This weekend, maybe more than any other weekend remaining, will have a huge impact on our chances of making a BCS game, whether as an automatic qualifier or as an at-large selection.
Here is your run through the key games this weekend for the Cards' slim at-large BCS hopes...
#10 Oklahoma @ #6 Baylor: An Oklahoma loss could knock them out of the top 14 and at-large status. A Baylor loss wouldn't accomplish much for us on its own. We need them to lose twice, with one of those being some kind of beatdown. Given their schedule (Oklahoma, Texas Tech, @ OK State) that might not be far-fetched. I can't get a real feel for this game, but my anti-establishment leanings will probably have me cheering for the Bears. We need no more than one Big 12 team in the top 14 at season's end in order to feel safe in getting selected at-large, however that happens. Perhaps it's easier to get Oklahoma to 3 losses than Baylor to two? I still think a 2-loss Oklahoma team at season's end will be in the top 14 and chosen over us.
Troy @ Louisiana-Lafayette: The Trojans seek to become...just kidding.
#3 Oregon @ #5 Stanford: The feeling that Stanford is overrated is misguided, if there is such a feeling out there. They didn't exactly play anyone of note out of conference. But they have beaten all 4 ranked opponents they've faced in conference this season and lost a game at Utah, which is a tough place to win. Barring a beatdown by Oregon and a late season loss to ND, I don't think this game really impacts us as much as you'd think. Even with 2 losses, both of these teams are likely BCS locks.
#2 FSU @ Wake Forest: Can't imagine the Seminoles losing here. And even if they did, they would still be ahead of us forever.
#8 Missouri @ Completely unranked Cayuts: Ladies and gents, no need to do the unthinkable here. We want as many SEC teams in the top 14 as possible. We can safely cheer for Mizzou. A loss probably puts them behind us. But they would have chances to claw their way back in to the top 14.
#9 Auburn @ Tennessee: I think Auburn stays ahead of us even with a loss here. They will lose to Bama later on anyways, but again, we need to keep as many SEC teams in the top 14 as possible, so that there is less room for additional Big 12 and Big Ten teams to creep in. We'll call this the SEC Rule for shorthand.
K-State @ #25 Texas Tech: The Red Raiders will be looking to get healthy. They have enough big games left to claw back into the top 14. A loss ends their BCS hopes for good. We can definitely cheer for these Wildcats. Plus, I kind of like these guys anyways.
Mississippi St @ #15 Texas A&M: The SEC rule applies.
BYU @ #24 Wisconsin: A win for the Cougars is a win for the Cards. Even though Herbstreit thinks this Badger team is a top 10 squad, we all know differently. Still, lets put the nail in the coffin. Go Cougars. Hard to win at Camp Randall, though.
Kansas @ #14 Oklahoma St: The 'Pokes have scratched their way back into at-large territory. You'd have to think a loss at home to the lowly Jayhawks would dash their BCS hopes across some pretty jagged rocks at the bottom of a cliff. Go Jayhawks, but there's no chance this happens. We'll be waiting safely on Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma to finish the Pokes off.
#22 Arizona St @ Utah: I guess someone has to be ranked #22. Those are my thoughts on these Sun Devils. A loss here ends their slim at-large chances, which would require Stanford to drop out of the top 14 and miss out as the PAC 12 at-large selection. But more importantly, if they win out, they could jump us and hurt our top 14 chances, even if they themselves can't be selected. So let's knock them out. Go Utes.
Virginia Tech @ #11 Miami: This one is curious. Part of me thinks it's good if Miami loses. Because we would move up. But Big 12 and Big Ten teams would also move up, along with NIU and Fresno (if they beat Wyoming). So I think we want the Canes here. Feel free to skewer my logic.
Houston @ #21 UCF: In terms of at-large selection, we want Houston to win here. It makes them look better, raises their profile, kills off UCF's chances at a top 14 finish, and helps our cause to climb the rankings if we beat them. So that's good that both our AQ and at-large chances will both be dramatically enhanced with a Cougars win. For fans, there's not much worse than having conflicting storylines, however minimal, on whom to cheer for. It's clear cut. Go Cougs.
#13 LSU @ #1 Alabama: I kind of want to see a 3-loss LSU stay ahead of us in the rankings. Just for comedy's sake. Because as much as Hondo would agree with it, it would perfectly illustrate what is wrong with college football. I don't think a loss here ends LSU's chances of an at-large selection, but they would need quite a few other things to go their way. On the other hand, a Bama loss would really shake things up at the top and potentially pave the way for a near automatic 2nd BCS selection from the ACC. It would also satisfy the SEC Rule.
#23 Notre Dame @ Pitt: A loss pretty much knocks ND out of the BCS picture. They would have 3 losses and a trip to Palo Alto waiting for them. Even a win over Stanford would probably not be enough if they lose this one to Pitt. As much as it pains me, Go Panthers.
#19 UCLA @ Arizona: A loss by the Bruins likely puts us ahead of them to stay, as long as we win out. And Arizona still has to play Oregon, so there's almost no chance of them jumping us.
#16 Fresno @ Wyoming: In terms of at-large chances, this is probably the biggest game of the week. All of the other stuff is meaningless if Fresno goes undefeated. The Bulldogs have two more chances to lose: this game and @ San Jose State in a couple weeks. Let's go ahead and get this done as soon as possible. Cowboys all the way. Wyoming has always been a tough place to play. The temperature will be right around freezing by halftime. Go Cowboys. I can't stress this enough.
Others of note: NIU and Sparty both have the weekend off to think about what they are doing to us. NIU resumes play next Wednesday against what will probably be their toughest test of the season. They host 9-1 Ball St.. Sparty travels to Lincoln, which could settle the Legends division title, if the Huskers beat the Wolverines this weekend.