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At this point in every college football season, and certainly every season since the dawn of the BCS, talk turns to the undefeated teams - who has a chance of making the championship game, what will happen if more than one team finishes undefeated, would any currently undefeated team still make the championship game with only one loss, is the BCS fixed to favor Notre Dame, why can't any team from a conference other than the SEC win the championship, how will the championship be determined next season, how does the BCS formula work, which is the most overrated undefeated team, and will Georgia Southern cover the spread against #6 Georgia on November 17.
Should you find yourself in a conversation about any of the above, fear not, The College Football Report has the answers. In order, they are: any team ranked #1-10 in the BCS entering the weekend (except South Carolina and Louisville); the over/under for columns on the "final BCS controversy" will be set at 9,000; yes; no; because the SEC is much, much better at football than anywhere else in the country - see "chinstrap conference"; tiddlywinks; suffice it to say, computers are involved; Louisville; yes, in fact we are already looking for the game on offshore gambling books.
But while the sports commentary world works up a lather about the championship and the relative merits of the teams currently in contention, we turn our attention to teams with two losses. Yes, two losses. Why? Because one or more of these teams will factor prominently (take our word for it) into the national championship picture.
(On a related note, why is it that the national championship is always a picture? Why not a sculpture? Or a diorama? Or one of those crappy clay pots you made as a kid and gave to a parent, who begrudgingly left it out as a pencil holder until you forgot about it and then threw it away? Why can't it be any of those things?)
Thus, to take a page out of the David Letterman "is this anything" playbook, we will ask about every two-loss ranked team in the BCS: are they anything?
#24 Oklahoma State (5-2 overall, 3-1 in Big 12)
Comment: Oklahoma State has two respectable losses (on the road at Arizona and to #23 Texas) but the Cowboys face a brutal four-game stretch of back-to-back-to-back-to-back matchups against #2 Kansas State, #21 West Virginia, #18 Texas Tech, and #12 Oklahoma. Hoy.
Verdict: Maybe? Ask us again on November 25 after Okie State has run the gauntlet. We will give the Cowboys this much: they like to score. And by score, we mean kick field goals and/or extra points and touchdowns. Possibly a two-point conversion if they are feeling frisky. At sixth overall in the nation in "points for," we like the "over" in every remaining game.
#23 Texas (6-2 overall, 3-2 in Big 12)
Comment: Texas has a curious defensive strategy. We can't quite put a name to it, but it seems to feature allowing the other team to score as many points as possible. The Longhorns rank #100 in points allowed in Division I, including impressive totals in losses to West Virginia (45) and Oklahoma (63). Toss in the 50 the 'Horns gave up to Baylor in a 56-50 win, and the prospects for Texas look bleak.
Verdict: No, although no doubt Texas will end the season in a bowl somewhere in Texas.
#21 West Virginia (5-2 overall, 2-2 in Big 12)
Comment: We sense a trend. The Big 12 is chock-a-block with also-rans this year. Earlier this season, we described West Virginia as "Oregon before Oregon learned how to play defense." (Although we don't have record of the conversation and it may or may not have taken place in an establishment featuring adult beverages.) As it turns out, West Virginia is like Oregon before Oregon learned how to play defense and win conference games.
Verdict: We like West Virginia QB Geno Smith. He is an interesting kid. Should the Mounties win out (including games against #24 Oklahoma State and #12 Oklahoma), Smith may still have an outside shot at the Heisman. To date, Smith has gaudy passing statistics - 2,417 passing yards, 26 TDs and only 2 INTs - but he has struggled in back-to-back losses and the Heisman spotlight has moved elsewhere. In addition to his two recent lackluster performances, Smith falls short on at least two (#5, #6) possibly three (#8b) of The 10 Heismandments. Too bad, he had a good run going there for awhile.
#20 Nebraska (6-2 overall, 3-1 in Big Ten)
Comment: With wins over division opponents Michigan and Northwestern, Nebraska "controls it's own destiny" in the new "Legends" division of the Big Ten. Expect to hear the "controls it's own destiny" phrase about 322 times in coming weeks.
Verdict: The Huskers close with a four-game stretch against mediocre teams like Penn State, and with the best team (Ohio State) in the Big Ten ineligible for post-season play, somebody has to win the Big Ten title and play in the Rose Bowl. It may might as well be Nebraska . . . or maybe some other team. We don't know; let's say it is 50-50.
#18 Texas Tech (6-2 overall, 3-2 in Big 12)
Comment: Texas Tech has trounced cupcakes like Northwestern State, Texas State, New Mexico, and Iowa State en route to six wins. The Red Raiders "signature win" came against West Virginia on October 13 back when we all thought the Mountaineers were good. Tech needed three overtimes to beat TCU and suffered resounding losses to the other two ranked teams on the schedule (Oklahoma 41-20, Kansas State 55-24), leading us to believe that . . .
