With still six weeks left on the season, it looks increasingly like a BCS National Championship Game featuring Alabama and Oregon will be inevitable.
Everybody else is just playing for a BCS bowl berth.
Unless either Alabama or Oregon loses, none of the other teams will have a shot at cracking the top two spots in the final BCS standings. That includes the other six teams currently unbeaten, as well as any team already with at least one loss.
But before you make travel plans for the Tide-Ducks showdown in Pasadena on Jan. 6, realize this: The teams most likely to go through the rest of the regular season unscathed are not the occupants of the top two spots in the latest BCS standings. If going purely on the probability of least likely to lose, you might end up with Florida State-Ohio State.
Let's assess the prospects of the top contenders:
1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide actually have the toughest remaining schedule among the top four teams, with potentially three games against teams currently in the top 14—LSU, Auburn and possibly either Missouri or South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game. Of course, Alabama controls its own destiny. If it wins out, it'll be playing for an unprecedented third consecutive BCS championship.
2. Oregon: The Ducks' remaining schedule certainly isn't easy, but their major hurdle will be No. 5 Stanford in two weeks. Last year, the Cardinal ended Oregon's BCS dreams with an upset win in overtime. This year, the game is at Stanford, but the Ducks will be arriving with an 18-game road winning streak, just two shy of tying Miami for the best road streak in the last 30 years.
3. Florida State: The Seminoles will get a bump in the BCS standings if they beat undefeated Miami next week, but there is nothing left on their schedule that will allow them to catch Oregon at the end of the season. FSU has a much easier stretch after the Miami game than the two teams directly in front of it. The 'Noles just have to guard against too much scoreboard-watching and make sure to take care of business on the field.
4. Ohio State: The Buckeyes have by far the easiest schedule of any contending team, and that's their biggest problem. Michigan at the Big House might be the only thing in their way of a 25-0 record under Urban Meyer, but going unbeaten is not going to be enough to get into the BCS title game. OSU has no way of moving up unless at least two of the three teams in front of it lose.
5. Stanford: The Cardinal are the only current one-loss team with a prayer of getting into the BCS title game, and to keep that hope alive they must beat Oregon in two weeks. There is no scenario for Stanford to jump any of the unbeaten teams, including Ohio State.
6. Baylor: The Bears have taken advantage of upsets over the last three weeks to move up rapidly in the standings, but now comes the hard part. After a bye, Baylor must play three consecutive games against ranked opponents—Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. If the Bears can get through these games without a blemish, then we'll look further.
7. Miami: The Hurricanes have made dramatic escapes in their past two games, but their luck will probably run out next week in Tallahassee. Should Miami somehow pull off a major upset, it will have the potential to at least threaten Ohio State for the No. 3 spot. For now, though, it looks to be a long, long shot.
|BCS Standings Projections|
|Rank||Actual||BCS Guru||Jerry Palm||Brad Edwards||BCSKnowHow|
|3||Florida St.||Florida St.||Florida St.||Florida St.||Florida St.|
|4||Ohio State||Ohio State||Ohio State||Ohio State||Ohio State|
|13||LSU||Texas Tech||Texas A&M|
|14||S. Carolina||Texas A&M||Texas Tech|
|15||Texas Tech||N. Illinois||S. Carolina|
|16||Fresno St.||S. Carolina||N. Illinois|
|17||N. Illinois||UCLA||Fresno St.|
|18||Okla. State||Fresno St.||UCLA|
|19||Louisville||Okla. State||Okla. State|
|22||Michigan St.||UCF||Va. Tech|
|25||Notre Dame||Michigan St.||Wisconsin|
|Official BCS Standings (Oct. 27)|
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