So, our season is now officially crap. And thankfully, Florida, South Carolina, and LSU all joined our misery last weekend. Louisville lost their title hopes, and all those great teams everyone was saying couldn't be beat when October began are starting to look real vulnerable. Who's left might you ask, with that hope of a national title still in their eye? Not many.
Florida State or Miami
These two ACC foes and traditional Sunshine State rivals square off on November 2nd, in Tallahassee. Aside from that game, and a November 30th trip to Gainesville for their other in-state rivals, the Seminoles have little to stand in their way. They're home against NC St this week, travel to Wake Forest after the Hurricane showdown, then host Syracuse and Idaho before the game with the Gators. They also have the consensus Heisman frontrunner in QB Jameis Winston. The redshirt freshman from Alabamais completing over 70% of his passes, with 20 TDs to 3 picks, 137 yds and 3 TDs on the ground, while averaging almost 315 yards per game passing.
Miami has two big games left as well, FSU and hosting Virginia Tech the following week. Other than that, they take on Wake Forest and Virgina in Coral Gables, while traveling to Duke and Pitt. Not scary stuff at all, for the resurgent bad boys of college football.
Of course, if either runs the table in the regular season, you still have the ACC title game, with FSU/Clemson on one side and Miami/Va Tech on the other as the likely division champs (one is Coastal, the other Atlantic, and I have no desire to know which is which).
The Buckeyes, almost unbelievable a short time ago, might go undefeated for two consecutive seasons but get left out in the cold of a title game. They have no one to blame but their conference brethren and a non-conference slate that included Buffalo, Florida A&M, and San Diego St. They host Penn St this weekend, then go to Purdue, have a week off, are at Illinois, host Indiana, and finish up with Michigan in Ann Arbor. Michigan St or Nebraska are on top of the opposing division (Leaders or Legends, again, I don't care who is what), which would give Urban Meyer's crew a decent, albeit uninspiring pair of games should they still be undefeated and in the mix.
The Ducks have the toughest remaining schedule among the top 5 teams. They host Jim Mora and UCLA Saturday, then a bye before a huge Thursday night matchup with Stanford on November 7th. They close out hosting Utah and then Oregon St wrapped around a trip to Arizona. Though it'll be in Eugene, the instate showdown with the Beavers to end the season is always a hotly contested game. Then like all non Big 12 teams, a conference championship game on December 7th, with a UCLA rematch or Arizona St as the likely opponent.
Oregon is also home to the second Heisman frontrunner, Marcus Mariota. A big, athletic kid from Hawai'i, he's only completing 62% of his passes, but 19 TDs to no picks (yep, 0, 7 games into the season), and has already run for almost 500 yds and 9 TDs. Final season numbers of almost, if not over, 5,000 total yards and 50 TDs aren't unreasonable with the pace the Ducks play.
Texas Tech or Baylor
The Red Raiders and Bears each have pretty rough roads ahead. Both end their season with Texas, while also playing each other, Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. Kliff Kingsbury's Texas Tech takes the trip to Norman Saturday, in a game most suspect they'll lose. Next week is a chance to see Okie St at home. They host Kansas St, then Baylor, and travel to Austin on Thanksgiving to round out their season with a very busy November.
Baylor and their video game offense (averaging 64 pts per game) takes the road to Kansas Saturday. A weekend off is followed by a big Thursday night game against Oklahoma on November 7th (so combined with the Oregon/Stanford game, this should be a good night). The Bears host Texas Tech the week after on the 16th, then head to Stillwater for Okie St on the 23rd. Their season concludes with a trip to TCU and hosting Texas in early December. They aren't considered contenders yet, but the offense will get lots of attention.
Fresno St and Northern Illinios
Louisville just went down, so remaining in the overlooked crowd, but much moreso than the two Big 12 teams, are Fresno St and Northern Illinois. Both, as would be expected, have extremely weak remaining schedules, so BCS bowl games aren't out of the question. It certainly won't be Pasadena for the big game, but the Fresno St Bulldogs, led by David Carr's little brother Derek, face teams that are at best 4-3, and a combined 15-18. The Northern Illinois Huskies take on even more flea-infested dogs, with a combined remaining opponents record of 13-24. Take away a 7-1 Ball St, and it gets even worse as 3 of their 5 remaining opponents are 1-6, 1-6, and 0-8.
Bama or Missouri
Ah, the ones we all care about. The SEC, and your eventual champion Alabama. The Tide's cupcaketastic scheduling continues this year as it has the last few years. They host Tennessee and LSU in these next three weeks (bye in the middle). Then after facing the Bayou Bengals close out that 4 week run with a trip to Starkville, hosting Chattanooga (no longer UT-C), and then visiting surprisingly strong Auburn to end the season in the Iron Bowl. AJ McCarron, in past years would probably get a career Heisman for all his wins and rings. Times have changed though, and the senior QB is likely the third wheel in New York.
Missouri has shocked everyone knocking off Georgia and Florida the last two weekends. Their October gauntlet concludes with a game against South Carolina in the northernmost Columbia. A win there gives them an overwhelming advantage in winning the East, although they'd still have tough tests hosting Tennessee, then traveling to Kentucky and Ole Miss, and ending the season with Texas A&M at home.
And while Bama gets the benefit of the doubt should they go undefeated, if Oregon and FSU also go into the conference championship weekend of December 7th without a loss, they'd probably want an undefeated Mizzou to add hype to the Atlanta affair.
There is still a lot of football to be played folks, but Bama, Oregon, FSU, and Ohio St all have potential undefeated seasons, with smaller chances for Texas Tech, Baylor, Miami, and Missouri to do so as well from major conferences. Injuries and late season surges might see a Bryce Petty (Baylor QB) or Jordan Lynch (Northern Illinois QB), or even a standout RB/WR like Mike Evans of A&M get Downtown Athletic Club invitations. But your top 3 have to be Winston, Mariota, and McCarron right now, in that order.