On road to title game, USC still in BCS top 10

Trojans eighth

schedule strength varies at top

National analysis

October 30, 2006|By Mike Huguenin | Mike Huguenin,ORLANDO SENTINEL

Southern California's shocking loss to Oregon State - a team missing star tailback Yvenson Bernard - merely rushed the inevitable this season: This Trojans team was going to lose. It was just a matter of when.

But, it was supposed to be California or Oregon or Notre Dame that was going to get the Trojans - not a team that lost by 28 to both Boise State and California.

Even with the loss, USC stayed in the top 10 in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings.

Unless each team in the top 10 implodes, it's highly unlikely a team outside this week's top 10 can make it to the Jan. 8 BCS championship game in Glendale, Ariz. Here's a look at the remaining schedule for the top 10:

1. Ohio State (9-0): The Buckeyes get Illinois and Northwestern before they host Michigan on Nov. 18. There's a 100 percent chance the Buckeyes will be unbeaten when the Wolverines come calling.

2. Michigan (9-0): The Wolverines get Ball State and Indiana before traveling to Ohio State.

3. West Virginia (7-0): It's a huge game Thursday for the Mountaineers at Louisville. Also remaining are games against Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, South Florida and Rutgers, with all but the Pitt game at home. If West Virginia wins Thursday, it will finish unbeaten.

4. Florida (7-1): The Gators have Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Division I-AA Western Carolina and Florida State left. The game against Western Carolina is going to hurt, given its position so late in the season. Also going to hurt is that Florida State is down. But if the Gators win the Southeastern Conference East, they'll face a high-level foe in the SEC championship game Dec. 2.

5. Louisville (7-0): The Cardinals host West Virginia on Thursday, and have games left against Rutgers, South Florida, Pitt and Connecticut.

6. Auburn (8-1): The Tigers have Arkansas State, Georgia and Alabama remaining in the regular season. To win the SEC West, they need Arkansas to lose twice. But the Hogs are seven spots behind the Tigers in the BCS. The Tigers could get to the title game without even winning their division - as Nebraska did in 2001.

7. Texas (8-1): The Longhorns need a ton of help to get back to the title game. They have Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas A&M - plus a likely appearance in the Big 12 championship game - left.

8. USC (6-1): Games against Stanford, Oregon, California, Notre Dame and UCLA remain.

9. Notre Dame (7-1): It's going to take a miracle to get the Irish to Glendale. North Carolina, Air Force, Army and USC remain on the schedule.

10. California (7-1): The Golden Bears are the only team that controls its destiny in the Pacific-10 race; they have UCLA, Arizona, USC and Stanford left.

Mike Huguenin writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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