As we near the end of the regular season, your guess is as good as mine as to who’s going to be playing for the National Championship. Nevertheless, here’s what I took away from this past weekend.
Might Notre Dame be for real? I wasn’t buying in upon entering the weekend even after wins against Michigan, Stanford, and Oklahoma this season. I’m kind of forced to now. For the second straight week number one went down after Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M went into Tuscaloosa and took down Alabama, Kansas State was victimized at the hands of Baylor in Waco on Saturday night. The loss by K-State, coupled with an Oregon loss to Stanford put Notre Dame at number one for the first time in 20 years after they shutout Wake Forest. Without a conference championship game to win if they beat an unranked USC team without Matt Barkley on Saturday night the Irish will play for the National Championship.
Who’s number two? Let’s assume that Notre Dame beats USC on Saturday, even though I wouldn’t mark it down as a W right now even without Barkley playing. There are a plethora of teams that you can make an argument for to earn the right to play presumably the Irish in the National Championship. Here’s a look at some of the other one-loss teams that could play for the National Championship.
Alabama is right back in the mix as, besides Notre Dame, they were probably the team that benefitted the most from K-State and Oregon losing as the Tide sit at number two in all the major college football polls though in order to play for the National Championship they’ll have to win two conference games against in-state rival Auburn coming up this weekend and then the SEC Championship against in all likelihood Georgia.
Speaking of Georgia their path is similar to that of Alabama’s. Win against an in-state rival (Georgia Tech on Saturday) and then win the SEC Championship.
Other one-loss teams that would need some help would include Florida, Florida State, Oregon, and Kansas State. Florida and Florida State play each other Saturday so the loser is out of the mix for a National Championship and the winner is still likely going to be on the outside looking in. The same can be said for Oregon who can win against Oregon State this week and still may not play in the Pac 12 championship due to Stanford now owning the head-to-head tiebreaker on them and both teams with only one Pac 12 loss. The path to the National Championship is a lot easier for Alabama and Georgia, but a Notre Dame loss against USC would put the winner of the Florida/Florida State game, as well as Oregon and Kansas State (assuming both win) back into the picture.
Notre Dame: There’s no one else undefeated and Pittsburgh decided to be nice and let the Irish stay undefeated earlier this season letting one get away in triple overtime. As I said don’t mark them down for a win against USC. USC got a lot of preseason hype. They were my preseason number one. I screwed that one up and I think beating Notre Dame wouldn’t salvage anything for the Trojans, but they’d finish strong.
Alabama: While rivalry games are tough to call I don’t see Alabama faltering against Auburn. So they should stay at number two this week.
Georgia: Same thing as Alabama. In-state rivalry game against a far inferior Georgia Tech team. I can’t see an upset here either. One thing I can see is a very entertaining SEC Championship game.
Florida: A win against Florida State keeps them in it and if two of the three teams ahead of them lose, then they may be in business.
Oregon: While Florida may not be playing in its conference championship game, the fact that they’re in a stronger conference gives them the edge over Oregon. If there’s an open spot in the National Championship game and it’s between Oregon and Florida I’m taking Florida. First things first for Oregon, rebound with a win against Oregon State.
Kansas State: Had their chance against a mediocre Baylor team and blew it. On the outside looking in. They’ll be looking right at Texas on Saturday.
Florida State: I completely disagree with them being 10th in the AP Poll and BCS Standings. At this point a one-loss team like Florida State should be ahead of two-loss teams like LSU, Texas A&M, and Stanford. A win against Florida ought to do the trick.
LSU: Survived against Ole Miss but still have a shot at a BCS bowl game if the right pieces fall into place. They’ll have to take care of Arkansas first.
Stanford: There’s a possibility they play UCLA two weeks in a row. They play them this week for sure and with a win would play them again in the Pac 12 Championship.
Texas A&M: Just because I like saying Johnny Football. They wrap up their regular season with Missouri.