Louisville, even though it was undefeated and ranked No. 8, was always going to be a long shot to win this year’s college football national title.
The Cardinals simply did not have the schedule strength to keep up with the best teams from the power conferences.
The Jeff Sagarin ratings, one of the six computer systems used in the BCS formula, had Louisville ranked No. 125 in strength of schedule this week.
Louisville’s only chance was to go undefeated and then pray all the other top schools lost once, or maybe twice.
A 38-35 loss to Central Florida on Friday night, however, officially took Louisville out of the race even if its star quarterback was the last to know.
“It doesn’t damage them at all,” Teddy Bridgewater said of the Cardinals' title hopes. “We are still 6-1, this is college football and anything can happen and anything is possible.”
Louisville’s loss, though, did have a ripple effect throughout the BCS.
Fresno State and Northern Illinois are the major benefactors because those undefeated teams are trying to earn the last non-automatic qualifier major bowl berth in BCS history.
The highest rated champion from a league outside the top six earns a bid to one of the major bowls if it can finish in the top 12 of the BCS standings.
But there is another clause that grants that champion a bid if it finishes in the top 16 and ahead of a champion from a major conference.
No. 17 Fresno State (Mountain West) and No. 23 Northern Illinois (Mid American) might have had a tough time reaching the top 12 threshold this season.
Louisville’s loss, however, means there is a good chance an undefeated Fresno State or Northern Illinois can finish in the top 16 ahead of the American Athletic Conference champion.
Northern Illinois used this BCS clause last year to earn a bid to the Orange Bowl.
The Huskies finished No. 15 in the final BCS standings ahead of Big East champion Louisville (No. 21).
There won’t be this kind of excitement starting next year, when the selection committee will simply award a major bowl bid to the highest champion from the so-called “Group of Five” conferences.
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