BCS; THAT’S RIGHT, BCS
Can Oklahoma State make the Fiesta Bowl by winning out and finishing 10-2? Doubtful, but possible.
The BCS picture actually is pretty simple every year if you look at this way: four at-large slots, seven pools - the six automatic-qualifying conferences, plus mid-majors. Let’s take a look:
Mid-majors: Either TCU or Boise State is virtually guaranteed a spot, but only one. If both win out, they could both get in.
But the mid-majors have waged a PR campaign against the bowls and the BCS, so there might not be much goodwill.
Still, if TCU gets in automatically, which it will by winning out, Boise State would be an attractive team for a bowl.
Want an example? What’s a better Fiesta Bowl nationally: USC-Penn State or USC-Boise State?
Pac-10: USC’s chances of winning the conference are slim. Oregon remains the front-runner to reach the Rose Bowl. But if the Trojans win out and finish 10-2, they almost certainly will get a BCS berth.
Big Ten: Iowa’s loss of quarterback Ricky Stanzi has elevated Ohio State into the driver’s seat. If Ohio State win at home Saturday against the Hawkeyes, the Buckeyes are headed to the Rose Bowl.
Either Iowa or Penn State would have a solid case for a BCS berth at 10-2. But Iowa would be 9-2 after a loss to Ohio State, needing to win at home against Minnesota to stay in the BCS discussion. Without Stanzi, that’s no sure thing. Penn State has a clearer path to 10-2; the 8-2 Nittany Lions host Indiana and go to Michigan State.
SEC: The Alabama-Florida loser is in the BCS, probably the Sugar bowl.
ACC: If Georgia Tech should win out to finish 11-1, then lose the ACC title game, the YellowJackets would be considered. If Miami wins out to finish 10-2 (the Hurricanes finish with North Carolina and South Florida on the road, with a home game against Duke in between), it would be under consideration. But the likelihood is that the ACC will not get an extra spot.
Big East: If Pittsburgh should win out, which would include a victory over Cincinnati, then Pitt would earn a BCS berth and Cincinnati, 11-1 under that scenario, probably would get one, too. Otherwise, the Big East settles for one slot.
Big 12: If Texas loses the Big 12 title game, the ‘Horns almost surely would get a BCS berth, anyway. Otherwise, the Big 12′s only hope is that Oklahoma State wins out, which would include a victory in Norman.
So, let’s review. BCS at-large berths are headed to:
* Alabama-Florida loser
* Highest-ranked mid-major
* Penn State
Next in line
Boise State or TCU
Oklahoma State (if it wins out)
The Cowboys need some help, and if you’re scoring at home, here are some things to cheer for:
1. Penn State to lose at Michigan State
2. Iowa to beat Ohio State or lose to Minnesota
3. Ohio State to lose to Michigan, if the Buckeyes beat Iowa
4. USC to lose again (the Trojans host Stanford, UCLA and Arizona).
5. Texas and Georgia Tech to win their league title games.
6. TCU to lose to Utah, which would elevate Boise State into the mid-major slot and probably would knock the Horned Frogs from consideration.
7. Cincinnati to beat Pittsburgh
There can’t be 10 nicer places to live in America than Lincoln, Neb.
Lovely, tree-lined city. College town. Well-kept. Good weather most of the year (sure, it gets cold in the winter, but that gets the juices flowing). About the only thing to knock about Lincoln is it’s a state capital, so you’ve got politicians running around, which can screw up most any place, but Nebraska is a unicameral legislature - just one assembly, unlike every other state in the union, which has a state senate and a state house - so the negative effects are limited.
I always have driven through the south part of Lincoln to get to campus on the city’s northwest side. But this time, we drove through the east side of Lincoln and then turned west. Wonderful-looking city.
I love to visit places like Miami and San Diego. But ask me to live somewhere outside Oklahoma, and Lincoln would be high on the list.
TEN BIGGEST LOSERS OF THE WEEK
10. Missouri: The Tigers, two-time defending Big 12 North champs, started off 4-0 and then led Nebraska 12-0 after three quarters. But the Huskers rallied for a 27-12 win, and since then, Mizzou has stumbled to 5-4, 1-4, including the most embarrassing defeat of all, 40-32 at home to Baylor.
9. Penn State: Study the Nittany schedule, and you realize that Joe Paterno really played a two-game season. Home against Iowa, home against Ohio State. Everyone else in the Big Ten is mediocre at best, and Penn State’s non-conference schedule stunk. The Nittanys went 0-2 in their real games, losing to Iowa in September and now losing 24-7 to Ohio State, without putting up much of a fight.
8. Mountain West television: The MWC’s television contract with Versus, while bringing in more money than was offered by ESPN, puts some of the nation’s most interesting teams in the twilight zone. TCU and Utah both won Saturday to set up a huge showdown in Fort Worth, but you’ll only find it on Versus.
