Scheduling a championship

Will the Longhorns run the table this season? The numbers say they have the best shot. Larry Smith/Icon SMI

Strength of schedule can make or break a national title contender. If a team faces a gauntlet, it may be doomed to fail once (or twice) too often. If it faces a slate of second-rate opponents, it may be judged by BCS computers and poll voters as an unworthy candidate. Balance is everything.

Our projections for the 2009 season don't dramatically disagree with the national consensus at the top. We are projecting five elite teams to have the best opportunity to contend for a spot in the BCS championship game: Florida, USC, Texas, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. Each will be challenged along the way, however. According to our SOS ratings, the odds are stacked against any of the five posting an undefeated regular season (Table 1).

To see which top team has the best chance of running the table and which faces the toughest stretch during the season, you must be an ESPN Insider. Insider