Logjam Worsens

Last week, I wrote about the college football logjam. While we’ve seen one team fall out of the running, the overall race for the #2 slot has tightened significantly. Last week, Auburn and USC held a small yet significant advantage in the voting over West Virginia, Florida and Michigan. This week, that margin is gone. Auburn’s loss combined with SC’s wholly unimpressive win (spoken as an SC alumni) over the Huskies and Florida’s impressive win over #9 LSU creates essentially a four way tie for second place. Only 100 votes separate #2 from #5 in both the AP and USA Today polls.

There are also a few other undefeated teams in the top 25: #7 Louisville, #19 Missouri, #20 Boise State and #24 Rutgers. Baring significant upheaval in the polls, only Louisville really has a shot to join the group at the top. They play West Virginia in a few weeks, so the winner of that game will likely stay in the hunt for the BCS title game. And Ohio State still plays Michigan at the end of the season, so we’re still looking at a maximum of four unbeaten teams.

As bad as this scenario is, it’s even worse to consider what happens if all these unbeaten teams lose. Currently, Texas, Tennessee, Notre Dame, California, and Auburn are all essentially out of the hunt. As long as there are at least two unbeaten teams, really none of these teams can legitimately argue that they deserve a shot at the title. But you can bet that ranked one-loss teams will be highly-motivated to beat ranked no-loss teams in order to be able to make a case for inclusion in the title game. USC plays #18 Oregon State, #10 Cal and #9 Notre Dame. Florida plays at Auburn and Georgia. Michigan plays Iowa (not to mention #1 ranked Ohio State).

If I was a betting man, instead of an Trojan fan, I would bet the BCS title game would be between West Virginia and the winner of the Ohio State / Michigan game. Obviously, if SC plays Notre Dame the way they played against Washington, they’ll lose. But SC will be amped to the max for Notre Dame, so I would be more concerned about SC looking past Oregon State or Cal the way they obviously didn’t take Washington seriously. By the same reasoning, I figure Auburn has a better-than-decent chance of beating Florida next week. If SC and Florida lose, that leaves three unbeaten teams, two of which play each other. Hence my prediction.

Of course, I’m not a betting man, so I’m hoping to see the winner of Ohio State and Michigan play USC for the championship. Note I wrote “hoping” which is code for “that’s only going to happen if they play better than they did the past two weeks”.