A Look Around College Football – Week Eight
The 2012 college football season is now halfway done in terms of weeks played. There are 14 total weeks of action, not counting a so-called "fifteenth week" on Dec. 8 when Army and Navy renew their service-academy classic. With seven weeks down, we have seven weeks to go. This is where and when the national championship picture begins to come into focus with more clarity and urgency.
Everyone knows that the Alabama Crimson Tide are the undisputed No. 1 team in the sport, the obvious favorite to make the BCS National Championship Game. The Tide will try to avoid ambushes in the coming weeks so that they can face the LSU Tigers on Nov. 3 with an unblemished record. In the meantime, everyone else in the title chase will try to focus on that second spot opposite Alabama.
The Oregon Ducks are probably the foremost team in the trailing pack. Oregon would probably play USC twice over the remainder of the season – in the regular season and then the Pac-12 Championship Game. Assuming the Ducks win each of those contests en route to a 13-0 record, no other team in the country would be able to catch them… except for Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have taken on tough teams and endured tough games, especially this past Saturday's overtime heartstopper against Stanford. The Irish have played a national schedule worthy of a national championship contender. They have not played weak teams from small conferences or loaded up on patsies. Notre Dame has not played teams from Conference USA or the Western Athletic Conference, for instance. With BYU, a few ACC teams, and Pittsburgh forming part of the second-half slate, the Irish will get some breathers, but if they beat Oklahoma and USC on the road to finish the season 12-0, they should beat out Oregon for the right to face Alabama.
Other teams will have their own chance to enter the national title conversation. Florida, still unbeaten, hosts South Carolina this weekend. The Gators know that they have to play Georgia the following week, so merely escaping October without a loss would be a huge feat for this team. If Florida can enter November unbeaten, it would actually be in a position to play for the whole ball of wax. It is still a long ways off, but Florida could play Alabama in a winner-in, loser-out SEC Championship Game, with the winner going to the BCS title game and the loser being locked outside the candy store.
Kansas State is another national title contender that is about to face another moment of truth this weekend. The Wildcats will face West Virginia on the road and at night. KSU will have its hands full with WVU's Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Geno Smith. However, the Mountaineers must in turn deal with Kansas State's Heisman hopeful, quarterback Collin Klein.
The leaves are falling. The colors of the trees are changing. Autumn's reach is extending across the United States. Yes, the college football season is reaching a fever pitch; the games are becoming more consequential with each week.
By Matt Zemek
Copyright 2005-2009, CollegeSports-fans.com and the Dash Fans Network of Independent College Sports Fan Sites.