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Who has best chance to face Tide for title?

Published: Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 11:10 p.m. CDT

More than halfway through the college football season, it appears that Alabama is head and shoulders above the rest of the playing field when it comes to the race for the BCS title game.

Should the Crimson Tide win out, as it looks like they will since nobody has even come close to stopping them (or scoring more than two touchdowns on them), they’ll be in Miami to play for the national championship for the third time in 4 years.

But who has the best chance to play the Tide? Here’s my top 5:

1. Kansas State. The Wildcats have several things going for them: a) They aren’t in the SEC, so they won’t lose to Alabama before the BCS title game (sorry, Florida); b) They have one fewer game to navigate, as the Big 12 doesn’t have a conference championship game; c) They’ve already beaten Oklahoma, the only Big 12 team that seems to have the horses to stack up with Collin Klein and the Wildcats’ stingy defense; d) They’re the highest-ranked team in the BCS standings that still has a strong shot at finishing the season unbeaten (again, sorry Gators); and e) The style they play is best suited for avoiding upsets, i.e. a strong running game and a physical defense.

2. Oregon. The Ducks are behind Kansas State for the sheer reason that they potentially have a pair of games against USC (regular season and Pac-12 championship), as well as the Civil War in the final week of the regular season against the surprise team of the year so far, a scrappy Oregon State squad that would love nothing more than to spoil their rivals’ national title aspirations. But should the Ducks beat the Trojans twice and take out the Beavers – not an impossible task given their fast-break offense that can seemingly outscore anyone – that second win over USC in the Pac-12 title game may actually allow them to leapfrog Kansas State and into the BCS title game.

3. Notre Dame. Like the Wildcats and Ducks, the Irish are in the top 5 in the BCS standings, and like K-State, they’d have one fewer game they’d have to win to remain undefeated. While ND hasn’t been winning pretty, it’s been winning, and that’s all that counts if they’re 12-0 and fighting for that title-game spot with some one-loss squads. The Irish have a tough defense that will keep them in every game, and seem to find just enough offense to pull out victories. However, there are two big roadblocks on the road to Miami: Oklahoma this week, and USC in the final week of the season – and both games are on the road.

4. Florida State. The Seminoles’ biggest problem is their relatively low ranking (No. 12) in the BCS standings. Traditionally, it’s tough to make up a lot of ground in the final few weeks of the season. However, FSU is still in the driver’s seat to win the ACC Atlantic Division, and they’d be a strong favorite in the ACC championship game. Already having one loss, the ’Noles would have to get some help in the form of undefeated teams above them losing, but should those other teams stumble and FSU wins out, it is possible the ground in the BCS standings could be made up.

5. USC. The Trojans do have a loss (like FSU), but they’re ranked in the top 10 in the BCS standings and have two potential chances to take down Pac-12 favorite Oregon. An early upset loss to Stanford would be erased with a late-season surge, as the BCS poll tends to reward those teams for hot finishes rather than punish them for early losses.

There are obviously far more factors that will go into this before all is said and done. But right now, with the way things look to be shaping up, these five teams have the best chance to spend the first couple of weeks of 2013 in Miami with the Tide.

No. 2 Florida vs. No. 10 Georgia

When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Jacksonville, Fla.


Line: Florida by 6˝

What’s up: This one’s basically for all the marbles in the SEC East. Should the Gators win, they’ll pretty much cement their berth in the SEC title game. If the Bulldogs prevail, they’ll control their own destiny in the SEC hunt.

My pick: Florida 27-17

No. 14 Texas Tech at No. 3 Kansas State

When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Snyder Family Stadium

TV: Fox

Line: Kansas State by 7

What’s up: Much like last week, the Wildcats will have to contend with a high-scoring, up-tempo offense. They had no trouble last week against West Virginia, and shouldn’t have trouble against the Red Raiders, whose defense will struggle just as much as the Mountaineers’ did last week.

My pick: Kansas State 48-28

TCU at Oklahoma State

When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Boone Pickens Stadium


Line: Oklahoma State by 7

What’s up: Two offensive teams who, at times, struggle to stop opposing offenses. This Big 12 clash could easily be the most exciting, back-and-forth affair of the weekend.

My pick: Oklahoma State 38-31

Ohio State at Penn State

When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Beaver Stadium


Line: Penn State by 1

What’s up: The battle for the Leaders Division lead, between a pair of teams who are ineligible for the postseason. Whichever team wins in Happy Valley will likely have the “mythical” Big Ten title all to themselves.

My pick: Ohio State 24-17

No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 8 Oklahoma

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Gaylord Family Stadium


Line: Oklahoma by 11˝

What’s up: The game of the week, by far. Either the Irish keep their national title hopes alive, or the Sooners keep their name in the hat should Kansas State stumble somewhere along the line. OU’s offense against ND’s defense will likely decide the outcome.

My pick: Oklahoma 31-17

No. 22 Michigan at Nebraska

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Memorial Stadium


Line: Nebraska by 2˝

What’s up: This could determine the Legends Division team which will play against (more than likely) Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. These two are easily the best of the division, and whichever QB makes more plays and fewer mistakes will lead his team to victory.

My pick: Nebraska 17-14

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