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Undefeated teams take aim at BCS championship game

Is there any way to get that college football playoff installed early?

Back when a tournament seemed like a long shot, fans hoping for one someday would root for multiple undefeated teams at the end of the regular season in hopes of shining an even brighter light on the blatantly obvious need for a playoff.

Now one is coming, but not until 2014-15. So if more than two teams finish undefeated this year, there’s no silver lining. Barring some upsets, somebody will get a raw deal because a fairer system isn’t coming for another two years.

There’s a pretty good chance it’s going to happen. The four teams at the top of the BCS rankings all have legitimate claims to a title shot and all have a reasonable chance to stay unbeaten through the end of the regular season:

1. Alabama — The Crimson Tide are No. 1 in the BCS right now, but should they be? The computers, which aren’t giving Alabama carry-over credit because of last year’s success, like the voters, have them No. 3. The Tide opened the season with a win over a Michigan team that turned out to be overrated. Wins over Arkansas and Missouri aren’t turning any heads and even Saturday’s win over Mississippi State is a little puffy because the Tigers hadn’t really beaten anyone of note coming into that game.

As of now, both Notre Dame and Kansas State have better resumes than Alabama. But the Tide are at LSU Saturday and still have to play Texas A&M and the SEC championship game, likely against either Florida or Georgia. If they’re undefeated, they’ll deserve their spot in the championship.

2. Kansas State — It’s hard to be a Cinderella coming from a BCS conference, but the Wildcats are vastly exceeding expectations. Wins over West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas Tech are all solid. They have four games left that a title contender should win — vs. Oklahoma State, at TCU, at Baylor and vs. Texas — but they’re good enough games to keep K-State’s computer numbers strong. There is no Big 12 championship game.

3. Notre Dame — Beating Oklahoma Saturday was a huge credibility booster for the Fighting Irish, who have three easy games — vs. Pittsburgh, at Boston College and vs. Wake Forest — left before traveling to USC on Nov. 24. Michigan and Michigan State’s respective fades have hurt Notre Dame’s resume a bit and USC is the only big game left on its schedule. The Irish need either Kansas State or Alabama, and maybe Oregon, to stumble to have a shot.

No. 4 Oregon — The Ducks’ previous wins over Arizona and Washington look a little better now after those teams upset USC and Oregon State, respectively, on Saturday. Of course, those upsets took away some of the potential boost Oregon would get if it wins its remaining games against the Trojans and Beavers.

Louisville is undefeated as well, but at No. 10 in the BCS there are five teams with at least one loss ahead of the Cardinals so a title shot is a long shot. Their Nov. 29 game at Rutgers will likely be for the Big East title and a berth in a BCS Bowl. Cincinnati is Louisville’s best win on a thin resume.

It’s fortunate that Ohio State isn’t eligible because it looks very likely that the Buckeyes will end up undefeated.

GIANT KILLERS — For the second straight week a Mid-American Conference team upset an undefeated Big East team. A week after Toledo ended Cincinnati’s hopes for perfection, Kent State knocked off Rutgers.

HEISMAN CHASE — K-State quarterback Collin Klein threw for 233 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions and ran for 83 yards and two more touchdowns. He’s starting to distance himself from the field.

GAMES OF THE WEEK: No. 16 Texas A&M at No. 17 Mississippi State, Saturday, noon — MSU lost to Alabama, but everyone loses to Alabama. If the Bulldogs want to prove that their hot start wasn’t solely the result of a soft schedule, they’ll need to upset the Aggies.

No. 2 Oregon at No. 18 Southern Cal, Saturday, 7 p.m., FOX — USC was supposed to be a title contender, but the Trojans have fallen back into spoiler mode. Still, this is a scary game for Oregon.

No. 1 Alabama at No. 6 LSU, Saturday, CBS, 8 p.m. — The rematch of last year’s title game. Alabama needs this to stay in the national title picture. LSU can still win the SEC and get into a BCS bid.

LIAM COEN vs. KEVIN MORRIS — Former UMass quarterback Liam Coen, now the quarterback’s coach at Brown, and former Minutemen coach Kevin Morris, now the offensive coordinator at Yale, will play each other Saturday in Providence, R.I.. Morris mentored Coen.

ON THE ROAD TO: An Alabama vs. Kansas State, championship game.

Information from personal interviews, newspaper articles and sports information releases was used in this report.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

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