Fourteen teams remain undefeated in college football after week 7. Only two get to play for the national title, and computers and polls will decide which two make it.
There's some concern over the BCS computers and Oregon's strength of schedule with Stanford losing to Utah on the weekend and The Cardinal hosting UCLA this week, but that simply has to sort itself out. The Ducks have become such an entertaining team that if they win out, they're probably in the national championship game.
A clear opportunity lies before them. Of course, when reporters talk to the Oregon coaches or players, they'll immediately shift the conversation to Washington State.
From their perspective, that's absolutely right. There's no national championship game without a win over the Cougars. It's the only thing they control this week. But for fans, it doesn't hurt to have a road map of the race and know who's left in the competition.
Here is a quick review of the undefeated and their remaining schedules. Their current AP rankings are to the left:
1. Alabama 6-0
Remaining schedule: Arkansas, Tennessee, at #6 LSU, at Mississippi State, Chattanooga (really, SEC?) @ #24 Auburn, SEC title game (Georgia Dome)
Alabama has the clearest road to the national title game with one semi-difficult road game left and LSU at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 9th.
2. Oregon 6-0
Remaining schedule: WSU, #9 UCLA, @ #13 Stanford, Utah, @Arizona, Oregon State, PAC-12 title game
The Ducks will likely have to beat UCLA twice and faces a physical matchup in Palo Alto, a tricky rivalry game the day after Thanksgiving on a Friday night (4 p.m. kickoff). If they win out they're in, and only two of their remaining games are on the road, where they play well anyway with the nation's longest winning streak.
3. Clemson 6-0
Remaining schedule: #5 Florida State, @Maryland, @Virginia, Georgia Tech, Citadel, @ #11 South Carolina, ACC Championship
The computers are really going to like Clemson if they beat Florida State. They could face current #10 Miami in the ACC title game
4. Ohio State 6-0
Remaining schedule: Iowa, Penn State, @Purdue, @Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Big 10 title game
The Buckeyes only have one win over a team currently ranked in the Top 25, Wisconsin two weeks ago, and no remaining games against current Top 25 opponents
5. Florida State 5-0
@ #3 Clemson, North Carolina State, #10 Miami, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho, @ #22 Florida, ACC Championship
In terms of schedule, the Seminoles have the hardest road to the national championship game, with three remaining games against the Top 25, two of those on the road.
Central Florida, @South Florida, @ Connecticut, Houston, Memphis, @Cincinnati
Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals don't play a ranked team all year. The only way they reach the national title game is if Ohio State, Oregon, Clemson, and Florida State absorb a loss. They'd be passed over by a one-loss SEC team.
9. UCLA 5-0
@ #13 Stanford, @ #2 Oregon, Colorado, @Arizona, #20 Washington, Arizona State, @ USC, PAC-12 Championship Game
With four road games remaining and three (possibly four) against ranked opponents, the Bruins have one of the hardest roads to the national title, but they can climb into contention if they win their next two. In that sense they control their own destiny.
12. Baylor 5-0
Iowa State, @Kansas, #18 Oklahoma, #16 Texas Tech, @ #21 Oklahoma State, @ TCU, Texas
The relative weakness of the Big 12 robs Lache Seastrunk and the Bears of the opportunity to make it to Pasadena. Like Louisville they would need help to reach the title game, and would be passed over by a one-loss SEC champion.
Remaining unbeatens: Fresno, Houston, Missouri, Northern Illinois, Texas Tech
From this group, only Missouri, a surprise 6-0 with a win over injury-riddled Georgia on the weekend, has a clear shot at an eventual #2 ranking. Currently 14th, they have remaining marquee SEC games against #22 Florida, #11 South Carolina and #7 Texas A&M, but all three of those are at home. If they remain undefeated (not likely) they'd face the winner of Alabama-LSU in the SEC title game. That's a lot of hurdles, but they can earn their way in. They are the Cinderella story at the moment.
The other four in this group lack the schedule strength to be relevant for the BCS Championship race.
Three one-loss SEC teams remain sufficiently ranked to compete for the title:
#6 LSU, 6-1 has a win over Georgia, plays Alabama and Texas A&M in November
#7 Texas A&M 5-1 lost to #1 Alabama, faces Auburn this week, ends season with road games @LSU, @ Missouri
#11 South Carolina lost to Georgia, @ #14 Missouri, hosts Florida and Clemson in November.
