NCAA FB

It's down to just three BCS Busters

Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver T.J. Jones (7)
Notre Dame might be able to lose twice and still play in a BCS bowl.
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Sam Gardner

Sam Gardner is a general assignment writer for FOXSports.com. Originally from Orlando, Fla., he previously covered the Orlando Magic for FOX Sports Florida and has also covered the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals and MLB playoffs. Follow him on Twitter.

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And then there were three.

After a tough-luck weekend for Louisiana Tech in its biggest game of the year — and the Bulldogs’ first and only opportunity to flex their muscles in front of a national audience — the list of potential “BCS Buster” candidates has been trimmed by 25 percent.

What we have left is an Ohio team that’s unbeaten but underachieving, if there is such a thing, a Boise State squad that has one loss and is going to need some help to get in, and a storied Notre Dame program that’s thinking “BCS title,” not “BCS buster.”

With six weeks of football left to play, there’s still plenty of time for these teams’ fortunes to change, for better or worse, but here are the BCS Buster rankings after Week 7:

THE FAVORITES

Notre Dame: With each passing week, it’s looking more and more like Notre Dame’s chief concern won’t be busting the BCS — and yes, it’s fair to call them “BCS Busters” — but, rather, where they’ll end up once they qualify. The Irish (6-0) are off to their best start since 2002, and after an overtime win over Stanford on Saturday, they find themselves ranked fifth in the season’s first BCS standings.

The rest of the schedule is by no means easy — Notre Dame still has to face Oklahoma in two weeks and USC in the regular-season finale, but the bulk of the Irish’s challenge is behind them, and meetings with BYU, Pitt, Boston College and Wake Forest should provide nice breathers. If Notre Dame wins those four, the BCS might come calling regardless of what happens against USC and Oklahoma.

Boise State: The only other BCS buster ranked in the BCS top 25, No. 22 Boise State improved to 5-1 Saturday with a 20-10 win over Fresno State. Unless the bowl-eligible Big Ten teams get their acts together, the Broncos will only need to win out and crack the top 16 to automatically qualify. Of the teams ranked between them and No. 16, most are likely to lose again this season.

No. 21 Cincinnati and No. 16 Louisville not only have to play each other, but both also play No. 15 Rutgers. No. 20 Stanford still has to play two top-10 teams, Oregon and Oregon State. No. 18 Texas A&M has No. 1 Alabama, No. 6 LSU and No. 12 Mississippi State left. No. 17 Texas Tech is about to start a three-game run against ranked teams, including a visit to No. 4 Kansas State.

Of course, none of this precludes the teams ranked behind Boise State from jumping the Broncos in the polls, but it certainly opens the door for Boise to move up.

THE ALSO-RANS (FOR NOW)

Ohio: Here is what Ohio has going for it right now: It is one of only two teams, along with Ohio State, with a 7-0 record this season. It should also be favored in every game left on the schedule — at least leading up to the Mid-American Conference championship game. And the team is ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1968. Now for the bad news: The Bobcats are nowhere to be found in the BCS Top 25, and one can't help but wonder if wins over upcoming opponents Miami (Ohio), Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green, Ball State, Kent State and the MAC West champion would be enough to get them into the top 16 and ahead of Boise State. Ohio had a chance to make a strong case for itself against Massachusetts, Buffalo and Akron (combined record: 2-17), but each of those wins was decided by a touchdown or less, and even a 13-0 Ohio team could find itself on a path for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

OUT OF CONTENTION

Louisiana Tech: If you gave up on Saturday’s game between the Bulldogs (5-1) and Texas A&M early, you probably kicked yourself when you saw the score Sunday morning. After falling behind 27-0 in the second quarter in Shreveport, Louisiana Tech rallied to close the gap to two at 59-57 with 38 seconds left following Colby Cameron’s fifth touchdown pass of the night. But Tech’s two-point try failed — their second failed two-point attempt on the night, which was huge, in retrospect — ending the Bulldogs’ BCS-buster hopes.

Louisiana Tech is now ranked behind Ohio in both the Coaches Poll and the Harris Poll — a shame if you ask me — and it’s tough to see that changing, even in the likely event that the Bulldogs go undefeated in Western Athletic Conference play.

You can follow Sam Gardner on Twitter or e-mail him at samgardnerfox@gmail.com.

Tagged: Boise State, USC, Louisiana Tech, Notre Dame, Ohio, Texas

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