Are we really entering the 10th week of college football? My, my time drags when you’re not having any fun at all. I feel like the season should be over by now. After their second Little Rock meltdown of the season, it appears the 2012 Arkansas Razorbacks feel about the same way. Sitting at 3-5 with four games left on the schedule, Arkansas needs to win at least three games against Tulsa, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and LSU in order to even qualify for a bowl game this year. The Hogs will certainly be sizable underdogs at Columbia and Starkville, and again at home against LSU the day after Thanksgiving. Arkansas is actually laying 7 points at home this week to Tulsa (any takers?), but winning any of the other games would be considered an upset by anyone. The point: Arkansas will very likely miss a bowl game for the first time since 2008. The Hogs also missed post-season play in 2004, got to the Las Vegas Bowl in 2000 (losing it to finish with a 6-7 record), and missed bowl games in 1996 and 1992. Presidential election years have not been kind to the Razorbacks.
Other teams – like Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, and Notre Dame – have no such problems. All four remain unbeaten this year, and all four could definitely end the season undefeated. The Crimson Tide and Ducks both face big challenges this weekend, though. Alabama must travel to Baton Rouge to take on LSU, while the Ducks fly south to take on Southern Cal. The Fighting Irish is on let-down alert when they host Pitt on Saturday afternoon, while Kansas State has revenge on its mind Saturday night when Oklahoma State comes to the Little Apple.
Kansas State has the easiest path to perfection. If they can get past Okie State this weekend, they have road games left against TCU and Baylor, and Texas in Manhattan to end the season. After this weekend Notre Dame has a similarly weak field ahead of it with only a road trip to Southern Cal the real danger along with dates against Boston College and Wake Forest on its schedule.
The current #1 and #2 in the Select 17 poll have the most difficult schedules remaining. If Bama passes a huge test this weekend, they get a dangerous Texas A&M squad before slowing down with Western Carolina and Auburn before the SEC Championship Game – against either Georgia or Florida. Oregon plays three times on the road in the final four weeks. They’re at USC this weekend, then at Cal, home for Stanford, and at Oregon State for the annual Civil War. If they survive that schedule, they plan the Pac-12 Championship Game, likely against Southern Cal (again) or UCLA.
As you have probably realized at this point, the two teams with the clearest paths to Miami both avoid a conference championship game. If both Notre Dame and Kansas State finish undefeated, you can bet a one-loss SEC or Pac-12 champion will not make the BCS Championship Game – to the delight of many and murderous rage of many more. The good news, at least for people like me, is that this nonsense all comes to an end in the 2014 season when the 4-team playoff format finally helps college football settle its business on the field.
To the rankings…
Others Receiving Votes: Boise St. 10, Louisiana Tech 9, Southern Cal 4, Texas Tech 4, Rutgers 1