Published September 18, 2012 - 10:52am
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We’re three weeks in, and it’s time to start the BCS conversation.
In the short amount of time that has elapsed since we kicked off this season, we’ve seen a great deal of turnover in the rankings including top ten teams suffering losses like USC, Michigan State and of course Arkansas.
Amazingly, the SEC already occupies the top two spots. Like the 2011 season, all eyes will be on the Game of the Century of the Year in which Alabama and LSU square off on November 3rd. We’re a long way away from that game, however, and we’re certain to see more shakeups along the way.
We’re going to go conference-by-conference to look at how the BCS Championship is shaking out. We only have three weeks in the books, but we’ve already seen important movements.
We start with the SEC.
Southeastern Conference (SEC):
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where an SEC team doesn’t play in the BCS Championship. With USC (one of the favorites) already losing a game and Alabama showing the world that the SEC is still on another level by annihilating the Michigan Wolverines on national television, the SEC sits on top the world of college football.
Alabama and LSU have the top two spots secured. Georgia looks strong and has a very favorable schedule ahead. It’s a safe assumption that a team wins the conference with one or no losses. It should be enough to get into the big dance.
What is going to be fascinating to watch moving forward is the chance of a potential Alabama/LSU rematch just like 2011. I mentioned this on Twitter the other night, and people thought I was nuts. That’s ok. People thought I was nuts when I started talking about this last November, too.
Sure, it’s too early to speculate on anything with any assumed accuracy, but when you have two teams this good occupying the top two spots, if Alabama loses in Baton Rouge in a close game, they are not going to drop further than either #2 or #3. If both teams then run the table, they could easily get back in.
Again, we have plenty of time to go, and there are a number of key games to look at in addition to the huge matchup on Nov 3rd. They are:
- Alabama at LSU, Nov 3rd
- Georgia vs Florida, Oct 27th (in Jacksonville)
- LSU at Florida, Oct 6th
- SEC Championship – likely LSU/Alabama vs Georgia
Yes, I’m writing off South Carolina at this point. I don’t think they have enough to win the east. I’m not sure Florida does either, but they do play LSU tough, and absolutely play Georgia tough. The Florida/LSU game could eliminate one of the teams in each division, so we could have more clarity as quickly as October 6th.
USC lost a huge game to Stanford on Saturday night, and to win the Pac-12, they’ll likely have to run the table and beat a very good Oregon team twice or beat Oregon and Stanford. I’m skeptical that they can do this.
Oregon is a good team. They still have to play at USC and play Stanford. If they win their division, they will likely have to then play USC again.
Stanford proved that they are a good team without Andrew Luck. They have to play at Notre Dame, at Oregon and then likely USC again if they win their division.
Add it up, and you’ve got a Pac-12 that is a good conference with three very strong teams. It’s unlikely, however that one of them goes undefeated.
Key games ahead:
- Stanford at Notre Dame, Oct 13th
- Oregon at USC, Nov 3rd
- Stanford at Oregon, Nov 17th
- Notre Dame at USC, Nov 24th
- Pac-12 Championship – likely Oregon/Stanford vs USC
It’s possible that the Big Ten has already played itself out of the national championship. Michigan got killed by Alabama in front of the entire country, Wisconsin lost to a terrible Oregon State team, Michigan State lost at home to Notre Dame. Currently, Ohio State is the highest ranked Big Ten team. It’s been an ugly start for this conference.
Unless things change drastically, I’m not putting any key games in for the Big Ten, because I don’t think there’s any chance a member of the Big Ten plays in the BCSCG at the end of this season.
The ACC right now is all about Florida State. Clemson is a good team, but few people think they’re going to run the table. Of course, these two teams square off this Saturday in Tallahassee. Florida State is currently a 14.5 point favorite as of writing this article.
Since the ACC is full of bad teams, the Clemson game might be the only chance to knock off the Seminoles. They do have to travel to NC State and Virginia Tech, but the Noles will likely be heavy favorites in these matchups.
The Seminoles, in recent years, have frequently lost to bad teams at least once a year. In 2011, FSU lost to Wake Forest and Virginia. In 2010, they lost to UNC and NC State. In 2009, USF, Georgia Tech, and Boston College all took down the Seminoles.
In my opinion, a one-loss Florida State ACC Champion likely doesn’t get in to the big dance. A one-loss SEC, Big 12, Pac-12 team gets in ahead of FSU due to the perception of the ACC in 2012.
- Clemson at Florida State, Sep 22nd
- Florida at Florida State, Nov 24th
The Big 12 has several solid football teams including Oklahoma, Kansas State, West Virginia and Texas. Oklahoma is – as usual – the favorite to win the conference. While all four of these teams have yet to lose, few people think that these teams are unbeatable.
This conference is truly impossible to predict at this point considering the number of games to play.
- Kansas state at Oklahoma, Sep 22nd
- West Virginia at Texas, Oct 6th
- Oklahoma vs Texas, Oct 13th (Dallas)
- Notre Dame at Oklahoma, Oct 27th
- Kansas State at West Virginia, Oct 20th
- Oklahoma at West Virginia, Nov 17th
The Irish are on people’s radars after a 3-0 start including an impressive road win at Michigan State last Saturday. I think Brian Kelly has this program moving forward, but the team isn’t at Championship caliber yet. Plus, their schedule is brutal. The Irish still play Michigan, Stanford, BYU, at Oklahoma, and at USC. I expect the Irish to lose at least two before the season is over (probably more).
At this point in the season, if you put a gun to my head, I’m going with Alabama vs Florida State in the BCS Championship. I’ll be rooting for Clemson on Saturday.