I wouldn’t say that I’ve been predicting that this would happen but based on last year’s total ineptitude of the top ranked teams, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise. When Iowa sent Penn State’s joyride through the Big 10 crashing down to earth, the November doldrums for top teams came back into the limelight. With several really interesting games left to play this season, there’s a good chance that more of the top teams will fall.
Here are the games the rest of the way that I think could completely alter how the BCS ends up looking. Of course, some of these are speculative, but the point is that you just never know anymore.
11/15 – No. 2 Texas Tech @ No. 5 Oklahoma – If Texas Tech wins, they go to the Big 12 title game. If Oklahoma wins, there is a three-way tie atop the Big 12 South and Texas goes to the title game via tie-breakers.
11/22 – No. 7 Utah v. No. 17 BYU – BYU won this game last year on an amazing, last-second touchdown pass. If the Utes pull it off, count on them getting their second at-large BCS bid. But BYU is a very good team and has only lost once this year (to No. 18 TCU, who almost beat Utah last week).
11/29 – No. 1 Alabama v. Auburn – ‘Bama is unlikely to lose this game en route to the SEC title game, but you never know in the Iron Bowl. Auburn is having a down year for sure, but this is a tough game, especially if Florida is looming in the title game.
11/29 – No. 5 Oklahoma @ No. 13 Oklahoma State – If Oklahoma loses to Texas Tech, this game matters much less in terms of national projections, though an at-large BCS spot is still at stake. If Oklahoma wins against TTU, OU would need to beat OSU to have a chance at the Big 12 title game. They would also need Texas to lose to Texas A&M because Texas holds the tie-breaker. If OkSt can beat Oklahoma, something that is has had a penchant for doing over the past few years, it has no chance to go to the Big 12 title game (unless OU beats TTU and A&M beats Texas, and even then it’s iffy) but can possibly earn an at-large of their own.
11/29 – No. 4 Florida @ No. 19 Florida State – Florida is also unlikely to lose its rivalry game and it does not affect the SEC standings at all. But if UF loses in Tallahassee, the Gators will have a much more difficult task in reaching the BCS title game. Of course, they will still have to beat Alabama in the SEC title game to make that claim, but a one-loss Florida is infinitely more attractive than a two-loss team, even if they win the SEC (despite what happened last year with LSU).
11/29 – No. 12 Missouri v. Kansas – Another game where the lesser team is unlikely to pull off the upset, but as we saw last year, it’s always possible. This is a big rivalry that was made even bigger when both teams were ranked in the top 10 last year. KU is not quite as good this year but an upset of Mizzou could really screw up the Big 12’s representation in the BCS. If Mizzou wins and then loses in the Big 12 title game, it’s possible they could steal an at-large bid, if the pieces fall the right way in the South and in the SEC.
12/6 – SEC Title Game – This game is going to be Alabama and Florida in the Georgia Dome. If ‘Bama wins out, they’re in the BCS title game. The same is probably true for Florida. If Florida wins, ‘Bama will probably still get an at-large bid. If ‘Bama wins, Florida can probably expect the same treatment, unless they lose to FSU.
12/6 – Big 12 Title Game – This is where it gets really complicated. Missouri is going to play either Texas, Texas Tech or Oklahoma (or if there are a rash of huge upsets, including Baylor over TTU, it could be Oklahoma State, but we’re going to ignore that statistical improbability). If it’s undefeated Texas Tech and they win, they’ll be in the BCS title game. If it’s one-loss Texas and they beat Mizzou, they’ll reach the BCS title, provided Alabama beats Florida. If it’s one-loss OU and they beat Mizzou, they could probably get into the title game, again provided ‘Bama wins.
So the point is, there are all these scenarios out there that can be completely blown up if Florida State, Auburn, Kansas or BYU win in the next two weeks. Beyond that, there are still a huge number of possible BCS title game match-ups looming, depending on the results of the SEC and Big 12 title games. Whew. Since Iowa sent Penn State out of the overall picture (unless, ‘Bama, TTU, Texas, OU, Florida, USC and Utah all lose at least once, haha) it has really provided a picture that is dominated by the Big 12 and SEC. But again, you never know what can happen in a rivalry game.