A Merciful End

Whether or not the chaos continues, the BCS delivers its verdict Sunday

College Football Preview: Week 14

> The Red Zone  |  Tape It Up  |  Strike The Pose  |  Breaking The Code
> B.J.: A Crazy 2007  |  Sorenson: 10 Questions  |   Braff: Easy Road To The Big Easy For Two
> Trev: Some Coaching Changes Just Ludicrous  |  Best Title Game Matchup   |  Roland: LSU Will Lose
> Palm: A Merciful End To The BCS  |  Blackburn: Here To Stay  |  Hart: Don't Count Out Mizzou
> Caparell: Daniel Driving Missouri On BCS Run  |  Crystal Ball: Weekend Predictions

Nov. 29, 2007

By Jerry Palm

Special to CSTV.com



Jerry runs the web sites CollegeRPI.com and CollegeBCS.com and a CSTV.com analyst. E-mail here!

The final week of the season is upon us. Will this finally be the week of sanity in a season of chaos, or will we suffer through a week of ratings whiplash?


We should know late Saturday night. No. 2 West Virginia and Pittsburgh kick off the Backyard Brawl at 7:45 p.m. ET with the Mountaineers a four-touchdown favorite. Normally, a Pittsburgh win would be the upset of the year, but it might not rank in the top five this season. With a win, West Virginia would clinch a spot in the BCS title game.




No. 1 Missouri and No. 9 Oklahoma get going 15 minutes later in San Antonio for the Big 12 championship. The winner goes to the BCS and the loser almost certainly goes to the Cotton Bowl. That's the way these conference championship games typically work. Only one team has lost a conference championship game and still played in a BCS bowl, and that was OU in 2003, which lost and still finished No. 1.


Sitting back, hoping one of those two go down is No. 3 Ohio State. If either of the top two loses, the Buckeyes would move up to the title game, barring some sort of voter revolution.


Should both of the top two teams go down, and isn't that what we should expect this year, we get what amounts to a seven-car pileup on the road to the BCS title game.


The team with the best chance to step up to No. 2 in that case is LSU, provided the Tigers beat Tennessee for the SEC title. The Tigers would almost certainly jump Georgia, but they would have to also jump Virginia Tech.


The Hokies play Boston College for the ACC title Saturday afternoon and currently lead LSU in the BCS standings on the strength of better computer numbers. That might be true after Saturday's games as well. The voting numbers are virtually even between LSU and Tech, proving once again that voters have no long-term memory. LSU pounded the Hokies 48-7 back in September.


The voters' decision between those two teams could end up coming down to Style Points - who looks better on Saturday.


If both LSU and Virginia Tech also lose, that could open the door for Georgia. The Bulldogs need not fear being jumped by Kansas, since neither team is playing, so the only team they would have to watch out for would be Oklahoma. USC is out of the picture because the Sooners would jump them if both teams win.


In order for OU to get past Georgia, they would need considerable help from the voters. OU is the worst computer team in the top nine of the BCS, and while beating Missouri again would no doubt help, it's not like they can just jump to the top of the heap. Georgia would probably still be a better team in the computers, so Oklahoma has to be stronger in the polls to make up for that. That might mean OU doesn't have to just win, but win big.


There is also some intrigue further down the list. Hawai'i checked in at No. 12 last week, which is the lowest the Warriors can be and automatically qualify for a BCS bowl. That doesn't mean that they can simply win and get in. The two teams right behind them, Arizona State and Tennessee, also play this week and could possibly jump them. Tennessee would move up by beating LSU, but the loss by LSU would not necessarily drop the Tigers below them. If Oklahoma and USC won as well, it is possible no team would drop below them. Boston College losing would drop the Eagles below Hawai'i, but make it easier for ASU to jump the Warriors. So, Hawai'i may have to put up a basketball score against Washington late Saturday night to attempt to curry the favor of the voters.


Finally, there is even a scenario in which BYU, sitting way down at No. 19, can automatically qualify for a BCS game. First, they need to win their own game against San Diego State. Then, they need Hawai'i to lose so that the Cougars are the highest rated non-major conference champion. They also need UCLA to knock off USC and Arizona State to lose to Arizona, making the Bruins the Pac-10 champion. That means that BYU would only have to be in the top 16 to automatically qualify for a BCS spot because it would be higher rated than a major conference champion. Finally, they would need Tennessee or Oregon to lose to move them up to No. 16.


In a season like this, who can say this won't happen?