Tuesday, November 27

Why Missouri Won't win the BCS Championship, Regardless of Who's the Best of the Three Contenders

Reason #1: Oklahoma with Bradford is better than Missouri, West Virginia, and Ohio State. Well, it had to be said because I think it's true... and if it is then the Tigers won't make it past the B12CG. But there's another reason to go with that one, because really OU and Mizzou looked pretty close on the Sooners' home turf...

It all started eleven months ago with a simple letter:

Dear Coach,

As you know, the bowl season is an incredible and important time in college football. Not only for you, but also for me. There's great online bragging rights on the line with these games, and I can't afford to pick the wrong teams. I'd like to consider your team, but first I'd like to get to know your coaching philosophy a little better.

Let's suppose you're up by... I don't know... say, 14 points. And there's 10 minutes left in the game, and you have the ball. Things are looking good. Do you:

a) Start trying to run out the clock on offense and go into a prevent defense. or

b) Do something else that isn't that.

Thank you for your time!
- teh_pr0gnosticaterer

This farce of a letter was of course in response to the 2006 Sun Bowl, won by Oregon State scoring 15 points in the final minutes of the 4th quarter including a two-point conversion for all the marbles. Missouri was the opponent

"It only prevents you from winning."

Think Missouri at Illinois in the season opener was a hard-fought game? The first 40 minutes weren't - 37-13 with 6:11 remaining in the 3rd quarter

The Tigers' following game at Ole Miss went from 35-7 to 38-13 to 38-25.

Then of course there was last week's nationally televised Missouri vs Kansas. The Tigers lead 28-14 early in the 4th qaurter and drove down for a field goal, 31-14. Next thing you know they're rushing 3 linemen and dropping 8 into coverage. The Jayhawks' next two scoring drives TOTALED 14 points in 3 minutes of possession.

Missouri pulled out each of those games this season. However, Illinois and Kansas both had the chance at a winning TD drive down by 6 points with a minute or so remaining. Neither ever should have been within two possessions. But the red carpet was laid out and they were allowed to waltz into the end zone 15 yards at a time. By the way, did anyone reading this see Pat White score from 50 yards out against Louisville to win the game? The Cards were dropping into a zone hoping WVU would be content to go to overtime. With 3 minutes left? lol, not happening. Possible repeat of that in the BCS Championship Game? You betcha. (Though should the opposing team be Ohio State, we could see a comedy of errors with Boeckman having all day to stand back there and find wide open safeties.)

Looking at Missouri's defensive stats for the season, we see that all but 21 passes against this defense have come with the game tied or Mizzou ahead. When Missouri is leading by 0-7 points, the opposing QB has a rating under 100. 0-14 looks to be just about 100 even with only 6 TDs and 10 INTs. But if Mizzou leads by 15 or more? 145.1 rating, 9:6 TD:INT ratio, and the completion percentage jumps by 10%. This is a team that loves sitting on a lead like Cartman loves his cheesy poofs.

And if you think all defenses probably share that pattern, check out Ohio State, whose opposing QB rating drops by over 30 when they get ahead by more than 7... or Oklahoma, where moving from the lead of 8-14 range to the lead of 15+ range means almost a 40 point drop. Turns out, if you're not ceding the short-mid range completions, it actually gets easier to defend the pass when you know they're forced to throw it. Crazy, I know...

Anyway, all that actually makes sense looking at the numbers, because Missouri's defensive statistics overall are pretty mediocre. I was amazed on Saturday night to see Kansas, the #2 scoring offense in the country, shut out for the first half and held to just 7 points through 3 quarters. Mizzou brought pressure, stuffed the runningbacks, made an outstretched red zone interception, and had some opportunistic plays. They benefitted from two missed FGs but still, this was very obviously the best defense Kansas had faced all year by a long shot. How were they hovering in the mid 30s for ppg allowed? Then the 4th quarter came and they built a 17 point lead. Ah, that's how...

Oklahoma has a top 10 scoring offense and the #1-rated starting quarterback in the country in term of passing efficiency. Unlike Kansas, Oklahoma has done this against a reasonable share of good teams. Should Mizzou be up in the 4th quarter, can they really sit on a lead against them and hope to come out with the victory? But with Pinkel's repeated demonstration that he's learned nothing from the Sun Bowl, it seems to me like the Tigers have two ways to beat OU this weekend: build a 30+ point lead in the first three quarters, or be losing a close game late and put the ball in Daniel's hands. The first is almost laughable unless Bradford goes down again, and frankly I don't like *having* to score on a certain possession to win. OU isn't going to just back off and let a QB who just completed 82% of his passes a week ago take free shots at their secondary. Stoops can be a jackass, but he isn't a dumbass.

Monday, November 26

Why Missouri must play in the BCS Championship Game

Last season, I made a post about why an Ohio State-Michigan rematch would be a travesty, sham, and a mockery - a travishamockery. Guess what it's time for:

This season, an Ohio State-West Virginia matchup of two one-loss teams with cupcake schedules would destroy the legitimacy of the 2007-08 BCS Championship Game.

The 2007 season has been crazy. I'll state off the bat that my opinion, based on how the teams have played this season, is that three of the top four teams have been eliminated due to an injury-related loss. USC lost to Stanford with 8 or 9 starters and about a dozen total players missing. Oregon was ranked #2 and cruising before losing Heisman candidate Dennis Dixon for the season, causing the Ducks to drop two straight games with perhaps no relief in sight. Oklahoma lost the nation's #1 starting QB in passing efficiency, Sam Bradford, to drop a game to Texas Tech. Injuries always have some effect every year (ever wonder if 05 Alabama could have won the SEC with Prothro healthy all season? Or for that matter had Mack Brown not been dropped on the head as a kid, 01 Texas could have appeared in the Championship game with Applewhite.), but I've never seen it knock out three national title contenders.

That leaves Missouri - by far the least sexy of the four. Probably not as good as Oklahoma, as evidenced in their loss earlier this season, and I'm not sure how they'd stack up against a healthy USC or Oregon. But thanks to Bradford's one-game injury, the Big 12 Championship game won't be a battle of #1 vs #2 for a spot in the BCS title game. It'll be #1 vs #9 to see if a B12CG result can create chaos at the top of the BCS standings for the 4th time in 10 seasons. As usual, both the BCS championship matchup and at-large situation would be muddied by an upset in this game.

Ohio State needs Missouri or West Virginia to lose. West Virginia doesn't need anything to make it to the title game. But on another level, both of those teams and the BCS system need Missouri to win against Oklahoma. The Tigers are the team who would bring legitimacy to the championship game.

If we're really lucky, like in 2002 or 2005, we'll get a pair of teams each with a big win or two under their belt and zero losses. Most seasons that's not the case, but hopefully any team who comes to the title game with a loss on their record has some big time wins to make up for it.

In an absolute worst case acceptable scenario, only one of the two teams has had to post impressive wins to get to the title game. Even this, however, makes the eventual champion legit... because it's somewhat assumed that the winner of the title game should have been able to defeat all of the teams who the loser beat during the regular season. It's at least logical on the surface, as you wouldn't assume that one of the top two teams winning a game was a fluke upset.

So what has being BCS Champion meant accomplishing in the past?

My data source is the BCS Standings Archive on FOX Sports. From 1998-2002, only the top 15 (or so) teams are listed in the BCS rankings, so I have done all analysis counting teams in the top 15 only. In some cases I do mention where teams in the 16-25 range fell if that's available, but it's not included in the combined resumes. Perhaps this is better anyway, as the top 15 is a more elite group while I often find myself just throwing some teams into the bottom of my top 25 for the sake of having a full 25 teams on that list. (see this week's #25)

In 1998, both Tennessee and Florida State had defeated a Florida team that finished #8 in the BCS standings. FSU had a second impressive win over #14 Georgia Tech with their loss coming to unranked NC State.

Florida State was one of six one-loss teams vying for that final spot in the first ever BCS Championship. They lost early while Kansas State and UCLA lost late, Arizona didn't beat anybody with more than 8 wins, and Ohio State's and Wisconsin's SOS were both hurt by not playing against each other and finishing tied for 1st in the Big Ten.

Both teams had beaten a top 10 opponent and in the end the winner was unbeaten, which is why this season wasn't as controversial as it could have been.

The two participants had a combined resume of:
Key Wins:
* #8 Florida
* #8 Florida
* #14 Georgia Tech
* NC State

In 1999, Florida State had defeated a Florida team that finished #10 in the BCS standings. Nobody on Va Tech's schedule finished in the BCS top 15.

In his pre-dog killing days, I was a big fan of Michael Vick. Loved to watch the electrifying QB play. But I've heard it retrospectively argued that Nebraska would have been a better team to face Florida State. This argument was made by Phil Steele, so basically it's not an argument so much as a statement of fact. Those Huskers were battle-tested, dealing BCS #6 Kansas State their only loss, annihilating #14 Texas A&M, and splitting a pair of games with #15 Texas.

Indeed, the untested Hokies buckled under the pressure of their first big game. Their first drive stalled out on a 4th and goal play where Vick and his RB ran the option in opposite directions (ouch). They still lead going into the 4th quarter before a mutliple turnover meltdown that wound up as a comfortable 17 point win for FSU.

Nonetheless, as FSU was unbeaten and with a win over a top 10 team going into the Sugar Bowl, their legitimacy wasn't to be questioned. I will however note that 1999 featured the least impressive combined wins for the title game participants.

The two participants had a combined resume of:

Key Wins:
* #10 Florida
* none

In 2000, Oklahoma defeated BCS #8 Nebraska, #9 Kansas State twice, and #12 Texas. Florida State defeated BCS #7 Florida, #13 Georgia Tech and #15 Clemson with their loss coming to BCS #3 Miami.

There was an uproar that Miami, who was #2 in both polls but #3 in the BCS standings, should have gone voer FSU. The Hurricanes boasted wins over Florida State (BCS #2) and Virginia Tech (BCS #5) while losing to Washington (BCS #4). Nonetheless, the victory over FSU gave Oklahoma a 4-0 record against the BCS top 10, making them indisputable champions.

