People have been playing the BCS “what if” game since October, but it was a futile exercise in prognostication since there was so much football to be played. Now that most teams are done and we have conference championships coming up, it’s worth looking at the various scenarios. Here’s how things can play out following the different possibilities.
If Florida State and Ohio State both win their conference championship games, then they will play for the national title. This one is pretty obvious and the most likely scenario given that both are favorites in their games.
Possible Wrench: The Harris Poll voters and coaches could throw their No. 1 votes at the SEC champion which would vault them ahead of Ohio State and in to the No. 2 spot to play Florida State. The computers would have the Buckeyes at No. 2, but if the two human polls had enough people go rogue, Auburn could end up taking the No. 2 spot in both polls and end up ahead of the Buckeyes in the final BCS standings. Crazier things have happened.
Florida State Wins & Ohio State Loses
If the Seminoles win they end up No. 1 without a doubt. Would Ohio State remain at No. 2 if they lose? Not a chance. The SEC champion will get a huge win over their opponent and will easily take the No. 2 spot in the final BCS standings.
Possible Wrench: The voters could move Michigan State or the Big 12 champion way up to the No. 2 spot instead of the SEC champion. There is a lot of SEC animosity out there, and if enough voters don’t want to see an SEC team in the championship, then they could move up the B1G or Big 12 champ. This would be even crazier than the first scenario.
Florida State Loses & Ohio State Wins
Ohio State will move in to the No. 1 spot if the Seminoles lose to Duke. Florida State would definitely drop past No. 2 as well and the SEC champion would move up and play the Buckeyes for the championship.
Possible Wrench: none. If this happens, nothing will stop an Ohio State vs SEC champ matchup.
Florida State & Ohio State Both Lose
This is where pandemonium sets in. The SEC champion would definitely become the new No. 1 team without a doubt. An undefeated NIU won’t have the sway with the voters or computers to move in to the top ten, so the No. 2 team would definitely be a one loss team. But which one? Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State will be one loss teams that didn’t win their conferences. Michigan State would be a one loss team that did win their conference. There is potential for two others: Oklahoma State and Baylor. The Cowboys would end up the conference champion if that scenario plays out. Both could also lose. If they do, Texas wins the Big 12 with three losses.
How in the world do you sort that out? The No. 2 spot would go to either the Crimson Tide, the Seminoles, the Buckeyes or the Spartans. Let’s assume Oklahoma State or Baylor ends up with one loss and is Big 12 champion. Throw them in the mix. Who gets the No. 2 ranking? In all honesty, it would likely be Alabama. The computers have them at 4 right now. They have Oklahoma State at 9 and Michigan State at 11. The computers have both Stanford and Arizona State ahead of them, but one of them will lose this weekend, which would help. Either way, the computers won’t get the Cowboys or Spartans high enough to compete for No. 2. What happens to FSU and OSU if they lose? Will their computer rankings tumble or stay in the top 5?
I think if both Florida State and Ohio State lose that the SEC champion should play Michigan State. That’s a top defense, a signature win, a decent schedule (Iowa, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska) and a conference championship. Frankly if you don’t win your conference, you shouldn’t play for the title. If both top teams go down this weekend, I am calling on the Harris and USA Today voters to put Michigan State in the title game. If Oklahoma State also wins, I would strongly consider them too. I would take either one before Alabama, Florida State or Ohio State. You just have to win your conference.
There aren’t a lot of scenarios here, but my hunch is that Florida State cruises and stays at No. 1. Ohio State? I don’t see how they beat Michigan State. I think the Spartans spoil it for the Buckeyes and the SEC champion plays Florida State for the championship. I also suspect Auburn will win the SEC because that’s just the kind of season they are having. And then I believe Florida State squashes them. But that’s just a guess. There’s a reason they play the games.