- David Ubben, College Football
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If the season ended today, there would be plenty of complaints, but the result would be clear. Kansas State would earn the right to face the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide in Miami for the national title.
Alas, friends, the season does not end today. There's still another month of games. And with it, another month of possible madness, politicking and style points.
How much of that will Kansas State need? Well, probably a little more than we thought this time last week. Notre Dame trekked to Oklahoma as a near double-digit underdog. It left as a winner, and a team that must be accounted for in the national title race. For now, K-State has a reasonable advantage, a sizeable lead in the standings while Oregon and Notre Dame jostle for the No. 3 spot.
The Wildcats are tied with Notre Dame for No. 1 in the computers, while Alabama grabbed a unanimous No. 1 ranking from the human polls.
K-State's heavy lifting is over. It won't be able to add to its case with a win no one expected it to have at season's end. Oregon and Notre Dame still get to play preseason power USC, but has K-State done enough? Its point lead is large, but fact is, a late charge by the Irish might require a handful of style points for the Wildcats.
K-State already has plenty, to be honest. A six-point win over Iowa State is the only questionable piece of the resume to this point, and even the Cyclones are sitting pretty at 5-3 and in great position to make a bowl game.
K-State has a 39-point win over Miami, a 41-point win over top-25 West Virginia and a 31-point win over top-25 Texas Tech. That's a hefty bit of style points, but K-State may still want to add to those down the stretch to assure its spot when the final BCS standings are released.
When voters ask "What have you done for me lately?" (and fair or not, they will ask), the Wildcats will need a good answer. And it better not be "Well, we escaped a couple losses in conference play late."
Right now, K-State has as many quality wins as any undefeated team. Will that be the case at season's end? USC's loss to Arizona on Saturday and Oregon State's loss to Washington leave less impressive carrots ahead of Oregon and Notre Dame on the schedule, but Notre Dame is a force.
That's a fact. Fair or not, Notre Dame has earned its "style points" over the past century. There's a human element to these polls, and there are humans with ballots who would like to see the Irish play Alabama.
It's up to Kansas State over the next month to give those voters no other option but to send the Wildcats through instead of the storied Irish.
How do you do that? Win, and win convincingly.