Bracketology/Bowls Expert

Bowl projections: Irish look solid, but SEC still in thick of title-game race

For the first time since that wild year of 2007, the top two teams in the BCS went down to defeat. That leaves Notre Dame in position to play for its first title since 1988, and the SEC champion back in control of its birthright -- the BCS title.

Oregon and Kansas State have fallen out of contention, the Wildcats more so than the Ducks. Voters were much more harsh with KSU after it was smoked by Baylor. Oregon actually is in a great position to get to play for the title if there is a slip up above. Just one problem ... the Ducks no longer control their own destiny in the Pac-12. It's hard to imagine 11-1 Oregon playing for the title, but 12-1 Pac-12 champion Oregon could.

With that in mind, here is a look at how teams stack up, in order, in the race for the BCS title game.

1. 12-0 Notre Dame

2. 12-1 Alabama/Georgia

3. 12-1 Oregon

4. 11-1 Notre Dame

5. 11-1 Kansas State

6. 11-1 Oregon

7. 11-1 Florida

The first two are no-brainers. Even though Florida may be fourth in the BCS this week, I believe that 80 percent of the country, given the opportunity, would do what they could to avoid an all-SEC title game again.

Oregon at 12-1 is the Pac-12 champ and a strong candidate to move up. They can't control whether that can happen.

Notre Dame will still be a very strong computer team at 11-1 and if Oregon isn't there, voters may prefer them to the Gators or Kansas State.

The Wildcats win the Big 12 at 11-1, but voters may not go as strongly for them considering the nature of their loss. That would be an "anyone but Florida" vote.

If the Ducks are 11-1, it means they aren't league champs and basically, the same as Florida. Voters might still prefer them, but the computers might not be strong enough to stay ahead of Florida if the voters aren't decisive.

That said, you will notice that I do not include 12-1 Florida State on this list. That is because its computer ratings are so bad that I think the Noles cannot get high enough in the polls to overcome them and play for the title. Yes, that means that even as a unanimous No. 1 in the polls, I think their computer ratings would keep them out of the title game. We'll see what happens next week if they beat Florida.

That's basically five teams with a realistic shot at the title. When Auburn and Georgia Tech win next week, we'll have to revisit it. I'm kidding. Probably.

This week's projections are based on a few obvious results. But people ask, so here they are ...

Notre Dame and Alabama win out.

Oregon wins the Pac-12, which means Stanford loses to UCLA this week.

Florida State beats Florida

South Carolina beats Clemson, though it might not matter.

Check Path to the BCS to see how other scenarios might play out.

Only 69 teams qualify.

As for that last bit, Rice is elevated to bowl-eligible at 5-7 as the highest-rated such team in the APR. If we need another team, Wake Forest is next.

And we might need another team. There are rumors around that Miami might declare itself inelgible again this year as it continues to fall on its sword regarding the Nevin Shapiro scandal.

 
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