Heading into this week’s games, there were 29 undefeated teams. Now, there are 20. Below, is a look at where those teams stack up on the road to Pasadena along with the three teams with a loss who still have an outside shot to get there. Keep in mind that this is not a ranking of quality of teams, just a ranking of each team’s chances of making it to the title.
California Dreamin’– These teams already have their sights set on the title game
1. Ohio State (5-0)– The Buckeyes have a fortunate combination of being a very good football team, coming from a power conference, and having a light schedule (Northwestern and Michigan, the only real challenges, are not exactly fear inspiring).
2. Oregon (4-0)– Right now, the Ducks are the most dominant team in the country and my #1 overall. However, a tough schedule that includes Washington, UCLA, and Stanford gives them perhaps the most difficult road of the serious contenders.
3. Louisville (4-0)– By far, the Cardinals are the most likely team in the country to go undefeated. However, could their ultra-easy schedule keep them out of Pasadena?
4. Alabama (4-0)– The 2013 edition of the Crimson Tide are not quite what they were last year. While I think they go undefeated and make it to Pasadena, an SEC schedule is tough, particularly when LSU and, likely, Georgia are still remaining.
5. Clemson (4-0)– Tajh Boyd and the Tigers are awfully good, but they always seem to stumble and Maryland, Florida State, and South Carolina provide plenty of opportunities for a slip up.
6. Stanford (4-0)– The first real test of the season comes next week against Washington, but UCLA and Oregon also loom large. The Cardinal are a great team, but can they go undefeated in the treacherous Pac-12?
7. Florida State (4-0)– Jameis Winston is awfully good, but, while the Clemson Tigers dominated against Wake Forest, the Seminoles struggled against Boston College. It may be tough to repeat as ACC champs.
8. Baylor (3-0)– This is not a Big12 conference that is exactly loaded, and it is tough to imagine anyone holding the Bears below 50 points. Still, games against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and TCU could pose challenges.
Eyes on the Prize– They may not be at the top of the list, but, if they win out, they could make it to Pasadena
9. Oklahoma 4-0– The Sooners may be better than I expected, but they are still not the program they were a few years ago. Baylor will certainly be tough to get through.
10. Northwestern 4-0– Pat Fitzgerald is my favorite coach in the country, and this is the best team he has had. Nevertheless, it is tough to imagine the Wildcats getting past Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes.
11. UCLA 3-0– The Bruins are back, and I really like this team, but does anyone outside of Pasadena think UCLA plays for the title in front of their home crowd after back-to-back away games against Oregon and Stanford in late October?
12. Washington 4-0– Steve Sarkisian has revived this program, but they too play the Ducks and the Cardinal back-to-back (although they get Oregon at home). UCLA and Arizona State are also very tough away games still remaining.
13. Miami 4-0– It is tough to tell exactly how good these Hurricanes are, but I do expect their title hopes to end with a loss at Florida State in early November. If they get by the Seminoles, however, they will shoot up this list in a hurry.
14. Maryland 4-0– The Terps are explosive, but they play Florida State this week and still have the Clemson Tigers to look out for.
15. Michigan 4-0– The Wolverines have yet to fall, but they have tried awfully hard to lose against pathetic competition early in the season (and, no, the Notre Dame win does not count as a “quality win”)
Fightin’ for Respect– Undefeated, but unlikely to make Pasadena
16. Northern Illinois 4-0– They made it to a BCS game last year, but even Jordan Lynch’s heroics are unlikely to land the Huskies in Pasadena.
17. Texas Tech 4-0– Kliff Kingsbury is arguably the top young coach in the biz, but it is unlikely that he can lead his alma mater to the title game in his first year.
18. Fresno State 4-0– Derek Carr and the Bulldogs may go undefeated, but the lack of quality wins and lack of dominant performances may keep them out of the BCS altogether.
19. Houston 4-0– Poor schedule + away game against Louisville= No trip to Pasadena.
20. Missouri 4-0– It has been a nice start for the Tigers against poor competition. They may be in for a rude awakening when SEC competition kicks off for them this weekend.
Holdin’ out Hope– They’ve lost one, but they may still be alive
21. LSU 4-1– Yes, the loss to UGA stings, but, if they can somehow get by Alabama and Texas A&M, they may get a rematch.
22. Georgia 3-1– They may be in the driver’s seat to win the East, but can they win the SEC title.
23. Texas A&M 4-1– Johnny Football and the Aggies need the Tide to stumble in order to make the conference title game, much less Pasadena.