The two participants had a combined resume of:
Key Wins:
* #7 Florida
* #8 Nebraska
* #9 Kansas State
* #9 Kansas State
* #12 Texas
* #13 Georgia Tech
* #15 Clemson
* #3 Miami

In 2001, Miami defeated BCS #15 Washington. Nebraska defeated #11 Oklahoma with their loss coming to #3 Colorado.

This was another controversial season as many feel that Oregon should have faced Miami. Oregon sported a win over BCS #12 Washington State and a loss to BCS #9 Stanford.
However, Miami and Nebraska had both defeated a BCS top 15 opponent and when Miami won the Rose Bowl, they were left as the nation's only unbeaten.

The two participants had a combined resume of:
Key Wins:
* #11 Oklahoma
* #15 Washington
* #3 Colorado

In 2002, Miami defeated #14 Florida State. Ohio State defeated #6 Washington State, #11 Michigan, and #12 Penn State.

Once again Miami entered the BCS Championship only having beaten one team in the top 15, but with a perfect record. Ohio State's record was also perfect and they defeated 3 top 15 teams to get there. The winner was guaranteed legitimacy from this impressive combined resume.

The two participants had a combined resume of:
Key Wins:
* #6 Washington State
* #11 Michigan
* #12 Penn State
* #14 Florida State
* none

In 2003, LSU defeated #12 Georgia twice while losing to #15 Florida. Oklahoma defeated #6 Texas while losing to #10 Kansas State.

USC was ranked #1 in both polls but could not boast a similar resume (best victory over #16 Washington State, loss to unranked Cal) until after they had beaten Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Though the matchup was questioned, nobody could doubt that LSU had earned their share of the title.

The two participants had a combined resume of:
Key Wins:
* #6 Texas
* #12 Georgia
* #12 Georgia
* #10 Kansas State
* #15 Florida

In 2004, USC defeated #5 California and #8 Virginia Tech. Oklahoma defeated #4 Texas.
Oklahoma's inclusion was questioned in light of Auburn's superior resume (victories over #7 Georgia, #11 LSU, and twice over #15 Tennessee). What could not be questioned was the fact that USC went 3-0 against BCS top 10 opposition and had earned the title.

The two participants had a combined resume of:
Key Wins:
* #4 Texas
* #5 California
* #8 Virginia Tech
* none

In 2005, Texas defeated #4 Ohio State and #15 Texas Tech. USC defeated #5 Oregon and #6 Notre Dame.

Unbeaten and combining for victories over the #4-6 teams, there was no question who the top two teams in the country were.

The two participants had a combined resume of:
Key Wins:
* #4 Ohio State
* #5 Oregon
* #6 Notre Dame
* #15 Texas Tech
* none

In 2006, Florida defeated #4 LSU and #12 Arkansas and lost to #9 Auburn. Ohio State defeated #3 Michigan.

An all-Big Ten rematch was narrowly averted when voters swapped Florida and Michigan in the final week. The decision added breadth to the combined resume of the championship game participants, and in the end the bowl results made Florida's championship resume conclusive.

The two participants had a combined resume of:
Key Wins:
* #3 Michigan
* #4 LSU
* #12 Arkansas
* #9 Auburn

This season, Missouri has defeated #5 Kansas and #15 Illinois while losing to #9 Oklahoma.
West Virginia hasn't played anybody in the BCS top 15 (or top 20), losing to #21 South Florida with their most impressive win coming over BCS #23 Cincinnati. Ohio State hasn't defeated anybody in the top 15 and they lost to #15 Illinois, with their most impressive victory coming over #18 Wisconsin.

A Missouri-West Virginia title game would feature two teams who have combined to defeat:
* #5 Kansas
* #9 Oklahoma (more like #11 after a loss)
* #15 Illinois (maybe moving up)
With losses to:
* #9 Oklahoma (more like #11 after a loss)
* South Florida
If Missouri wins, they would obviously have a great list of victories.
If West Virginia wins, it would have been against a team who had done a lot to get into the NC game.

A Missouri-Ohio State title game would feature two teams who have combined to defeat:
* #5 Kansas
* #9 Oklahoma (more like #11 after a loss)
* #15 Illinois (maybe moving up)
with losses to:
* #9 Oklahoma (more like #11 after a loss)
* #15 Illinois (maybe moving up)
If Missouri wins, they would obviously have a great list of victories.
If Ohio State wins, it would have been against a team who had done a lot to get into the NC game.

A West Virginia-Ohio State title game would feature two teams who have combined to defeat:
* um, yeah
with losses to:
* #15 Illinois (maybe moving up)
* South Florida
If Ohio State wins, it would be against an opponent whose 0-1 record against the BCS top 15 (0-2 against anyone higher than #23) probably means they didn't belong there, and still leaves Ohio State with a weak resume.
If West Virginia wins, it would be against an opponent whose 0-2 record against the BCS top 15 probably means they didn't belong there, and still leaves West Virginia with a weak resume.

Missouri's schedule alone makes either matchup look about on par for combined resume, and if WVU/OSU were to defeat Missouri, they're essentially getting credit for beating a team who did all that. With WVU vs OSU, you've got two teams who will bring zero quality wins into the title game, meaning they could be the best two teams in the nation or two teams just inside the top ten for all we know.

The closest game to this one in terms of small # of combined quality wins would be FSU vs Virginia Tech in 1999, with just one total between the two teams. But they were also both undefeated; OSU and WVU have each lost a game.

Without a doubt this would be the weakest of the ten BCS title game pairings. Which is why, for the sake of the championship game, Mizzou must win to face WVU or OSU.

remaining possibilities for the 2007-08 BCS Bowls

Alright, here's the analysis of some possibilities and my predictions for who will be in a BCS Bowl.

First, let's take the conference champions:

ACC: Va Tech OR Boston College
Big East; West Virginia
Big Ten: Ohio State
Big 12: Missouri OR Oklahoma
Pac 10: USC OR Arizona State OR UCLA.
SEC: LSU OR Tennessee

The Big 12, Pac 10, and SEC all have numerous teams in the top 14 standings of the BCS... the SEC and Big 12 sporting 3 apiece in the top 10! Those two conferences are basically guaranteed an at-large berth at this point, so let's look at their teams:

Big 12:
* If Mizzou beats Oklahoma then it's simple. Mizzou goes to the BCS Championship game and Kansas goes to the Fiesta Bowl (conference tie-in).
* If Oklahoma beats Mizzou, then it gets a little complicated. Oklahoma gets the conference's automatic berth and the at-large goes to either Missouri or Kansas. I'm going to guess that voters don't drop Mizzou below the Kansas team that they just beat, and say it goes to Mizzou. Tough luck for the 11-1 Jayhawks.

* If LSU beats Tennessee, then LSU gets the automatic bid and Georgia get the at large.
* If Tennessee beats LSU, then Tennessee gets the automatic bid and Georgia gets the at large.

Big Ten:
* Ohio State has the automatic berth.
* Illinois is currently the BCS #15 team. There is no way for them to pass Georgia or Kansas, so those two teams already have BCS priority over them. Boston College, Hawaii, and Arizona State are numbers 11-13 respectively, so those teams winning keeps them ahead of Illinois. The Illini need at least TWO of those three teams to lose.

Pac 10:
* If USC wins, then they get the automatic bid.
* If USC loses and Arizona State wins, then ASU gets the automatic bid.
* If USC and ASU both lose, the UCLA gets the automatic bid.
* If USC loses, they probably don't fall from the top 14.
* If ASU loses, they fall out of the top 18.
* Even by winning, Oregon probably doesn't pass Illinois or the ACC #2.

So basically, if ASU wins, the Pac 10 will probably get 2 BCS teams. If ASU loses, they'll have just one unless USC loses to UCLA.

* If Virginia Tech beats Boston College, VT gets the automatic bid and BC drops out of the top 14.
* IF BC beats Va Tech, BC gets the automatic bid and VT probably remains in the top 14.

Big East:
* West Virginia has clinched the automatic bid.
* Nobody else is even in the BCS top 20.

So basically, we have Hawaii, Illinois, the Pac 10 runner up (ASU or USC), and the ACCCG loser all battling for 2 at-large berths. These are what WILL happen in each situation:

Hawaii win, ASU win, BC loss, Illinois watching:
* Hawaii and ASU go.

Hawaii win, ASU win, VT loss, Illinois watching:
* Hawaii goes for sure, I think VT stays above ASU controversially.

Hawaii win, ASU loss, BC loss, Illinois watching:
* Hawaii and Illinois go.

Hawaii win, ASU loss, VT loss, Illinois watching:
* Hawaii and VT go.

Hawaii win, USC loss, BC loss, Illinois watching:
* Hawaii and USC go.

Hawaii win, USC loss, VT loss, Illinois watching:
* Hawaii and VT go.

Hawaii loss, ASU win, BC loss, Illinois watching:
* ASU and Illinois go.

Hawaii loss, ASU win, VT loss, Illinois watching:
* ASU and VT go.

Hawaii loss, ASU loss, BC loss, Illinois watching:
Illinois and... wow. BC or Clemson? I'm guessing BC.

Hawaii loss, ASU loss, VT loss, Illinois watching:
VT and Illinois go.

Hawaii loss, USC loss, BC loss, Illinois watching:
USC and Illinois go.

Hawaii loss, USC loss, VT loss, Illinois watching:
VT and USC go.

What do I think will happen?

* Because God loves college football and would hate to see two teams who haven't beaten anyone in the top 15 both make it to the national championship game, Missouri gets revenge against Oklahoma.
* West Virginia just lollerskates to a 60 point win over Pittsburgh.
* The other Tigers have their way with the Ugly Dogs. (LSU wins SECCG)
* Virginia Tech psych students use behavior modification techniques to cause Frank Beamer to be physically unable to make the call for a prevent defense. (VT wins ACCCG)
* USC destroys UCLA. ASU beats Arizona.
* Hawaii handles Washington in a game that's close for 35 minutes.

In the season of surprises and upsets, the greatest surprise of all is that nothing crazy happens in the final week.

BCS Bowl teams are: Missouri, West Virginia, Ohio State, Georgia, Kansas, Virginia Tech, USC, LSU, Hawaii, ASU.