Verdict: No, they aren't anything. We project that the Red Raiders will finish the season in a Texas-themed bowl played somewhere in Texas. The only people who may feel otherwise are Texas Tech fans who live in or around wherever Texas Tech is located. We think it's in Texas.
#17 USC (6-2 overall, 4-2 in Pac-12)
Comment: While the Trojans may not have lived up to expectations (the USA Today projected USC would play in the BCS title game), the kids from SoCal can still be a major player. Last week's loss against Arizona put a big dent in USC's bowl position, but the Wildcats have a decent (2-3) record against Top 25 teams and that "L" may look better as the season wears on; 'Zona has a good chance at finishing 9-3 overall and 6-3 in the conference. Two huge games loom on USC's remaining schedule: at home against #4 Oregon on Saturday night and #3 Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl (the stadium, not the bowl game) to end the season.
Verdict: Absolutely. With Matt Barkley at the helm and electric wide receiver duo Marqise Lee and Robert Woods lining up outside, the Trojans are very dangerous. We will take the 8.5 points against Oregon, for example, and should USC win on Saturday, life will get very interesting for Lane Kiffin and Company. That said, Kiffin is an overrated, insufferable prick, so we would be happy to see him lose by double digits. But Kiffin's wife is super hot, so he has that going for him. Which is nice.
#16 Texas A&M (6-2 overall, 3-2 in SEC)
Comment: The SEC newbie has fared well so far with decent losses to Florida (20-17) and LSU (24-19). A&M fields a solid, well-balanced team offense, ranking in the top 20 in points for, passing yards, and rushing yards. While the Aggies will probably lose the next two games (#15 Mississippi State, #1 Alabama), our money is on a winning (4-3) conference record, far better than most expected.
Verdict: A&M isn't the sexiest Top 25 team with two losses, but scrappiness and a good offense will get you a long way.
#14 Stanford (6-2 overall, 4-1 in Pac-12)
Comment: The Cardinal got off to a hot start, winning three straight including an upset over USC. Then they turned around and promptly lost to lowly Washington and missed another upset opportunity in an overtime loss at #7 Notre Dame. We wonder if they're a good quarterback away from having a great team: junior Josh Nunes has 10 TDs and 7 INTs including two picks against ND.
Verdict: We will have to wait until next weekend when #11 Oregon State visits Stanford Stadium. Oregon State seems suspiciously overrated and won't pose a threat to run (ranking 114th in rushing yards to date), which will allow Stanford to cover up on pass coverage. The Cardinal is looking up at both Oregon State and #4 Oregon in the Pac-12 North standings but still has a shot at the BCS Rose Bowl. That whole "destiny and control thereof" is in play.
#12 Oklahoma (5-2, 3-1 in Big 12)
Comment: The Sooners don't feel that much different than the aforementioned two-loss Big 12 teams in the BCS. The ten-team Big 12 features a solid lineup this year (including #2 Kansas State) but the conference may begin to self-destruct as every ranked team faces at least one (or two, in the Oklahoma's case) fellow ranked teams.
Verdict: Landry Jones may have lost his mojo (or swag, as the kids say these days) from last season and nothing about Oklahoma jumps off the page at us. But the Sooners do have a very strong schedule this year (#4 in the current rankings) and we figure Bob Stoops will have Oklahoma finishing strong.
The Free Range Chicken Gambling Report
- Missouri at #7 Florida (-17), 12:00 p.m. Comment: The Gators vent frustration on Mizzou after losing the World's Largest Cocktail party last weekend.
- #14 Stanford (-28) at Colorado, 2:00 p.m.
Comment: Colorado is the second-worst (above Kentucky; see below) team in a major conference.
- #1 Alabama (-9) at #5 LSU, 8:00 p.m.
Comment: The Chicken doesn't love this pick, but everybody is weighing in so we might as well.
The Sports Seal is up five "units" by laying the number against the Kentucky Wildcats this season. Head coach Joker Philips will take the blame but in his defense, nearly everything has gone wrong in 2012. Both his starting quarterback and lead running back went down to injury early in the year and what talent remains on the squad is inexperienced and already overmatched in the SEC. Maybe UK would be better off in the Sun Belt, where the 'Cats could compete with the likes of Western Kentucky. Compete, that is, not defeat - Kentucky lost to the 'Toppers back in September. And so it goes. The Seal will take Vandy and give the points this weekend.
Mike "Chief" Luce is our man on campus. He welcomes your comments.
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