As of November 12, 2011, the following nine teams still have an opportunity to play in the 2011-2012 BCS NCAA College Football Championship Game, to be played in New Orleans on January 9, 2012. Here are the teams, ranked in order from “easiest” to “most difficult” path, with a review of what they need to do.
1. Oklahoma State will qualify by winning their two remaining games, including “bedlam” vs. Oklahoma. The Cowboys would finish with 12 wins and 0 losses (12-0), with wins over four opponents ranked in the Top 25 when they played. I rank the Cowboys as having the “easiest” path, because they only have to win two more games. Oklahoma State could lose to Iowa State and still make it to the championship game, but they would need a loss by Oregon. Lose to Oklahoma and the Cowboys would be eliminated.
2. LSU will qualify if they win all three remaining games; beating #3 Arkansas and winning the SEC Championship Game. The Tigers would finish (13-0), having beaten an incredible eight Top 25 opponents. If LSU loses the SEC Championship Game, they would need a loss by Oregon or losses by both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. A loss to Arkansas would end the Tigers championship dreams.
3. Arkansas also will qualify by winning all three remaining games; beating #1 LSU and winning the SEC Championship Game. The Razorbacks would finish 12-1, with wins over five Top 25 opponents. With wins over both Mississippi State and LSU, Arkansas would win the SEC West, thus eliminating both LSU and Alabama. A loss in any of their remaining games would finish off the Razorbacks.
4. Oregon. Must win three remaining games, including USC and PAC-12 Championship Game, to finish 12-1 with wins over three Top 25 teams. The Ducks would need losses by two of the three teams mentioned already (LSU, Oklahoma State, and Arkansas).
5. Oklahoma. Must win three remaining games, including Baylor and “bedlam” vs Oklahoma State, to finish 11-1 with five wins against Top 25 opponents. The Sooners would need losses by both LSU and Arkansas, plus an additional loss by either Oregon or Alabama.
6. Alabama. Must win three remaining games, including the SEC Championship Game, to finish 12-1, beating five Top 25 opponents. The Crimson Tide needs LSU to lose to both Ole Miss and Arkansas, plus Arkansas would need to lose to Mississippi State, just to play in the SEC Championship Game. If Alabama then beats either Georgia or South Carolina, they would play in the BCS National Championship Game as the SEC Champion.
7. Houston. Must win three remaining games, including Conference USA Championship Game against Southern Miss. The Cougars can finish 13-0, with one victory over a Top 25 opponent (Southern Miss). Houston would need a lot of help to make it to New Orleans. The simplest scenario includes: LSU wins out (eliminating Arkansas and Alabama), Oregon loses one game, Oklahoma loses to Baylor or Iowa State, and finally Oklahoma State loses to both Iowa State and Oklahoma. Additionally, the Cougars need Southern Miss to win the Conference USA East, so they can finish with a “quality” win over a Top 25 opponent.
8-9. Clemson and Virginia Tech. Either the Tigers or Hokies must win out, including the ACC Championship Game, to finish 12-1. They would need all the help mentioned for Houston, plus Houston needs to lose a game.
The LSU Tigers, Oregon Ducks, Oklahoma Sooners, and Houston Cougars will win all of their remaining games. The Tigers and Cougars will finish 13-0, Ducks 12-1, and Sooners 11-1. The college football nation will once again debate the merits of BCS vs Playoff format. Only two teams can play, so the 2012 BCS NCAA College Football National Championship Game will be:
LSU Tigers vs Oklahoma Sooners
Let’s see if anything changes next week.