Week 10 took the top teams in college football by surprise.
No. 1 Alabama was losing to SEC West rival LSU until a late touchdown with 51 seconds remaining in the game. USC kept No. 3 Oregon on its toes with 13 fourth quarter points. No. 4 Notre Dame needed three overtime periods to trump Pittsburgh. And No. 2 Kansas State saw their Heisman contending quarterback Collin Klein go down in the third quarter.
Scares aside, each of these four teams have made it to the home stretch of the regular season with 9-0 records. The road ahead for these teams could very well leave us with four programs with perfect records, creating a situation where griping over the BCS system may again be rampant.
Alabama appears to have the easiest remaining schedule to get to 12-0, with three home games against Texas A&M, Western Carolina and Auburn.
Kansas State will finish up at home versus Texas after two road games against TCU and Baylor. Oregon has to take a trip to play California, followed by dates against Oregon State and Stanford. Notre Dame will play Boston College and Wake Forest and then head to the Coliseum to finish the regular season with its rivalry game versus USC.
Alabama and Oregon are also likely to play in the SEC and Pac 12 conference championships, respectively.
All four teams could make strong claims why they should be playing in the BCS title matchup if they hold flawless records in December. I don’t think there will be a true consensus on who deserves a spot (minus an undefeated Alabama), making it the perfect year for a four-team playoff.
But alas we must wait one more year, as the new system agreed upon this summer does not take effect until the 2013-2014 season, meaning two teams will likely feel cheated out of a chance to be the national champion, and rightfully so.
Defending national champion Alabama holds the upper hand in the race as the assumed powerhouse this year. However, Saturday’s game in Death Valley showed while this team is good, they are beatable. The Tigers scored 17 points, 14 of which were in the second half, and the Crimson offense was held scoreless after the first half until the final minute of play.
I’m not claiming this team is overrated, far from it, they’re the reigning national champions for a reason. But this team is not as untouchable as the college football world has made them out to be. And look at their past schedule, the next best opponent to LSU is then-No. 8 Michigan to start the season, a team that has completely fallen off the radar.
Oregon suffered from a similarly easy schedule, but this factor will be lessened with two tough Pac-12 games and likely a third in the conference championship. The Ducks have proved their offensive dominance and if their defense was comparable I would say they look to be the best. But giving up 51 points to USC shows a clear weakness.
Preseason opinions suggested Notre Dame was handed with one of the toughest schedules in college football. They are the biggest surprise of all four teams, beating Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford and Oklahoma, but these opponents have not lived up to the hype they previously received leading up to playing an actual game.
Beating Oklahoma Sept. 27 is the biggest accomplishment of Kansas State this season. While it’s played a solid schedule against Big 12 teams, it’s not played in a big game since the Sooners.
The absence of a conference championship game also hurts both Notre Dame and Kansas State. Alabama and Oregon likely will have the opportunity to go 13-0 and play another game against a ranked opponent, putting them a leg up in the hunt for the BCS National Championship game.
Why should the Crimson and Ducks be given the advantage over the Fighting Irish and Wildcats? There is simply no fair way to compare the four.
But what if one of these teams doesn’t come away from the regular season untouched?
Well, let’s look at undefeated Louisville.
The Cardinals are rightfully not categorized with the other top-tier teams coming from an unnoticeable Big East conference. This is reflected by their spot at No. 9 in the rankings, behind teams that have suffered a loss this season.
They will likely skate their way to a perfect regular season record with the only true challenge left on their slate falling on a matchup with Rutgers Nov. 29.
This current BCS system gives them no shot at a title game no matter their performance, but they should be given the chance to prove themselves, something a playoff system would do.
It looks as though this season will be yet another full of controversy and spite towards the BCS.
With the path to the championship now becoming clearer, it won’t be surprising to see an undefeated Kansas State and an undefeated Notre Dame shut out of a title game if Alabama and Oregon finish the season perfect.
This serves as a perfect example to why things need to change, but it’s a shame the change is not going to happen soon enough. There probably isn’t a college football fan out there who doesn’t want to see these four teams battle head-to-head and truly earn the title as the nation’s best.