This feature was started midway season when the BCS rankings came out and was used to gauge rooting interest for Mountain West teams to make their way to a BCS bowl game. Well, with future conference member Boise State third in the coaches poll, TCU fifth, and Utah sitting at 20 time to trot out this series describing how Boise State could meet TCU in the BCS title game. The two rankings are the highest this early for any non-BCS team and it is not even close so that right that dramatically increases their odds of facing each other in the title game.
The key factor for either school being in the top two is that most of the teams in the top 12 play each other, and it may be tough for a one loss team to jump Boise or TCU who are already in the top five. Strength of schedule is an issue so Boise and TCU need to show some style points, and perhaps even more for Boise who will have a lesser schedule then TCU but both need to rack up some impressive wins. Looking at the teams that are ahead of Boise and TCU who are Ohio State, Alabama, and Texas they all have games against other teams ranked inside the top 12 and will knock each other off. Lets start with Alabama and look at their schedule and the current coaches poll ranking associated with opponents.
9/4/2010 San Jose St. W 48 - 3
9/11/2010 #14 Penn St. 7:00 PM
9/18/2010 at Duke 3:30 PM
9/25/2010 #15 at Arkansas (TBA)
10/2/2010 #6 Florida (TBA)
10/9/2010 #25 at South Carolina (TBA)
10/16/2010 Mississippi (TBA)
10/23/2010 at Tennessee (TBA)
11/6/2010 #16 at LSU 8:00 PM
11/13/2010 Mississippi St. (TBA)
11/26/2010 #20 Auburn 2:30 PM
So, Alabama has a formidable schedule and enough chances to move back up in the rankings, but the big game is Florida on the schedule who is currently (and somehow) still in the top 10 and could replace Alabama as a national title contender and perhaps jump Boise. If Alabama does make it to the SEC title game they could face Florida again and if history has taught us anything it is that the SEC champ goes to the BCS title game. For Boise State and TCU to play each other a two loss team needs to win the SEC. Having said that a one loss Florida may be able to knock out a higher ranked TCU or Boise State with a marquee win in the title game, but this also assume Florida will run the table and after week one that seems highly unlikely.
Now onto Ohio State:
9/2/2010 Marshall W 45 - 7
9/11/2010 #12 Miami 3:40 PM
9/18/2010 Ohio 12:00 PM
9/25/2010 Eastern Michigan (TBA)
10/2/2010 at Illinois (TBA)
10/9/2010 Indiana (TBA)
10/16/2010 #11 at Wisconsin 7:15 PM
10/23/2010 Purdue 12:00 PM
10/30/2010 at Minnesota 8:00 PM
11/13/2010 #14 Penn St. (TBA)
11/20/2010 #9 at Iowa (TBA)
11/27/2010 Michigan (TBA)
Besides this upcoming week against Miami there are plenty of chances for Ohio State to slip up with game at Wisconsin and at Iowa. A loss to Iowa would definitely knock them out of national title race as most likely would a loss at Wisconsin especially if Ohio State, TCU, Boise State, Oregon, or Texas are still undefeated when mid season rolls around.
On to Texas:
Date Opponent Score
9/4/2010 at Rice W 34 - 17
9/11/2010 Wyoming 7:00 PM
9/18/2010 at Texas Tech 8:00 PM
9/25/2010 UCLA (TBA)
10/2/2010 #7 at Oklahoma (TBA)
10/16/2010 #10 at Nebraska (TBA)
10/23/2010 Iowa St. (TBA)
10/30/2010 Baylor (TBA)
11/6/2010 at Kansas St. (TBA)
11/13/2010 Oklahoma St. (TBA)
11/20/2010 Florida Atlantic (TBA)
11/25/2010 Texas A&M 8:00 PM
Their win over Rice was not pretty, but someone thought it was appropriate to give Texas the top spot in the AP poll. Their schedule is actually quite weak for a Big XII schedule and I find it hard to believe that with what is essentially a rookie quarterback in Garret Gilbert that they will beat Oklahoma and Nebraska in back to back weeks on the road, and for good measure toss in a suspect running game.
The way Texas played against Rice they may not even be able to get past Texas Tech in Lubbock. Looking at a Big XII team that could move into the top ahead of Boise State or TCU it would be nebraska, because Oklahoma nearly coughed up a win to a traditionally very bad team in Utah State. Nebraska's non conference schedule will do them no favors as they play Western Kentucky who they just beat, and then play Idaho, @ Washington, and South Dakota State. So, will they be able to jump any undefeated teams regardless of conference affiliation.
There are other teams to watch who could sneak in and pass at least TCU and they are Oregon who has a solid Pac-10 schedule, but they do not face any truly great teams this year. Plus look out for an undefeated Big 10 champion not named Ohio State or a way out of left field SEC title team like Arkansas, LSU, or South Carolina. I am not sure a team so far in the rankings can surpass any teams ranked in the current top five.
To get one non-BCS team in the title game really does not seem too difficult --especially with Boise Stats -- because the only team that may be able to pass them in the rankings and knock them out of title contention is probably Iowa since they are in the top ten and play Ohio State and Wisconsin. Even then if Boise (or TCU) get entrenched in the number two spot will they get voted over other teams just because of their schedule? It is entirely possible because Boise is most likely a minimum of a ten point favorite here on out and will need to win in impressive fashion each week to justify their rankings, but Nebraska could beat Oklahoma 14-10 and get a boost because they are beating a good team.
For Boise and/or TCU to stay in the race to make the title game they will need to have each of their conference mates perform well outside of league play and have non-conference opponents have a great season, because that will be noticed in the computer rankings in regards to strength of schedule. Last years difference between TCU and Cincinnati's difference in the BCS numbers were separated by thousandths of points or for a visual look the difference was between these miniscule numbers .001 to .009.
To get both TCU and Boise State in the title game it will obviously mean both teams go undefeated, a Big XII champion needs to have one loss, a SEC champion with two loses or a surprise team as mentioned about who is low in the rankings but runs the table or has a single loss, a Big 10 champ that has one loss, an undefeated Oregon would make for an interesting case to see if they can knock TCU or Boise out of the two spot, the Big East is out of it even if West Virginia goes unbeaten, and the ACC has been a pinball league with a bunch of two or three loss teams in conference play.
Check back each week as I attempt to break down and make sense of how TCU and future conference mate Boise State might be able to meet for a third straight year in the BCS title game, or make it there themselves.