Last week we took a look at the most likely loss for each undefeated team. Since then Florida, Mississippi State, Ohio, Oregon State and Rutgers have all fallen from the land of the unbeatens. That leaves us with Alabama, Kansas State, Louisville, Notre Dame and Oregon. Ohio State has had a great season but since they are ineligible for post-season play, they are also ineligible for this conversation. Here are the teams, ranked 1-5 (1 for the easiest, 5 for the toughest), roads to staying unbeaten this season.
#5 Alabama Crimson Tide
Remaining Schedule: 11/3 at #5 LSU, 11/10 vs #16 Texas A&M, 11/17 Western Carolina, 11/24 vs Auburn
Alabama is the only undefeated team that has a date scheduled with a team that is currently ranked in the Top 10 (#5 LSU). The Texas A&M game also looks a lot tougher than it did at the beginning of the season (both of A&M’s losses have come against teams that are currently 7-1). The good news for Bama is that if they get past those two they have a very weak finish to their schedule. It should also be noted that if the Tide wins out then they will finish the season with the SEC Championship Game where they will likely play another Top 5 team. Alabama is one of only two undefeated teams that play in conferences that have a conference championship game and between LSU, A&M and the SECCG that makes Bama’s road to the BCS Title Game the toughest.
#4 Oregon Ducks
Remaining Schedule: at #17 USC, 11/10 at Cal, 11/17 vs #14 Stanford, 11/24 at #11 Oregon State
On paper, the Ducks have a pretty daunting schedule facing three top 25 teams. There is no question that every one of the teams on the schedule can jump up and bite them but all three of those opponents have been inconsistent on the season. Including the three ranked opponents (two of those games are on the road), the Ducks must also play in the Pac-12 Championship Game where they will likely face USC or UCLA.
#3 Kansas State Wildcats
Remaining Schedule: 11/3 vs #24 Oklahoma State, 11/10 at TCU, 11/17 at Baylor, 12/1 vs #23 Texas
Kansas State’s schedule is not as impressive as Oregon’s on paper but I think in reality it is almost a wash. K-State faces two Top 25 teams but all of these teams have the talent to beat just about any team on any given Saturday. If Kansas State continues to play the way they have they shouldn’t have too much of a problem with these teams and they do play the toughest two at home.
#2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Remaining Schedule: 11/3 vs Pitt, 11/10 at Boston College, 11/17 vs Wake Forest, 11/24 at USC
The toughest game on Notre Dame’s schedule (Oklahoma) is now behind them and ahead of them lies just one top 25 opponent (USC). The next three games for the Irish look like they should be easy wins for Notre Dame but the Irish have struggled this year with the likes of Purdue and BYU so I wouldn’t mark them down as blowouts just yet. That being said, Notre Dame is clearly better than three of the four remaining teams on their schedule and the fourth (USC) has underperformed so far this year and will most likely come into the Notre Dame game with at least three losses.
#1 Louisville Cardinals
Remaining Schedule: 11/3 vs Temple, 11/10 at Syracuse, 11/24 vs UConn, 11/29 at Rutgers
Rutgers losing to Kent State was a backbreaker for the Big East and specifically for Louisville. If both of those teams go into the last game of the season undefeated it would have been great press for the Big East. As it stands now, Louisville doesn’t have a game remaining on their schedule with a top 25 team. Louisville has the easiest road to going undefeated and in the end that’s going to be a mark against them if they do end up undefeated.