7. Jahvid Best: Once considered a Heisman contender, the California tailback has suffered through a struggling, injury-marred season that culminated Saturday when he suffered a high-flying concussion after a touchdown that was Cal’s only hurrah in a 31-14 home loss to Oregon State. Best left the game with 29 yards on nine carries; he’s got 867 yards on 141 carries after gaining 1,580 yards (8.1 per carry) in 2008.
6. Michigan: In Rich Rodriguez’s second year at West Virginia, the Mountaineers improved from 3-8 to 9-4 and laid the groundwork for the juggernaut seasons that would come. But in Rodriguez’s second year at Michigan, such improvement has not repeated. The Wolverines were 3-9 a year ago and now, after back-to-back losses to lowly Illinois and Purdue, are 5-5, with big-underdog games against Wisconsin and Ohio State remaining, and fans are wondering who in the Big Blue blazes have they hired.
5. Mark Mangino: Mangino’s worst nightmare: Bill Snyder regained the state of Kansas in Year 1 of Snyder’s return. Mangino went 1-3 vs. his old boss, 2002-05, but Kansas won all three Sunflower State battles when Ron Prince coached Kansas State. Now Snyder is back and, after a 17-7 victory over KU, on track to win the Big 12 North.
4. Boise State: The Broncos are fighting a losing battle with TCU in the bid to be the highest-ranked mid-major in the BCS. But with a chance to impress on Friday night against Louisiana Tech, the Broncos went stumbled. They won 45-35 but only after letting La-Tech make a game of it in the fourth quarter.
3. Wake Forest: The Deacons had lost 44 straight games to top-10 opponents but had a chance at No. 10 Georgia Tech. Wake led 27-24 in overtime, and the ‘Jackets faced 4th-and-1 from the 5-yard line. But G-Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt ran for the first down, then the touchdown a play later, and Wake Forest (4-6) was stuck with its fifth loss by three points or less.
2. Charlie Weis: Notre Dame lost 23-21 to Navy. Bob Davie went 35-25 in five years (1997-01) at Notre Dame. That’s a winning percentage of .583. He was fired. Tyrone Willingham went 21-15 in three years (2002-04) at Notre Dame. That’s a winning a percentage of .583. He was fired. If Weis loses at Pittsburgh, where the Irish are 7-point underdogs, he will be 35-25. That’s a winning percentage of .583.
1. Iowa: The Hawkeyes seemed on a magical roll, winning games they shouldn’t win, and navigating the landmines that come through a college football season. Then quarterback Ricky Stanzi suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter against Northwestern. The Hawkeyes sputtered without him and lost 17-10. Now it appears there will be no trips to Pasadena for the Hawkeyes, either for the national championship game or the Rose Bowl.
I’ve written before about Garozzo’s, the Italian joint in the old Columbus Park neighborhood of downtown Kansas City. It’s my favorite restaurant in the world, and we got to go Friday night, since we stayed in KC on the way to Lincoln.
Fabulous, as usual. But what struck me is how many Oklahomans go to Garozzo’s. I’ve seen all kinds of fellow Okies at Garozzo’s. Some OU fans came in Friday night and ate near us; they were on their way to the ballgame the next day. We chatted about everything from OU hoops to high school football.
Anyway, I had a combo: steak modiga and chicken spedini. Can’t wait to get back.
5. Boise State
The drive from the Kansas City airport to Lincoln is easy and enjoyable. Probably 170 miles; takes about 21/2 hours and seems like 11/2. You drive I-29 along the Missouri bluffs, then cut through a sliver of Iowa and then go west at Nebraska City, where you cross the Missouri River. You see farmland and countryside and beautiful scenery. Not like the Rockies or anything, but you really get a feel for the American heartland. I enjoy the heck out of it every time.
nd this time, we got some college football radio. We had OSU-Iowa State, Kansas-Kansas State and Missouri-Baylor on the radio. If you remember, I got to listen to both Texas A&M’s and Texas’ crew a couple of weeks back. So I’ve got to listen to eight Big 12 radio crews this season. Here’s how I would rank them.
3. Kansas State
4. Oklahoma State
6. Iowa State
7. Texas A&M
TEN BIGGEST WINNERS OF THE WEEK
10. Ron Zook: We all had written off the Illinois coach, but for the second straight week, the Illini produced, beating Minnesota 35-32 a week after thrashing Michigan. Now the Illini has to scare Cincinnati, which Illinois on Nov. 27.
9. Toby Gerhart: Stanford is known for quarterbacks and not going to bowl games. But Gerhart, a tailback, ended all that in a 51-42 upset of Oregon. Gerhart rushed for a school record 223 yards and scored three touchdowns, making Stanford bowl-eligible for the first time since 2001. The Cardinal has been to just seven bowls in the last 31 years.
8. Case Keenum: Another stirring comeback, another victory, which means more Heisman momentum for the Houston gunslinger. Keenum rallied the Cougars to a 46-45 victory over Tulsa, with nine points in the final 30 seconds. Keenum completed 40 of 60 passes for 522 yards and three touchdowns, a week after similar heroics against Southern Miss.
