Florida State, LSU, Georgia and Texas fell from the ranks of the unbeatens on Saturday, joining USC and Oklahoma as top-10 teams whose national championship chances have taken a serious hit.
There are seven unbeaten teams still in front of them, and there’s likely to be two (and possibly three) head-to-head matchups between teams currently ranked Nos. 1-through-7.
- No. 6 Florida vs. No. 3 South Carolina, Oct. 20
- No. 4 West Virginia vs. No. 5 Kansas State, Oct. 20
- No. 1 Alabama vs. SEC East winner, Dec. 1
If you go through each unbeaten team’s schedule, you’ll find at least a couple of trap games along the way. Alabama (1) must defeat 8th-ranked LSU on the road before playing either South Carolina or Florida in the SEC title game. Oregon (2) must beat USC twice (including the Pac-12 championship game) to remain unbeaten, and the finale at Oregon State is never easy.
South Carolina (3) will play back-to-back road games at LSU and Florida, and if the Gamecocks survive that, they’ll still have to knock off Clemson before playing the SEC title game. West Virginia (4) has two remaining matchups against top-10 teams—Kansas State and Oklahoma—in addition to a road game at Oklahoma State.
Kansas State (5) will be underdogs in three of its final seven games. Florida (6) has to play South Carolina, Georgia and Florida State before a showdown with Alabama or a rematch against LSU. And finally, Notre Dame (7) will have to win a pair of road games at Oklahoma and USC in addition to defeating Stanford at home.
Here’s the odds of each top-7 team remaining unbeaten until the end of the season:
No. 1 Alabama 42%*
No. 2 Oregon 15%*
No. 3 South Carolina 6%
No. 4 West Virginia 7%
No. 5 Kansas State 1%
No. 6 Florida 4%
No. 7 Notre Dame 4%
As you can see, there’s a better than 85 percent chance that six of the seven teams listed above will lose at least one game. Which means one of the following one-loss teams has a chance to sneak into the BCS championship picture if they’re able to run the table the rest of the way:
- USC 10-1
- LSU 18-1
- Oklahoma 50-1
- Georgia 50-1
- Florida State 50-1
- Texas 100-1
So, are the odds above a reflection of which teams actually have the best chance? And if not, which team—when factoring in the odds, the remaining schedule and the likelihood of teams collapsing around them—are the best bet?
Let’s start with who isn’t a good bet:
- Texas, Oklahoma. The Longhorns dropped to 15th in both polls and are listed as 3-point underdogs this week against Oklahoma. Even with a win, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to leap 13 other teams without the benefit of a conference championship game. The Sooners, meanwhile, must still play Notre Dame and West Virginia.
- LSU, Georgia. Can the Tigers beat three top-5 teams and then win the national title game? That’s what they’re faced with, beginning with this week’s game against South Carolina. At 18-to-1, the reward doesn’t seem worth the risk. Georgia’s schedule is easy, but the whipping they received last week was so thorough that they might not be considered even if they do run the table (which they likely won’t.)
- Also a bad bet? USC. The Trojans got their loss out of the way early, which is good, but the odds of them sweeping Oregon (twice), Notre Dame and then winning the BCS title game is far worse than 10-to-1. If you like USC, you’re better off betting them each game and rolling over the winnings.
Here’s who we think IS a good bet:
Florida State. At 50-1 odds, all you can ask for is a chance. And the Seminoles give you the best chance.
Despite an embarrassing road loss at NC State, the Seminoles only dropped to 11th in the latest USA Today poll. Their remaining schedule is the easiest of any top-15 team in the country, and they have a 70 percent chance of entering the season finale against Florida with a 10-1 record.
Even after factoring in the final game and the ACC title game, the Seminoles’ chances of running the table (35%) are still better than every other team. As a result, we think they are the best long shot bet to win the national championship, despite the very real possibility that a 12-1 record will still leave them on the outside looking in.
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Odds to win BCS title game, via LVH SuperBook
West Virginia 7
South Carolina 7
Kansas State 18
Notre Dame 20
Florida State 50