest being the season finale at Rutgers, who lost its first game Saturday. But Louisville realistically does not have a shot at playing for the BCS title, so it will be consigned to the same fate that befell the Bearcats in 2009. 30 percent.
Non-AQ Watch: A few things really broke Boise State's way this weekend, significantly improving the Broncos' chances of landing a BCS bowl berth.
First, Ohio's loss to Miami of Ohio pretty much removed all competition for the non-AQ BCS slot. Now Boise really just needs to run the table without spending any time peeking in the rearview mirror.
Second, Nebraska's win over Michigan keeps the Big Ten behind Boise State in the BCS standings, making the Broncos' job that much easier, meaning they only have to get a Top 16 finish instead of Top 12.
Finally, Rutgers' loss to Kent State meant that should the Big Ten leader somehow sneak past Boise State, all BSU needs is a Louisville loss to jump in front of the Big East leader, creating a safety net for the Top 16 threshold.
The Broncos, expected to be at about No. 18-20 in the next BCS standings, have a somewhat demanding finish in their final season in the Mountain West Conference. But if they complete an 11-1, season they probably will become the first one-loss non-AQ team to qualify for a BCS bowl berth.
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