The SEC finished eliminating itself from any shot at an undefeated regular season on Saturday. Auburn took down Florida leaving the SEC with three highly ranked one-loss teams. Auburn, Tennessee, and Florida will have to take the back-door into the BCS Championship game if they want a shot at the National Title. The good news for the SEC is that it now appears possible for a one-loss SEC team to jump an undefeated Big East team. As long as USC loses, an SEC team could very well make it. I hadn’t thought about this option before today because I didn’t realize how weak Louisville and West Virginia’s BCS ratings were going to be. There are a lot of things that can happen before the end of the season but I’ll play out the most likely scenarios below.
(odds of going undefeated)
1 Ohio State-----48.88%
2 Boise State----32.81%
4 W. Virginia----18.70%
Teams that dropped from last week’s list (along with pre-season rank in terms of odds): #21 Florida, #44 Missouri
Biggest Jump (percentage): Ohio State +12.22%, Michigan + 8.62%
Current overall chance of undefeated team(s) (100%=1 undefeated team, 200%=2 undefeated teams etc.): 159.37%
Pinpointing the National Title Game:
I am of the belief that there will be three undefeated teams at the end of the regular season (including Boise State). Boise State will not play a factor in the BCS Championship game, so I think there will be two relevant undefeated teams left at the end of the season. Those two teams will be the winners of the Ohio State/Michigan and West Virginia/Louisville games. Since BCS rating won’t be a problem for the Ohio State/Michigan winner, I think it’s safe to say that one of those teams will be in the Championship game. The questions that need to be answered are:
Will a one-loss team jump an undefeated Big East team in the BCS Standings?
How many one-loss teams will there be at the end of the regular season?
Can USC beat California, Oregon, and Notre Dame?
How far will USC (if it loses), and the loser of the Michigan/Ohio State game fall in the BCS standings?
Without having those answers, it’s impossible to narrow down the Championship game to two or three candidates. But, I am confident that the National Championship game will be one of the following match-ups:
Ohio State vs. USC
Michigan vs. USC
If USC doesn’t lose, it will play a Big Ten team in the BCS Championship game. Since I think it would take a miracle for USC to win-out, I don’t think the Trojans will play for the Championship in January. I would be shocked if USC beat California, Oregon, and Notre Dame.
Ohio State vs. West Virginia
Michigan vs. West Virginia
West Virginia needs to do one thing and hope for two others. First, West Virginia has to beat Louisville. Next, it needs USC to lose. Then, it needs to hope that its BCS rating stays ahead of the top one-loss teams (Auburn and Florida).
Ohio State vs. Louisville
Michigan vs. Louisville
See West Virginia
Ohio State vs. Auburn
Michigan vs. Auburn
Auburn’s best bet to the Championship game is having Arkansas win the conference which means Auburn wouldn’t have to play Florida again in the SEC Championship. At that point, Auburn would need USC to lose, and hope to have a higher BCS rating than the West Virginia/Louisville winner and Florida.
Ohio State vs. Florida
Michigan vs. Florida
If Florida is going to finish in the top two, it will have to win the SEC Championship game against Arkansas or Auburn and then hope USC loses and its BCS rating is ahead of the West Virginia/Louisville winner and Auburn.
Ohio State vs. Michigan
If Michigan and Ohio State play a classic, and USC loses, it is possible for a rematch in the BSC Championship game. There is precedent for a rematch of a late-season classic between the top two teams in the country. That occurred in 1996 when Florida and Florida State played again in the Sugar Bowl only a month after they played the first time. I don’t think it’s that improbable for that to happen again this year. Both teams will have stellar computer ratings even after this game. It will likely be up to the human polls. If the voters want a rematch, they will only drop the loser to #2.
I don’t think Texas, Tennessee, Notre Dame or California can make the BCS game unless Florida AND Auburn lose again and Michigan loses to Iowa and the winner of the West Virginia/Louisville loses a game. I would be tempted to bet my house that those things aren’t going to happen.
In my opinion, these are the top three possibilities:
1). Ohio State/Michigan winner vs. Auburn
2). Ohio State/Michigan winner vs. West Virginia
3). Ohio State vs. Michigan