Handicapping the BCS championship picture

Prior to Alabama's loss to Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide were even-money favorites to win the BCS National Championship. The Tide still have a chance to win another title, but they need a lot of help to even get back to the championship game.

Nick Saban's squad won't lose to Western Carolina and Auburn, and a victory over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game will bring the Tide to 12-1, the same exact record they had after defeating LSU back in January.

However, the landscape of last season was much different than the 2012 campaign since the only unbeaten team heading into the bowl games was LSU. This year, the Crimson Tide have three undefeated clubs in front of them - Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame.

For Alabama to make a return trip to the title game, it would need two of those teams to lose. In addition, the Tide would have to knock off Georgia in Atlanta on Dec. 1.

Can all those events take place? Let's try to analyze what Alabama is up against.

Oregon has three games left on its regular-season schedule: Stanford at home, at Oregon State and the Pac-12 Championship Game if the Ducks win the North Division.

Chip Kelly's team will be favored in all three contests. I have Oregon a 21- point betting choice over Stanford and more than a two-touchdown favorite at Oregon State. If the Ducks find themselves in the title game they will be favored by over two touchdowns over USC and by over three scores over UCLA, depending on which club wins on Saturday.

The likelihood of the Ducks losing any one of those games is remote. Furthermore, since the Cardinal and Beavers are currently ranked in the Top 15, those victories will further cement Oregon's position as a prime participant in the BCS Championship Game.

Kansas State has two remaining contests since the Big 12 does not have a title game. The Wildcats are at Baylor on Saturday and then get a week off before the home game versus Texas.

Bill Snyder has done another incredible job as his squad is on the verge of finishing the regular season undefeated. Nevertheless, it is not written in stone the Wildcats will reach that plateau since the home team in the Kansas State-Baylor series has won the last five meetings. The Bears also are 10-1 in their last 11 games played in Waco.

The last time these two teams met at Floyd Casey Stadium, Baylor prevailed, 47-42, racking up 683 yards of total offense. Last year in Manhattan, Kansas State scored the game's final 10 points to win, 36-35, but the Bears outgained the Wildcats by 73 yards. Three Baylor turnovers, including one that set up the winning field goal, were the reason Kansas State came away with the victory.

If the Wildcats survive the Bears, a win over Texas is certainly not a given even though they have had the Longhorns' number in recent years. The 2011 matchup was a four-point Kansas State victory, but the Longhorns held Collin Klein to just four rushing yards, and 10 of the Wildcats 17 points came off two David Ash interceptions.

Notre Dame has perhaps the toughest road game heading into the postseason. After hosting Wake Forest, the Fighting Irish travel to Los Angeles for a battle with USC.

For all the troubles the Trojans have had this year, they still have lost only one home game and that came by 11 points to Oregon. And it's not as if Notre Dame is playing great football. The Irish are averaging just 23 points per game, so it will be up to their defense to stifle USC's offense. The Trojans have scored fewer than 23 points only once this season.


No one has a crystal ball, but if I had to guess, I would say Oregon will be one of the two teams playing for the national title. The other spot is up in the air. Will it be Kansas State? Will it be Notre Dame? Will it be Alabama? How about Georgia?

The Bulldogs are the one team no one is talking about.

With two regular-season games left against Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech, Georgia will more than likely will get to 11-1. If they can defeat Alabama (or Texas A&M) in the SEC title game, and both Kansas State and Notre Dame lose in the next two weeks, a team from the SEC will make the BCS Championship Game for the seventh straight season.


My overall record through Week 11 is 81-67-2 after a 6-5-2 week. The five-star plays are 10-7-1, the three-star selections are 18-18, the two-star picks stand at 32-26-1 and the one-star plays are 21-16.

As a reminder, the five-star plays are when my personal plays coincide with my power rating plays (games with at least a five-point differential between my line and the actual line). The three-star choices are my personal picks, the two-star plays are the games the power rating system picks and the one-star plays are my personal secondary selections.


1) Oregon, 110; 2) Alabama, 106; 3) Florida State, 103.5; 4) Texas A&M, 103; 5) Georgia, 102.5; 6-T) Kansas State and Clemson, 101; 8) LSU, 99.5; 10-T) Oklahoma and USC, 99; 11-T) Notre Dame, South Carolina and Oklahoma State, 96.5

(The Top 12 is not a reflection of a given team's won-loss record. It is based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all 124 FBS teams are assigned a power number, which changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous week.)