Viewer's guide to the title chase

Do you believe in second chances?

Fans are hoping that everything falls into place for Alabama to have a second chance, just like it did last year.

They seem to becoming a way of life for University of Alabama football fans, who for the second straight year have to sit and wait to see if things work out so that the Crimson Tide might have another chance at the BCS National Championship Game.

With Alabama coming in at No. 4 in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings, its path to the title game in Miami is pretty cut-and-dry: Win out against Western Carolina, Auburn and No. 5 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, while two of the three teams ranked ahead of it need to lose.

Between them, No. 1 Kansas State, No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Notre Dame will play seven games over the next three weeks, and don’t look for Crimson Tide players to keep up with the scores (or least admit that they will).

“Honestly I don’t,” senior linebacker Nico Johnson said. “It’s hard to really with school and the way we do football here. It’s always football, football, football. The only way I’d get to see something on TV is on Fridays in the hotel, and there’s really not much on.

“I try to keep myself motivated, not let myself get caught up in the media. Some ways it’s good and some ways it’s bad, because you can lose your focus. I think we completely lost focus.”

Of course, last year things worked out. After losing at home to LSU, 9-6 in overtime, the Crimson Tide dropped to No. 3 in the BCS standings with Stanford and Boise State still undefeated and threatening to jump ahead.

As is dispatched Mississippi State, Georgia Southern and Auburn, fans watched as the Cardinal lost to Oregon, the Broncos were edged by TCU, and No. 2 Oklahoma State was stunned by Iowa State, to set up the Alabama vs. LSU rematch in New Orleans.

Regardless, here’s your viewer’s guide to title chase (All ranking are BCS standings and time CT):

This is what they're playing for ...

Saturday

1) Wake Forest (5-5) at No. 3 Notre Dame (10-0)
Time: 2:30 p.m.
TV: NBC
Early line: Fighting Irish favored by 24
Notes: The teams have only played once before, with the Fighting Irish pulling out a 24-17 victory last season … Five Notre Dame games have been decided by seven points or less, including overtime wins against Stanford and Pitt.

2) No. 13 Stanford (8-2) at No. 2 Oregon (10-0)
Time: 7 p.m.
TB: ABC
Early line: Ducks favored by 21
Notes: The Pac-12 North Division title on is on the line. … The Cardinal has won four straight including last week’s 27-23 victory over No. 11 Oregon State. Redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns in his first start, but Stanford had to overcome four touchdowns. … Oregon is beat up, withstanding injuries to its entire starting defensive line and brief absences by quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back Kenjon Barner during last week’s 59-17 victory at Cal. … Last year Oregon forced five turnovers and ruined Stanford’s bid to play in the national championship with a 53-50 victory. The Cardinal gets a chance to return the favor.

3) No. 1 Kansas State (10-0) at Baylor (4-5)
Time: 7 p.m.
TV: ESPN
Early line: Wildcats favored by 11.5
Notes: Collin Klein has completed 69.7 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions while rushing for 748 yards and 19 touchdowns. … Baylor is 1-5 in conference play, but played Oklahoma tough last week before losing 42-34. The Bears have the second-best passing offense in the nation (367.67 yards), but Kansas State already beat the top passing offense, Texas Tech 55-24. Also, Baylor is ranked 96th in rushing defense.

Other: Western Carolina at No. 4 Alabama, 11: 21 a.m., SEC Network
Georgia Southern at No. 5 Georgia, 12:30 p.m., PPV

Nov. 24

4) No. 2 Oregon at No. 16 Oregon State
Time: TBA
TV: TBA
Notes: The annual matchup is known as the Civil War, and is the seventh oldest rivalry in college football. Oregon leads the series 59-46-10, and has won the last four meetings. … After winning its first six games, the Beavers have lost two of their last three, 20-16 at Washington and 27-23 at No. 14 Stanford. The difference against the Cardinal was Oregon’s State lone turnover, a fumble by quarterback Cody Vaz late in the fourth quarter that gave Stanford the ball at the 29. Of course, Oregon State is coached by former Alabama player Mike Riley.

5) No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 18 Southern California
Time: 7 p.m.
TV: ABC
Notes: Notre Dame leads the all-time series 43-35-5, but lost last year at home, 31-17. Two years ago it won at the Coliseum 20-16 to snap an eight-game losing streak when a USC player dropped what would have been the game-winning touchdown pass. Mitch Mustain made his first USC start in place of injured quarterback Matt Barkley.

Other
No. 1 Kanas State: Bye
No 5. Georgia Tech at No. 5 Georgia, 11 a.m., ESPN
Auburn at No. 4 Alabama, 2:30 p.m., CBS

Nov. 30

Pac-12 Championship Game (if Oregon beats Stanford)
Time: 7 p.m.
TV: Fox
Notes: Stanford at Oregon will determine the North Division representative, while No. 18 Southern California at No. 17 UCLA will decide the South. Because of better conference record the team from the North will host the title game. Last year, Oregon defeated 6-6 UCLA 49-31 after Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel had already been fired.

Dec. 1

No. 15 Texas at No. 1 Kansas State
Time: TBA
TV: TBA
Notes: The Wildcats pulled out a 17-13 victory last year despite gaining just 121 total yards. Kansas State has won four straight against Texas and are the only Big 12 team with a winning record against the Longhorns. … The Texas defense has played better of late, giving up 7 points to Iowa State, 22 to No. 18 Texas Tech and 17 to Kansas over its last three games … Because there’s only 10 teams in the Big 12 there’s no conference championship game.

Other:
SEC Championship: No. 4 Alabama (if it beats Auburn) vs. No 5. Georgia, 3 p.m., CBS
Notre Dame: Off

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