The Hlist, Week 9 -- Ranking the chances of the BCS' top four teams staying unbeaten
Also: Ohio State three wins from embarrassing the Big Ten
1. BCS Madness: The potential for the whopper of all BCS controversies is very real with the season two-thirds completed.
The Hlist thinks the top four teams in the BCS standings -- Alabama, Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame -- all have better-than-not chances of being unbeaten on the morning of Dec. 2.
Here is the Hlist's guess on percentages of being unbeaten entering the bowl season:
Oregon: 62 percent
Saturday: At USC
Nov. 10: At California
Nov. 17: Stanford
Nov. 24: At Oregon State
Nov. 30: Pac-12 title game, against USC, UCLA or Arizona State
Everything rides on Saturday at the L.A. Coliseum. If the Ducks down USC, pencil them in at 13-0. They won't lose to Cal, Stanford or Oregon State, and they won't lose the Pac-12 championship contest at home to any of the possible opponents. But though USC has fallen twice, at Stanford and Arizona, the Trojans aren't to be trifled with at home in a game they deeply care about. But the Ducks are relentless.
Kansas State: 61 percent
Saturday: Oklahoma State
Nov. 10: at TCU
Nov. 17: at Baylor
Dec. 1: Texas
Better to play Oklahoma State, which has some chops, at home. TCU is its old rugged self some weeks, not so much so in others. That is the game that is the most worrisome. If K-State is 10-0 after playing the Horned Frogs, it goes to 12-0. Baylor's defense has no answers for anyone, let alone great K-State quarterback Collin Klein. Texas? Same as Baylor. It's a tough four-game slate, but the Wildcats have shown focus week-in and week-out, and have beaten West Virginia and Texas Tech with surprising ease.
Alabama: 60 percent
Saturday: At LSU
Nov. 10. Texas A&M
Nov. 17: Western Carolina
Nov. 24: Auburn
Dec. 1: SEC title game, most likely vs. Georgia
Saturday's game is obviously more than dangerous. LSU's homefield advantage is second to none, and its defense is a bear. But Alabama's offense doesn't make mistakes and its defense is America's best. Texas A&M has an outstanding offense, but it got slowed at home when it met LSU's defense. Georgia could screw things up for the league by upsetting the Crimson Tide, but it's the same Georgia team that struggled past Tennessee and Kentucky. The SEC title-game being held in Atlanta make helps the Dawgs by a half-point, which won't be enough.
Notre Dame: 59 percent
Nov. 10: At Boston College
Nov. 17: Wake Forest
Nov. 24: At USC
Don't assume the Irish go to USC at 11-0. They've won four games by one score, and against the likes of Purdue and BYU. But ... Notre Dame keeps improving, and its next three opponents should be walkovers. The comes USC in Los Angeles. If we knew USC was going to lose to Oregon Saturday and slide into contention for the Holiday Bowl instead of the Rose, it might make us peg Notre Dame with the best chance to be unbeaten entering the bowls. But that game will be hard for the Irish no matter what, and wouldn't USC love to wreck Notre Dame's perfect season?
Oh yeah, Louisville is unbeaten, too. Which is nice.
2. An Imperfect Scenario: By defeating Penn State 35-23 in State College Saturday, Ohio State improved to 9-0 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten.
Most years, the Big Ten would use OSU as proof that it was relevant in football. This year, the Buckeyes are serving NCAA probation and will sit out of the postseason.
What if OSU wins out? What if it beats Illinois at home on Saturday, wins at Wisconsin on Nov. 17, and knocks off Michigan in Columbus on Nov. 24?
Well, that means the clear-cut No. 1 team in the Big Ten wouldn't be in the mix for the national-championship. Nor would it represent the conference in the Rose Bowl.
It would also mean the league's Leaders Division representative in the Big Ten title-game would have at least three losses, since Wisconsin is 3-2 right now, behind ineligible OSU and ineligible 3-1 Penn State.
Since Wisconsin also plays at Penn State on Nov. 24, it's possible the Badgers could go to Indianapolis with a 4-4 league mark and a 7-5 overall record.
That would be embarrassing to the conference, much as it was last year when a 6-6 UCLA team represented the South Division in the Pacific-12 Conference title game against Oregon because regular-season leader USC was on NCAA probation.
Even more embarrassing, what if five-loss Wisconsin then won the league championship and went to Pasadena to play a 13-0 Oregon in the Rose Bowl team because the Ducks were nosed out of the BCS title game by Alabama and Kansas State?
3. Passing Inefficiency: OK, Iowa's passing woes this season have been well-documented here and throughout the state. But it's not like the Big Ten is a passing league this season.
Only three Big Ten teams are in the nation's top 50 in passing efficiency, and two of them have rushing reputations, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Here are the rankings:
61. Penn State
106. Michigan State
4. AMQBHG (Angry Maryland Quarterback Hating God): You want to talk about a team with a position and a curse?
Maryland quarterback Caleb Rowe tore an ACL Saturday against Boston College. He is the fourth Terrapin quarterback to suffer a season-ending injury.
The Terps' starting quarterback this week: Freshman linebacker Shawn Petty. His backup is freshman tight end Brian McMahon.
Maryland is 73rd in the nation in passing efficiency.