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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Handicapping the BCS Title Game Contenders

With the season roughly half over, it's time to assess the realistic chances of the top teams to reach the BCS Title Game (note: not win but just get there). LSU was a bit of a shocker last year as the first 2-loss team to reach the big one, and that is going to happen again in the coming weeks. As always, the late losses kill your chances and that is taken into account. But I'll give my take on odds to get to the big one along with the odds of winning it all, as supplied by Bodog.

  • Texas Tech - 20/1 (Bodog: 10/1) - The Red Raiders have a brutal and I mean brutal schedule. Easily the toughest of the unbeatens with games @ KU (10/25), Texas (11/1), Okie St (11/8), @ OU (11/22), and the Big 12 title game. A loss to Texas likely takes Tech out of the Big 12 title game. Lose to OU or in the title game and Tech is out.

  • Georgia - 20/1 (Bodog: 20/1) - Still have to travel to LSU (10/25) and Jacksonville for the Florida game (11/1), then the SEC title game. Have to win them all to get in, but with some help from the Big 12 South teams beating up each other, they would.

  • Oklahoma State - 20/1 (Bodog: 20/1) - Games @ Texas (10/25), @ T. Tech (11/8), home for OU (11/29), then the Big 12 title game. Could lose to Texas and win the rest, but would need Texas to lose twice to get in the title game. Lose to OU and it's over either way.

  • LSU - 20/1 (Bodog: 50/1) - Gets Georgia (10/25) and Alabama (11/8) at home, then a likely rematch with Florida/Georgia for the SEC title. They must them all - same scenario as Georgia.

  • Missouri - 15/1 (Bodog: 25/1) - Tigers get Texas this weekend, but have to win all of them to get in. Beating the Longhorns twice and a bit of help puts the Tigers right back in it. It also wouldn't hurt if those are the only Texas losses all season.

  • Ohio State - 14/1 (Bodog: 20/1) - Has Penn St at home (10/25) but even winning out might not be enough for the Buckeyes. They will need help from higher ranked teams.

  • Oklahoma - 7/1 (Bodog: 12/1) - Gets T.Tech at home (11/22), then @ Okie St (11/29). Could win out, not get in the Big 12 title game and find their way into the BCS title game. Can anyone remember a Big 12 team that didn't win the conference, yet played for the title? Hmmm.

  • Alabama - 5/1 (Bodog: 3/1) - The only stumbling block looks like a game at LSU (11/8) before the SEC title game against Florida or Georgia. Could lose the LSU game and still get in with a win in the SEC title game.

  • Texas - 5/1 (Bodog: 6/1) - Still has Mizzou on Saturday and Okie St at home (10/25), @ T. Tech (11/1), @ Kansas (11/15) , and the Big 12 game. Could lose to Mizzou or Okie St, but they would then need to win the rest, including a Mizzou rematch, to get in (and some help).

  • Penn State - 7/2 (Bodog: 7/2) - The only thing between the big one and Penn St is a night game in Columbus (10/25). Losing that game, or any other likely takes Penn St out with the conference so weak.

  • Florida - 3/1 (Bodog: 6/1) - Can't afford to lose another, but will be favored in games against Georgia (11/1) and FSU (11/29). Beat an undefeated 'Bama team and you are likely in, but need a Texas or Penn St loss.

  • USC - 3/2 (Bodog: 3/1) - Only remaining challeng is @ Cal. Should be able to run the table, but needs to see losses by 'Bama, Texas, and Penn St, or any 2 of the 3.

I make USC the favorite to play in the BCS title game based only on difficulty of schedule. Florida is my second favorite as I see them winning out. Penn State is a close third because chances are good they lose the Ohio State game on the road at night.

Some outside longshots would be Kansas or Michigan State if they win them all. How about an undefeated BYU? The problem is that I can't see the pollsters letting them into the championship as a non-BCS school. But, you never know though do you? What if everyone has 2 losses? It'll just be one more controversy that seems to happen every year.

One thing is certain. Regardless of who's playing in the game, I hope this group of USC fans can make it Miami for some tailgating. (For the record, I'll go with far left by a nose over blond in the middle with the red cup.)