Toledo’s 29-23 home victory over Cincinnati handed the Big East contending Bearcats their first loss of the season. The Big East was hoping to see a pair of undefeated teams going head-to-head this weekend when Louisville and Cincinnati battle for the Keg of Nails. While the importance of the game has been diminished slightly in terms of national importance, the game still means a lot as far as the Big East race is concerned.
The loss likely means Louisville will not face a ranked opponent until the regular season finale against Rutgers, which the Big East may hope stays on track to be a battle of unbeatens for the conference’s automatic BCS bid.
As it stands now, there are 11 undefeated teams and a possibility seven will end the regular season and conference championship game schedule without a blemish on their record. Here is a look at each conference with undefeated teams through eight weeks of the season.
- No. 1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC)
- No. 2 Florida (7-0, 6-0 SEC)
- No. 11 Mississippi State (7-0, 4-0 SEC)
This time next week there will be no more than two undefeated teams in the SEC. No. 1 Alabama hosts No. 11 Mississippi State this weekend and the Crimson Tide are a heavy favorite. Alabama has scored at least 33 points in each game this season and have not allowed more than 14 points in any of those contests. The odds seem stacked against Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs this weekend.
Florida is looking really sharp this season after demolishing South Carolina over the weekend, 44-11. This week the Gators take on another SEC East rival, Georgia. If the Gators can take care of Georgia the path to an undefeated regular season will likely run through Tallahassee at the end of the season. Florida plays Missouri, Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State before making the trip to play what could be a once-beaten Florida State team.
- No. 4 Oregon (7-0, 4-0)
- No. 7 Oregon State (6-0, 4-0)
The Oregon Ducks look to be on a mission this season with some of the best defensive play they have had in a long time, while freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota continues to impress and avoid making costly freshman mistakes. The Ducks have a road game at USC coming up after a home game this weekend against Colorado, so Oregon should be heading to the Coliseum without a loss. USC edged the Ducks last season in Eugene and should be considered a legitimate threat to Oregon’s plans.
Oregon must also travel to in-state rival Oregon State in the regular season finale. The Beavers continue to impress and earn respect each week with the way they are playing. After taking care of Utah, 21-7, Oregon State improved to 6-0 overall. The challenges ahead for Oregon State include a home game against Arizona State and a road game at Stanford. A home game against Cal could be tricky the week prior to hosting the Civil War game against Oregon.
- No. 3 Kansas State (7-0, 4-0 Big 12)
Kansas State moved in to the favorable number three spot in the BCS rankings this week, passing Oregon, following a smashing road win at West Virginia. Bill Snyder continues to be discussed as a strong candidate for coach of the year honors and quarterback Colin Klein is building momentum in the Heisman Trophy race. Already with wins against Oklahoma and West Virginia behind them, Kansas State is clearly the team to beat in the Big 12 this season, and with no conference championship game to get in the way, an undefeated season is taking form.
This week Kansas State hosts Texas Tech, who crushed West Virginia two weeks ago. The Wildcats then host Oklahoma State and travel to TCU and Baylor before ending the season at home against Texas.
- No. 15 Rutgers (7-0, 4-0 Big East)
- No. 16 Louisville (7-0, 2-0 Big East)
The big news over the weekend was Cincinnati’s loss, but Louisville made it close. The Cardinals had to hold off South Florida late in the fourth quarter for a 27-25 conference win at home. Now the Cardinals must find a way to get by rival Cincinnati, who will be looking to rebound in a big way this weekend. If Louisville can manage to get out of this weekend with a win once again, the next few weeks should be manageable with Temple, Syracuse and Connecticut lined up next. The season ends on the road at Rutgers for Thursday night game, which could be for the conference’s championship and automatic BCS bid.
Rutgers will have a tough path to get to that game unscathed as well. The Scarlet Knights, after pulling away from Temple in Philadelphia, play a dangerous 6-1 Kent State team this weekend and must play back-to-back road games at Cincinnati and Pittsburgh before ending at home against the Cardinals.
- No. 5 Notre Dame (7-0)
Are you giving Notre Dame any respect yet? The Fighting Irish have improved to 7-0 this season following a 17-14 defensive battle at home against BYU. Notre Dame has yet to allow more than 17 points in a game this season, but they have also not scored more than 20 points in a single home game. This week Notre Dame hopes to get to 8-0 by leaving Norman, Oklahoma with a win. If hey do, Notre Dame will really start firing up BCS Championship talk, although there is still a regular season finale at USC on the schedule.
- No. 24 Ohio (7-0, 3-0 MAC)
Can the MAC finally make an appearance on the BCS stage? The Ohio Bobcats are inching closer to making it happen, although they may need help along the way. Ohio must of course win the remainder of their games, including back-to-back road conference games to end the regular season at Ball State and Kent State. If they can pull that off, a MAC Championship Game match-up with Northern Illinois or Toledo could be tough.
For Ohio to play in a BCS game they need to finish in the top 12 of the BCS standings, or finish in the top 16 and be ranked higher than a conference champion from a conference with an automatic bid. This is where the Big Ten or Big East could come in to play. The highest ranked Big Ten team in the current BCS standings is No. 22 Michigan. Two Big East teams (Louisville and Rutgers) are currently ahead of Ohio.
This is not impossible for Ohio.
- Ohio State (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten)
Of course, the team from Ohio that is used to playing in BCS games is Ohio State, but they are ineligible for postseason play this season due to NCAA sanctions. The Buckeyes have not let that stand in the way of a fine season though, improving to 8-0 after edging Purdue at home this past weekend despite losing quarterback Braxton Miller to an injury. Miller is expected to be back this week as Ohio State heads to Penn State this weekend with first place in the Leaders Division on the line (Ohio State and Penn State are eligible to win a Big Ten division championship but are prohibited from playing in a conference championship).
If the Buckeyes can get out of State College with a win this weekend then an undefeated season will likely have to be challenged at Wisconsin or at home against Michigan.
Kevin is a national college football writer for quadrust.com and the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. Submit your mailbag questions via Tumblr. He can be reached at email@example.com.