The NCAA released the latest iteration of the BCS standings today, and as expected, the top two spots belong to Alabama and Texas Tech, the only two undefeated teams in the BCS conferences. Penn State and Oklahoma State both dropped, which was to be expected after each team lost. Other than that, there were no major shakeups, as the pecking order remained the same, if shorter; Texas is now at #3, followed by Florida at #4 and Oklahoma looming at #5.
Sure, the system’s working fine right now, by which we mean the two teams that should be on top, are. But that’s hardly a major feat; what’s the BCS supposed to do, declare that the two title contenders are Alabama and, like, a toaster oven? Right now, the BCS is completely useless, as everyone in the country knows who the top two teams are. But should one of the teams fall, expect all hell to break loose.
First, this week is unlikely to affect the very top of the standings. Alabama faces a 3-6 Mississippi State squad at home, and Texas Tech, like Oklahoma, takes the week off before the two teams meet next week. But Texas must travel to Kansas to play a spunky Jayhawk squad that, while not as elite as last season, can put up points in a hurry. Florida, meanwhile, plays South Carolina, and that shouldn’t be much of a contest. Nobody in the top five should lose, but Texas is the only team who might, and if that happens, expect quite a bit of elbowing and shoving as teams make their case for the #3 spot.
That spot’s going to be critical next week, because as mentioned before, Texas Tech faces the Sooners, at OU. If Oklahoma wins, they could quite easily jump Texas in the BCS standings, even if the Longhorns take care of business up at KU the week prior (Texas is idle on 11/22). Should they do so, Oklahoma would be the Big XII South’s representative; the first relevant tiebreaker is BCS ranking.
Meanwhile, Alabama should coast past Mississippi State (though Novembers are where BCS dreams go to die), but they’ve also got a date with hated rival Auburn, and records are largely meaningless in the Iron Bowl. Stumble here, and ‘Bama’s still going to the SEC championship, but with their title hopes dashed upon the rocks below. The same goes for Florida. Easy games from here on out, but the season ends with a hated rival, this time Florida State. If Alabama wins out, obviously they’re in.
But what of Florida? Will they be able to vault into the top two with a win against Alabama? What if one of the SEC’s two contenders loses in the regular season, then wins the SEC championship? Yes, this could happen:
A Texas Tech-Texas BCS Championship game.
#4 Florida and #1 Alabama would both be out of contention in that scenario, and #5 Oklahoma would have been dispatched by Texas Tech. Meanwhile, #6 USC’s got nothing left on their schedule to overtake either team, and #7 Utah is just too far away.
So it could plausibly happen. And it would probably be pretty awesome, maybe even the BCS’s finest possible outcome (come on, like you don’t want to see a rematch of the best game of the year?). But expect head coaches everywhere (see Carroll, Pete) to go ballistic and amp up their calls for playoffs to a volume so loud, the NCAA may no longer be able to ignore it.