National Title Breakdown (Week 3)

By 2003alumgocanes

This article is not meant to be a prediction of future events.  Given that it is possible for teams with 1-loss, particularly those that lose early, to play in the BCS National Championship, this is simply a week-by-week breakdown of what is in the Hurricane’s best interest in their effort to be a 1-loss team that makes the championship game.  I am well aware of the odds against the team actually winning 11 games in a row from this point on, but this breakdown obviously assumes that that somewhat unlikely event is going to happen.

The Methodology
How are teams chosen?  The general rule of thumb is:

  1. Any undefeated BCS team will play in the national title game in front of a 1-loss team.
  2. Out of the non-BCS conference teams, Notre Dame, Boise State and TCU are definite factors.  By factors, I mean a “threat”, not that they would necessarily be in front of us.  This article considers any potential threats, and that situation is fluid, so 1-loss ND team could definitely be considered a threat.  Obviously, a team like Utah could knock off TCU, go undefeated, and become a threat.
  3. Any 1-loss SEC team would probably get the benefit of the doubt in terms of placement, even if we are ranked ahead of them prior to championship week.
  4. More weight is given to “name schools”, because that is how voters think.  For example, a 1-loss Oregon team would be a threat, but a 1-loss Arizona team most likely would not.
  5. USC is on probation and can therefore provide a huge boost.  If they win the PAC 10, they obviously won’t technically be the PAC 10 champion, but everyone will know they were the best team in the conference.  A 1-loss Oregon team that actually did not win their conference would likely be severely tainted in national championship discussions.
  6. In general, I will keep 1-loss BCS teams “alive” for a while, exceptions being teams that obviously have no chance of being in front of us if they finish with 1-loss(see Kansas).
  7. Obviously, the teams dwindle as the season goes on.  Essentially, you are looking conference to conference and assuming only 1 candidate will emerge out of each.  The Big East has no chance of putting a 1-loss team in ahead of us, so those teams won’t be considered.  Furthermore, since we represent the ACC, we can take care of those teams ourselves, and therefore it is in our best interest for those teams to win OOC games.
  8. Keep in mind that this is not a science, and therefore the methodology can be questionable and inconsistent at times.  You will see teams drop off one week, return the next, etc.  Also, I will try and explain why a team is removed.  On non-obvious games, I will explain my reasoning for selecting a certain team to win, and that reasoning might or might not make sense as the season progresses (for example, right now we want Wisconsin to lose to Arizona State this week.  But if Arizona State wins and then keeps winning, going undefeated, and Wisconsin ends up with 3-losses, it would have been better in retrospect if Wisconsin had won the game).

The Teams
Here are the contenders. This is a list of teams we need out of the way to get into the National Title Game with 1-loss. The team’s remaining schedule is in parenthesis.

Big East
2 weeks into the season, and we are down to 2 Big East teams.  Obviously, if USF or Pitt wins the Big East, it helps our resume.

  • West Virginia – Maryland, @LSU, UNLV, USF, Syracuse, @UCONN, Cincy, @Louisville, @Pitt, Rutgers
  • Rutgers – North Carolina, Tulane, UCONN, Army, @Pitt, @USF, Syracuse, @Cincy, Louisville, @WVU

Big 10
Some of these teams are more likely to get in front of us with 1-loss than others.  We obviously need Ohio State to lose twice.

  • Iowa – @Arizona, Ball State, Penn State, @Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, @Indiana, @Northwestern, Ohio State, @Minnesota
  • Michigan – Massachusetts, Bowling Green, @Indiana, Michigan State, Iowa, @Penn State, Illinois, @Purdue, Wisconsin, @Ohio State
  • Michigan State – Notre Dame, Northern Colorado, Wisconsin, @Michigan, Illinois, @Northwestern, @Iowa, Minnesota, Purdue, @Penn State
  • Northwestern – @Rice, Central Michigan, @Minnesota, Purdue, Michigan State, @Indiana, @Penn State, Iowa, Illinois, @Wisconsin
  • Ohio State – Ohio, Eastern Michigan, @Illinois, Indiana, @Wisconsin, Purdue, @Minnesota, Penn State, @Iowa, Michigan
  • Penn State(1-loss) – Kent State, Temple, @Iowa, Illinois, @Minnesota, Michigan, Northwestern, @Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan State
  • Wisconsin – Arizona State, Austin Peay, @Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, @Iowa, @Purdue, Indiana, @Michigan, Northwestern

Big 12
The only 2 1-loss teams that I think would finish ahead of us would be Oklahoma and Texas, but that might change as the season plays out. Maybe Nebraska.  We definitely need OU and UT to lose twice.