The BCS Championship Game is Missouri vs West Virginia.
The Rose Bowl is Ohio State vs USC.
The Sugar Bowl tie-in goes to LSU.
The Orange Bowl tie-in goes to Va Tech.
The Fiesta Bowl picks first since they lost Missouri. They replace them with another Big 12 team, Kansas.
Next the Orange Bowl picks Georgia, with some pressure from the Sugar Bowl not to leave them with an all-SEC matchup.
The Fiesta is up next, they pick hometown ASU.
The Sugar Bowl selects Hawaii.

Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs USC
Often times this matchup would determine national championships, but it's no disappointment to play for the Rose Bowl trophy alone. This features the #1 and #5 defenses and some powerful runningbacks.

Sugar Bowl: LSU vs Hawaii
The nation's top scoring offense and an outstanding quarterback against a great secondary.

Fiesta Bowl: Kansas vs Arizona State
Two teams that nobody expected to be in a BCS bowl, and two teams who don't really have any big wins. One of them will prove that their record wasn't just the result of soft wins.

Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs Georgia
Two teams who had to find their identity after some bad early losses.

BCS Championship: Missouri vs West Virginia
Two of the premiere quarterbacks in the NCAA with vastly different styles. Pat White is complimented by a duo of fearsome runningbacks while Chase Daniel has five great receivers to throw the ball to.

The Final Contenders

In this final week before the BCS Bowl pairings are announced, the picture at the top has become amazingly clear. Realistically, I don't think more than six teams have any mathematical chance of making it into the BCS Championship. Here's what we've got:

1. Missouri
Key Wins:
* at Illinois (BCS #15) 40-34
* vs Kansas (BCS #5) 36-28
* at Oklahoma (BCS #9) 41-31
Games Remaining
* Big 12 Championship Game vs BCS #9 Oklahoma

QB: Chase Daniel (Jr, 154.7 rtg)
Off: #6 scoring
Def: #39 scoring

Missouri controls their own destiny. Should both they and West Virginia lose, there may be some small possibility that they end up a very controversial #2. I wouldn't bet on it.

2. West Virginia
Key Wins:
* at Cincinnati (BCS #23) 28-23
* Connecticut (BCS #26) 66-21
* at South Florida (BCS #21) 21-13
Games Remaining:
* Pittsburgh

QB: Pat White (Jr, 153.5 rtg)
Off: #8 scoring
Def: #7 scoring

West Virginia is in complete control of their own destiny - win and they're in, lose and they're out.

3. Ohio State
Key Wins:
* at Penn State (BCS #31) 37-17
* Wisconsin (BCS #18) 38-17
* at Michigan (BCS #30) 14-3
* Illinois (BCS #15) 28-21

QB: Todd Boeckman (Jr, 150.3 rtg)
Off: #37 scoring
Def: #1 scoring

For OSU it's simple: one of the two teams above them must lose, at which point they are basically guaranteed a BCS title berth.

Understand that if Missouri wins and West Virginia loses, the title game is Missouri vs Ohio State. If Missouri loses and West Virginia wins, the title game is West Virginia vs Ohio State. So in order for anyone currently below OSU to play in the BCS NC game, then BOTH WVU and Missouri must lose. Should that occur, Ohio State will almost certainly be in New Orleans so we have one spot still open. Also realize that while OU-Missouri is an epic matchup, Pittsburgh is a lowly 4-7 team who will probably lose the game by 40 points. But this is the year when Stanford beat USC and Appalachian State beat Michigan... so what the heck...

Should such a scenario occur, the first thing to ask is this: If Oklahoma defeats Missouri for a second time this season, is there any team more deserving than the Sooners to face Ohio State? I do not think you can answer that question "Yes." Kansas has a better record, but they have no quality wins. Georgia has the same record, but they haven't faced anybody better than 3-loss Florida. LSU has lost to two unranked teams (like Oklahoma has), but they don't have a win as good as Missouri -- and OU had to do that twice. For USC, you cannot say that Arizona State and Oregon State are the same kind of statement wins that beating Mizzou twice would be.

However, not everyone is going to be of the same opinion as mine, so let's examine the remaining teams:

4. Georgia
Key Wins:
* vs Florida (BCS #10) 42-30
* Auburn (BCS #24) 45-20
* South Carolina 16-12
* at Tennessee (BCS #14) 35-14

QB: Matthew Stafford (So , 128.8 rtg)
Off: #39 scoring
Def: #29 scoring

Georgia's situation is only slightly worse than Ohio State's. Hope #1 and #2 lose, but for them they must also hope that a conference champion (Oklahoma should this actually be relevant, LSU?) doesn't pass them in the final rankings.

5. Kansas
Key Wins:
* none
* vs Missouri (BCS #1) 36-28

QB: Todd Reesing (So, 152.4 rtg)
Off: #2 scoring
Def: #4 scoring

Though they have just one loss, it's hard to sell zero quality wins. (unless you're OSU/WVU lol) Besides that, Georgia and Kansas both don't have any games remaining, so why would the Jayhawks make up a full point in the composite BCS standings? There is a chance that if OU beats Mizzou then the Tigers won't fall below the Jayhawks. Wouldn't that suck for Kansas to be ranked in the top 5 and not be able to get one of the four at-large berths?

6. Virginia Tech
Key Wins:
* at Clemson (BCS #16) 41-23
* Virginia (BCS #22) 33-21
* at LSU (BS #7) 48-7
* Boston College (BCS #11) 14-10
Games Remaining:
* ACC Championship vs BCS #11 Boston College

QB: Tyrod Taylor (Fr, 124.1 rtg), Sean Glennon (Jr, 142.9 rtg)
Off: #55 scoring
Def: #2 scoring
As the highest-ranked team below Ohio State who still has any games remaining, they are the team with the best chance to vault above Georgia and Kansas. They are very close to Kansas and just over 1 full spot below Georgia, so I would have to think that with a really impressive win over Boston College they'd have a decent chance. Tennessee beating LSU might help, since surely some voters are still ranking LSU above VT.

7. LSU
Key Wins:
* Virginia Tech (BCS #7) 48-7
* Florida (BCS #10) 28-24
* Auburn (BCS #24)
* at Kentucky 43-37 3OT
* Arkansas (BCS #27) 50-48 3OT
Games Remaining:
* SEC Championship vs BCS #14 Tennessee

QB: Matt Flynn (Sr, 122.5 rtg)
Off: #10 scoring
Def: #23 scoring

Amazingly, Virginia Tech is ranked ahead of LSU in the Harris and Computer Polls despite the 48-7 pasting the Tigers put on the Hokies in September. The computers also have Boston College above Tennessee, so LSU probably needs Virginia Tech to lose on top of Missouri and West Virginia losing and even then hoping that they can pass Georgia and Kansas while not being passed by Oklahoma. Realistically, they're playing for the Sugar Bowl.

8. USC
Key Wins:
* Oregon State (BCS #33) 24-3
* at Arizona State (BCS #13) 44-24
* Stanford 24-23
* at Oregon (BCS #17) 24-17
Games Remaining:

QB: John David Booty (Sr, 140.6 rtg)
Off: #38 scoring
Def: #5 scoring

USC is about a quarter of a spot ahead of Oklahoma in the composite BCS rankings. So what happens if OU beats #1 Missouri and USC beats unranked UCLA? You guessed it. USC is playing for a spot in the Grandaddy of the All, the Rose Bowl.

9. Oklahoma
Key Wins:
* vs Texas (BCS #20) 28-21
* Missouri (BCS #1) 41-31
* Colorado 27-24
* at Texas Tech (BCS #28) 34-27
Games Remaining:
* Big 12 Championship vs BCS #1 Missouri

QB: Sam Bradford (Fr, 182.2 rtg)
Off: #3 scoring
Def: #11 scoring

Oklahoma is almost four full spots behind Georgia for that second spot should Mizzou and WVU both lose. Luckily for the Sooners, they are the team playing against Mizzou. Should they defeat the #1 team in the country, voters would have some incentive to move them up in the rankings. Likewise, it would be another quality win for the computer rankings (although it hurts their previous win over the Tigers). My opinion is that if OU knocks Mizzou off of their perch, they should be playing in the title game. Their best chance is hoping that enough voters feel the same way. However it's a long shot. They probably need VT and LSU to lose, possibly USC as well.

If OU beats the #1 team in the country, there is no way they are getting jumped by somebody below them like Boston College or Hawaii, so it's pointless to look any lower than this.

Sunday, November 25

James' Week 13 Top 25

According to Dr. Nick Bostrom of Oxford University, odds are, we're 'living' inside a computer system simulating the universe. His reasoning is that, if it ever becomes possible for a computer to simulate the universe (or even just human civilization), then the number of simulated beings would vastly outnumber the number of real beings, assuming more than one simulation is run. Therefore, if you are a being and you're not sure which group you belong to, odds are you are in fact a member of the simulated group.

If that is the case, then I'm convinced that the guy running our simulation must have been wondering what the world of college football would have been like if the Nebraska Cornhuskers hadn't pulled off an amazing 100 straight 9+ win seasons from 1969 until the real 2069. The history diverges when the Big 12 adds a conference championship game in 1996 - despite the concept of a single game allowing a 4-loss team to claim the conference title over a 1-loss team being too silly for the real world - allowing Texas to upset Nebraska and prevent the Huskers from winning four consecutive national championships from 1994 to 1997. Without this incredible streak, Tom Osborne retires to serve in the US Congress, and NU struggles the following season. The timeline is further altered by an upset loss to Texas costing the Huskers a spot in the 1999 title game, saving the BCS from a 3-unbeatens controversy in just their second year of existence, which originally had ensured a playoff by 2008. Recruiting falls off a little, and after a blowout loss to Miami in the Rose Bowl in January 2002, Nebraska begins to move away from the power option. Because of this, Pat White goes to West Virginia and out of what can only be called the "Butterfly Effect," Dennis Francione takes over at Texas A&M who never take Chase Daniel to lead west coast offense that they never adopted.

In the real world, Daniel spent Thanksgiving week gutting the Texas Longhorns' defense to lead the Aggies to a 11-1 season and an at-large berth in the final year of the BCS. Unbeaten Nebraska went on to play and utterly destroy a Michigan team controversially chosen to play in the title game despite losing to Appalachian State (it turns out, that did happen).

