The BCS standings have just come out, and Florida is 10th. As I mentioned earlier, the Gators are only a hair out of fifth place if you look at the scores, so it’s pretty tight so far.
The overall sentiment this season is that, if no one goes undefeated and these are available, the one-loss Big 12 champion and the one-loss SEC champion will play for the title. These two are clearly the best conferences in the land, and the conventional wisdom goes that their champions should be rewarded for it.
Now I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here: the champion of the toughest conference may not automatically be the best team. A better team could exist in a weaker conference. However the past two seasons have shown that the “most deserving team” argument is going to win over the “best team” in today’s climate, and coming out of the toughest conference with the same number of losses than someone from a weaker conference makes you more deserving.
Because the SEC is one of those top two in the perception ranks, the Gators really just need to win out and have Penn State lose and most everything will take care of itself. Even so, if you want to leave no doubt of Florida’s chances to make the title game, here’s your rooting guide for the rest of the season arranged by conference.
With BYU’s loss, there isn’t a non-BCS team that can plausibly make the title game. In theory BYU might have been able to sneak in because they began the year relatively high in the polls, they have wins over two Pac-10 schools, and they’ve won a national title in the past.
TCU made that unlikely scenario moot.
ACC and Big East
None of these teams have a shot, so continue to root for or against teams as you normally should. Some have tried to make the case that the Gators need to root for Miami and FSU to prop up their resume, but being from the SEC means they don’t really mean anything.
And really, root for Miami or FSU? Unless they are playing a team ahead of Florida in the polls at the end of the season only, there’s no reason ever to. Please.
It doesn’t really matter what goes on here, because there’s no way that both title game slots end up with Big 12 teams. Honestly I don’t think anyone left on Texas’ schedule plays enough defense to beat them, so worrying about this league is more or less a waste of time.
If you want to be absolutely sure, then root for every team to have at least two losses. That’s not very likely, of course. If you have a mischievous streak, then root for Oklahoma to win out and Texas to somehow lose to Baylor. OU would finish higher in the polls, but they will not have even won their division.
It’s very simple: root for Ohio State to beat Penn State. A one-loss Big Ten champ will not be ahead of a one-loss Big 12 or SEC champ at the end, so as long as the Nittany Lions lose to someone (Ohio State? At Iowa? Michigan State?), then we’re set.
After this weekend though, root for Ohio State to lose to Northwestern and/or Illinois. They’re by far the best win on USC’s resume, so if the Buckeyes fall they will tug down on USC too.
USC obviously is the only title contender from this conference, and quite simply another loss will do them in. The computer formulas already hate them, and none of their wins the rest of the way will gain them any favor with the algorithms. A sinking Ohio State would also hurt.
Something Lisa Horne brought up is that if both USC and Oregon State win out, then the Beavers will win the tiebreaker and get the Rose Bowl berth as Pac-10 champion. Technically USC and OSU will be recognized as co-champions by the conference, but human voters look at tiebreakers and will recognize the guys from Corvallis as the sole champ. Then, the Trojans will have the “didn’t win their conference” argument working against them.
The only concern within the conference is hoping that the heavyweights (Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and LSU) don’t get upset a lot by weaker teams and bring down the perception of the league some. I don’t know how much that will happen, and it would take an awful lot for people to come to the conclusion that the Pac-10 or Big Ten are better conferences.
Since Florida controls its destiny, all the Gators must do is win out. That begins this weekend with Kentucky.