Spectacular Saturday Offers Sunday Summations - Week #6

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The low nutritional values of the cupcake diet plan have left some teams anorexic and weak in their quest for the national title, but one thing was for certain regarding the action on the gridiron in Week #6. If you've played the hand you were dealt to the best of your ability as a team and have somehow managed to take care of the issues that you could control, the sun has continued to shine on your championship aspirations. Florida State, Georgia and LSU must not have gotten the memo.

By Ben Johnson - Special to SBNation.com

West Virginia, South Carolina and Florida are on the rise, while Alabama, Oregon and even upstart Notre Dame appear to have the best shot at the national championship game given the results thus far and the upcoming schedule remaining.

No matter how many KSI Indexes or national polls we seem to utilize from week-to-week, the so called experts will never get it right, but that is the unprecedented beauty of college football.

The unpredictable nature of the fall spectacle keeps us glued to our seats and eager for more and more upsets galore.

So let's gaze into the BCS crystal ball to see where the contenders and pretenders fit within the remaining schedule as we near the mid-point of the 2012 college football campaign.

I calculated that there are 18 teams that still have at least an outside shot at the national championship game. Of those 18, only 16 remain undefeated.

The favorites on paper appear to be Alabama, South Carolina and Oregon, but upstarts West Virginia, Florida, Notre Dame and Kansas State are making things downright interesting.

Is BCS controversy brewing once again?

Throughout the recent college football realignment craze, the Big-12 Conference members appear to have an advantage over the PAC-12 and Notre Dame in terms of earning an invitation.

Whoever, if any team can, comes out of the regular season conference race undefeated, they will not have a conference championship game riding in the balance on their way to Miami.

Could you imagine West Virginia-Texas or Oklahoma-KState locking horns again after running that daunting gauntlet during the regular season?

Oregon can as they must beat either the Trojans or upstart Arizona State twice to punch their ticket.

West Virginia appears to have the upper hand in the Big-12 at present, even though that Mountaineer defense plays whiffle ball and eats swiss cheese with the best of them, but KState is equally unshakable in their quest to bring what may be the best coach in the country (Bill Snyder) his first national title game appearance.

Shoot, even Oklahoma and Texas, given their blue blood background and branding identity, could make a run if Oregon fails to conquer USC or Arizona State twice in one season. Just when we thought the SEC was Alabama, LSU and everyone else, Florida, South Carolina and even Texas A&M (remember, their only loss is to Florida by 3) has caused the conference to flex their muscle yet again.

Here's a look at the advantages and disadvantages for the remaining title contenders.

ALABAMA (5-0)

Opponent Records (Present)

Opponent Records (Future)

Key Wins To Date

Top Games Remaining

13 - 14 21 - 16 Michigan, Arkansas & Ole Miss Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State & Auburn

The Tide have played a light schedule similar to Oregon, South Carolina, Kansas State and Florida State, but like the other members I just spoke of, are high up in the polls.

However, unless their future opponents in both divisions of the SEC start to reel off a lengthy win streak, Alabama may be on the outside looking in if they happen to drop a game during the regular season since the Gamecocks and Gators face a future schedule in the SEC with a 24-8 and 28-11 combined record thus far.

Somehow, and this seems somewhat absurd to even suggest it, the Tide has lost a bit of luster since we found out Michigan and Arkansas are far below expectation, so the question remains...what do we really know about Alabama?

The statistics of my KSI Index say beating them is easier said than done, of course, since that defense is exceptionally disciplined, well coached and athletic, but the Tide just may be a little more than vulnerable to repeat as SEC champs given the rise of South Carolina and Florida to date.

Ol' Crimson misses Florida, Georgia and South Carolina on the regular season docket, although the Cocks and Gators may get their chance to take on Nick Saban in the SEC title game, but will a soft SEC schedule prepare Alabama to face off with either of the two given how much improvement we have witnessed with Florida and South Carolina in recent weeks?

Food for thought to ponder.

OREGON (6-0)

Opponent Records (Present)

Opponent Records (Future)

Key Wins To Date

Top Games Remaining

16 - 18 19 - 11 Arizona, Washington & Fresno State Stanford, USC, Oregon State & Arizona State

The Ducks soft non-conference schedule has had little negative effect during the first three weeks of PAC-12 action, but now the schedule stiffens, with four of the remaining six on the road away from the friendly and noisy confines of venerable Autzen Stadium.

Two very large trap games loom before the stretch run versus Stanford, USC and Oregon State closes the season.