  • Baylor – @TCU, @Rice, Kansas, Texas Tech, @Colorado, Kansas State, @Texas, @Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma
  • Kansas State – Iowa State,  UCF, Nebraska, @Kansas, @Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas, @Missouri, @Colorado, @North Texas
  • Missouri – San Diego State, Miami (OH), Colorado, @Texas A&M, Oklahoma, @Nebraska, @Texas Tech, Kansas State, @Iowa State, Kansas
  • Nebraska – @Washington, South Dakota State, @Kansas State, Texas, @Oklahoma State, Missouri, @Iowa State, Kansas, @Texas A&M, Colorado
  • Oklahoma – Air Force, @Cincinnati, Texas, Iowa State, @Missouri, Colorado, @Texas A&M, Texas Tech, @Baylor, @Oklahoma State
  • Oklahoma State – Tulsa, Texas A&M, @Louisiana-Lafayette, @Texas Tech, Nebraska, @Kansas State, Baylor, @Texas, @Kansas, Oklahoma
  • Texas – @Texas Tech, UCLA, Oklahoma, @Nebraska, Iowa State, Baylor, @Kansas State, Oklahoma State, FAU, Texas A&M
  • Texas A&M – FIU, @Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Missouri, @Kansas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, @Baylor, Nebraska, @Texas
  • Texas Tech – Texas, @Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma State, @Colorado, @Texas A&M, Missouri, @Oklahoma, Weber State, Houston

Pac 10
Obviously, USC isn’t included. Oregon and maybe Cal are the only 1-loss teams I can see ahead of us. Our best case scenario is USC winning the conference.

  • Arizona – Iowa, California, Oregon State, @Washington State, Washington, @UCLA, @Stanford, USC, @Oregon, Arizona State
  • Arizona State – @Wisconsin, Oregon, @Oregon State, @Washington, @California, Washington State, @USC, Stanford, UCLA, @Arizona
  • California – @Nevada, @Arizona, UCLA, @USC, Arizona State, @Oregon State, @Washington State, Oregon, Stanford, Washington
  • Oregon – Portland State, @Arizona State, Stanford, @Washington State, UCLA, @USC, Washington, @Cal, Arizona, @Oregon State
  • Stanford – Wake Forest, @Notre Dame, @Oregon, USC, Washington State, @Washington, Arizona, @Arizona State, @California, Oregon State

This is where it gets difficult. Based on past experience, it is reasonable to assume that any SEC team that has 1-loss will automatically get placed in the title game in front of any other 1-loss teams, without anyone stopping to evaluate the merits. Because of this eventuality, one SEC team will most likely be in the title game unless the entire conference loses twice. For now, the only team eliminated is 2-loss Vanderbilt.

  • Alabama – @Duke, @Arkansas, Florida, @South Carolina, Mississippi, @Tennessee, @LSU, Mississippi State, Georgia State, Auburn
  • Arkansas – @Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M, @Auburn, Mississippi, Vanderbilt, @South Carolina, UTEP, @Mississippi State, LSU
  • Auburn – Clemson, South Carolina, Louisiana-Monroe, @Kentucky, Arkansas, LSU, @Mississippi, Chattanooga, Georgia, @Alabama
  • Florida – @Tennessee, Kentucky, @Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Georgia, @Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Appalachian State, @Florida State
  • Georgia (1-loss) – Arkansas, @Mississippi State, @Colorado, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, @Kentucky, Florida, Idaho State, @Auburn, Georgia Tech
  • Kentucky – Akron, @Florida, @Mississippi, Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia, @Mississippi State, Charleston Southern, Vanderbilt, @Tennessee
  • LSU – Mississippi State, West Virginia, Tennessee, @Florida, McNeese State, @Auburn, Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe, Mississippi, @Arkansas
  • Mississippi (1-loss) – Vanderbilt, Fresno State, Kentucky, @Alabama, @Arkansas, Auburn, Louisiana-Lafayette, @Tennessee, @LSU, Mississippi State
  • Mississippi State (1-loss) – @LSU, Georgia, Alcorn State, @Houston, @Florida, UAB, Kentucky, @Alabama, Arkansas, @Mississippi
  • South Carolina – Furman, @Auburn, Alabama, @Kentucky, @Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Arkansas, @Florida, Troy, @Clemson
  • Tennessee (1-loss) – Florida, UAB, @LSU, @Georgia, Alabama, @South Carolina, @Memphis, Mississippi, @Vanderbilt, Kentucky

