Imagine this scenario: Either Alabama or LSU emerges from the Southeastern Conference Championship game undefeated. Stanford runs the table and finishes the Pac-12 undefeated. Wisconsin wins out and takes the Big 10 crown. Either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State go unbeaten and win the Big 12. Clemson or Georgia Tech emerges from the ACC undefeated and Boise State also runs the table.
The second week of December will be interesting, won’t it? But how likely is the scenario above playing out?
Alabama and LSU meet on the field on Nov 5th in a matchup everyone will be watching. The winner of that game would be favored in every game afterwards and should finish the season undefeated, with a chance to be the third SEC team in as many years to go 13-0 if it wins in Atlanta.
Stanford faces tough opponents in USC and Oregon but should be favored against both.
Wisconsin destroyed Nebraska last Saturday and won’t be seriously challenged until they face Illinois and Penn State to end the season. There’s a trip to Michigan State, a quality opponent, but not the same 11-2 conference co-champion it was last year.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State end the season with their traditional rivalry game, but with only 10 teams playing in the Big 12 this year, the winner of that game won’t face anyone in a conference championship game and should finish undefeated.
Clemson has a serious challenge in a game against Georgia Tech and plays South Carolina in its annual state rivalry, but they’ve already faced and beaten three straight ranked opponents. They’re probably at least a coin flip to run the table and win the ACC.
And of course, Boise State looks like a lead pipe lock to win out and finish undefeated again.
With five undefeated champions of automatic qualifying conferences and six unbeatens after the regular season, what will the BCS do? Who goes to New Orleans for the BCS Championship Game?
One thing is almost certain—even if there aren’t six unbeatens in December, there won’t be room in New Orleans for a one-loss conference champion. If LSU loses to Alabama (or vice versa), but somehow climbs back and makes it to Atlanta, it’s doubtful the human components of the BCS rankings let them back into the top two. Not with unbeaten ACC, Big 12 and Big 10 champions and perennial Whining National Champion, Boise State, out there. Lose one game over the next six and you watch the championship game on TV like the rest of us.
In more times than not, these situations have been avoided and things have usually worked themselves out. It’s likely that one or more of the conference leaders drops a game somewhere, either at the hands of a conference opponent or in its conference championship game. But for only two unbeaten and untied teams to emerge at the end of the season, a lot of upsets are going to have to happen.
The first BCS rankings will be released in one week. We’ll see how things start to shake out from that point forward. Let the debates begin.