So, here’s where things stand after “Separation Saturday.” With Oklahoma and Florida State losing, the Big 12 and ACC no longer have any credible threats to go undefeated. The SEC has three, or perhaps four: Auburn, Florida, Georgia and maybe Alabama. Obviously, only one of those three can actually, ultimately finish unbeaten. Meanwhile, the November 18 Ohio State-Michigan game could potentially be a battle of two undefeated, championship-contending teams from the Big Ten (though I predict Penn State will stun the Wolverines in Happy Valley on Oct. 14). And USC continues to look like the real deal. ESPN’s analysts rated their performance against Nebraska tonight a C+ by Trojan standards, and Booty looked somwhat less Bootylicious in the second half, yet they still routed a ranked team, 28-10. Bob Davie said these Trojans could ultimately be scary good, and he’s right. Kirk Herbstreit is right, too, when he says what I’ve been saying for months: USC’s schedule is very favorable, lending itself to a distinct possibility of a 12-0 season. If that happens, and if the OSU-Michigan winner is undefeated, it seems entirely possible that an undefeated SEC team could again be left out of the BCS title game. (Needless to say, an undefeated Big East team has no chance of reaching the BCS title game unless there are fewer than two undefeateds from the other five big conferences, notwithstanding how well the Big East has done in OOC play so far. And even then, they might not make it. Oh, and TCU’s best realistic hope is a Fiesta Bowl bid, even if they go undefeated.)
On the other side of the undefeated/once-beaten sweepstakes, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, LSU, Tennessee and Florida State join Texas in the “root against the undefeateds” club, hoping against hope that they’ll somehow worm their way back into the national-championship picture. It’s especially plausible in the case of Notre Dame and Texas, since they started out ranked so high. Of course, they need to win out, and they need a lot of help. Meanwhile, with its second loss, a blowout by Louisville, Miami drops out of the picture entirely, and Larry Coker finds himself seriously on the hot seat.
Oh, and alas, the “perfect BCS sh*tstorm” scenario is officially shot. It required a Notre Dame win over Michigan and an Oklahoma win over Oregon, neither of which happened. (The scenario was: Ohio State beats Texas, which beats Oklahoma, which beats Oregon, which beats USC, which beats Notre Dame, which beats Michigan, which beats Ohio State, and all seven of those teams finish with one loss — all to one another.) That said, there are still plenty of crazy scenarios that could happen, still plenty of ways the BCS could blow itself up. Imagine, for instance, Ohio State finishes undefeated and undisputed #1, while Notre Dame rallies from today’s defeat and runs the table, beating USC in its finale to finish #2 in the AP poll — ahead of #3 West Virginia, even though the Mountaineers are undefeated. Who gets the BCS title-game bid? Does a one-loss Notre Dame, having finished its season with a major “statement” win in L.A., get in ahead of an undefeated West Virginia squad that hasn’t beaten anybody good except injury-depleted Louisville? Of course, that isn’t going to happen, because USC is going to beat the Irish :), but that’s just an example of one possible fun scenario.