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October 15, 2010

Roundtable: Who will play for the BCS title?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in college football.

TODAY'S QUESTION: We're at the midway point of the season; who is your pick to be in the national title game?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
I'd take Ohio State-Oregon. The Buckeyes still have road games against Wisconsin and Iowa, which will be dicey, but they're a mature and talented team. If they can close out an unbeaten season, they definitely will be in the championship game. Oregon is the most explosive team in the country and perhaps the most entertaining to watch. They've already beaten Stanford, and if they add wins over USC, California, Arizona and Oregon State, they will have put together an impressive resume that cannot be overlooked.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
I think we are headed for a rematch of last season's Rose Bowl between Oregon and Ohio State. In my mind, the Ducks should be the No. 1 team right now. They have the most impressive body of work in the nation and look like an absolute buzz-saw. I don't see any major hurdles on the schedule between now and the end of the season for Oregon. Ohio State has a more perilous path, beginning with Saturday's game at Wisconsin and continuing with a November date at Iowa. But the Buckeyes are better than both because of QB Terrelle Pryor and their defense. Another thing favoring Oregon and Ohio State is that neither will have to negotiate a league title game.

David Fox's answer:
I'm going to pencil undefeated Oregon in one spot. Now that the Ducks have faced Stanford and Arizona State, I don't know whose defense in the Pac-10 is going to slow Oregon -- or which offense will keep up. I would give Oregon State a chance in Corvallis if James Rodgers were healthy. The other spot is tricky. Terrelle Pryor might have a meltdown left in him against either Wisconsin or Iowa. Nebraska, as good as Taylor Martinez and the defense have been, still is quarterbacked by a redshirt freshman. That's why I'm going to pick TCU to sneak in at No. 2. Don't laugh yet. The Horned Frogs finished fourth last season by a slim margin. While Boise State has to play one ranked team (Nevada), TCU could play two (Air Force and Utah, which could be undefeated at the time of their meeting). Of course, I'm counting on the human voters to realize these things, which isn't guaranteed at all.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
Earlier this week, I wrote that I thought Boise State was going to be the lone unbeaten when the regular season ends. Nothing in the ensuing four days has made me change my mind, which means I think Boise will get one of the spots in the title game. I think the other will go to a once-beaten SEC champ, but I'm unsure who that will be. If I'm forced to pick one team, I'd go with Alabama. As for Boise, a spot in the title game conceivably would please both sides of the "Boise is/isn't worthy" argument. If Boise indeed is just as good as anybody else, well, the Broncos will get a chance to prove it -- and against the champ of the powerful SEC. And if Boise indeed isn't worthy of a spot, well, the Broncos will get spanked and the argument goes away for good.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I'll have to go with Ohio State and Oregon, though I'm not particularly confident in this pick. I'm guessing both will have to go unbeaten to have any realistic shot at getting to the title game. Ohio State does have troublesome road trips to Wisconsin and Iowa, but Wisconsin's loss to Michigan State and Iowa's loss to Arizona make me think the Buckeyes' talent advantage over those teams will outweigh the Badgers' and Hawkeyes' home-field advantages. Ohio State doesn't face Michigan State. As strong as the Pac-10 is from top to almost bottom (Washington State remains one of the nation's weakest worst FBS teams regardless of conference affiliation), Oregon seems a cut above the rest of the league. I think the Ducks are good enough to survive trips to USC, California and Oregon State. Nebraska has a good shot at winning the Big 12 without losing once, but I'm guessing Ohio State and Oregon would finish ahead of an unbeaten Nebraska in the BCS standings. An undefeated SEC champion probably would pass Oregon or Ohio State, but I'm predicting Auburn and LSU (the SEC's last two unbeaten teams) to lose somewhere down the road.

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