At the quarter pole of the 2012 regular season, just two contenders remain* in the hunt to nab an elusive and prestigious place in BCS Buster history. After a weekend of massive attrition, the field was winnowed from the seven hopefuls that survived through the first fortnight of the season to this dichotomy.
* I know that there are technically three undefeated non-AQ schools. But UTSA, in their transitional season from FCS to FBS competition, is ineligible for a bowl appearance thanks to a hybrid schedule that sees them playing as much I-AA competition as I-A. Thus, for all intents and purposes, we’re down to two teams left that can legitimately challenge the power structure as it presently exists.
What’s most notable about the list, though, is not who remains but who isn’t in the chase any longer. Last year’s darlings, Boise State and Houston and Southern Miss, are a combined 1-6 so far this season. TCU is now a member of the Big XII. Neither the Mountain West nor Conference USA, the two dominant non-AQ conferences of 2011, has an undefeated team left after just three weeks of play.
Even the league that has created the most buzz this September, the Sun Belt, no longer has a horse in the race. Louisiana-Monroe, who nearly went 2-0 in SEC West play, couldn’t pull off a second straight overtime road upset at Auburn. Louisiana-Lafayette never had a chance at Oklahoma State. And the one team that did pull off the BCS-conference upset, Western Kentucky with a 32-31 overtime thriller at Kentucky, had already lost the previous weekend to top-ranked defending national champ Alabama.
The preeminent powerhouse small school of the past forty years, BYU, couldn’t get a field goal to go through the uprights as they lost the Holy War to Utah. Their in-state rival, Utah State, missed their own field goal that would have finished off the upset in Camp Randall Stadium against Wisconsin.
Two conferences remain. One, in its swan song of operation, has been here before. The other, healthier than ever, has been jilted in the past. Neither were expected to be in this position, but as the second quarter of the season commences they are the dueling contestants for the honor of becoming the next BCS Buster…