But in this bizarre simulated universe, we have a situation where Missouri and Kansas are battling for the inside track for a BCS Championship matchup with West Virginia. Nobody knows what'll happen next, and the possibility of Hawaii or a 2-loss BCS team competing for the national championship is very real at this point. What do things look like after Simulated Rivalry Week? Hopefully this won't agree with the media's rankings too much.

1. Missouri - Chase Daniel's actually accounting for 20 more yards per game than Tim Tebow. He doesn't personally score as many TDs, but his team averages just 1 ppg less than Florida. In the Tigers' biggest game of the year, he completed 82% of his passes commanded two long scoring drives to shorten the 4th quarter as the Jayhawks were starting to get on track. This defense is actually pretty good as long as they aren't winning by too much. More on that later...

2. Oklahoma - Told you I'd be departing from the media's rankings. Let's face it, the main reason they lost to Texas Tech was because Sam Bradford was injured. With Bradford... well, you saw what they did to OK State. Oklahoma has knocked off Missouri and if they can do that a second time they'll be the best team in the country; not that it'll matter because unfortunately for them their schedule ranks in the top half of Div I-A schools and we're punishing teams for that this year.

3. West Virginia - I went back and forth on them vs Ohio State. Comparing WVU's three best wins (Cincy, UConn, Miss State) to Ohio State's (Wiscy, Michigan, Penn State), Chris and I gave a very slight edge to the 'Neers. Obviously a loss to Illinois is better than a loss to South Florida. However, WVU did schedule two BCS conference teams on their nonconference slate to OSU's one... signaling more of an intent to try to create a formidable schedule rather than hoping to beat up on creampuffs. But call that a tossup and ask yourself this - Pat White or Todd Boeckman?

4. Ohio State - What, do I have to say something about every team? They held Michigan to 3 points on the road and they have the worst offense of any top 10 team. There. Meanwhile, the possibility of a sexy OSU vs USC Rose Bowl matchup looms large as long as Missouri wins a rematch with OU and Pittsburgh doesn't *snicker* manage to beat *snort, snort* West Virginia. Hey wow I managed to type that last part without laughing!

5. Kansas - The Jayhawks played the first half of this weekend's game like a team intent on dropping out of the top 10. Two turnovers, two missed FGs, 14-0 deficit. Yikes. But Reesing & Co showed resiliency and fought back to make the final score respectable. Yes Missouri's affinity for playing prevent with a 15+ point lead helped that, but KU had already scored two TDs before the Tigers switched from aggressive to passive. They've all but wrapped up an at-large berth and I'm looking forward to seeing this team play in a BCS bowl, hopefully the Fiesta.

6. USC - Thursday night they just annihilated Arizona State on the road to leave no questions about who is #1 in the Pac 10. They've lost by one point to Stanford with basically their entire offense injured and lost by 7 points in Autzen to Oregon when they had Dixon and a top 5 ranking. As for what they accomplished, well destroying ASU in a road game is great for starters. Beating Oregon State is looking better by the week as the Beavers continue their late season rise.

7. Georgia - It took Georgia six and a half games to find their identity. At that point, they were a 4-2 team trailing Vanderbilt 17-7. They allowed just three first downs in the second half to win 20-17, then went on to win their next five games all against bowl-eligible competition including two teams currently ranked by the AP. The defense was a little suspect in three of those victories, but in the last two both sides of the ball have performed quite well. With a 10-2 record, the Dawgs have basically wrapped up an at-large bid and through some gigantic clusterfuck could still face Ohio State for the BCS title.

8. Florida - My only question is - would a healthy Tim Tebow still lose to Georgia? Other than that I'm pretty solid about them having the country's best offense and a very mediocre defense. They'll wind up as either the #3 or #4 team in the SEC, and frankly they're a nightmare matchup for whatever non-BCS bowl they play in.

9. LSU - After surrendering 50 points in a 3OT loss to Arkansas, LSU's defense dropped from #9 to #21. Of course that isn't all that accurate of a ranking, since they've now had to face six OT drives where the other team starts off in makable FG range - and a few times they've gone for it on 4th down since the Tigers' offense had already scored a TD. But this does reveal a telling story: of those six drives, five ended in TDs and one in a FG for 38 points. This unit really cannot stop teams inside the 20! The only consolation for the Tigers is that if they beat Tennessee, OU beats Mizzou, and Pitt beats WVU... then assuming they jump enough other teams and face Ohio State, the Buckeye's offense probably won't come within 30 yards of that dreaded red zone where this defense falls apart.

10. Virginia Tech - Well they're definitely a top 10 team right now... but that whole 48-7 bit makes it hard to rank them above LSU. Process of elimination, eh?

11. Hawaii - In their biggest game of the season, this is the first time I've actually been impressed by the Warriors. Boise State fought hard and even took a 27-26 lead in the 3rd, but then Hawaii responded with a devastating two quick TDs. Congratulations on the WAC title and good luck against Washington.

12. Tennessee - Hard to believe this team started off 1-2. The defense has finally gelled after giving up 104 points in losses to Cal and Florida... talented freshman Eric Berry now leads the nation in INT return yards. (yeah, the only way I know that Jeopardy fact is that my co-blogger went to this school) 8-1 in their last 9 games and, as far as I know, the only team to really shut down McFadden.

13. Arizona State - They had their hands on the Pac 10 trophy! Then it all slipped away against USC. Along with that went their appearance of a top 10 defense and any rumors that this team is more than just a team who wins the games it should win. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

14. Illinois - This team hasn't lost since Oct 20! Yes, in addition to the OSU game that includes wins over Ball State, Minnesota, Northwestern, and a week off.

15. Boston College - They did end a 15 game losing streak to the Canes (how far have they fallen to finish a season 1-6 and miss the bowls?!), but seeing Ryan throw yet another mutliple interception game just doesn't do it for me.

16. Cincinnati - Losses to Louisville and Pittsburgh are bad, but the month of November was a good one for the Bearcats.

17. South Florida - Can we think of Oct 18-Nov 3 as a blip on their radar? A really long blip that was probably just a flock of birds? All 3 losses by 7 points or less does mean that they've been competitive in every game.

18. Texas - So... bad... how the... f*ck... do you lose... to the Franciaggies... two straight years? A&M played an emotional game for one of the worst human beings formerly employed in div I-A coaching and Texas still has no secondary.

19. Wisconsin - We're at the point where I'm justifying rankings by saying "Well, two of the three losses were to ranked teams... and a 38-7 loss to unranked Penn State isn't *that* bad... close wins over UNLV and The Citadel prove they can win late, and..."

20. Boise State - Tough game at Hawaii. If they'd run the ball instead of going for a bomb on 3rd and 2 trailing 39-27... they might have been able to stay in the game.

21. Oregon - It's out of empathy for their situation that they're ranked at all. How exactly does one get shut out by UCLA?

22. Auburn - Thanks to Aubie, Nick "the sAviOr" Saban's team finishes with the same record it had a year ago under Mike Shula. But can he change that with a bowl victory?

23. Arkansas - ie, Team McFadden.

24. Oregon State - They've really turned it around since the beginning of October. Granted, Cal was their only decent win and they were without Longshore.

25. Notre Dame - Finishing the season with back-to-back wins against BCS conference opposition, the Irish will undoubtedly be in next season's preseason top 25. I'm just doing this a few months earlier than everyone else.

The National Title Picture's Worst Case Scenario

Coming down to the last week of the regular season, we have a very interesting dilemma on our hands. Missouri's win over Kansas have put them firmly in control of their own destiny. They were one quarter away from remaining the only undefeated team in the nation at this time, and they have a chance to prove it by taking revenge against a 2 loss Oklahoma. With one last win they will get their ticket to the big game.

West Virginia took a beating to UConn this week, and they too hold their destiny with one more week to go. Defeating Pitt should be easy, but this season has never been about "shoulds" but more about "can'ts". Slaton and White are a pair to be reckoned with on the ground, and Pitt's defense will have to come up big to keep them contained, and it's not likely to happen. However, this season has proved that anything can happen.

Ohio State is sitting pretty with their season over - all they need is for someone to fall. Should either West Virginia or Missouri lose, they will get their ticket to New Orleans (although Kansas may be more deserving since their only loss was to the #4 team). They are the beneficiaries of the Big 10's scheduling decision of not having divisions in their conference, nor having a championship game... however convoluted their scheduling decisions have been the Big 10 has always had a better than average chance to send a team to the NC game.

But what happens if both WVU and Missouri lose?

If LSU wins against Tennessee, they can claim that their record of 11-2 holds the most defeats against ranked opponents. LSU was considered this preseason as the team to beat, and they proved that by playing gutsy in difficult games. However, they were nowhere near as dominant as they should have been... and their most recent loss to unranked Arkansas may come to bite them in the ass.

Oklahoma would then be able to say that they won against a fiery Missouri team, however their losses against Colorado and Texas Tech look weak albeit the fact that the latter was due to the loss of their quarterback for the majority of the game. The former is inexcusable for a team of Oklahoma's stature, even though Colorado is a year or two away from being back in power in the Big 12 North.

Georgia lost out to Tennessee for the SEC championship game, which played to their favor. They are the highest ranked 2 loss team at #4, and they won't get a bid to the NC game since they didn't even win their conference. It's too bad they didn't even get a chance, but once again taking a huge loss like they did to the Vols means they don't deserve it.

And how about Kansas? Their 1 loss makes them look pretty, however just like Georgia they have no claim to win their own conference so they have no claim on the NC game. Even though they had the easiest schedule in their conference, the singular loss to Missouri cost them everything that they had a chance to win.

Virginia Tech is the highest ranked ACC team, but they have to win against BC (and maybe stay out of the the prevent defense) in the championship game to have a chance. Their schedule, though, is much weaker than other two loss teams such as LSU and Oklahoma... however their losses were to the #2 teams in the country at the time so it doesn't look as bad.

And what about USC? If they beat UCLA, they'll get the Pac 10 crown. However good their pedigree might be, the loss to Stanford will always stay as a stain on their record. They're only here in this position now because Dixon, the most valuable player in the nation, is out for the rest of the season and Oregon has started to plummet. They're still too far out for the chance to play in the big dance.

