With the loss by Alabama, who do you think will play for a college national championship?
By Graham Hays
Look, SEC fans can be more than a little obnoxious about the greatness that is college football in their conference, the same way baseball fans in Boston can be a bit obnoxious about their erudition and I can be a little obnoxious as an Indiana native about that state's basketball supremacy. (Although let's face it, that last stereotype is true; it's our game.) But history is rather clear that it's never wise to bet against the SEC on the gridiron. One loss didn't derail Alabama a season ago, and one loss won't stop the Crimson Tide from playing Kansas State for the title this season.
Being the first of the four unbeaten teams to lose might end up being a blessing for Alabama. Nick Saban's team only dropped to fourth and still has plenty of time to make up ground and make a statement in the SEC championship game. On the other side, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon will find themselves running out of time to climb back into the top two spots should they lose from here on out. And between Notre Dame's season-ending trip to USC and Oregon facing the prospect of games against Stanford, Oregon State and USC or UCLA in consecutive weeks, potential losses are still out there waiting to trip those teams. (The same could be said for Kansas State, of course, but no team could possibly be happier about no longer having a conference title game than the Wildcats.)
We still have three unbeaten teams, but Texas A&M made a strong case last week that we don't have any perfect teams. By losing first, Alabama set itself up to have the lead in a race for redemption. And while I'm rooting for Oregon and Notre Dame to meet for the title, I'm expecting Alabama and Kansas State.
By Mechelle Voepel
Oregon (with a thousand uniforms) and Kansas State (with two) are my picks for the BCS Championship Game. Yes, both still have challenges, but I think they will finish unbeaten, while Notre Dame will fall at USC to end its regular season.
Oregon has two Pac-12 games left and the additional league title game. Kansas State doesn't have a conference championship matchup to worry about. That's what stopped the Wildcats the last time they had the potential for playing in the national championship game: a crushing double-overtime loss to Texas A&M in the 1998 Big 12 title game.
Since then, K-State coach Bill Snyder has retired and returned to continue one of the most amazing turnaround stories in all of college sports. No matter how many times you may read/hear about it, trust me that it's never overstated just how terrible K-State was when Snyder took over in 1989.
I covered Big Eight football as a senior at Missouri in 1986, when K-State was in a five-year stretch of going 4-50-1 and was thought to be the worst program in Division I-A. At the time, though, the Wildcats were not alone in their misery: Fellow Big Eight neighbors Kansas and Missouri were very bad, too. Back then, we smart-aleck young journalists called Manhattan, Kan., Lawrence, Kan., and Columbia, Mo., the "Bermuda Triangle of college football."
All three have had some successes since, but K-State has achieved the most and is now two games from a possible chance to play for college football's biggest prize. Baylor and Texas will try to stop the Wildcats, and we don't fully know the extent of the injury to K-State quarterback/Heisman candidate Collin Klein. But the Wildcats may finally get their big close-up on a national stage.
By Amanda Rykoff
The latest BCS standings have Kansas State at the top and Oregon at No. 2. I believe that will be the BCS championship matchup in January, and I look forward to it.
Yes, Notre Dame checks in at No. 3 (that's not a typo) based on its undefeated record. But a look at whom the Fighting Irish face in the next few weeks gives the strength of schedule edge to Oregon thanks to its improved Pac-12 competition. As long as the Ducks don't get upset (the Civil War in Corvallis won't be easy), they should be in Miami on Jan. 7, and Notre Dame will have to be content with another BCS bowl.
Kansas State and Heisman contender Collin Klein have quietly rolled through the Big 12, including a 55-14 shellacking of West Virginia on the road that caused everybody to start picturing the Wildcats in Miami. If they can get past Baylor on the road and Texas at home, they'll be locked in at No. 1. Kansas State and Oregon would be not only an outstanding game but also a welcome change from the SEC domination of the past few years.
By Melissa Jacobs
There is certainly a case to be made for all three undefeated teams -- Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame -- suffering a loss in the regular season's final two weeks. All have tough schedules, facing nationally ranked opponents. I believe Notre Dame will escape unscathed. The Irish's biggest barrier to an undefeated season is No. 18 USC, but the Trojans have lost two out of their past three and have yet to beat a ranked opponent.
Unfortunately for Notre Dame, the odds of Kansas State and Oregon also losing are slim. The Wildcats look like an unstoppable force with Collin Klein and getting to play Texas at home. Oregon has been an offensive juggernaut, scoring at least 42 points in every game this season. No opponent has even finished a game within 10 points of the Ducks. They are the most dominant team in college football and will face Kansas State in the national championship. Sorry, Domers.
By Jane McManus
The BCS ranking system is such a mess -- the voters in the polls are also the participants -- that it's hard for me to get too emotionally invested in the outcome. Teams have one shot at being highly rated enough to be relevant, and Alabama blew its shot at the championship -- barring collapses by the other contenders. The playoff system can't arrive soon enough.
Among Kansas State, Oregon or Notre Dame, the first two seem most likely to reach the championship despite Oregon's difficult schedule. But as usual, there will be arguments about who really deserved it or whether a one-loss SEC team is better than an undefeated team in any other conference. It already gives me a headache.
By Michelle Smith
Oregon has the best chance for a spot in the national championship game considering how well it is playing even with the Pac-12 championship game still to go. The Ducks are the nation's most potent offensive team.
Alabama has a strong chance to get back in the mix, assuming neither Kansas State nor Notre Dame can finish its season undefeated. The SEC will rise again at the end of this season. But only after a couple of unbeaten teams fall.