College football has a final four after the release of Sundays BCS standings.Alabama, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon stand 8-0 and top the charts in that order, and every day each in that group remains undefeated will fuel speculation and angst about the national championship-game matchup.The only sure thing is Alabama. If the Crimson Tide remains No. 1, it will have a spot on the bracket.The true battle is among the three others, to be played out each weekend.Some experts speculate Oregon has an advantage with a finishing schedule that includes three ranked teams starting Saturday at Southern California.The Ducks didnt catch a break when two of those teams, the Trojans and Oregon State, were upset on Saturday. And Oregon dropped from third to fourth in the BCS standings, jumped by Notre Dame.Still, its fair to say the Ducks have the most challenging remaining schedule, which would include a date in the Pac-12 championship game.The Irish will have something to say about Pac-12 strength. Assuming Notre Dame sweeps a lowly threesome of Pittsburgh, Boston College and Wake Forest, a trip to Southern California will await with perfection on the line.A Notre Dame victory there weakens the Pac-12, and makes any Oregon triumph over the Trojans less impressive. Thats what happened Saturday to Kansas State.Because the Irish won at Oklahoma more soundly than the Wildcats did a month earlier Notre Dame weakened Kansas States status while strengthening its own.But Kansas State appears to have a schedule strength edge over the Irish. Oklahoma State, the Wildcats opponent on Saturday, entered the BCS standings at No. 24, one spot behind Texas.The Wildcats would like nothing better than for the Longhorns to keep winning and rise in the standings so the Dec. 1 game would give Kansas State another opportunity at ballot- and computer-loving victory.Its been suggested that the Big 12 loses out because it no longer holds a conference championship game. Maybe. But the Big 12 made a good move when it eliminated the title game, starting last year by scheduling a full slate on the final weekend.While the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC are playing their championship games, the Big 12 isnt sitting on the sideline. Eight of the leagues 10 teams play that day, keeping the Big 12 in the conversation.Notre Dame is the only one of the four that doesnt play that day, finishing the previous Saturday.With the possible exception of that Irish matchup in Los Angeles, each of the four contenders will be favored in every game the rest of the way. As a touchdown favorite at LSU this weekend, Alabama is an overwhelming choice to roar through its schedule. The battle in Baton Rouge could be the toughest remaining challenge for the Crimson Tide, more difficult than either Georgia or Florida in the SEC title game.A sidelight to the BCS race is the Heisman Trophy competition, and each of the teams has a strong representative.Look for the Heisman watch polls this week to unfold in this order: Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Teo, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron and Oregon running back Kenjon Barner.The candidates case may turn on team success, and all of them excelled on Saturday. Teo made the biggest move of the weekend with a stellar game at Oklahoma.Teo collected his first sack of the season, a crunching hit on Landry Jones, plus was in the right place to haul in a tipped interception to seal the outcome. He becomes the strongest defensive candidate in the Heisman race since Nebraskas Ndamukong Suh in 2009.The Heisman will be announced a week after the bowl lineup is known. If the favorites win out, college football will lament that the playoff system set to begin in 2014 with semifinals and a championship game isnt in place this year.
Posted on Sun, Oct. 28, 2012 11:32 PMShare Email Print Order Reprints
Blair Kerkhoff | Football poised for final four run
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