So how is this season going to end? Here's this week's guess at the BCS potential lineups.

Rose Bowl - USC vs Ohio State - the Rose bowl gets the Big 10/Pac 10 matchup they want, the winners of the respective conferences. It will feature a recovered John David Booty against James Laurinitis and a much shored up defense. However the past few weeks have shown that the Bucks are vulnerable to the running game, mainly against teams with a mobile quarterback. Since Booty is a pocket quarterback, their cadre of running backs are the best bet to get the Buckeye's secondary to cheat up and put eight in the box. This will open up their potent passing game.

Sugar Bowl - LSU vs Kansas - this might be a chance for Reesing and co to prove that they are for real, not a one hit wonder. They came back into the game against Mizzou but it's going to take more than one half to win against a talented LSU team. The biggest problem with LSU is that they keep allowing their opponents back into the game in the second half, and it has come down upon them twice. Will it happen again in the big game? Will Les Miles be more of a distraction with Ann Arbor knocking on his door?

Fiesta Bowl - Va Tech vs Hawaii - The island team is this year's BCS conference blaster. Colt Brennan's stats are phenomenal, namely because he's the right quarterback in the right system in the right conference. I mean he's not the first Hawaii quarterback to post astronomical numbers. Let's see if he can keep it up against a quality defense.

Orange Bowl - Georgia vs Arizona State - I'm assuming that Missouri and Va Tech win their championship games, which leaves only Arizona as a qualifiable candidate for the 4th BCS bowl (Florida loses out since there are already two higher ranked SEC teams). Georgia has rattled off consecutive wins since their loss against Tennessee, and will pose a significant challenge to ASU's porous defense.

NC at the Sugar Bowl - WVU vs Missouri - a fantastic run game against a potent spread offense. I expect this to be a high scoring game since neither of their defenses will be able to stand against each other. It's going to come down to turnovers and time of possession, but I expect Missouri to capitalize on the former and make good on the possessions.

Dissecting the BCS: Week 13

I picked one hell of a week to try and figure out the BCS mess, didn't I? Here's a few things that we can look forward to hearing endlessly about this week:

- A team that hasn't played in over a week - with more than a week left in the regular season to boot - has at worst a good shot of playing in the national title game.

- A team that has never been ranked as high as they are today has the inside track at the national title game, but they have their rivalry game coming up this week; if we learned anything from the Texas/Texas A&M game last week, it's that rivalry games are always - always - close.

- Return games. Missouri gets another shot at Oklahoma and Virginia Tech gets a shot at playing a full 60 minutes against Boston College.

- The leading SEC team aiming toward a BCS berth isn't even playing in the SEC championship game. Of course, both of the teams playing in said championship game played at least 3 OT this week (and I wrote about both of those games!).

- 37.5% of the Top 16 teams in the BCS lost last week. Of course, some of these were expected; Kansas or Missouri was going to lose. It was the same case with Virginia Tech and Virginia. Still, add four teams to that mix: LSU (you might've heard of that one), Arizona State (which I've posted about already - that bandwagon never really got rolling), Oregon (no offense = no chance), and Texas (hah!). Still, that's a hell of a lot of movement this late in the season, and there's already some immediate fallout from that. All of those losses were critical.

LSU's Loss: That puts Georgia in the awkward position of being the leading SEC team to get to the title game - without even having to win their own division. Obviously, I'm not going to be able to dissect this rationally beyond saying it's stupid. Still, the strange thing about this is that LSU isn't even eliminated; a Missouri loss (more on them in a second) and a West Virginia meltdown could vault them up with a VT win - and a win over Tennessee. Remember that nobody has beaten the Tigers in regulation this year.

Arizona State (and Oregon) Losses: This ends up forcing a "second verse, same as the first" turn of events in the Pac-10, as USC - yes, that USC, the one we've forgotten about after the loss to Stanford - is now all but guaranteed a Rose Bowl berth. It doesn't mean much in BCS terms thanks to Georgia and Ohio State being already ahead of them with their regular season over, but it's a little sobering to think about. Also of note: Oregon is now below Hawaii in the BCS rankings.

Texas's Loss: Oklahoma was pretty much guaranteed their berth in the Big 12 Championship Game before kickoff yesterday, but the win over Oklahoma State sealed it. Texas has dropped below Hawaii in the BCS as Hawaii creeps toward a BCS berth. Will they get one? I'm not sure, as they may not travel well - but they'll be interesting to watch at worst.

Virginia's Loss: This puts Virginia Tech in USC's position; they can finish Top 5 in the BCS if a couple of things break right, but it also forces a BC/VT rematch, which should be excellent. If VT was to win that game as well, then Hawaii would jump another spot. I'm not sold that'll happen if BC wins.

Either way, we're now in a position with three dead teams in the Top 5 of the BCS and there's really not a lot anybody can do about it. The only computer ranking that's not top 7 for the top 7 BCS teams is Kansas in the Colley Matrix (which we spend enough time mocking that I should probably rename the blog Fire the Colley Matrix, but that's already been done), so there's no real room in the computer rankings.

The end result? It'll be Missouri, West Virginia, and Ohio State going into next week and that's it.

Tennessee-Kentucky: This Might Be Interesting

Once again, I catch this game halfway in – and it shouldn’t be any surprise I’m doing a chronicle of this. We’ll pick this one up at the beginning of the second quarter; I did get to see Daniel Lincoln miss a 47-yarder with Kentucky taking over shortly after. It’s currently 14-0; apparently it’s been mostly well-played with a couple of big mistakes on Kentucky’s end leading to the score.

A special shout-out goes – once again – to the cable company. Apparently there are two different CBS affiliates here; who knew? Not me, that’s for sure.

2:20 pm: Eric Berry just misses a beautiful INT. He’s been a real surprise and ball hawk this year; by this time next year, Berry should be at worst All-SEC. He’s leading the NCAA in interception return yards as a true freshman.

2:25 pm: I’m a little disoriented by the location of the main camera in this game. It’s hard to describe, but the way I’m thinking of is it’s too low to the field. There’s not a clear view of the entire field from sideline to sideline, so there’s a distinct feel of …well, a high school game. It’s strange. It’s not nearly as bad as the middle-school camerawork of the UConn-Stanford women’s basketball tilt a few days ago (no, I didn’t watch that much of it; I have my dignity at stake here, y’know), but it’s still odd.

2:30 pm: Tennessee is doing an excellent job of getting pressure on Andre Woodson. He’s still completing his passes, but he’s taking a beating. Speaking of that, Steve Johnson hauls in a TD pass on a fade over Elix Wilson; 14-7 Tennessee. I’m getting flashbacks to the Tennessee/Vandy game from last week. Maybe I should watch something else.

2:32 pm: Virginia’s fan base is way louder than I expected; I can actually almost make out the words they’re singing. It’s 23-21 Virginia Tech, but Virginia did just score.

2:35 pm: Lucas Taylor hauls in a 36-yard completion after possibly stepping out of bounds; it was ruled as a force-out, which isn’t reviewable. Still, that’s yet another big play for Tennessee and did a good job of quickly shutting up the Kentucky crowd, who need a reason to make some noise. RB Arian Foster follows that up with a run for a first down, which we don’t get to see a measurement on thanks to the line judge standing in the way of the camera. That’s coming out of his paycheck.

2:39 pm: Lincoln puts a 45-yarder just inside the uprights. It’s 17-7 Tennessee. That last drive stalled after the aforementioned first down thanks to good penetration on first down which basically killed the drive.

2:43 pm: Kentucky opts for a rekick after Britton Colquitt knocks it out of bounds. Not sure I think this is a good idea, but let’s see. Here’s the kick … line drive kick ends up allowing Kentucky to retain possession at their own 38, which: whatever.

2:47 pm: Ricardo Kemp comes completely unblocked on the blind side for a sack to kill the drive. Kentucky will – possibly ironically – punt from the 35. Rogan muffs the punt but somehow manages to recover the ball.

3:00 pm: Tom Masthay (Kentucky’s punter) pulls an audible in the middle of the punt and ends up running for a first down. The Steve Beurlein doesn’t think it was planned, and I actually kind of agree with him. If it wasn’t intentional, it was the greatest sell job I’ve seen. He took one hell of a shot, too, but that’ll be the only contact he’ll face all game.

3:02 pm: That gutsy fake punt wasn’t for anything; Masthay has to punt again after they don’t make a first down. Meanwhile, VT has pulled up 30-21 and CBS flashes a graphic that says Virginia’s the luckiest team in 1-A this season (to the surprise of nobody). PBP guy then confuses Dicky Lyons, Jr. (who’s wearing blue and is white) with Lucas Taylor (who’s wearing white and orange and isn’t white). Way to go!

3:06 pm: I’ve never seen the “squat behind the WR to trip him up” defense before Chris Cook (Virginia CB) tried it. How’d these guys win 9 games playing that defense? That didn’t even work on the playground.

3:08 pm: Kentucky pulls a great pick off a tipped pass into an interception. Of course, we don’t know who tipped the ball, but Paul Warford picked it off. We see the replay about 12 times before we get the names. It was an excellent play. Not an excellent play: Andre Woodson throwing a pick to defensive lineman Xavier Mitchell on the next play. It was a Neil O’Donnell-style pick, too. Tennessee ball at the Kentucky 20 with an opportunity to put at least three on the board before halftime. It wouldn’t be a huge deal to get an additional three on the board, as it’d still be a two-TD margin, but every little bit helps.

3:12 pm: Josh Hancock with a great play to turn the turnover into 7 quick points. It’s now 24-7 Tennessee just before the half.

3:17 pm: Lones Seiber misses a 51-yard FG after an idiotic late hit penalty against Elix Wilson. Tennessee will go into the half up by 17, but they won’t get the ball to open the second half (I don’t think). If they do get the ball to open the second half – or at least score first – that’ll probably close the game if they can put a TD on the board. Kentucky should come out with more motivation than they had the first half; they played the first 30 minutes on a tryptophan-induced haze.