Tedford and the Bears seem to have Oregon figured out on defense when they play at home, and the Ducks always struggle in Berkeley, but yet an even bigger struggle may loom two weeks from now down in Tempe with ASU.

Don't sleep on the Sun Devils, who are only a 4 point loss to Missouri from an undefeated resume themselves.

Assuming Oregon can beat ASU on the road and Colorado at home, the stretch drive will be a difficult hurdle for Oregon and should propel them onward to the BCS Championship if they can navigate a mine field loaded with USC, Cal, Stanford and Oregon State to close the year.

But then again, they may have to face a resurgent USC or even Arizona State twice just to get there and that type of schedule may in fact be a tougher road than Alabama faces in the SEC West.

The real season for Oregon is about to begin and we shall see if they can rise up and grind through a tough as nails slate of PAC-12 football.

South Carolina (6-0)

Opponent Records (Present)

Opponent Records (Future)

Key Wins To Date

Top Games Remaining

15 - 19 24 - 8 Vanderbilt, Missouri & Georgia.

LSU, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas & Clemson.

The next four weeks will be very telling for the Gamecocks' given they are at LSU and at Florida, followed by home dates with Tennessee and Arkansas.

Ouch-i-mama that training room staff is going to be busy!

Both those future games at home could be a struggle if the Gamers get banged up in those physically thunderous match-ups with the Tigers and Gators on the road.

I've been high on the Cocks' this year given their balance on offense and defense. Like Notre Dame, it is just dadgum hard to score on this team...as they say in the South.

Athletically, they outpace the both the Irish and Oregon State, which have given up similar scores and statistical performances on defense.

I had South Carolina ranked #7 according to the KSI Index Rating last week with Georgia coming in at #14. Nice to see the Index prove me right once again. It's a daunting and opposing schedule, but the Ol' ball coach just may have enough in that can of Git-R-Done this season.

Kansas State (5-0)

Opponent Records (Present)

Opponent Records (Future)

Key Wins To Date

Top Games Remaining

10 - 17 26 - 7 Miami and Oklahoma. Iowa St, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Oklahoma St, TCU, Baylor and Texas.

The Cats continue to be the unsexy pick, but their victories over Miami and Oklahoma provide a pretty good read for both Kansas State and Notre Dame, who both beat Miami by similar scores.

These two teams are almost identical mirror images of each other on offense and defense.

North Texas put up more points (21) on the Wildcat defense than a host of others (including Miami, Oklahoma and Kansas), so as long as they don't sleep walk on defense versus a lesser opponent or get turnover crazy on offense versus the titans in the Big-12, this team will be very hard to conquer.

They face the heart of the Big-12 to close the year so I hope they have their injury bug inoculations in order!

Overall athletic depth may play an issue down the stretch. It is the only weakness I see at this juncture in the season.

Florida (5-0)

Opponent Records (Present)

Opponent Records (Future)

Key Wins To Date

Top Games Remaining

16 - 12 28 - 11 Texas A&M, Tennessee & LSU Vandy, South Carolina, Georgia, Missouri & Florida State.

If the BCS process was a job interview it would be hard to vote against a Gator candidate given the references and accomplishments. Can you name another team that has eaten such a high protein diet of opponents that include Texas A&M, LSU and Tennessee?

Up to this point in the discussion, every team we put in front of the Gators has played a schedule whose cumulative record is under .500!

The Florida opponents thus far sport a 16-12 record and the coming opponent combined records are dazzling at 28 - 11.

The Gators have not only played a fierce schedule thus far, they beat Texas A&M and Tennessee on the road to boot, leaving me to wonder why Florida isn't ranked number one already if we are judging by this years accomplishment alone.

A potential trap game looms next weekend at Vanderbilt and then Florida will host South Carolina in two weeks, and the annual "Cocktail" game in Jacksonville with Georgia to follow.

If they pass this internship, they get two weeks R&R versus Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State before taking on the Seminoles to close the year.

The Gators are back and may even be a better version than Urban Meyers Florida squads of the recent past.

Notre Dame (5-0)

Opponent Records (Present)

Opponent Records (Future)

Key Wins To Date

Top Games Remaining

16 - 11 21 - 15 Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State & Miami Stanford, BYU, Oklahoma, Pitt & USC.

Irish eyes are smiling again and there is no luck involved here this time folks...the boys' from South Bend have done it the old fashioned way playing a brand of stingy defense that hasn't been seen around these parts since the Lou Holtz era.

A big time match-up with Stanford next week has lost a little luster given the Cardinal took a beating in Seattle (17-13 loss) and then struggled to put away a gamey Rich-Rod Arizona (54-48 OT) team that Oregon dominated two weeks ago (49-0), but either way, both teams can use a victory next week to springboard their BCS chances.

