How Many Undefeated Teams Can There Be in 2011?

Kellen Moore and the Boise State Broncos' weak schedule might prevent them from competing in the National Title even with a perfect 12-0 record

We have made it through only 5 weeks of the college football season but it already seems like there is less parity than the past few seasons. While the amount of undefeated teams has dwindled already, it seems like many of the remaining teams have favorable schedules for the remainder of the season. Let’s go through the teams with perfect records so far and look at what their chances are of staying undefeated, and more importantly what it would mean come December.

LSU and Alabama- You must look at these two teams as an entity because they play each other in a month. The Tigers of Baton Rouge have been arguably the most impressive team so far in 2011, but there is one big game that looms for them. At the same time the Tide have been completely dominant as well. The Alabama-LSU game already is getting mass amounts of hype and unfortunately for LSU the game takes place in Tuscaloosa. At this point I am convinced that the Tide will win that slugfest, but all we know for sure is that one of these teams will be bumped. In past seasons it might have not eliminated the loser, but with so many undefeated teams this year it seems like the loser might be eliminated from National Championship contention.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State- This next pair is also interesting. Oklahoma looks impressive so far, but not quite as much as the two teams from the SEC. Oklahoma State continues to be able to rack up huge amounts of offense but struggles defensively. The Cowboys travel to Texas in two weeks, and then have home bouts with K-State, Baylor and Oklahoma. I’m not very confident the Cowboys can finish the season undefeated and most importantly I think the Sooners will beat them in final game of the season.

Texas- The Longhorns also face the two teams above, but aren’t getting as much hype quite yet. They have looked good so far, but this weekend could be the end for the Horns if they fail to upset Oklahoma.

Clemson and Georgia Tech- Another two teams that will potentially face off in an undefeated showdown the final weekend of October. Clemson faces BC and UNC at home, and Maryland on the road beforehand, while Georgia Tech faces tests from Maryland at home, as well as Miami and Virginia on the road. Both teams have decent shots to continue the success into that game. The showdown takes place in Atlanta so it is easy to give the Jackets an advantage in that one, but it should be a high scoring shootout.

Boise State- The Broncos have a cake walk the rest of the year. They face TCU at home, but the Horned Frogs are down this year with two losses on the season already. This Friday’s trip to Fresno and a later trip to San Diego State seem like the next best games, but neither team is all that good and Boise is expected to win both, and soundly. The Broncos are in a tough situation again, and a much worse position than last year. They aren’t putting up style point routs like last year, and they only have the Georgia win to hang their hat on. The Bulldogs have moved to 3-2, but unless they run the table it’s unlikely to help them too much. The Broncos are low on the totem poll and wouldn’t get in over any other undefeated team in the country outside of Houston. Even one loss teams could have enough to jump them this year.

Stanford- The boys from Palo Alto have looked impressive so far, but their schedule is problematic. They only have one currently ranked team in Oregon left, but they could gain another if a team like Notre Dame continues playing well. The problem with Stanford is that still might not be enough to jump many of the other contenders. Stanford needs to continue impressing us, and also hope for some other the other teams to go down in order to get into the National Championship.

Wisconsin– The Badgers are certainly making moves right now and look like very good contenders for a shot at the title. The Badgers have a pretty good schedule, better than Stanford, but still not excellent. They only have one remaining top 25 game currently in Illinois (which could disappear). The badgers should feel good about their chances to go undefeated, but they must feel a little concerned that their schedule isn’t the best out there.

Illinois and Michigan- The two Big Ten teams surprising us so far have certainly reasons to be excited. They face off much later in the season, but do either have what it takes to go all the way? Illinois still has to face Wisconsin and Penn State as well, while Michigan gets Michigan State on the road, as well as Nebraska. Both teams have a chance, more so Michigan, but its hard to believe either is a National Championship contender quite yet.

Kansas State- Surprising that the Wildcats are still undefeated, but their schedule is brutal the rest of the way. Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Missouri, and Texas Tech all remain, and I can imagine there will be plenty of losses in there.

Houston- The Cougars are still not ranked but certainly have reason to believe they could go undefeated. The problem is they simply don’t play anyone. UCLA was their best shot at a good win, but with the Bruins struggling the Cougars just have to hope they keep winning and somehow sneak into the BCS picture. Unfortunately for them going 13-0 might not even be enough to play in a BCS game at all.

That sums up each of the undefeateds, but what happens if everyone goes undefeated? Lets imagine for a second what the order would be:

1. LSU

2. Alabama 

3. Oklahoma

4. Oklahoma State

5. Texas

6. Clemson

7. Kansas State

8. Wisconsin

9. Michigan

10. Illinois

11. Stanford

12. Georgia Tech

13. Boise State

14. Houston 

To explain this, basically for a team to earn a bid for the National Championship they would need all of the teams above them (except one) to lose. Now obviously many of the teams must lose (because so many undefeated’s still play each other), so for many teams it will only take one or two upsets to give them a chance.

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