Stanford is seriously wounded. Currently ranked #13, they would need wins over UCLA and Oregon to climb back in the race, and then need a shakeout among the other contenders.
Strength of schedule:
Florida State, 51
The computers won't love Clemson as much as they'd love a one-loss LSU, whose schedule is statistically 5 times as difficult as Clemson's. If they win out, it will be LSU ahead of even Ohio State (87), UCLA (92) and Miami (96).
FSU and Clemson play this week, eliminating one from the polls. IF Clemson wins, it will rise, but there aren't enough big games left for Clemson to overcome the Duck's advantage in the polls, considering they both have two ranked opponents to play, their championship game will be played against a team with at least 1 loss, maybe two, and that win over Georgia isn't looking so hot at the moment. Especially now that Missou lost its starting QB and will likely get crushed as it gets into the meat of its schedule.
The numbers game sucks, but trust me. IF the Ducks win out, they will play in the Natty.
Heres my prediction-ducks win out hammering everyone in their path playing in the natty.
Clemson will beat fsu Saturday
Lsu is going to mess everything up by beating bama
Ohio st and Louisville are both going undefeated BUT bc of their weak schedules will be left out
It Will be Ducks Vs Clemson Or a 1 loss sec
New rule: If you beat a southern division team during the regular season and that team eventually wins their division, the Conference Championship does not need to be played. Ha Ha.
It always seemed a little unfair that you would have to beat a team twice to win the trophy.
Go Ducks WTD
The Ducks schedule could appear tougher if OSU gets ranked, and potentially even Utah. Still, it's tough enough as is. Just beat Wazzu and get/stay healthy.
@zduckfan I don't doubt their accuracy but what is the source for the SOS numbers? Is it scale of 100, a points system? Just curious. Your last sentence is the key. All the numbers, projections and hypotheticals boil down to that.
Agree, I know everybody wants oregon vs Alabama, but I also really want oregon to get a crystal football, once that happens then bring on the duck dynasty! And yes I do think oregon could hang with bama just fine, but there is a good chance that they could also lose, that's why this year I would rather see oregon destroy Clemson or Ohio state, bring home the crystal football, and any recruit that oregon wants following the win. :)
@lexusduck That's a sound prediction. I don't think Alabama is quite as sound this year. LSU will test them.
@clostrom Most of the projections I've seen have in that way.
@hoboduck That makes it tougher--much harder to beat a good team twice. Highly likely that UCLA comes out of the South.
@rgyle Agree, Arg. One challenge at a time is plenty. Beavs schedule gets harder in the second half.
@Dale Newton @zduckfan SOS numbers are based on several factors, including returning starters, recruiting class strength, performance, ranking, etc., essentially all the factors we use to judge a team's worth in the pre-season.
Yes, there is a bit of bias built in, like perceived conference strength, and there are some other assumptions made at the beginning of the year, but as each week passes, those numbers become more and more accurate.
That's why the BCS waits so many weeks before releasing a ranking. It takes time for the teams to hammer out a pecking order and find separation.
The main flaw of the BCS has been twofold: Polls like the AP are subjective, locking teams into top or bottom tiers that make it difficult for a team to move up unless higher ranked teams lose, and two, the computers are poor at measuring things like grit, heart, and the close wins and losses that are at the heart of rivalry football.
@Dale Newton @zduckfan Im curious as to why Stanford's SOS is so high.. Their NC schedule was pretty weak considering.. Army and San Jose State.. Of Course Notre Dame always gets points for being so tough, when they really aren't. But the Cardinal play pretty much the same Conference Schedule minus ASU and USC.. Oregon's NC slate included two teams from AQ conferences that have played tough against other tough AQ teams. So I don't get how Stanford's SOS is over 5 times higher than Oregons..
@Dale Newton @lexusduck I think all this bravado is beginning to worry even me. All the attention Mariota is getting this week, the interviews, helmet stickers, Pac-12 offensive player of the week 2 weeks in a row, and all the Heisman talk... If there's any kid all that shouldn't bother, it's Marcus. But he is human. Makes me nervous.