3:20 pm: Virginia Tech will carry the ACC Coastal. I’m not saying that they’ll have a great shot at the BCS Championship Game (they don’t), but if they win next week I’ve got to think they’d have a better shot at going than Georgia, as they at least won their conference. Meanwhile, Sean Glennon is compared to Ol’ Calm-Eyes, but he doesn’t wear the same number as Derek Jeter. He does, however, get pasted after he kneels down, which was a stupid penalty – but at least the game was decided.

3:31 pm: I’m changing to UConn/West Virginia as my secondary game; that’s partially because I’m in Connecticut and partially because it’s an important game. I’m immediately surprised that Slaton’s not even averaging 100 yards a game, but I’m not surprised that we’re getting the 12th-string announcers for the game. I shouldn’t complain too much (at least it’s not Maryland), but we’re also getting the 12th-string production team. I’m going to have to watch something in the next two hours that looks like it has solid production values, because I’m not getting it here.

3:37 pm: Good god, there is some legendary hair in the stands at Morgantown today. Do they know the 80’s have been over for a while? Someone should tell them, but I know Mullet Watch is going to have a blast today. On the field, UConn commits a penalty on the opening kick (block in the back) and gets the ball on their 7. Ouch. Bad sign: the announcers don’t figure out that “half the distance to the goal” means the penalty was committed inside the 20. Thank god the other game’s started – and Kentucky will have the ball to open that second half.

3:41 pm: Jerod Mayo with a blocked pass on a blitz. He’s really made strides since I first saw him play last year and has now progressed passed “good” to “solid defender”. He had 15 tackles last week and he’s only a junior. He should be back next year, as he has a chance of becoming a 1st or 2nd-round pick after a solid senior campaign.

3:45 pm: Kentucky has finally decided to adopt a quick-drop passing scheme. This type of attack is hard to stop when it’s done well, but the cost a team pays for that is it’ll take a lot of time off the clock. That’s also coupled with the need to stop Tennessee on a couple of drives quickly. PBP guy again confuses Tennessee for Kentucky, so we’re getting the Bang-Up Announcing Squad for two games up here today.

3:50 pm: Dicky Lyons, Jr. hauls in a nice TD pass. It’s 24-14 Tennessee, but Dicky still has the stupidest first name in the game.

3:56 pm: Tennessee goes three-and-out, and I ratchet up the “uh-oh” meter a few notches. We’re on Yellow Alert now, even though it’s a 10-point game.

4:01 pm: Tennessee does manage to hold serve, forcing two bad passes by Woodson (both too far to the outside), killing the nice first down run. Mastany with a booming punt sticks the Vols deep in their own territory.

4:08 pm: Tennessee doesn’t do much with their possession; it’s a bunch of runs and a little pass to the sideline. They get a first down but send it back to Kentucky deep in their own territory. It’s still Yellow Alert.

4:12 pm: Woodson gets stripped on a sack; the ball got popped out on the sack. It’s Tennessee’s ball – maybe. The play’s under review, but we’ll see how it turns out. It was a pretty clean fumble.

4:14 pm: The play’s upheld. No real surprise there.

4:17 pm: Brad Cottam pulls in a TD pass off a delayed fade. It’s 31-14 Vols, and I can’t really describe how nice that play unfolded. Foster did a fake leap, but the primary option – Lucas Taylor – was covered, so Cottam released really late, forcing Ainge to throw back on his line of movement in order to complete the pass.

4:21 pm: Jacob Tamme hauls in a fantastic catch at the Tennessee 38. Eric Berry got to – and caught – the ball first, but Tamme came over the top and wrested the ball from Berry’s hands. That may bring Kentucky back into the game, at least emotionally.

4:24 pm: Fittingly, Tamme also hauls in the TD pass. It’s 31-21 Tennessee with 0:01 left in the 3rd quarter.

4:34 pm: Javar Lindley picks off an Ainge pass inside Tennessee territory. It’s safe to say at this point that all the momentum is Kentucky’s, so unless Tennessee can wrest a big play or two, it’s going to be ugly.

4:36 pm: Does an incompletion, stopped run, and a sack count as a big play? I say no; it’s Tennessee’s ball at their 15, so the turnover doesn’t directly hurt them.

4:39 pm: I’m trying to figure out how much time the Vols can safely burn off the clock on their drives even if they don’t score. My guess is about 4-5 minutes, but there’s also a direct relationship between how many yards they gain and how much time comes off the clock. Foster seems committed to prove me wrong, as two of his last three runs have been over 10 yards. Of course, his third one was out-of-bounds, which: bad.

4:43 pm: We’re now down under 10 minutes, and Tennessee has attempted only one pass on this drive; that was an outlet to Foster. Time-wise, it has been a decent drive, but the Vols are stuffed on 3rd and 2. Fulmer decides to call timeout with the ball on the UK 33.

4:47 pm: Lucas Taylor muffs an easy catch on 4th down, turning the ball over on downs. I can’t fault the call that much, as Taylor had the ball bounce off his hands. Still, at this point I’m just looking for a countdown on the clock. Scoring is optional, but there’s still a lot of time left.

4:49 pm: I’m taking back that last sentence. I think another TD is going to be needed the way the Wildcats are moving the ball. We’re past halfway through the 4th quarter now, but there’s a lot of time left.

4:50 pm: Woodson completes a dump to Rafael Little for a big gain, but Robert Ayers knocks the hell out of Woodson. He won’t be out for more than a play, though – but man, that was one killer shot.

4:53 pm: Steve Johnson with another TD catch to cut the margin to 31-28. That was a complete groaner on my end; he was smart enough to come back to the ball while Vinson wasn’t.

4:55 pm: Bill Callahan (Nebraska) and Ed Orgeron (Ole Miss) both got canned today. Neither was really that much of a surprise; Callahan never got traction and Orgeron never had realistic expectations from the alumni and management.

4:58 pm: Tennessee goes three-and-out. On a side note, I ended up putting on a sweatshirt back when the Vols were up by 17; that sweatshirt has come off now.

5:04 pm: Ricardo Kemp is going to end up getting a game ball; thanks to a vicious hit on Jacob Tamme by Jerod Mayo, Kemp ends up with an INT and Tennessee ends up with the ball in Kentucky territory.

5:06 pm: Kentucky calls their first time-saving TO. Arian Foster is up over 100 yards on the game, but Tennessee now faces a 3rd and 6. There’s 3:43 left in the game; a first down here would be huge, otherwise the Vols will definitely need a stop. Obviously, a TD would pretty much seal the game for the Vols, but one thing at a time.

5:08 pm: Colquitt’s out to punt after Austin Rogers misses a first-down catch. It’s nothing more than a pooch (UK ball at their 9), but it’s a marked difference between what Fulmer did when in the same position last time; he went for it, but got stuffed. This time, the Wildcats have to drive about 60 yards. Here’s your timeout update: both teams have 2 TOs.

5:10 pm: ANOTHER misnamed player; this time PBP guy confuses Andre Woodson for Erik Ainge. Is Harry Caray’s reanimated corpse broadcasting the game and nobody’s noticed?

5:13 pm: Tamme is killing the Volunteers today; he just had another ridiculous catch to convert a third down. Jerod Mayo’s shaken up on the next play, forcing a de facto timeout.

5:14 pm: Xavier Mitchell is shaken up on the next play, but there’s also a penalty: holding on Kentucky.

5:16 pm: Mayo is back, stopping Rafael Little on a sneak run up the middle. Kentucky has used their second TO: it’s 2nd and 9 with 1:18 left on the Tennessee 46.

5:19 pm: A tipped screen pass gives the Wildcats 2nd and 10 from the Tennessee 32. There’s 44 seconds left, but a false start penalty gives the Wildcats 2nd and 15 instead. Whoops. Still, I’d be lying if I felt safe here; this game is at worst going to overtime.

5:21 pm: Kentucky’s going to win this game.

6:47 pm: So yeah, I blacked out for a while there. Part of me wishes that I was actually chronicling the four overtimes because they were nuts. Still, the end of the game seemed fitting; the defensive line’s play had improved as the game wore on and Woodson was shut down. I’d be lying if I expected Tennessee to play in the SEC Championship game before the season started. At this point, they’re playing with house money. I can’t see Tennessee being favored in the game next week; nobody’s beaten LSU in regulation this year and that was one hell of a battle. On the other hand, Tennessee did go 2-0 in teams that LSU lost to, but that cuts both ways; LSU went 2-0 against teams they played that Tennessee lost to.

You want feedback and analysis? I don’t have it. I was at best barely conscious. Enforcing a personal foul to start the 4th OT when it wasn’t enforced to start the 3rd OT was bullshit, but that’s as far as I got.

I won’t get a chance to see the Missouri / Kansas game unless I head somewhere, which is frustrating. I’ll see them next week.

LSU-Arkansas, or How I Forgot Holiday Schedules Screw Great Ideas Up

So I was all ready to be watching the LSU-Arkansas game from the opening kickoff … then life got in the way. Let’s pick it up at halfway through the 3rd quarter with the score tied at 14. Side game today will be Texas-Texas A&M; A&M just went up 17-0 with less than 3 minutes to go before the half. James is going to hear about this something fierce if this keeps up.

Before we get started, a healthy f-you goes to whatever local cable affiliate I’m having to deal with for saying that Montel Williams was on CBS. Thanks, guys. It’s not like I know the channels here or anything like that.

5:04 pm: Hey look, Felix Jones is healthy, but it’s Jones and third-string QB Michael Smith back to receive. I’m sure there’s a reason behind this, but I don’t know what it is yet. Also confusing me: LSU QB Matt Flynn has run into the locker room; Ryan Perriloux is warming up, but since Arkansas has the ball, he’s got some time to get kicked off the team.

507 pm: Huge run by an Arkansas RB; who had Peyton Hillis killing it for a 60-yard TD dash in the pool? 21-14 Arkansas. Great separation by Hillis once he cleared the first level, and I’m now thinking that Hillis would get a lot more publicity if he wasn’t 3rd or 4th on the team at the RB position. Fortunately, he gets most of his snaps at FB.

5:11 pm: Matt Flynn’s healthy. The offense, as my girlfriend is quick to point out, isn’t, since Arkansas’s defense is in name only.

