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Saturday Shakedown and the BCS

BY MICHAEL LEESE

This past weekend was truly remarkable as we saw nine of the Top 25 teams in the country taste defeat. Five of the Top 10 were victims, as we saw Nos.3 Clemson, 6 LSU, 7 Texas A&M, 8 Louisville, and 9 UCLA, all go down to lower rated or unranked teams. This type of turmoil in the Top 25 usually happens about once a season, but not to this degree. The SEC was hit particularly hard as six teams took it on the chin!  Last weekend’s upsets put a huge crimp in the BCS aspirations of many teams. Below is a look at each conference going forward, and how I perceive what the  BCS teams might look like.

American Athletic Conference……In Louisville, the Cardinals saw their hopes of a BCS berth, or even a title game appearance end. Central Florida used a furious 4th quarter rally to upset the Cardinals 38-35. The win by the Golden Knights puts them in the driver’s seat for the conference crown and automatic BCS invite. The AAC does not have a conference championship game, and UCF will likely be favored the remainder of their games.  The Houston Cougars at and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights would like to be spoilers. The Cougars travel to Central Florida on November 9, and Rutgers comes to Orlando on November 21  in what will be a must-win games.

Atlantic Coast Conference……Florida State’s dismantling of Clemson, left no doubt that they intend to be the bully in the conference. The Seminoles have a manageable schedule going forward, as the only ranked team they have left to play is Miami.  They host the Hurricanes on November 2nd and miss Virginia Tech. Clemson, meanwhile should rebound, but to get a BCS bid, the Tigers will need a victory over South Carolina, an in-state rival from the SEC.   The Coastal division is a two-horse race between Virginia Tech and Miami. Both teams are undefeated in conference play, and meet in Miami on November 9. This game should decide the Coastal Division Champion, who will then play in the ACC Championship Game, most likely against Florida State.

BiG 10……The Leaders Division is Ohio State’s to lose. The Buckeyes are 3-0 in league play, and should skate through the remaining schedule until they travel to Michigan to close the regular season. The Legends Division will come down to a Michigan State at Nebraska match-up on November 9th. The winner of that game will then play Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship Game in Indianapolis.

BIG 12……This conference is wide open as I see it. I actually believe that five teams could still win the conference title. Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas are all still undefeated in league play at this point, and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State sit with one loss in conference play. The Big 12 schedule features have huge games every week, and there is no championship game.  I like Baylor and Oklahoma moving forward in weeks to come!

PAC-12…….I have talked before in posts past how I believe the PAC 12 North is the best division of all college football divisions. Oregon, Stanford, and Oregon State now sit at a combined 12-1 in conference play, and 19-2 overall. This past week the Ducks fell to No.3 in the polls. They will have ample opportunity in the coming weeks to move up, as they play UCLA, Stanford and Oregon State all ranked in the Top 25. The Ducks travel to Stanford on Thursday, November 7th in a game that will likely decide the division race.  The Southern division now looks like a two-horse race between Arizona State and UCLA. The Sun Devils travel to the Rose Bowl to face the Bruins on November 23.

SEC……..The Western division is all about Alabama! The Tide does have tilts remaining with both LSU and Auburn. If they take care of business, they should dispose of the East Division winner in the SEC Championship Game. The Missouri Tigers continue to surprise and now sit at 7-0/3-0 atop the Eastern Division by a full two games over South Carolina, Florida and Georgia, and the Tigers hold the tiebreaker over Georgia and Florida. A huge game for the Tigers looms this weekend as they host the Gamecocks. A deeper look into league play and I believe it will be very tough at this point for a second SEC team to get a BCS bid. I believe that all SEC teams will end the season with three losses, the exception being Alabama!

NON-AUTOMATIC QUALIFIERS……Fresno State, from the Mountain West sits at 6-0, and I can’t see them losing a game. Remember, they had a game against the Colorado Buffaloes canceled earlier in the season and will only play 11 regular season games. They will play a conference championship game, but potential troublesome match-ups with Boise State and Utah State have lost their luster, as both Joe Southwick of Boise State and Chuckie Keaton of Utah State are lost for the season. Northern Illinois from the MAC also has an shot at a BCS at-large. The Huskies sit at 7-0 and could well run the table. Last season, the Huskies played in the Orange Bowl!

GOING OUT ON A LIMB…….So here’s my first list of BCS teams. I’ll check back later to see how I did.

  • Pac-12       OREGON              STANFORD
  • SEC               ALABAMA
  • Big Ten     OHIO STATE
  • Big 12         BAYLOR            OKLAHOMA
  • ACC             FLORIDA STATE          CLEMSON
  • AAC            CENRTRAL FLORIDA
  • OTHER    FRESNO STATE

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