Posted 12/02/2013 at 06:26 PM
While Ohio State sits second in the BCS standings right now it seems to be a foregone conclusion that the SEC champion will pass the Buckeyes after next week unless Ohio State is incredibly impressive in the Big Ten championship game. Given the track record of the SEC there is not much of an argument to make against the move and while Ohio State would deserve a ton of credit for being 25-0 the last two seasons, there just are not many quality wins and there have been several close calls against mediocre to awful teams. The BCS won’t go quietly as there will certainly be great controversy regardless of how it shakes out. The Jameis Winston cloud will also continue to hover around the title game picture as well as the Heisman Trophy vote and could spell a disaster for the championship game if he is suspended.
If this was 2014 and a four-team playoff field needed to be sorted out things would not be any less messy. Assuming title game wins for Florida State and Ohio State, those two would be joined by the SEC champion and then almost certainly a one-loss Alabama team that did not win its own division. A one-loss Big XII champion would be left out, as would the Pac-12 champion. With a lesser argument to make, a one-loss AAC champion and an undefeated MAC champion would also be left out. Avoiding either a loss to a bad team or a lopsided loss is the key to the equation and Oklahoma State and Baylor both failed to do so. The case for the Big XII certainly gains some steam with the success of Texas A&M and Missouri in the SEC the last two years however as most SEC purists assumed that those teams would get crushed making the leap. Texas A&M fell to earth a bit this season but certainly has still held its own after great success last year and Missouri is one win away from being the SEC champion. Both of those programs were consistently mediocre or worse year-after-year in the Big XII with few exceptions.
It does not seem like a big difference but playing a nine-game conference schedule makes a huge difference compared with playing an eight game conference schedule as the top Pac-12 and Big XII teams continue to struggle to make it through a season without a loss. The Big Ten will be going to nine games in 2016, the SEC continues to talk about it while the ACC dropped its former plan to go to nine games. It is clearly a disadvantage in the national championship race if your league has a depth of quality teams as the Pac-12 and Big XII have shown.
While Monday’s game between the Saints and the Seahawks appears to be huge with NFC implications, the 9-3 Carolina Panthers, owners of the beat point differential in the NFC have two games with the Saints in the final four weeks. Those games will ultimately determine who wins the NFC South and had a top two seed in the NFC picture. Seattle has a very tough remaining schedule but with the weakness of the NFC North and NFC East, the NFC West champion is almost certain to gain a top two seed as well. The way it looks right now, both NFC wild card teams could be favored on the road in the playoffs. Given the big home field edges in Seattle and New Orleans there has been emphasis on that #1 seed position but both teams may face a tough fight just to hold on to division leads in the final weeks.
The AFC division races have little intrigue remaining with every team essentially holding at least a two-game lead. Denver is only up one game on Kansas City but the tiebreaker is locked up. Baltimore and Miami sit at 6-6 for the last wild card spot through week 13 but both teams have challenging schedules left as there is still very realistic hope for the four 5-7 teams. Best of Luck, on to this week’s slate…