5:16 pm: I find out that Trindon Holliday is injured and not playing today. I don’t think that would’ve meant a whole lot, but I don’t know what Arkansas’s closing speed on defense is like. After watching Keiland Williams destroy the first line and blow up for a 20+ yard run, my guess on Arkansas’s closing speed is “none”. That may have been a personal record for screwing up a prediction.

5:18 pm: Doucet’s down thanks to a pancake and an incredibly late facemask (!) call. Of course, once you ignore that one of the guys clearly arrived early and the other guy didn’t even come close to a facemask, that makes perfect sense. It’s of the 15-yard variety, but we only figure that out because of where the marker was; CBS gets no points for not showing the ref’s call.

5:20 pm: Flynn threads a TD pass to Demetrius Byrd in the face of an all-out blitz. I think that makes Flynn 1-for-34 in the passes I’ve seen him throw to Byrd. Tie game again. In other news, A&M goes into the half up 17-3 on Texas. Wonder if Upset Watch has a hangover from last night – or if he’s already pounding the eggnog.

5:25 pm: CBS just showed a graphic saying that Arkansas’s already run for 265 yards. Anyone who’s watching the game (or even the last 15 minutes of it) could probably figure that out, but it does confirm my suspicions. Of course, Verne Lundquist then says McFadden rushes to the 43 when it was clearly the 41, so maybe Arkansas’s only run for 150 yards today.

5:31 pm: Casey Dick finally lines up to take the snap. While that sounds boring, it was the first time in six plays where that happened. LSU’s defense, presumably in shock, allows him to complete a pass.

5:36 pm: We have an Ali Highsmith sighting! I was wondering what was happening with him; apparently he’s an All-American and has 11 tackles today. Moral of this antecdote: I’m not paying attention.

This is going to be it for the game here for me, unfortunately, the game’s not over.

Friday, November 23

The LSU/Arkansas Live After-the-Game-Is-Over Report

So I’m doing something today I haven’t in all earnest done since I watched the Texas/Kansas basketball game last March. I’m doing a chronicled liveblog of the LSU/Arkansas game today for a couple of reasons:

1 – McFadden still interests me. I don’t know how or why he got stuffed by the Tennessee defense a couple of weeks ago (Mississippi State made more sense to me), but he did have a ridiculous game against South Carolina three weeks ago. LSU’s defense compares favorably to all those defenses listed, but this is McFadden’s last shot at Heisman glory.

2 – It’s kind of a rivalry game. Granted, this is kind of rivalry game that’s closer to Minnesota/Wisconsin than Alabama/Auburn in history and ill will between the two teams, but if there’s a trophy, then by God it’s a rivalry game, right? In all seriousness, LSU/Arkansas is kind of a forced rivalry; Ole Miss/Mississippi State and Alabama/Auburn have history (if not a history of excellence in the first matchup listed), but LSU and Arkansas are the other teams in the division, so …sure, they’re a rivalry. I guess.

In all seriousness, LSU is plagued with not having a nearby school that’s a practical rival. Tulane has a rivalry with LSU, but that’s more like Tennessee/Vandy (or, realistically, Tennessee/Memphis) where one school loathes the other but it’s not returned – simply because the hated school couldn’t give two shits about the other school in the rivalry. LSU/Florida is showing some good early returns (good play, hard-fought games and wins), but Florida has Florida State as their primary rival with Tennessee at worst a close second. That would knock LSU down to 3rd on the rival totem pole with UF, and there’s not a lot of room to move up anytime soon.

Arkansas got screwed by a conference change. The Alabama/Arkansas games have been very well-played over the last couple of seasons, but there’s that whole Iron Bowl thing, so the Razorbacks are sitting at best second there. (Realistically, they’re third behind Tennessee.) They had an excellent, but old, rivalry with Texas that hasn’t really happened since the old Southwest Conference days and the old Cotton Bowl games back in the ‘60’s. Short of that, Arkansas doesn’t really play anyone else often enough to develop a real rivalry – and considering the South Carolina “rivalry” game they play every year is less a function of history and more a function of “these guys joined the league at the same time” – there’s not really another conference team that Arkansas could form a rivalry with.

The game today won’t be confused with a real rivalry; there’s not enough bad blood yet for that to happen. However, it should be at worst a close contest. Unlike last week when I was posting about 1,200 updates, I don’t have continual access today so I can’t get away with that. I’ll just do one complete update sometime after the game is over.

Arizona State's Bandwagon: Population Zero

I have bad news: I injured my leg last night jumping off the Arizona State bandwagon. Maybe I hadn't seen enough of the team before last night (the only other game I had seen of theirs, incidentally, was the Oregon-ASU game), but they didn't look like a team that should be challenging for the national title game for at least 45 out of 60 minutes last night.

I'm probably being a little harsh with that judgment, as USC was playing a fantastic game. In addition, the Sun Devils' defense didn't get any favors dealt in the first part of the game; while Burgess' TD return on ASU's first kick was fantastic for getting the crowd energized, it also meant that the Sun Devils' D was on the field for the first 4:25. If you toss out the 23 seconds that the Sun Devils' offense took up before punting again that becomes the first 7:10 of the game. It goes without saying that is a lot of time for your defense to spend on the field in the first quarter - although 7:10 isn't a backbreaker when spread among 15 minutes. When that 7:10 is spread among the first 7:33, that's when it hurts. What also didn't help was that all three of those drives went for scores.

Looking over the box score today, it hits me that the Sun Devils seemed way more into the game - especially into halftime - than the stats indicated. I think it may have something to do with their history of play; a 27-17 deficit isn't too difficult to come back to tie from when the losing team gets the ball first, as a TD and a stop means it's anyone's ballgame. I didn't realize how badly the Trojans dominated both sides of the line; it looked obvious early on, but I didn't see the stat line translation. (Looking back at it, I'm more surprised that Booty got sacked once.) One other quick time-related stat: save for USC's time-killing drive in the 4th quarter, all their drives took less than 3 minutes.

I wish I had some way to tie this all back together, but I don't. Arizona State got their asses handed to them. Now I'm rooting for West Virginia as a last-ditch option. At least I like watching their offense.

Monday, November 19

James' Week 12 Rankings

I'll admit that of the last four seasons of college football, this is the one I've paid the least amount of attention to. Not out of choice (the season has been an amazingly wild ride), but out of circumstance. Oh well. Nonetheless, as I've hit the blogging trail pretty hard since getting cable back, I figure it's time to start doing this again.

The BCS starts its rankings the second week in October. I, on the other hand, stopped ranking teams on October 7th. So the one good thing is that - I'm certainly not basing my Week 12 rankings on where the teams were last week :p

My top 25:
1. LSU - They may be more dramatic than dominant, but they have the best collection of talent which should become more evident as they heal from injuries.
2. Missouri - Arguably one of the top two offenses in the country, this unit has great talent at every 'skill' position. The defense is terrible, but in a season like this who cares?
3. Kansas - If my poll actually counted for something, I'd probably rank them higher out of respect for going 11-0. Doesn't really matter because if they can beat Missouri, they're moving up to #1.
4. Ohio State - Holding Michigan to 3 points in The Game is something that just doesn't happen. Woody would have tacked on 8 points at the end, a score which would have better reflected the on-field dominance shown by Ohio State.
5. West Virginia - Finally a defense has arrived in Morgantown. The Big East sure bottomed out, though.
6. Arizona State - Unfortunately for them, Cal continues to tank so they will have to beat USC to get a signature win.
7. Virginia Tech - Had Tyrod Taylor been the starter with a few games' experience, maybe they wouldn't have lost so badly to LSU. Both of their losses have been with Glennon starting.
8. Georgia - Is there a hotter team in the country right now? Oh yeah, Kansas.
9. USC - With players coming back from injury, they are beginning to find their usual form.
10. Florida - Tebow is hands down the best player in the nation. Imagine if they had a defense...
11. Texas - Even I had my doubts, but UT turned their season around following the OU game.
12. Oklahoma - Bradford will be back, but how do you lose to Colorado and get shut down until the 4th quarter by Texas Tech?
13. Oregon - Yes, this is a "without Dixon" modified ranking. With him in they'd be higher... actually, had he not been injured they'd still be in the top two having beaten Arizona. It's a real shame, but frankly this is not that great of a team with Leaf at QB.
14. Illinois - Had they not fallen in a trap game against Iowa, they'd be the conference champion.
15. Virginia - Yes, Virginia, there is a... no wait, that's been done to death.
16. Tennessee - Looking like a far cry from the team that started the season 1-2.
17. Boston College - Whether it's luck or a flair for the dramatic, their last two wins have come right at the end.
18. Hawaii - They have the #857 ranked schedule in the nation. Mind you, there are only 712 official college teams, but I also included intramurals.
19. Boise State - Now having found their game offensively, you have to wonder if they'd still lose to Washington?
20. Clemson - Surely there was a reason for throwing the ball 40 times while giving Spiller and Davis a combined 23 carries in a game where you lead for 45 minutes? Like perhaps a desire to join Lloyd Carr in retirement?
21. Wisconsin - It's their two tough road wins - UNLV and Minnesota - that really impress me.
22. Connecticut - It's their two tough road wins - Duke and Pittsburgh - that really impress me.
23. South Florida - They've rebounded from a trio of consecutive close losses with back to back blowout wins.
24. Auburn - I'm not sure that losing 45-20 is the statement to hold onto a top 25 ranking, but then again look at everyone else.
25. Notre Dame - You know a team is exceptionally well-coached and well-lead when despite being ranked they still take a team like Duke very seriously. The Irish just massacred the Blue Devils to let the rest of the nation know they're still a force to be reckoned with and that God still likes them more than Boston College. Jimmy Clausen could become the second player in NCAA history to win the Heisman on a losing team, and believe me, Navy, the next time you get a win over this program, we'll have elected a woman president!

BCS Title Hopes - Who Isn't Literally Mathematically Eliminated?

Of course, when I make a post called "The Six Contenders" that includes LSU, Kansas, Missouri, WVU, OSU, and ASU as the title contenders... somebody's gonna chime in "Hey what about Georgia? They just need to win out and have the five teams above them with at least one game remaining all lose. Not completely impossible!"

For that matter, Virginia Tech merely needs all of that to happen PLUS a Georgia loss to Georgia Tech... and that voters forget their 48-7 massacre at the hands of LSU. Then again, LSU losing to Arkansas and in the SECCG would take care of that.

