Yes, the Missouri Tigers are ranked fourth in BCS through eight weeks of the season. Yes, the coaches have yet to figure out how much better Missouri is compared to Miami or maybe even Baylor. But what matters most is what is Missouri’s ceiling in the BCS and is it good enough to be in the top two by the end of the season?
ESPN re-ranked the top 10 teams in the BCS to figure out who has the best path to the national title game. What they found was one could say that if Oregon or Alabama were to fall it would be a toss-up between Florida State and Missouri to get in the title game.
Via ESPN Insider (subscription required):
Whether to place Mizzou before or after Florida State was probably the most difficult decision I had to make for this list. … Their case would essentially be that they went undefeated through the conference that has won the past seven national championships, and it’s a good case, but it might not be enough for every voter.
If Missouri beats an undefeated and No. 1-ranked Alabama team to win the SEC, then there’s probably enough on the résumé to get the Tigers into the BCS top two. But if that SEC title game win is over Auburn, maybe not.
One, Missouri is very much in the thick of the BCS title race and controls their own destiny. Unlike some of the other undefeated teams like Miami, Baylor, and Ohio State, Missouri can win out and be in the national title game assuming every one of the other undefeateds won out too (with the obvious exception of Alabama losing to Missouri in the SEC title game).
This is a huge thing to have on one’s resume.
Two, the best scenario for Missouri is for Alabama to lose to someone – say LSU or Auburn – and for Florida State to lose a game. This would mean Missouri would get an opponent in the SEC title game that wouldn’t have the pedigree of winning three of the last four national championships. It would also mean Missouri would likely be the number two team in the BCS standings entering the SEC title game, meaning the SEC title game would end up being a “win-and-you’re-in” type of game for the BCS championship for Mizzou.
That’s the easier scenario, of course. It does get more complicated if it comes down to Jameis Winston vs. Missouri in the title game.
As always, none of this matters if Missouri doesn’t beat South Carolina this Saturday, but until then we will continue to speculate about Missouri’s national title hopes.