BCS Still a Muddy Mess

Well, well, well. All the ranting and raving and crying and arguing about whether Oregon should get a shot at the National Championship Game is nothing more than a whisper in the past, now that the Duckies have fallen from the ranks of the elite (maybe one player really does make a difference). And all the shucking-and-jiving about how Oklahoma would jump above both Oregon and Kansas and unfairly get a shot at the title game is also a memory and nothing more. But don't think the controversy or stumping for your favorite underdog has ended.

If things play out a certain way, it is possible that only one of the top five teams in the BCS standings could end up in the National Championship Game and that, believe it or not, is Ohio State. Left for dead two weeks ago after their loss at home to Illinois, the Buckeyes find themselves done for the year in fifth place in the BCS and all the teams above them with one or two games remaining. It's not too far of a stretch to think that every one of those teams could lose before the bowl games are picked.

First off, top-ranked LSU has Arkansas this weekend, followed by the SEC championship game against either Tennessee or Georgia. The Bulldogs have a non-league game with Georgia Tech remaining, while Tennessee will play at Kentucky. If the Vols end up winning, they'd win the SEC East based on a victory over Georgia earlier this year as the two teams would end up 6-2 in conference play. While LSU has not faced either team this season, it's not inconceivable that either of them could knock off the Tigers in Atlanta. How far they'd fall in the BCS is unknown, although it is likely they would fall below No. 2.

Meanwhile, the No. 2 and No. 4 teams collide this weekend as Kansas and Missouri clash in Kansas City. Whichever team loses will drop out of the title hunt while the other will ready themselves for a date in the Big 12 championship against either Texas or Oklahoma. The Longhorns have arch-rival Texas A&M this week, while the Sooners have their all-time nemesis, Oklahoma State. It would appear, although nothing is certain in this topsy-turvy college football season, that both should win, leaving them tied atop the Big 12 South. But Oklahoma would get the nod over Texas thanks to their win a few weeks ago. That would pit the winner of Kansas/Missouri against the Sooners. Oklahoma did manage a win over the Tigers this year, but has not faced the Jayhawks. Either way, an upset could be in the making there.

West Virginia, now No. 3 in the standings, has one major speed bump to climb over, with apparent smooth sailing the rest of the way. The Mountaineers get to host Big East-leading Connecticut this weekend, a game that they should win, although, again, it is hard to gauge who will be toppled from week to week. Nether team has played an impressive non-league schedule, and their conference isn't exactly the SEC or Big 12, although it is improved from years past. But, should WVU win, their season finale is against Pittsburgh, a non-contender this year. However, if UConn pulls the upset, bye-bye any chance at the title game for the Mountaineers.

Which brings us back to Ohio State ... and Arizona State. The two teams locked in to the Rose Bowl (well, the Sun Devils aren't exactly locked in yet, but they do sit atop the Pac-10 for now), could end up playing in the national title game. If LSU, Kansas, West Virginia, and Missouri all lose down the stretch — and one of them is guaranteed a loss (Kansas or Missouri) — then the logical outcome would be for the Buckeyes to move up to No. 1, with ASU right behind (provided they don't lose to either USC or Arizona). But we're talking about the BCS here, which is anything but logical at times. I really don't think either LSU or Kansas would fall below Arizona State, or even Ohio State for that matter, but if winning down the stretch matters as much as it is believed it should, that's the way it should be.

So now a bevy of other scenarios come to mind. Does Missouri bounce back ahead of West Virginia if both win out and get into the title game? What about Georgia if everyone above them (except for Ohio State) loses? They're on a roll right now. And don't forget Oregon, USC, Oklahoma, and Virginia Tech. I'm not saying that any of these teams have a legitimate shot at the title (other than Missouri), but they all have to be considered.

So, once again, as in previous years, the BCS is no more clear today than it was in early October and, with a number of important games on the horizon the next few weeks, it might not become any clearer.

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