7. C.J. Spiller: The Clemson tailback rushed for a career high 165 yards and scored on a 58-yard pass play, his 20th career TD of at least 50 yards, as the Tigers beat Florida State 40-24. Spiller is starting to get some Heisman talk himself.
6. Heisman favorites: Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow were their usual selves. Texas’ McCoy completed 33 of 42 for 470 yards in a 35-3 rout of Central Florida. Tebow was not as spectacular - 15 of 20, 208 yards, much of it on a 64-yard completion off a tipped pass - in a 27-3 rout of Vanderbilt. But in a year with no one rising up (apologies to Keenum and Spiller), the 2-3 finishers from 2008 look strong in the voting.
5. Nick Florence: Baylor’s third-string quarterback in September delivered just the school’s third Big 12 road win ever. The Bears won at Iowa State in 2005, at Colorado in 2006 and bounced Missouri 40-32 Saturday as Florence completed 32 of 43 passes for 427 yards and three touchdowns.
4. Service academies: Great day for America’s Teams. Navy beat Notre Dame 23-21 for the second time in three years, after 43 straight defeats. And ESPN’s GameDay spent the day in Colorado Springs, saluting the Air Force-Army game, won by the Falcons 35-7.
3. Bo Pelini: Hired to bring defense back to Nebraska, Pelini has done just that. The Huskers had five interceptions in a 10-3 victory over Oklahoma, and while the Nebraska offense is a mess, defense - which historically is harder to fix - has been restored in Lincoln.
2. Brian Kelly: The Cincinnati coach quickly is becoming an offensive wizard. Backup quarterback Zach Collaros completed 29 of 37 passes for 480 yards as the Bearcats stayed unbeaten with a 47-45 survival of Connecticut. Doesn’t seem to matter who Cincinnati plays at quarterback, they produce. Other schools will come calling. Notre Dame, anyone?
1. CBS: The network’s lone foray into college football is the 2:30 p.m. slot for the SEC game of the week. But what a slot that is. CBS got another classic Saturday, when Alabama beat LSU 24-15. Earlier CBS games in that slot were Tennessee-Alabama and Arkansas-Florida, two of the best games we’ve seen all year.
New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 19, Albuquerque, N.M.
Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State
St. Pete Bowl, Dec. 19, St. Petersburg, Fla.
South Florida vs. East Carolina
New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 20, New Orleans
Southern Miss vs. Troy
Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 22, Las Vegas
Utah vs. Oregon State
Poinsettia Bowl, Dec. 23, San Diego
BYU vs. Stanford
Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24, Honolulu
Marshall vs. Boise State
Emerald Bowl, Dec. 26, San Francisco
Nevada vs. UCLA
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26, Detroit
UConn vs. Central Michigan
Meineke Bowl, Dec. 26, Charlotte, N.C.
Boston College vs. Pittsburgh
Music City Bowl, Dec. 27, Nashville, Tenn.
Virginia Tech vs. South Carolina
Independence Bowl, Dec. 28, Shreveport, La.
Texas A&M vs. Tennessee
Champs Sports Bowl, Dec. 29, Orlando, Fla.
North Carolina vs. Minnesota
EagleBank Bowl, Dec. 30, Washington, D.C.
Duke vs. Iowa State
Holiday Bowl, Dec. 30, San Diego
Kansas State vs. Arizona
Humanitarian Bowl, Dec. 30, Boise, Idaho
MWC vs. Idaho
Texas Bowl, Dec. 30, Houston
Missouri vs. Navy
Armed Forces Bowl, Dec. 30, Fort Worth, Texas
Air Force vs. SMU
Sun Bowl, Dec. 31, El Paso, Texas
Oklahoma vs. California
Insight Bowl, Dec. 31, Tempe, Ariz.
Northwestern vs. Nebraska
Chick-fil-A Bowl, Dec. 31, Atlanta
Clemson vs. Georgia
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, Tampa, Fla.
Wisconsin vs. Auburn
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1, Orlando, Fla.
Iowa vs. Ole Miss
Gator Bowl, Jan. 1, Jacksonville, Fla.
Miami vs. Notre Dame
Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.
Oregon vs. Ohio State
Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1, New Orleans
Alabama vs. Cincinnati
Cotton Bowl, Jan. 2, Arlington, Texas
LSU vs. Oklahoma State
Liberty Bowl, Jan. 2, Memphis, Tenn.
Houston vs. Kentucky
International Bowl, Jan. 2, Toronto
Rutgers vs. Temple
PapaJohns.com Bowl, Jan. 2, Birmingham, Ala.
West Virginia vs. Arkansas
Alamo Bowl, Jan. 2, San Antonio
Michigan State vs. Texas Tech
Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 4, Glendale, Ariz.
USC vs. TCU
Orange Bowl, Jan. 5, Miami Gardens, Fla.
Georgia Tech vs. Penn State
GMAC Bowl, Jan. 6, Mobile, Ala.
Middle Tennessee vs. Ohio
Big Bowl, Jan. 7, Pasadena, Calif.
Florida vs. Texas