The BCS title game may be in Pasadena this year, but the traffic jam is happening in the rankings leading to the Rose Bowl, not the SoCal highways.

As we enter week 8, no team has been able to pull off the gridlocked highway and onto the scenic route to the BCS Championship Game. Luckily, tomorrow we’re finally going to get some clarity in the national title picture. Unfortunately for a few teams, a perfect record won’t be enough to avoid getting bounced from the title picture.

Chances are pretty good that we’ll see an SEC team in the championship game, though that’s going on the assumption that the SEC Championship game in December will feature undefeated Alabama and Florida teams in a pseudo-national semifinal. Unfortunately, with the way these two teams are playing, who knows if they’ll even get out of this weekend unscathed.

Florida was able to overcome an erratic Tim Tebow, who threw two pick-sixes against a pedestrian Mississippi State team; and were it not for Terrence Cody’s two field goal blocks, Alabama would have been Kiffined by Tennessee at home.

Next week, Alabama has Nick Saban’s former team, 4-1 and ninth-ranked LSU, in Alabama in a game that should decide the winner of the SEC West. Florida travels to Jacksonville to take on a struggling, but always dangerous, Georgia team in the game formerly known as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”

By Saturday night we might either have a Crimson Tide-Gators showdown looming or an SEC in such disarray that Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks could play their way into the SEC title game.

Then there’s Texas, the team that everyone seems to have forgotten about. The Longhorns have struggled at times, but they’re still undefeated – and Saturday’s clash in Boone Pickens Stadium with Oklahoma State should be the last major challenge for them. Oklahoma State is ranked 14th, but the Cowboys are undefeated in the Big 12 and just like the LSU-Bama game, this one should decide the Big 12 South champion.

If Texas wins, it’s going to be hard to oust the Longhorns from the national title, but an Oklahoma State victory knocks Texas and the Big 12 out of the BCS championship conversation.

The Big East has long been disregarded as a national title contending conference since the departure of Miami, but Cincinnati is giving the league its best opportunity for a national championship since Pat McAfee kicked away West Virginia’s chances in 2007. Unfortunately for Cincy and their Big 10 counterpart Iowa, a top-8 ranking and an undefeated season might not be enough. Plus, Cincinatti still has UConn, West Virginia and Pitt, a gauntlet that even Tony Pike and a dominant defense might struggle to get through. Even if they win out, the Bearcats are going to have a hard time convincing pollsters and the computers that their resume is comparable to their peers.

Iowa has surprised many – and perhaps saved Kirk Ferentz’s job – and sits undefeated and ranked in the top five in the BCS. The Hawkeyes still have a trip to the Horseshoe at Ohio State in three weeks that could derail both their Big 10 and BCS hopes.

If they win out, they will be in the same boat as Cincinnati. The disregard that the computers and polls have for the Big 10 in comparison to the Pac 10, could be the final decider in Kirk Ferentz’s resurgent season. In fact, Iowa and Cincinatti could become the first BCS conference champions to go undefeated and get bypassed for the national championship since Auburn in 2004.

TCU’s win over BYU last Saturday helped the Horned Frogs leapfrog Boise State in the computers and effectively end the hopes for the Broncos, who have had a cupcake of a schedule besides their signature win over Oregon, of being the first non-BCS team in the championship game. TCU is a great team, but they’re already behind USC and Iowa in the computers and would need a lot of outside help to figure into the national title equation.

Finally there’s USC, ranked No. 5 in the BCS, which seems to be sneaking back into the title picture on its Trojan Horse. Since the Trojans laid an egg last month at Washington, they have downed two top-25 teams on the road, and with a win tomorrow at No. 10 Oregon, they could add another marquee win to their BCS résumé.

Oregon’s turnaround certainly hasn’t hurt Boise State either, but a USC win would match the Broncos and then some, considering wins at Ohio State, at Cal and at Notre Dame. Plus, looming down the road is a season finale against No. 20 Arizona. If Arizona keeps winning, that can only help USC.

If you’re Pete Carroll, the stars have to look like they’re aligning – assuming you take care of business yourself of course. If the Trojans win out, they’d have more big-time wins than Iowa and the backing of the polls, which always seems to give them a mulligan before counting them out of the national title picture. They would just need a Texas loss to vault the Horns and find their way to Pasadena, the site of their last championship game appearance.

So what do we know about the BCS title picture right now? Not much. But after Saturday we’ll know if the SEC Championship will serve as a semifinal, if Texas is in the driver’s seat and if USC has resurrected Troy from the ruins. By late Saturday we might finally see a break in the traffic jam that has been the BCS this season.

Ryan Travers is a senior in the College. He can be reached at Illegal Procedure appears in every Friday issue of Hoya Sports.”

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