By Ray Hamill
The next two weeks will go a long way toward deciding who goes to the BCS National Championship, with the top three contenders all facing their biggest potential stumbling blocks.
And if all three can come through those games still unbeaten, then surely two of them will meet in Pasadena in the New Year.
First up, No. 3 Florida State must get past No. 7 Miami in another big ACC showdown this coming weekend, before No. 2 Oregon travels to play No. 5 Stanford five days later in a nationally televised Thursday night game and one of the most anticipated of the season.
The following Saturday, No. 1 Alabama will host No. 13 LSU in a showdown that has had massive national title implications in recent years and is always one of the Tide’s biggest hurdles on the way to an SEC championship.
After that, only one of the big three faces a top-25 team during the remainder of the regular season (Alabama travels to No. 11 Auburn on Nov. 30), and that’s bad news for the chasing pack, which needs at least two of the three to slip up somewhere to have any shot at a BCS championship berth.
The top three, of course, may also face potential stumbling blocks in their respective conference championship games in December, although on current form none of those matchups are expected to be as challenging as the upcoming games.
If Alabama, Oregon and Florida State can get through the next two weeks in tact, the BCS title game will almost certainly feature two of them.
If, on the other hand, all three lose, then mayhem will descend on the BCS standings once again.