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Solving the BCS Puzzle

Kevin Norwood
The BCS picture took another turn when Stanford beat Oregon on Thursday night, ending the Ducks' title hopes. If the season ended right now, Florida State would get Alabama in the title game but last year the national championship wasn't decided until the final couple minutes. It is time to look at the top contenders and figure out who will be matching up in this the final BCS National Championship Game.

Alabama, 9-0 (6-0 SEC)
The Crimson Tide have held the No. 1 spot the whole season and look like they will be in their third straight title game and fourth in five years. They have gotten through two tough opponents in LSU and Texas A&M and they will add quality wins to help them in the eyes of the pollsters. It isn't an easy road to the title game, though. The Iron Bowl rivalry could be a huge this year, when No. 7 Auburn hopes to pull the upset. Assuming they get through that game, which is a lot to assume, they will get a tough match up in the SEC Championship Game, where they will most likely see either Missouri or South Carolina. Alabama has been great in big games in the Nick Saban era but the SEC Championship Game gave them quite the scare last year and could do the same this season.
BCS Ranking: 1
Games Remaining: 3, @Mississippi State (4-5), Chattanooga (8-2 FCS) and @Auburn (9-1)
My Pick: National Title Game

Florida State, 9-0 (7-0 ACC)
Florida State has been extremely impressive, sitting at 9-0 but looking even closer at the games shows just how good they have been. No team has given them any challenges, they have beat every team on their schedule by double-digits and smoked both Clemson and Miami, two top ten teams. They have possibly the nation's best player in Jameis Winston and a schedule favorable enough that could get them to the title game. Their toughest opponent remaining is floundering Florida, who's offense continues to have serious issues and a likely ACC Championship Game. Luckily, no team on the Coastal side of the ACC looks like they will be competitive with the Seminoles. Miami or Virginia Tech will probably be their opponent and both have bad losses. If FSU goes 13-0 with blowout wins over Clemson, Miami and Maryland it will be very tough to hold them out of the championship game.
BCS Ranking: 2
Games Remaining: 3, Syracuse (5-4), Idaho (1-9) and @Florida (4-5)
My Pick: National Title Game

Ohio State, 9-0 (5-0 Big Ten)
The Buckeyes have won 21 straight games but could find themselves out of the national championship game for the second straight year. Last year it was because of sanctions and this year, their schedule just doesn't have much big wins. Their Northwestern victory is looking less impressive by the week and Wisconsin doesn't appear like it was that big of a win either. Their lone-remaining big game is their annual battle with Michigan, who is 6-3 and was nearly upset by lowly Akron and 0-8 UConn. They have three decent Big Ten games remaining but the Big Ten has been terrible the past two years and Indiana nor Illinois victories will help them get in the title game over Baylor, Stanford or Florida State. A Big Ten Championship Game is likely but that will most likely be Michigan State, who could shut down Ohio State's offense.
BCS Ranking: 3
Games Remaining: @Illinois (3-6), Indiana (4-5) and @Michigan (6-3)
My Pick: Rose Bowl

Baylor, 8-0 (5-0 Big 12)
Quietly, the Big 12 has managed a team that suddenly has a real shot at the title game in Baylor. The Bears sit at 8-0 and managed to get a huge win over 7-2 Oklahoma, a dominant performance. Their schedule has been average before that consisting of blowout wins over teams like Kansas State, West Virginia and UL-Monroe. Personally, I believe their big win over Oklahoma was a lot more impressive than any Ohio State has. And, they have a great stretch of games remaining, games that could help them out in getting into the big game. Oklahoma State and Texas will help significantly and TCU and Texas Tech would be good wins. Unfortunately, they don't have any Big 12 Championship Game but they could be fine. They will definitely be hoping for a slip-up by either Florida State or Alabama because I believe they have better wins than Ohio State.
BCS Ranking: 5 
Games Remaining: 4, Texas Tech (7-3), @Oklahoma State (8-1), @TCU (4-6), Texas (7-2)
My Pick: Fiesta Bowl

One-Loss Teams
Stanford, 4th in BCS Rankings
Stanford looks like they have the best shot of any one-loss team to sneak into the national championship game. The Cardinal do have one bad loss in Utah but they do have some good victories over UCLA, Arizona State, Washington and of course, Oregon. A win this next week against USC, a win against Notre Dame and a win in the Pac-12 Championship Game could carry them.
Oregon, 6th in BCS Rankings
Oregon looked like they could roll into the championship game before they hit a speed bump against Stanford, much like last season. They have some good wins over UCLA and Washington but I can't really imagine them getting into the title game with their remaining schedule.
Auburn, 7th in BCS Rankings
It might have been crazy to think about heading into this year but Auburn has a real shot at getting into the championship game. Sure, they are on the outside looking in but if they can beat Alabama and Georgia they could sneak into the SEC Championship Game. A win there could carry them all the way to another championship appearance, one way ahead of schedule. 

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