Oregon... all that and a VT loss in one of their final two games?

How far down does it go? Let's find out, but first, let's take a look at each conference's worst-case scenerio.

The worst-case scenerio would be UVA beating Virginia Tech, Miami beating BC, and BC beating UVA.
The VT-UVA winner is guaranteed to have 10 wins.
The conference champion will have at least 10 wins, 11 if BC beats Miami.

Big East:
The worst-case scenerio is WVU beats UConn and loses to Pitt. Or is UConn winning worse? Whatever.
The winner of the WVU-UConn game will have at least 10 wins.

Big Ten:
Ohio State has finished the season 11-1.
Should all four teams above them lose, OSU will move to #1 in the BCS Standings. This means that at most one team currently below the Buckeyes can play in the BCS title game!
Illinois has been eliminated from NC game contention at 9-3. However, a BCS bowl is still a possibility for them.

Big 12:
Worst-case: OK State beats OU, A&M beats Texas, Missouri beats Kansas, and OU beats Missouri.
Kansas, Missouri, OU, or UT will win the B12CG. That team will have at least 10 wins. Kansas already has 11 wins.
If either Texas or OU wins this weekend, then the B12CG winner would have at least 11 wins and at most 2 losses.

Pac 10:
USC beats Arizona State and loses to UCLA. ASU loses to Arizona. Oregon loses to Oregon State and UCLA.
It is possible for USC or Oregon to win the Pac 10 at 9-3.

LSU loses to Arkansas, Tennessee loses to Kentucky, Georgia loses to Georgia Tech. Georgia beats LSU. Florida loses to Florida State.
LSU, Georgia, or Tennessee will win the SECCG. That team will have at least 10 wins.

Ohio State is 11-1 and will not fall below anyone not currently ranked above them, except maybe ASU if they win out.

Kansas can finish at worst 11-1. Which two-loss or non-BCS teams could be ahead of a 11-1 Jayhawks team?
* Big 12 champion. (not 10-3 OU)
* Missouri by beating Kansas.
* LSU or Georgia. (probably not 10-3 Tennessee or other 3-loss)
* ACC Champion. (not 10-3 BC)* Big East Champion.
* Pac 10 Champion. (not 9-3 USC/Oregon)
* Unbeaten Hawaii.

A BCS team will need 10 wins to have any chance and Hawaii needs to win out. With one loss already, Boise State is eliminated even if they beat Hawaii.

The most obvious consequence of this is that Florida is eliminated from NC contention, being able to at best reach 9-3. While all the teams above them could lose, it is unlikely that a 9-3 team would be ranked above a 11-1 team (Kansas's worst-case scenerio) even without any quality wins for KU. Besides that, 11-2 Missouri would probably still edge them out.

Realistically, that leaves fifteen teams in any kind of contention - the top 16 minus Florida. Tennessee and UConn could make it by some stretch, but it's not very likely that a 3-loss team would jump a 1-loss Kansas or that UConn with two losses in the Big East would jump KU and Mizzou.

With that in mind, let's see what we could make happen.

BCS Ranking - Team - Makes Title Game by wining out plus losses to:
1. LSU - no help needed
2. Kansas - no help needed
3. West Virginia - LSU loses or B12N champion loses
4. Missouri - no help needed
5. Ohio State - two of: LSU, B12N champion, West Virginia losing
6. Arizona State - LSU, B12N champion, West Virginia all lose

Now for the much more unlikely scenerios. Note that these are not the only way these teams can make it to the title game...

7. Georgia - Tennessee loses to Kentucky. B12N winner loses conference championship. West Virginia loses to UConn. Probably still need ASU to lose to USC.

8. Virginia Tech - Tennessee beats Kentucky and LSU. LSU also loses to Arkansas. B12N winner loses conference championship. West Virginia loses to UConn. Might need Oklahoma to lose to OK State.

9. Oregon - Tennessee beats Kentucky and LSU. Kansas loses to Missouri. Missouri loses to Oklahoma. West Virginia loses to UConn. ASU loses to USC. VT loses again to BC. Might need Oklahoma to lose to OK State and Georgia to lose to GT.

10. Oklahoma - Tennessee beats Kentucky and LSU. West Virginia loses to UConn. ASU loses to USC. Probably need losses from Georgia, Oregon, and VT. If not, hope victory in B12CG convinces voters to move them up.

11. USC - Tennessee beats Kentucky and LSU. Kansas loses to Missouri. Missouri loses to Oklahoma. West Virginia loses to UConn. Georgia loses to GT. VT loses again to BC. Oregon loses to Oregon State. Oklahoma loses to OK State. Texas loses to Texas A&M.

12. Florida - Tennessee beats Kentucky and LSU. Kansas loses to Missouri. Missouri loses to Oklahoma. West Virginia loses to UConn and Pitt. Arizona State loses to USC and Arizona. USC loses to UCLA. Georgia loses to GT. BC loses to Miami and wins ACCCG. Oregon loses to Oregon State. Oklahoma loses to OK State. Texas loses to Texas A&M. UConn loses to West Virginia. (even then, I don't think they get in at 9-3, but this would give them their best chance)

13. Texas - Tennessee beats Kentucky and LSU. West Virginia loses to UConn. Arizona State loses to USC. Oklahoma loses to OK State. Probably need USC to lose to UCLA, although if B12N champ is Kansas that might help. Hope voters regard 11-2 and B12CG victory highly enough to vault the Horns over everyone else.

14. Boston College - Tennessee beats Kentucky and LSU. Missouri beats Kansas. Missouri loses to Oklahoma. West Virginia loses to UConn. Arizona State loses to USC. Georgia loses to GT. Oregon loses to Oregon State. Oklahoma loses to OK State. USC loses to UCLA. Texas loses to Texas A&M. Might help if Va Tech beats UVA.

15. Hawaii - Tennessee beats Kentucky and LSU. LSU also loses to Arkansas. Missouri beats Kansas. Missouri loses to Oklahoma. West Virginia loses to UConn and Pitt. Arizona State loses to USC and Arizona. Georgia loses to Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech loses to UVA. Oregon loses to Oregon State. Oklahoma loses to OK State. USC loses to UCLA. Texas loses to Texas A&M. BC loses to Miami. Might need BC to beat UVA. Then hope voters are willing to rank them above 11-1 Kansas and 11-2 Missouri for beating Boise State and Washington.

16. Virginia - Tennessee beats Kentucky and LSU. LSU also loses to Arkansas. Missouri beats Kansas. Missouri loses to Oklahoma. West Virginia loses to UConn and Pitt. Arizona State loses to USC and Arizona. Georgia loses to Georgia Tech. Oregon loses to Oregon State. Oklahoma loses to OK State. USC loses to UCLA. Texas loses to Texas A&M. BC beating Miami might help. Then hope voters are willing to rank them above 11-1 Kansas and 11-2 Missouri.

17. Illinois - Tennessee beats Kentucky and LSU. A bunch of other stuff... and hope that Tennessee doesn't move above them, and hope they're ranked above a Missouri team with a better overall record and who beat Illinois. Right. At 9-3, the Illini are eliminated.

18. Tennessee - LSU loses to Arkansas. Missouri beats Kansas. Missouri loses to Oklahoma. West Virginia loses to UConn and Pitt. Arizona State loses to USC and Arizona. Georgia loses to Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech loses to UVA. Oregon loses to Oregon State. Oklahoma loses to OK State. USC loses to UCLA. Texas loses to Texas A&M. BC loses to Miami. BC beats UVA. Might need Hawaii to lose. Then hope voters are willing to rank them above 11-1 Kansas and 11-2 Missouri.

19. Boise State - Tennessee beats Kentucky and LSU. LSU also loses to Arkansas. Missouri beats Kansas. Missouri loses to Oklahoma. West Virginia loses to UConn and Pitt. Arizona State loses to USC and Arizona. Georgia loses to Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech loses to UVA. Oregon loses to Oregon State. Oklahoma loses to OK State. USC loses to UCLA. Florida loses to Florida State. Texas loses to Texas A&M. BC loses to Miami. BC beats UVA. Then hope voters are willing to rank them above 11-1 Kansas, 11-2 Missouri, and the Tennessee team above them who just knocked off LSU... for beating Hawaii. Also hope UConn's victory over the team currently ranked #3 doesn't let them jump Boise. Right.

20. UConn - Tennessee beats Kentucky and LSU. LSU also loses to Arkansas. Missouri beats Kansas. Missouri loses to Oklahoma. Arizona State loses to USC and Arizona. Georgia loses to Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech loses to UVA. Oregon loses to Oregon State. Oklahoma loses to OK State. USC loses to UCLA. Florida loses to Florida State. Texas loses to Texas A&M. BC loses to Miami. BC beats UVA. Then hope voters are willing to rank them above 11-1 Kansas, 11-2 Missouri, and the Tennessee team above them who just knocked off LSU... for beating West Virginia. On that note, WVU might need to beat Pitt.

21. Clemson - Beat South Carolina, move into the top 15 from everyone else playing each other, hope aliens start abducting the other teams.

Notre Dame - Lose to Stanford. Reveal to the world that there is a clause in the BCS contract which gives Notre Dame a title berth if they have at least 10 wins or 10 losses. Then, line up facing the wrong direction against LSU and have Clausen start throwing interceptions. Hope they fall for it.

This weekend's weird BCSNC elimination games:
* Kentucky over Tennessee plus Georgia over Georgia Tech eliminates everyone below Georgia.
* Kansas over Missouri probably eliminates everyone below Va Tech, except Texas and OU as they could defeat the Jayhawks head to head.
* Oklahoma over Oklahoma State eliminates everyone below Oklahoma.
* Texas over Texas A&M eliminates everyone below Texas. (50-50 for USC)
* LSU over Arkansas eliminates everyone below Boston College and eliminates Va Tech. (LSU 48, VT 7)
* ASU over USC eliminates everyone below Boston College.
* Boston College over Miami eliminates everyone below Virginia.

Following this up with a "who's mathematically still alive for an at-large berth" would be interesting if 50 pages long. That'll come next week when there are much fewer games remaining...