(Video added below)
Is it time for a rare dirge at SEC headquarters?
Three non-SEC teams — Kansas State, Oregon, Notre Dame — top the BCS rankings. This is the equivalent of a Big Foot sighting – or maybe three of them. But there’s still a possibility that the winner of the SEC championship game in the Georgia Dome between Georgia and Alabama will wind up in the BCS championship game.
SEC schools have won six straight BCS titles. In short, two of the three undefeated teams ahead of Georgia and Alabama have to lose for a chance to make it seven. And that could happen.
Here’s how I see it breaking down:
No. 1 Kansas State (10-0).
Schedule: at Baylor (4-5), vs. BCS No. 15 Texas (8-2)
Recap: The Wildcats will beat Baylor. The Bears can score a ton of points but their defense can’t hold up against a Sun Belt team. Texas has lost to its two strongest opponents this season, West Virginia (48-45) and Oklahoma (63-21), and both were home games. But the Longhorns are 4-0 on the road this season and they won at Texas Tech 31-22 a week ago. The biggest obstacle to a Texas upset: Its defense hasn’t been able to stop the run all season, allowing 200 yards per game. Rushing is the strength of the Kansas State offense (213.6). Kansas State also is helped by the fact that there is no Big 12 championship game this season because the defections of Nebraska and Colorado dropped the conference under the mandated minimum of 12 teams for a conference title game.
Bottom line: Barring an unexpected meltdown, Kansas State will be in the BCS title game.
No. 2 Oregon (10-0).
Schedule: vs. BCS No. 13 Stanford, at BCS No. 16 Oregon State, Pacific 12 Conference title (if necessary).
Recap: The Ducks are averaging nearly 55 points a game. That can cover up a lot of deficiencies. But USC is the highest ranked team Oregon has played this season, and the Ducks barely escaped 62-51. Stanford took Notre Dame to overtime earlier this season in South Bend before losing. Last week the Cardinal upset Oregon State. Stanford can run the ball and, therefore, control the clock and keep Oregon’s offense off the field. So this game has upset potential. Similarly, the Ducks’ game against rival Oregon State in Corvallis won’t be easy. The Beavers have the second-lowest scoring defense in the conference (19.1) and are accustomed to seeing Oregon’s offense. The Ducks have won the last two meetings in Corvallis but prior to that Oregon State had won five straight. Even if Oregon gets through both of those games, the team still has to win the conference championship game (against USC or UCLA).
Bottom line: With potentially three difficult games, it says here Oregon will lose one of them.
No. 3 Notre Dame (10-0)
Schedule: vs. Wake Forest, at BCS No. 18 USC.
Recap: This is the wild card. The Irish will walk all over Wake Forest, which has lost five of its last eight and just got drilled by North Carolina State 37-6. The question is what happens in the USC game in two weeks, and Georgia or Alabama fans could be in the uncomfortable position of rooting for Lane Kiffin in that game. The Trojans’ defense has slipped significantly but Notre Dame is not an overpowering offensive team. Also, while the Irish won in Los Angeles two years ago, this series has been dominated by the Trojans since 2002, with nine wins in the last 10 meetings. Expect this game to tip on a turnover.
Bottom line: Maybe this is just the part of me that has a difficult time visualizing no SEC team in the BCS title game. But USC will upset Notre Dame.
Agree or disagree? The digital venting lines are open and we’ve put up a poll.
Hey, moving pictures! (And why Georgia can beat Alabama)
By Jeff Schultz