Non-BCS Conference
These are teams from non-BCS conferences that can make the championship game. Houston and Utah are on the radar. A 1-loss ND team certainly would have a chance to go to the championship game.

  • Boise State – @Wyoming, Oregon State, @New Mexico State, Toledo, @San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, Hawaii, @Idaho, Fresno State, @Nevada, Utah State
  • Notre Dame (1-loss) – @Michigan State, Stanford, @Boston College, Pitt, Western Michigan, Navy, Tulsa, Utah, Army, @USC
  • TCU – Baylor, @Southern Methodist, @Colorado State, Wyoming, Brigham Young, Air Force, @UNLV, @Utah, San Diego State, @New Mexico

This Week’s Games
This section will contain relevant games. The team we want to win is in bold, and an explanation is provided where who we want to win is non-obvious.

Byes this week: Rutgers

Thursday, September 16

Friday, September 17

  • 10:00PM – ESPN2/ESPN3 – California @ Nevada

Saturday, September 18

  • 12:00PM – ESPNU – Maryland @ West Virginia
  • 12:00PM – SEC Network/ESPN3 – Vanderbilt @ Mississippi
  • 12:00PM – Big 10 Network – Massachusetts @ Michigan
  • 12:00PM – Big 10 Network – Ohio @ Ohio State
  • 12:00PM – ESPN2/ESPN3 – Kent State @ Penn State
  • 12:00PM – FSN – Iowa State vs. Kansas State
  • 12:00PM – ESPN/ESPN3 – Arkansas @ Georgia
  • 3:30PM – ABC/ESPN2/ESPN3 – Arizona State @ Wisconsin – both teams are undefeated, for now.  We might need Wisconsin to lose twice while still beating Ohio State.
  • 3:30PM – ABC/ESPN2/ESPN3 – Nebraska @ Washington
  • 3:30PM – FSN – Air Force @ Oklahoma
  • 3:30PM – ABC/ESPN3 – Alabama @ Duke
  • 3:30PM – CBS – Florida @ Tennessee
  • 4:30PM – Versus – Baylor @ TCU
  • 6:15PM – Local PPV – Portland State @ Oregon
  • 7:00PM – NO TV – Northwestern @ Rice
  • 7:00PM – NO TV – Tulsa @ Oklahoma State
  • 7:00PM – PPV/ESPN3 – Furman @ South Carolina
  • 7:00PM – FSN/ESPN3 – Akron @ Kentucky
  • 7:00PM – ESPNU – Mississippi State @ LSU
  • 7:00PM – NO TV – FIU @ Texas A&M
  • 7:00PM – FSN PPV – San Diego State @ Missouri
  • 7:00PM – ESPN/ESPN3 – Clemson @ Auburn
  • 8:00PM – ABC/ESPN2/ESPN3 – Notre Dame @ Michigan State – we eventually need ND to lose again, and they will anyway.  You almost always want the 1-loss team to beat the undefeated team.
  • 8:00PM – ABC/ESPN2/ESPN3 – Texas @ Texas Tech – both undefeated, but we obviously need Texas to lose twice.
  • 8:00PM – CBS College Sports – Boise State @ Wyoming
  • 10:30PM- ESPN/ESPN3 – Iowa @ Arizona – both teams are undefeated, for now.  We might need Iowa to lose twice while still beating Ohio State.
  • 11:15PM – ESPN2/ESPN3 – Wake Forest @ Stanford
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