Andy Staples: BCS favorites remain unbeaten, but history says landscape will change - Sports Illustrated

'Bama, Oregon lead unbeatens, but history says BCS picture to change

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy offered some great advice. Always carry a towel, for instance. But the best advice was inscribed on the cover of Ford Prefect's copy of the Hitchhiker's Guide.

Don't panic.

Yes, Alabama, Oregon, Notre Dame and Kansas State are playing at what seems like a different level than the rest of the teams in the nation. That doesn't mean they'll all finish undefeated and create a BCS mess that rips the space/time continuum. In fact, history suggests they won't.

I'm just as guilty as anyone else of panicking. After Notre Dame beat Oklahoma Saturday, I sent out a tweet imploring the powers that be to figure out a way to stage a four-team playoff if the aforementioned teams all finish undefeated. I still think they should if this scenario unfolds. It would be silly to take less money to stage an inferior championship -- especially since the people in charge have already admitted the BCS is inferior and created a system to replace it beginning in 2014.

But the past 10 years of results suggest those four teams won't survive unscathed. From 2002-11, 62 teams entered the 10th week of games undefeated. Of those, 22 remained undefeated after Championship Saturday. So an undefeated team at this point in the season has about a one-in-three chance of finishing without a loss. Considering Alabama and Oregon have yet to face the toughest stretches of their schedules, Kansas State still has to face last year's Big 12 champ and Notre Dame will visit the Coliseum for what should be Matt Barkley's final home game at USC, the odds seem to favor at least a few of these teams taking a loss before the Dec. 2 poll that will decide who plays for the national title.

If it doesn't happen and we have another 2009 or 2004 on our hands, I remain confident the conference commissioners will find a way to make more money and stage the four-team tournament they already plan to stage beginning in two years. Oh, who am I kidding? They won't do that. It would make too much sense.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that. These historical results suggest it won't.

2012
Entering Week 10: Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Louisville, Ohio State*
*Ineligible for postseason because of NCAA sanctions

2011
Entering Week 10: LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Boise State, Houston
After Championship Saturday: LSU

2010
Entering Week 10: Oregon, Boise State, Auburn, TCU, Utah
After Championship Saturday: Auburn, Oregon, TCU

2009
Entering Week 10: Florida, Texas, Alabama, Cincinnati, Boise State, TCU, Iowa
After Championship Saturday: Alabama, Texas, TCU, Cincinnati, Boise State

2008
Entering Week 10: Texas, Alabama, Penn State, Texas Tech, Utah, Boise State, Ball State, Tulsa
After Championship Saturday: Utah
Missing: BCS champ Florida

2007
Entering Week 10: Ohio State, Boston College, Arizona State, Kansas, Hawaii
After Championship Saturday: Hawaii
Missing: BCS champ LSU

2006
Entering Week 10: Ohio State, Michigan, West Virginia, Louisville, Boise State, Rutgers
After Championship Saturday: Ohio State, Boise State
Missing: BCS champ Florida

2005
Entering Week 10: USC, Texas, Virginia Tech, Alabama, UCLA
After Championship Saturday: USC, Texas

2004
Entering Week 10: USC, Oklahoma, Auburn, Miami, Wisconsin, Utah, Boise State
After Championship Saturday: USC, Oklahoma, Auburn, Utah, Boise State

2003
Entering Week 10: Oklahoma, Miami, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois, TCU
After Championship Saturday: None
Missing: BCS champ LSU

2002
Entering Week 10: Miami, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame, NC State, Bowling Green
After Championship Saturday: Miami, Ohio State

NCAA Football Power Rankings

Next five: Boise State, Northwestern, Toledo, Northern Illinois, Kent State

Andy Staples' Power Rankings also serve as his ballot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.