However, if we use Oregon as the barometer and the fact that they beat both Washington and Arizona by a combined score of 101-21, Stanford may not be what we think they are at present, or even what we thought they were three weeks ago after beating USC.

If the Irish continue their winning ways versus Stanford, a trap game versus BYU is sandwiched between a "once in a century" match-up with Oklahoma...and the Irish still have USC left to close the season!

We thought that pre-season schedule ranking was of prime rib quality, but like Florida, Notre Dame is undefeated versus a winning schedule when combining the opponents. Although not as flashy as South Carolina, Kansas State or Florida, the remaining schedule is still solid with some name brand identity to boot.

I like their chances if they can continue to limit their opponents to three scores or less.

The Irish are back and that is good for college football!

Oregon State (4-0)

Opponent Records (Present)

Opponent Records (Future)

Key Wins To Date

Top Games Remaining

13 - 14 25 - 11 Wisconsin, UCLA, Arizona, WSU BYU, Utah, ASU, Stanford, Cal & Oregon

Bingo, bango, bongo...here come the Beavers as former radio announcer Daryl Aune used to say back in the glory days of OSU basketball when they were a bonafide number one threat every season during the Ralph Miller era.

The Orange Express is rolling, Mike Riley and Co are eating In-N-Out Burgers like no tomorrow, and everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon.

What gives this team a chance is their defense, very Notre Dame like in the amount of points they are giving up.

With a trip to BYU next week, the Beavs will need to continue this trend as a former classmate of mine, head coach Bronco Mendenhall's Cougars, have lost a 7-6 tilt with Boise State and beat Utah State last Friday 6-3. Given Mike Riley's 19-6 victory over Mike Leach's other Cougars, I'm guessing the over-under will be about 15 for total points combined.

Even that may be a stretch.

We know what we are going to get out of BYU, but which Beaver team will show up?

The one that dominated UCLA or the one that struggled offensively against both Wisconsin and WSU? If the UCLA version shows up, advantage OSU...if the Wisconsin version shows up, the undefeated run is over, period, and the bubble may have burst.

This coming week is a benchmark week for OSU, we will know what we are dealing with after BYU because they play the better teams within the PAC-12 the rest of the way...a potential big ouch to a sterling start!

Either way, I'm already busy with my In-N-Out Burger business plan proposal to bring that venture to the State of Oregon. Timing is everything, which lends me to believe, the Beavers time in the limelight may be running thin.

A very hopeful O - S - U from a former athletic alum!

West Virginia

Opponent Records (Present)

Opponent Records (Future)

Key Wins To Date

Top Games Remaining

16 - 9 23 - 10 Baylor & Texas Texas Tech, Kansas State, TCU, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma & Iowa State.

And then here is this team called West Virginia that likes to play PAC-10 shootout football of old...you know the kind of football where the defense dislikes any physical contact and the receivers were allowed to run rampant from goal-line-to-goal-line?

Remember those days in the PAC-10?

They've been transplanted to the Big-12!

I have been greatly impressed with the offense, but we knew that coming into the season, especially after analyzing the KSI Index on offense. This is what we expected out of USC, but has yet to materialize.

Marshall, James Madison and Maryland don't exactly put the fear of God in anyone, but Texas and Baylor are at least highly formidable opponents. The combined record of those five teams is 16-9, which is the best schedule played thus far from a winners point of view for any of the heavyweights listed in the Top-10 of any poll.

The problem is the Mountaineers are putting up UFB offensive numbers and barely beating those opponents. Where have we seen this before?

The PAC-10 of old.

West Virginia reminds me of Oregon in the early days of the Mike Bellotti era and UCLA in the Bob Toledo era. Both raced out to fast starts at 6-0 on occasion, and Toledo and the Bruins even ran off a 10-0 run with Cade McNown before the wheels fell off in the final two games of the season.

Is this what we are seeing in West Virginia? Deja Vu anyone?

I can imagine Gino Smith continuing to put up eye-popping offensive stats with that special tandem at the wide receiver position, but somewhere down the line, the offense is going to struggle, but will the defense be there for the assist, especially with Texas Tech, Kansas State, TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma in the next five consecutive weeks?

Highly unlikely, but MUST SEE TV FOR SURE!

The Best Chance For a One-Loss Team To Make A Run?

