Gridiron: BCS top 2 intact; who’s No. 3?

first_imgThirteen weeks ofthe 2007 college football season have passed; now only one remains. Week 14will determine conference champions and shore up the BCS picture. Following anLSU triple-overtime loss to Arkansas last Saturday, the BCS championship —after weeks of chaos and controversy — has squared itself up, with a clear-cutNo. 1 and No. 2: Missouri and West Virginia.Or has it?It’s true, few will argue the Tigers and Mountaineers deservethe top two spots. But what happens if either team loses this Saturday?  Missouri takes on Oklahoma — the only team tobeat it this season — and West Virginia battles Pittsburgh. Should either teamlose, who is poised to take its spot to play for the title? Let’s take a lookat the candidates:No. 3 Ohio State(11-1)Key Wins: at Purdue, at Penn State, Wisconsin, at MichiganKey Loss: IllinoisThe Buckeyes put up an impressive résumé a sub-par Big Tenthis season. All four of their key wins listed above occurred when each ofthose teams were ranked in the AP Top 25. A loss at home against Illinoishurts, but because of the Illini’s success this season, it wasn’t devastating.The lack of a Big Ten Championship game hurts the Buckeyesin terms of strength of schedule. However, it would only be a rematch againstMichigan, a team Ohio State beat just two weeks ago in the Big House. The Bucksdidn’t play anyone worth noting out of conference, but four wins against rankedopponents speaks for itself. Should either Missouri or West Virginia loseSaturday, Ohio State will be in position to play for the national title againthis year.No. 6 Virginia Tech(10-2)Key Wins: at Clemson, at VirginiaKey Losses: at LSU, Boston CollegeBecause Miami and Florida State played as poorly as they didthis season, the ACC was mediocre at best when compared to the other powerhouseconferences. However, while Ohio State was beating up on Akron in Week 2, theHokies were traveling to Baton Rouge to take on then-No. 2 LSU, which begs thequestion: Should Virginia Tech be penalized for a loss against a top-tier team,when it could have scheduled a game against Kent State (another Ohio Stateopponent)? Had the Hokies done that, they’d be sitting pretty in the BCSstandings, and a win Saturday would guarantee them a spot in the title game.Now they’re on the outside looking in, staring the Eagles in the face for theACC Championship and an automatic BCS entrance. While the Hokies take onHeisman hopeful Matt Ryan and BC, the Buckeyes will be sitting in their livingrooms watching, rooting for the Eagles, because should the Hokies winconvincingly, they could make a case for leapfrogging No. 3 Ohio State.No. 5 Kansas (11-1)Key Win: at Kansas StateKey Loss: MissouriA one-loss season in the Big 12 is always impressive. But ifthere’s a way to make it as unimpressive as possible, the Jayhawks did it thisyear. KU avoided Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech on its schedule this season,making schedule that much weaker. Its scenario is very similar to Wisconsin’slast season, when the Badgers finished 11-1 without playing Ohio State orbeating a ranked opponent. Kansas did beat Kansas State on the road when theWildcats were ranked No. 24, but that’s it; its four non-conference games werenothing to brag about. The Jayhawks’ chance to prove to the nation that theyare for real escaped them last Saturday night when Missouri dismantled them onnational television. Kansas had a miracle season and should play in a BCS bowl,but there’s no way they can surpass Ohio State (or Virginia Tech, should theybeat BC) as the next in line, without winning its own division and earning aspot in the Big 12 Championship game.No. 7 LSU (10-2) andNo. 9 Oklahoma (10-2)Both teams will be playing in their respective conferencechampionship games Saturday, but with two losses each, neither has a realisticchance at landing a spot in the national championship game. A win for eitherteam will give them an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game, but because OhioState’s season is over with just one loss, neither team deserves to pass theBucks with a win Saturday.No. 12 Hawaii (11-0)Not even an undefeated season is good enough for theWarriors to play for the national championship just based on the fact that theWAC is so weak. In the future, Hawaii will have to play at least two top-notchnon-conference games if it wants to qualify to play for the national title.That said, should Colt Brennan and company get by Washington Saturday, theyshould earn an at-large bid into a BCS bowl game; if Boise State can beatOklahoma in last year’s Fiesta Bowl, Hawaii could do some damage against alegitimate opponent as well.Others that fell victim to tough non-conference schedules:No. 14 Tennessee(9-3)With the SEC as competitive as it is, why on earth would theVols schedule an opening game at California? Fortunately for UT, they were ableto salvage the SEC East title, meaning a win against LSU will give them anautomatic BCS bid. However, a fourth loss will hurt them in terms of a non-BCSbowl bid. Considering its conference schedule, Tennessee’s risk vastlyoutweighed the reward when scheduling a game against Cal.No. 15 Illinois (9-3)Because the Big Ten is now wide open below Ohio State,the Illini must be kicking themselves for scheduling a Week 1 matchup againstMissouri. Granted, no one knew the Tigers would be this good this season, butat 10-2 Illinois would have a Rose Bowl appearance all but locked up shouldeither Missouri or West Virginia fall Saturday. There’s still an outside chancethat they will play in Pasadena come January. However, since the Rose Bowl isno longer exclusively Big Ten versus Pac-10, nothing is certain.last_img

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