By Ray Hamill
Stanford’s stunning victory over Oregon Thursday means two things for college football.
One, the Ducks’ national title hopes are essentially done for another year. And two, the BCS is once again on the verge of another mess.
Oregon’s loss leaves Alabama and Florida State as the lone frontrunners in the race for the BCS Championship, and if both win out they will surely meet in Pasadena in early January.
If, however, either loses – and remember, November is a month notorious for messing with the BCS – then any number of other teams will suddenly be back in the fold, creating a logjam of potential contenders.
No. 2 Florida State certainly has the easier remaining schedule, a fact that was working against the Seminoles before Oregon lost on Thursday, but one that should now work in their favor.
The Seminoles, in fact, don’t play a single team currently with a winning record for the remainder of the regular season, before a likely rematch with No. 11 Miami in the ACC Championship, a team they knocked off 41-14 last weekend.
No. 1 Alabama, on the other hand, will have its championship mettle challenged in the coming weeks. The Tide, looking for a third straight national crown and a fourth in five years, may face as many as three top-13 teams, including No. 13 LSU on Saturday and No. 9 Auburn later in the month, with No. 8 Missouri looming in the SEC Championship if the Tide can make it that far.
READY TO MAKE A CASE
If either of the top two loses, there are several other top-10 teams lurking and eager to make a case for inclusion.
No. 4 Ohio State remains unbeaten, although the Buckeyes’ relatively easy schedule will work against them, while No. 5 Stanford will move up in the standings after such a dominating performance Thursday, although the Cardinal’s loss to unranked Utah a few weeks ago could still work against them in the human polls.
Then there’s No. 6 Baylor, which continued to dominate the opposition with a big win over No. 10 Oklahoma Thursday and is one of only four unbeaten contenders, although once again a relatively easy schedule could also work against the Waco school.
No. 7 Clemson, Missouri and Auburn each have one loss but still have time to make a move in the standings, especially the latter two if either of them can defeat Alabama.
With Oregon losing Thursday, the race for the BCS may appear to have become a little more clear, but in reality it’s once again on the verge of some late-season madness.