Sunday, November 25

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.