We’re 2/3 the way through the regular season of college football. It goes fast, no?
If you look at the college football landscape from a big picture, national perspective – something we SEC fans typically don’t like to do – you have to admit that it is a great season. Heading into November, we have four undefeated teams sitting atop the BCS standings. Each represents a different conference (or Notre Dame is independent). Each from a different region of the country, too.
2. Kansas State
3. Notre Dame
Alabama is the clear #1
Alabama has a unanimous #1 ranking from both human polls while Kansas State and Notre Dame are tied at #1 in the computer polls. Alabama of course has the perception of most members of the media and fans around the country of being the best team in the nation.
While Kansas State and Notre Dame have better resumes currently, this too should also move in favor of Alabama as we head toward the conclusion of the year. After beating Mississippi State this past weekend (currently #15), Alabama plays #5 LSU this week on the road and then #16 Texas A&M the following week at home.
Assuming the Tide keep winning, Alabama will likely play Georgia in the SECCG; Georgia is currently ranked #6 in the BCS. It’s worth noting that on the date of the SECCG (Dec 1), Notre Dame doesn’t even play. Kansas State plays Texas. Add all this up and Alabama should have the top computer ranking along with the top human polls ranking solidifying its #1 rank in the BCS if they win out.
Who will be #2?
This is difficult to say, because history definitely tells us to expect top teams to lose late in the year. Notre Dame has a few easy matchups and then USC to end the year. Kansas State has Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas. Interestingly, as both KState and Notre Dame have a road win at Oklahoma, the Sooners’ multiple losses make this win slightly less meaningful. Additionally, the perception of wins like West Virginia and Stanford are becoming less sexy as well.
Oregon has the toughest stretch of its schedule in November starting this week against USC. Saturday at USC, at Cal, Stanford at home and then Oregon finishes the season at Oregon State. Add in a potential Pac-12 Championship Game, and I think it’ll be difficult for the Ducks to run the table.
Interestingly, Oregon can actually impact Notre Dame since both teams play USC in November. If Oregon beats USC this week, USC will have at least three losses by the time Notre Dame gets to play them. Will beating a three loss team help them leap Kansas State? I’m not so sure.
If the Championship were held today, it would be Alabama vs Kansas State. While the path is there for Kansas State to remain in the two spot at the end of the season, history tells us to expect the unexpected.
The other top SEC teams
The next four spots in the BCS belong to the SEC:
8. South Carolina
These teams have beat each other up thus far this season. LSU has beat South Carolina. South Carolina has beat Georgia. Georgia has beat Florida. Florida has beat LSU and South Carolina. Welcome to the SEC.
Looking ahead, Georgia has the easiest regular season schedule, but they likely have the pleasure of playing Alabama in Atlanta. LSU still has Alabama and Missisippi State. Florida still has Florida State. South Carolina still has Clemson.
Is South Carolina overrated at #8?
The Gamecocks are the highest ranked two-loss team in the BCS. I’ve heard lots of chatter about how they’re ranked too high considering the two losses and one of them being a blow out (Florida). The reality is that South Carolina has lost to the #5 and #7 teams in the BCS, and both on the road. They also have a win over the #6 team (Georgia).
While you could argue that South Carolina should be maybe behind a team like Florida State, does it really matter? If you’re out of the national title picture, debating whether a team should be ranked 8th or 10th is pretty useless.
When comparing South Carolina and #9 ranked Florida State, the human polls have Florida State at 7, and South Carolina at 11. However, the computers give the edge big time to South Carolina (9 vs Florida State’s 21). Clearly the loss to unranked NC State hurts the Noles.
Who will finish the highest ranked SEC team outside Alabama?
If we assume Alabama beats LSU this week, they’re likely to drop below the likes of Georgia, Florida and maybe even South Carolina. If Florida wins out and beats Florida State (a top ten team) and Georgia loses to Alabama in the SECCG, you might find the Florida Gators ranked ahead of Georgia later in the year. Should this materialize, Florida might be the SEC’s second representative in a BCS game despite losing to Georgia.
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