6 possible scenarios for the BCS National Championship game
Alabama is playing Chattanooga and Florida State is playing Idaho, so barring one of the greatest upsets in sports history there will be no changes at the very top of the BCS standings this week.
With three weeks left before college football's selection Sunday, the top-ranked Tide and No. 2 Seminoles control the race to Pasadena, Calif., where the BCS championship game will be played Jan. 6.
Before you pencil in Alabama and Florida State, know that only six times since the BCS was implemented in 1998 have the top two teams in the BCS standings with three weeks to go in the regular season played in the championship game. So there's hope Ohio State and Baylor. And Auburn and Oregon and Missouri.
Lots can happen. Here are six scenarios.
SIMPLE: Alabama and Florida State win out. Tide vs. Seminoles for the national championship, no matter what happens to the other unbeaten teams. Sorry, Buckeyes and Bears.
BEARS OR BUCKEYES?: Florida State loses a game. Alabama, Baylor and Ohio State win out. The Buckeyes are currently third in the BCS standings and the Bears are fourth and gaining fast. If Baylor wins at No. 11 Oklahoma State on Saturday, it will probably pass Ohio State. But if Ohio State finishes with lopsided victories against Michigan and Michigan State that could be enough to pass the Bears. Ohio State or Baylor would be a close call. Educated guess: Alabama vs. Ohio State.
NO SEC: Alabama beats Auburn, and then loses the Southeastern Conference title game to two-loss South Carolina. Florida State, Baylor and Ohio State win out. The Tide has won the last two national championships despite losing games after Nov. 1. Not happening in this scenario. The SEC effectively breaks its own seven-year hold on the national championship. Florida State gets the winner of the Baylor/Ohio State debate.
SEC COMPLICATIONS: Auburn or Missouri wins the SEC title with one loss, beating Alabama along the way. At least two of Florida State, Baylor and Ohio State win out. The question then becomes: Can a one-loss team beat out an unbeaten team from another BCS automatic qualifying conference? It's never happened before. A one-loss SEC champ, with a victory against the Tide, would have quite a resume. Educated guess: The SEC is denied and the unbeaten teams play for the national title.
DUCK SEASON: All unbeaten teams except Alabama lose and Oregon wins out. The best one-loss team gets the nod. Florida State would be eliminated because it has no forgivable losses left on its schedule. Baylor and Ohio State would also have difficult times bouncing back from late-season losses, especially if Oregon is sitting there, 12-1 and the champion of one of the two best conferences in the country. Educated guess: Alabama vs. Oregon, finally.
NO UNBEATEN TEAMS: SEC champion is one-loss Auburn or Missouri. Oregon wins out.
Educated guess: SEC champion vs. Oregon.
Extra point. No undefeated teams. One-loss Auburn and one-loss Missouri play for the SEC championship. Oregon loses for a second time. Oklahoma State beats Baylor, and then loses to Oklahoma.
Educated guess: You can see where this is going can't you? Alabama vs. SEC champion.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP