For anyone that has followed college football this season it should be fairly obvious that no matter what happens in the National Championship Game, the top two teams in the country are LSU and Alabama. But it is not so clear after that. Who is the third-best team in the country? The three teams that it comes down to for me are Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Oregon. Some people may add Boise State or even Southern Cal into the discussion. So let’s go through each team’s résumé.
Arkansas: Finished third in their division in the SEC, but only because the two teams in the National Championship Game are in the division. They had to go on the road to LSU and Alabama, which did not help their chances of winning those games. These two losses really hurt their chances of finishing number 3, but it is hard to fault them for losing to the two best teams in the country.
- Big Wins: vs. South Carolina, vs. Kansas State (Cotton Bowl)
- Losses: @ Alabama, @ LSU
Oklahoma State: After a big win against Stanford, they are most likely going to end up as the number 3 team in the polls. The are the Big 12 Champions, and only have one loss. But it is a bad loss. They lost their chance at a National Championship because of that loss to Iowa State. It is IOWA STATE. The Cowboys have nobody to blame but themselves for not making the Title game.
- Big Wins: vs. Kansas St., vs. Baylor, vs. Oklahoma, vs. Stanford (Fiesta Bowl)
- Losses: @Iowa State
Oregon: They did what they were expected to do by beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Like Arkansas, Oregon has two losses, but they are both to two great teams. The advantage over Oklahoma State is that Oregon blew out Stanford by 23 points, and that game was at Stanford. But the week after that big win, the Ducks lost to Southern Cal by three. Their win against Stanford is a quality road win, which Arkansas and Oklahoma State do not have.
- Big Wins: @Stanford, vs. Wisconsin (Rose Bowl)
- Losses: vs. LSU (neutral site), vs. Southern Cal
Boise State: They were a solid team once again, but missed a BCS Bowl game. They did challenge themselves by going on the road to Georgia and winning, but they didn’t do enough after that to be considered to be one of the top teams in the country.
- Big Wins: @Georgia
- Losses: vs. TCU
Southern Cal: They had a great win against Oregon, but a loss to Arizona State looks really bad for a team that already has another loss. Also, without a bowl game they were unable to prove themselves against a top team from another conference.
- Big Wins: @Oregon
- Losses: @Arizona State, vs. Stanford
Just looking at these résumés, Oklahoma State seems to stick out, and I am almost certain that they are going to finish the season as at least the number 3 team in the polls. But that doesn’t mean that the Cowboys are the third best team in the country. If these teams all played each other I think that Arkansas would prove that they are the third best team in the country, which really speaks volumes for the SEC West.