This is why when the going gets tough, the tough schedules Western Carolina (or Georgia Southern, or Jacksonville State, or Wofford, or Sam Houston State).
The only conference that has the BCS figured out is going to be in the championship game for a seventh consecutive year - and possibly an all-SEC final for a second straight season. After Saturday night's unthinkable evisceration of the previous top two teams in the BCS standings, that's the only near-sure thing we have.
An SEC team will face Notre Dame in the BCS championship game in Miami on Jan. 7, if the Irish can get by a likely Matt Barkley-less (but a full Monte-Lane) USC team. If Notre Dame chokes at the L.A. Coliseum, then a number of scenarios may still emerge, and all of which will still involve at least one SEC team in the title game.
By way of its genius scheduling, the SEC's heavyweights all had virtual bye weeks on Saturday (South Carolina's workout was a bit more strenuous than desired, but still) while the Pac-12 and Big 12 engaged in ritual suicides with their national championship quests.
The biggest losers Saturday are undoubtedly Oregon and Kansas State, who not only lost their respective grip on a spot in the national championship game, but might even be shut out of a BCS bowl all together. The Ducks won't win their division if Stanford beats UCLA next week to set up a rematch with the Bruins in the Pac-12 title game. The Wildcats, meanwhile, would be usurped as the Big 12 champion if they lose to Texas next week while Oklahoma defeats Oklahoma State.
The obvious beneficiary of Saturday's upsets is of course Notre Dame, but it needed only one of the teams in front of it to lose. The real winner is the SEC, which now has the following (and multiple) paths to the BCS championship game:
* If Alabama beats Auburn and Georgia beats Georgia Tech, the winner of the SEC title game will face Notre Dame in the BCS title game (if the Irish defeat USC).
* If Notre Dame is upset by USC, then the SEC champ likely would face Florida in the BCS title game, if the Gators get by Florida State in their season finale. It could be Cocktail Party II, just 400 miles south.
* If Notre Dame and Florida both lose next week, then either Oregon or Kansas State might sneak back into the title game to face the SEC champion.
* About the only realistic scenario where the SEC might be shut out of the BCS title game is this: Notre Dame defeats USC, Georgia loses to Georgia Tech but beats Alabama in the SEC title game and Florida loses to Florida State. If all those hypotheticals occur, then it'll be Notre Dame against either Kansas State or Oregon.
* And the odd team out is still Florida State (and Clemson). Even with a win over Florida next week, the Seminoles are unlikely to earn a shot at the BCS championship game, thanks to their terrible computer rankings and the overall weakness of the ACC. FSU likely will face 6-6 Georgia Tech or 7-5 Miami (if it chooses not to self-impose a ban) in the ACC title game.
Projected BCS Standings:
1. Notre Dame, 2. Alabama, 3. Georgia, 4. Florida, 5. Kansas State, 6. Oregon, 7. LSU, 8. Florida State, 9. Texas A&M, 10. Stanford, 11. South Carolina, 12. Clemson, 13. Oklahoma, 14. Nebraska, 15. Texas.