1. USC - The Trojans have the best shot, but Barkley has looked mysteriously rusty thus far and a plethora of injuries, penalties and coaching media relations snafu's have befallen the Men of Troy. I still like their chances, but beating Oregon twice, assuming they even get there... I'm not ready to take that bet at this point with all the drama and inconsistencies.

Why you ask?

With an opponent record of 11-15 thus far and given the shakiness in their play, the schedule may be too much for a team that is already 20 scholarships short given the remaining schedule has a 26 - 12 record.

Stanford hasn't helped us with their up and down performance so far and as a matter of fact, the Cardinal may be the most disappointing team in the country in the last two weeks after their improbable victory over Troy in late September.

If the Trojans run the table and beat Oregon twice, they still have to hope West Virginia, KState or even SEC East stalwarts South Carolina and Florida have less impressive resumes.

Anyone want to take that bet, because the skies literally have to align right for all that to happen?

It's a long road back for Barkley and Co.

2. LSU - Les Miles dysfunctional offensive woes are finally catching up to him in Baton Rouge. The defense may be the best in the country, but with the inability to play quick strike on offense or special teams - where is the honey badger when you need him - IDK?

There is just too much stress on that defense, especially given the strength of the SEC East and the Tigers still have to play South Carolina, Texas A&M, Alabama and Mississippi State in the next four weeks.

Ouch!

They better clean it up in a hurry.

As poorly as they have performed thus far versus a 14-18 cumulative record and strength of schedule ranked 55th, the mountain gets even steeper with a group of opponents sporting a combined 25-11 record, and which are in fact, the teams that carry the heart and soul of the SEC dominance this season.

Anyone want to bet on the Tigers? I think the #8 AP Poll ranking is a bit much to take given their offensive inconsistencies don't you think?

3. Oklahoma & Texas - The annual Red River Rivalry week is upon us and both teams are already once beaten so the luster is shot, but if any two teams can climb their way back into the national championship discussion after tough early season losses, it will be the winner of this game.

Will it be Boomer Red or Burnt Orange? IDK, but one thing is for certain...

This one will be just as highly offensive in the stands and amid the state fairgrounds as it will be between the sidelines and goalines.

Oklahoma has played a cumulative opponent record of 12 -10, while Texas is 14 -12, but Oklahoma's coming opponents are a combined 28 -10, while Hook'em is 24 -9.

There is a glimmer of hope left for both of these teams this season and both control their destiny in doing so.

That Big-12 resume and some losses here or there around the country and both teams are back in the BCS limelight.

If I were a betting man, I wouldn't take any of these bets as Oregon, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida are the four horses to follow in the race to the BCS.

Those four have to stumble for the others to claw their way back in.

But we've been down this BCS road before and this is usually the point in the season when things start to get interesting.

Who Has Zero Chance For the BCS Dance?

Both Rutgers and Lousiville sport 10-17 and 6-23 opponent win loss records thus far, and the future schedules don't add much thunder for BCS storm clouds to gather at 20-23 and 20-15 respectively. Cincinnati's is a respectable 24-15, but the Bearcats may be a bit over-rated given Virginia Tech's sudden fall from grace.

There just isn't enough BCS protein amid a thinly veiled Big East and non-conference diet to glean any buzz from among the national media for the three titans in the Big-Least.

If you had to pick one team that is ripe to fall as quickly as Florida State, it would be Mississippi State, since they are 5-0, yet have played a schedule with a combined record of 8-19, while future opponents sport a 25-13 record.

LA-Tech and Ohio are even worse than the Big East trio of Rutgers, Louisville and Cincinnati, but if there was a dark horse or two out there that hasn't received a ton of love from the media, it would be Arizona State and Texas A&M, but two things must happen.

For the Sun Devils, they must run the table and Missouri must do the same...not taking that bet either, but the KSI Index suggest that ASU is better than we give them credit for.

Ditto for Texas A&M, who ranked 4th in the KSI Index last week, but they now enter the heart of their schedule with LA-Tech (5-0), LSU (5-1), Alabama (5-0) and Mississippi State (5-0) in four of the next six weeks.

But if they run that table...?

Florida States sudden tumble out of the BCS championship discussion has all but ended any chance of revival for the ACC. Even if they manage to regroup and finish 12-1, a loss to NC State isn't exactly in the same BCS ballpark discussion as a loss to Stanford, Kansas State or Florida, plus the Noles' schedule has earned them a Nolan Index Rating of 43rd and a Strength of Schedule Rating of 70th.

But then, if you've followed my articles to date, you knew this already. It was only a matter of time before the ACC put on their over-rated gloves once again.

Until next week, when the next BCS controversy comes racing to your city!

G'night!

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