College Football Preview and Picks – Week 7

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By Contributing Writer, Mike Ivcic

Four more unbeatens bit the dust last week, opening the door even wider for one-loss teams like Virginia Tech, Oregon, Southern Cal, and Ohio State to possibly re-enter the national championship discussion. As it stands now, four of the six BCS conferences (Big Ten, Big East, SEC, and Big 12) can produce an undefeated team, and the lone chance in the Big Ten is Iowa, who still has to visit Columbus. In all likelihood, that will be a loss, but without assuming that, there are five possible scenarios that remain for this season.

1. Three or more undefeated BCS teams – The worst possible situation, where either the Big Ten or Big East joins the SEC and Big 12 winners as finishing 12-0 or 13-0. I find it difficult to see anything other than a Big 12-SEC championship game, meaning one or both of the other conferences will be livid (see: Auburn, 2003).

2. Three or more undefeated teams, only two BCS – This one is probably the most likely scenario of all. Only two teams from BCS schools go undefeated, but either Boise State or TCU (or both) also run the table. There’s a distinct scenario here where Boise State, TCU, Iowa, and Cincinnati all win their conferences without a loss, while USC, Virginia Tech, Florida, and Texas all win their conferences with 1-loss. Would you want to decide between those eight teams with those eight records which two get to go to Pasadena?

3. Two undefeated teams, only one BCS – Boise State OR TCU wins out, and either Florida, Alabama, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Cincinnati, OR South Florida wins out. It might not be the prettiest thing in the world, but if there are only two unbeatens remaining when it all plays out, regardless of conference affiliation, I think those two will likely be playing for the national title this year.

4. One undefeated team, BCS – This is the second likely scenario, where only one team goes undefeated and it’s from a BCS school. That school would almost definitely be in, and teams like Florida, Alabama, Texas, Virginia Tech, Oregon, Southern Cal, and Ohio State could all be clamoring for that number 2 spot in the final poll.

5. One undefeated team, non-BCS – Exactly as above, except the undefeated team is Boise State or TCU. All that does is add to the pool of teams competing for the number 2 spot.

6. No undefeated teams – And the BCS totally collapses in on itself. After all, what happens if Oklahoma beats Texas this week, knocks off an undefeated Kansas team the following week, continues on to beat Nebraska and Oklahoma State and then beats either Missouri, Kansas, or Nebraska again to win the Big 12. With an 11-2 record that includes all of those wins, a caveat to the opening-season loss to BYU, and no undefeated programs in the country, would it be THAT absurd to see the disaster known as the BCS kick out Oklahoma as the number two team in the country?

The answer to that, by the way, is no. So root for some undefeated teams, will you?

Anyway, as promised, here again is the list of the remaining undefeated teams, as well as their conference affiliation:
Alabama – SEC
Boise State – WAC
Cincinnati – Big East
Florida – SEC
Iowa – Big Ten
Kansas – Big 12
South Florida – Big East
Texas – Big 12
TCU – Mountain West
Note: I understand that this list will be incorrect as of Thursday night around 11 p.m. after either Cincinnati or South Florida loses, but that won’t be reflected until next week.

With a bit of a longer column this week, here are my abbreviated five games for this week.

1. #20 Oklahoma vs #3 Texas in Dallas, TX
Saturday, 12:00 p.m. (ABC)
Oklahoma is a good team and Sam Bradford id back, so they can probably beat Texas as easily as the Longhorns could beat them. The x-factor: if you don’t think every single Longhorn remembers that the Sooners played for a national title despite losing to Texas last season, you’re off your rocker.
Line: Texas by 3
Pick: Texas 35, Oklahoma 27

2. #11 Iowa @ Wisconsin
Saturday, 12:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Iowa’s passed two big tests so far – Penn State and Michigan. In between, they were shaky against Arkansas State. Wisconsin avoided a couple upset scares themselves before finally falling to Ohio State last week. Will the Badgers rebound in a rivalry game, or will the Hawkeyes continue their unbeaten streak and keep steamrolling towards a date with the Buckeyes?
Line: Wisconsin by 3
Pick: Iowa 17, Wisconsin 13

3. #6 Southern Cal @ #25 Notre Dame
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (NBC)
Just call this a BCS elimination game. For Southern Cal, the chance at playing for a national championship is on the line, especially with Oregon still looming on the schedule. For the Irish, their schedule might not be good enough to get them into that top 2 even with a win here, but it would certainly lend credence to the idea of continuing the Charlie Weis era in South Bend.
Line: Southern Cal by 10
Pick: Southern Cal 38, Notre Dame 31

4. #4 Virginia Tech @ #19 Georgia Tech
Saturday, 6:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
Georgia Tech can vault themselves right back into the BCS picture with a win at home against Virginia Tech. It would create all sort of tiebraking issues atop the ACC Coastal, but the possibility existing might be more than enough to spur on the Yellow Jackets. They’ll need it against a surging Va Tech team – and I’m slowly becoming more of a believer in Tyrod Taylor.
Line: Virginia Tech by 3
Pick: Virginia Tech 26, Georgia Tech 21

5. #22 South Carolina @ #2 Alabama
Saturday, 7:45 p.m. (ESPN)
The Crimson Tide are on a collision course with the Florida Gators in an extremely difficult SEC, but it would really be something if former Gators “head ball coach” Steve Spurrier could bring his Gamecocks into Tuscaloosa and knock off the nation’s second-ranked team. The way the Tide dispatched Ole Miss on the road last week, though, it would truly be a shock if Nick Saban’s crew lost this one at home.
Line: Alabama by 17
Pick: Alabama 31, South Carolina 10

Straight Up: 4-1
Versus Line: 3-2

Straight Up: 20-10
Versus Line: 16-14

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