This week is historic in the college football record books. For the first time ever, 3 teams from non-automatic qualifying conferences are in the top 5 in the BCS rankings. That’s right, 3 of the top 5 teams. True, none of the 3 teams are in the top 2, and thus, not considered for the national championship game, should it be played today.
Auburn and Oregon are far from assured spots at the top by season’s end, however.
#2 Auburn still has Alabama at the end of their season with a chance of having to play South Carolina in the SEC championship. That’s a tall order to stay undefeated. If the Tigers should fall to Alabama, (depending on how the rest of Alabama’s games work out before their matchup with Auburn) they would likely fall out of the top 5 and Alabama would gain the #2 spot, jumping any undefeated WAC or MWC champion.
#1 Oregon still has to play the tough stretch of their schedule. They host Washington, then play at Cal, then they host #15 Arizona, then go to Oregon State for the “Civil War”. That is just a brutal gauntlet. Almost as brutal as Utah’s remaining 4 games.
In order for the Utes to stay undefeated and keep this dream season rolling, they will need to defeat TCU in Salt Lake next week, travel to South Bend and beat the Irish, then travel to San Diego to face a much improved Aztecs team, and to top it off, beat rival BYU in Salt Lake. I don’t see how any rational person could ignore that type of finish and Utah could make a good case for a national championship bid. The #5 Utes enter week 10 the highest they’ve ever been ranked in the BCS polls while in mid-season. They finished 4th in ’08 following their upset over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Something tells me voters would be more likely to side with including a Utah team that is only months removed from joining BCS conference power PAC-10 than Boise or TCU, who will remain in the non-AQ Mountain West Conference next season.
It’s almost guaranteed that the winner of the TCU/Utah game will finish ahead of Boise State, if they stay undefeated. TCU jumped Boise already this week after beating UNLV 48-6 in Vegas.
#4 Boise State is in danger of falling further due to their schedule. It seems to happen every season. As more teams behind them continue to play more challenging and impressive teams, the luster of their wins over Virginia Tech and Oregon State fade and fade. Boise really does need to win all remaining games 100-0 to rectify that. I’m sure they feel their exodus to the Mountain West can’t come fast enough (especially if an undefeated Utah or TCU team gets a bid for the national championship game.
#3 TCU is right where they want to be. With both Utah and San Diego State remaining for the Horned Frogs, they shouldn’t be in danger of a 1 loss team jumping them. Their real concern should be championship week. If Alabama finishes their season with a win over current #2 Auburn and then get a redemption win against South Carolina (the only team to beat the Crimson Tide so far this season) in the SEC championship game, you can stamp Alabama’s ticket to Tempe to play likely Oregon.
Other 1-loss hopefuls to watch for; Wisconsin, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.
Wisconsin’s only loss came against Michigan State, Since that loss, Wisconsin has beaten then #1 Ohio State and Iowa. Not easy tasks at all. With no team left in the Big 10 that’s undefeated, they have as good an argument as any to be the highest ranked 1-loss team.
Ohio State is in an interesting situation right now. They have blown out the last 2 teams they’ve played (Purdue and Minnesota) by a combined total of 111-10. The problem is, since Purdue and Minnesota are struggling so badly right now, no one has paid very close attention to those wins. Bring on Michigan and Iowa.
Oklahoma was not helped by Missouri’s loss to Nebraska this past week, especially since the Sooners would likely have played the Tigers in the Big 12 championship game and revenged the loss from 2 weeks ago. Now, Oklahoma will likely face Nebraska for the conference title.
Nebraska’s ground attack was brutal Saturday. Helu alone put up 307 yards rushing. Anyone who watched that game knows Missouri did not tackle well at all. Helu broke tackle after tackle as he stacked up 50+ yard TD runs. If they can continue the momentum, the Texas loss will hopefully fade into the background and the Huskers can get back into the spotlight. Time will tell.
Great week of college football. Any time there is a shift to all 5 of the top 5 teams from the week before, it’s been a good week. This week should prove even more monumental with #3 TCU travelling to Salt Lake to face #5 Utah. The winner of this game could find itself in the national championship discussion. And being in the discussion BEFORE the national championship game is played is a welcome change for the Utes.