Which one-loss teams will win out?
If the undefeated teams stumble, which of these eight can capitalize?
With the release of the first set of BCS standings, it is always tempting to draw premature conclusions. The SEC has a stranglehold on college football once again with the Alabama Crimson Tide and Florida Gators checking in with the top two spots. But they aren't guaranteed to win out, and they'll have to face each other in the SEC championship game even if they do.
The Oregon Ducks, Kansas State Wildcats and Notre Dame Fighting Irish are ready to move up if either Alabama or Florida slips up, but those three teams are even more likely to lose between now and the end of the year.
There are 12 undefeated teams, 11 of which are eligible for the postseason. The likelihood that only one team or less will remain undefeated through the rest of the regular season is better than 50 percent, according to our current drive-based FEI ratings. There are more teams still in play for a run at the national championship game than the initial BCS projections might suggest.
The right sequence of dominoes would still have to fall to grant any of the following one-loss teams a national championship game bid. But the season isn't over yet for several one-loss candidates. I'll leave the BCS scenarios to ESPN BCS expert Brad Edwards, but I've ranked below the one-loss teams that are realistically in the mix in order of their likelihood to win out the rest of the way. (Apologies in advance to West Virginia fans, but I didn't bother including on this list the Mountaineers and their 1.5 percent odds to run the table.)
Note: For an explanation of FEI numbers, which help form the basis of these projections, click here.
Likelihood of winning out: 29.3 percent
None of the one-loss teams has a better chance of going undefeated the rest of the way than Florida State, according to our data. In fact, the Seminoles have the second-best chance of winning out of any team, behind only Alabama (30.7 percent chance of going undefeated). That's due largely to their schedule, of course, but FSU does have a solid profile in all three phases of the game.
To read the full ranking of one-loss teams by likelihood they'll finish undefeated, you must be an ESPN Insider.
Brian FremeauESPN Insider
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com