Florida Football: Why the Gators Are Still Alive for a BCS Championship

Neil ShulmanCorrespondent INovember 5, 2012

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 03:  Head caoch of the Florida Gators Will Muschamp watches the action during the game against the Missouri Tigers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 3, 2012 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

This is going to be very difficult for Gator fans, but if Gator Nation wants to see Florida in the BCS Championship, then Alabama, FSU and USC have to help out big time.

Don't get your hopes up about the other two scenarios from my piece last week. Now, it's pretty clear that the only scenario with a chance at working out is the second one.

Florida has one tough game left, a road trip to FSU. If FSU is still a top-10 team, a Florida victory would really help the Gators in the polls, but would absolutely skyrocket them in the computers. As I'm sure you all know, the Harris Poll is one third of the BCS formula, the Coaches Poll is a third and the six computer rankings (ignoring the highest and lowest ranking for each team) is the other third.

The computers really care about one thing—a team's resume. Who did you beat and where, and who did you lose to and where. That's all they care about. They don't care about the score, only about who won.

The polls are where style points count. This is where a flashy team is going to get its high ranking, while the computers will benefit the grind it out, win at all costs team.

We all know that a one loss Gator team would jump any other one loss team ahead of them, due to being in the SEC.

Right now, Alabama, Kansas State, Oregon, Notre Dame and Georgia are ranked ahead of Florida. Last week, LSU was too, despite losing to Florida, but Alabama made that BCS mistake a moot point, by crushing the Tigers' season with a beautiful game winning drive. So the number of teams Florida needs to lose is four.

I'm not worried about Georgia. Let them beat Auburn. Forget the SEC Championship Game, and let Georgia get rocked by the Crimson Tide. That's going to be the easiest team to jump.

Notre Dame still has a road trip to USC that Florida fans have to hold their hopes up for. The chances of a one loss Gator team jumping an unbeaten Notre Dame team is very slim, but there is a legitimate chance that Notre Dame loses to Lane Kiffin's Trojan squad.

USC is desperate. They were the preseason No. 1 team in the nation, and they're sitting at 6-3. In order to salvage their season, the Trojans need to win out, including wins over Arizona State, UCLA and Notre Dame. I believe they will fight like Tigers to avoid a four loss season, and with Notre Dame coming into the Coliseum, Gator fans have to like the chances of Notre Dame slipping up.

To me, Oregon is the only team Florida could jump with one loss if they stay undefeated. Their schedule all season has been extremely weak, and while it gets a little tougher, it's not going to be enough to stay over Florida if the Gators stay 11-1 in the computers. The polls are going to be more difficult for Florida to pass Oregon in, because Oregon has a conference championship game the week after, and that will be fresher in voters' minds than Florida-FSU.

So if Florida wants to jump the Ducks, they have to crush FSU. As it stands right now, Florida is ahead of Oregon in the computers by a little bit, even though Oregon is undefeated and Florida has one loss. A win at FSU would really separate Florida and Oregon in the computers, while a Pac-12 championship by the Ducks wouldn't do anything at all.

Florida State is better than anybody Oregon could play in the Pac-12 championship. It's between two loss UCLA, three loss USC or four loss Arizona State. The Noles have one loss, and are likely going to be ranked in the top ten come Thanksgiving weekend. If both teams win out, there's no doubt that Florida will own the higher computer ranking. The question is, by how much does Oregon lead in the polls?

The computer are just one third, while the polls make up two. But it's by percentages. If Florida leads in the computer rankings by .080 percent (Florida currently leads by .020 percent), and Oregon leads the Harris Poll by .040 percent (Oregon currently leads by .202 percent) and the Coaches Poll by .030 percent (Oregon currently leads by .209 percent), Florida wins and gets the No. 2 ranking and a berth in the BCS Championship game. You can play with the numbers all you want, but if Florida has more overall percentage points than Oregon, they will make the BCS Championship Game.

Obviously, the polls favor Oregon by a lot right now, but then again, Florida hasn't beaten FSU in Tallahassee to narrow the gap yet. The polls really love the Seminoles (both have FSU at No. 6, while the computers have them at No. 19), which means that a Gator victory should at least cut the poll deficit in half with Oregon, depending on how much Florida wins by. Any road win is huge with the computers, so it would probably increase the Gators' lead in the computers by at least .050 percent at the end of the year.

Of course, there's another way Florida could jump Oregon. The Ducks could, you know, lose a game between now and season's end, and I believe there is a legitimate shot of that happening. Oregon still has to deal with a tough California team that nearly beat Ohio State on the road, Stanford, Oregon State and the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Kansas State is the team that worries me the most. There's no Big 12 Conference Championship, and with only one game against a ranked team remaining, their chances of slipping up are very slim. They travel to TCU and Baylor, and then host Texas in a game that's bigger for Florida than it is for Texas. Of course, Collin Klein's injury is a concern, but K-State has a defense, too, which didn't show up last week against OSU, but will probably do enough to not lose any remaining game.

The Wildcats own both polls by almost .200 percent, and the computers by .070 percent. Maybe the Gators could jump K-State in the computers with a win over FSU since the Cats don't play anybody that great from this point forward, but it certainly wouldn't be enough to catch them in the polls, or even narrow it down enough to make it close.

But, as we've seen before, crazy things have happened in November, and as we saw last year, you don't need to win your own division to play for the BCS Championship. All you need to do is be ranked No. 2 come Bowl Selection time. Alabama bucked that trend a year ago.

Just a thought: a real playoff, not the four team junk beginning in 2014, would make this much better, so undefeated teams at this point wouldn't be in jeopardy, and that many more teams would be doing what Florida is now to get into the playoffs.


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