If the Alabama Crimson Tide returns to the BCS Championship Game, three teams have a legitimate shot to line up opposite Nick Saban’s monsters – The Oregon Ducks, Kansas State Wildcats and Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Barring an upset, the Irish’s chances are slim, but still exist. If it comes down to undefeated Kansas State and Oregon teams, the college football world wants the Ducks to head to South Florida, not the Wildcats.
Having Kansas State in the national title game would be a grand story line. Bill Snyder’s black magic yanked the Wildcats out of their return to futility under Ron Prince and back into the spotlight yet again. If KSU takes part in the biggest game of the season, win or lose, it’s hard to deny him the title of one of the sport’s best coaches.
However, while he may have a Heisman trophy winner on his roster, Snyder’s Wildcats stand no chance against Alabama.
Admittedly, this is a bold statement considering that the Wildcats are ranked No. 5 nationally in scoring offense putting up over 44 points per game and holding the opposition to just over 17 (No. 13). The problem is that while Alabama technically ranks lower than Kansas State at putting points on the board (No. 11), they’re still scoring over 40 points per game against SEC competition.
The Big 12’s a quality conference, but it’s not the SEC. No other college league is. The bigger problem for the Wildcats is on the defensive side of the ball. They surrender almost 342 yards and 17 points per game (Nos. 31 and 17, respectively). Alabama allows only a shade over 200 yards and eight points. Their national ranking reflects their spot in the polls. Only the Florida State Seminoles allow fewer yards per play, a 0.03-yard difference.
Snyder’s team would provide the underdog story, but their best shot is no threat to the Crimson Tide. Oregon, on the other hand, has a chance to pull the upset.
While the Ducks’ defense isn’t mind-bogglingly good (No. 35), it’s easily one of Chip Kelly’s best. Sure, Oregon gives up almost 20 points per game, but keep in mind that this is a team that hits ludicrous speed before the half, puts the scrubs in and the outcome is never in doubt. They put up nearly 13 more points on average than the Crimson Tide. This is the team you want to force Saban to gameplan for.
Alabama would score on Oregon, of this there is no doubt, but the Ducks force mistakes. They currently claim a +6 turnover margin (No. 24), actually best Alabama in sacks on the year (23 to 20) and perhaps even more impressive, the Ducks have 59 tackles for loss this season (No. 22) versus Alabama’s 46 (No. 58).
Finally, let’s talk playmakers. Alabama has two of the best running backs in the country in T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy. Oregon has arguably the best overall in Kenjon Barner. Alabama’s AJ McCarron and the Ducks’ Marcus Mariota are two of the nation’s best signal-callers. Oregon has three players ranked in the top 100 in scoring (Barner, Mariota and kicker Rob Beard). Alabama has one in kicker Jeremy Shelley.
Kansas State has Collin Klein.
Regardless of who faces Alabama should the Crimson Tide show up to defend their title, a near-flawless performance is required. Oregon can afford to make a mistake or two. Kansas State has absolutely no margin for error.
If you enjoy the tale of Cinderella, the Wildcats are your team. If you want there to be a legitimate shot at Goliath being toppled, side with the Quack Attack.
Brandon Cavanaugh is a college football columnist for Rant Sports and member of the Football Writers Association of America. Feel free to follow him on Twitter and join in on the conversation