The same concern from fans and media arises each college football season around late October, and that is the potential for an unbeaten team to be left out of the BCS Championship Game. In most seasons, everything works out fine and all of the debate and consternation is for nothing. There have been exceptions, however, like Auburn in 2004. And past non-BCS teams with perfect records such as Boise State, TCU and Utah have argued that they deserve a shot at the title. There are currently eight unbeatens — LSU, Alabama, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Boise State, Clemson, Kansas State and Houston — and this season looks like it could have four or five teams finish with unblemished resumes. If that happens, the college football world will be saturated with heated debates from coast to coast.
How many teams will be undefeated heading into bowl season?
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Three. I believe that Alabama, Oklahoma State and Boise State will head into bowl season without a loss. Stanford is obviously one of the elite teams in the nation, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Cardinal lost at home to Oregon on Nov. 12. Clemson still has some tough tests in the regular season — at Georgia Tech and at South Carolina stand out — but I believe the Tigers will make it through unscathed. A rematch against Virginia Tech in the ACC title game could be problematic, however. The Hokies have improved on the offensive end, most notably at quarterback, since these two teams met in Blacksburg on Oct. 1. Oklahoma State is dominant on offense and good enough on defense to make it through the rest of its schedule — including a home date with Oklahoma — without a loss. Boise State? Not an issue. And finally, Alabama, assuming it beats LSU, will not lose.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I think the number is four, but Kansas State is the only one of the eight unbeatens that I give no shot at a perfect record. My quartet is the Alabama-LSU winner, Stanford, Boise State and Houston. I thought the Cardinal would be more of a 9-10 win team with the departure of Jim Harbaugh, but David Shaw deserves credit for having his team running on all cylinders. Of course, it helps when you have college football’s best player in Andrew Luck. Boise State should cruise the Mountain West, with only TCU potentially posing a problem. Houston will be challenged in late November, but Case Keenum and crew should win them all. Oklahoma State has awesome firepower on offense, but there are too many possible pitfalls down the stretch. The same applies for Clemson, especially if a rematch with Virginia Tech occurs in the ACC title game. Whatever happens, we should let it all play out instead of getting needlessly worked up over early BCS standings. These next few weeks in college football should be as exciting as anything you see in sports.
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
I will say four teams finish the regular season undefeated. Boise State won't even come close to being tested and faces no championship game. Houston has SMU, Tulsa and a potential championship game over the final three weeks, but the way the offense is humming (No. 1 in scoring, passing and total offense nationally), the Cougars feel like an unblemished team. Alabama will take down LSU in two weekends and roll into the BCS title game unbeaten. Clemson will not be able to beat Virginia Tech — and a much improved Logan Thomas — for a second time this season in the ACC title game. Oklahoma State will topple Kansas State play before getting beat by the Sooners — who have a litany of reasons to be ecstatic about eliminating the Pokes from the national title picture. That leaves the Stanford Cardinal, who will beat Oregon at home on November 12, as the fourth undefeated team. Andrew Luck vs. Alabama's defense in the BCS title game sounds juicy to me.
There will be four undefeated teams prior to bowl games — two in the BCS national title game (the winner of Alabama-LSU and Oklahoma State) and two non-BCS squads (Boise State and Houston). Of those unbeatens still standing, either Alabama or LSU will obviously fall when the nation's top two teams go toe-to-toe in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5. Clemson will lose either at South Carolina or in the ACC title game; Stanford will stumble either in an upset this week at USC or against Oregon; and Kansas State is poised for a potential four-game losing streak against Oklahoma, O-State, Texas A&M and Texas. I'm assuming the Alabama-LSU winner takes down the beast of the East in the SEC title game, that O-State wins a shootout at home against Oklahoma in a classic Bedlam battle and that both Boise State and Houston keep running laps around inferior competition. Then again, last week I was certain Wisconsin would roll to the BCS title game.