Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


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

Thirteen weeks of
the 2007 college football season have passed; now only one remains. Week 14
will determine conference champions and shore up the BCS picture. Following an
LSU triple-overtime loss to Arkansas last Saturday, the BCS championship —
after weeks of chaos and controversy — has squared itself up, with a clear-cut
No. 1 and No. 2: Missouri and West Virginia.

Or has it?

It’s true, few will argue the Tigers and Mountaineers deserve
the top two spots. But what happens if either team loses this Saturday?  Missouri takes on Oklahoma — the only team to
beat it this season — and West Virginia battles Pittsburgh. Should either team
lose, who is poised to take its spot to play for the title? Let's take a look
at the candidates:


No. 3 Ohio State

Key Wins: at Purdue, at Penn State, Wisconsin, at Michigan

Key Loss: Illinois

The Buckeyes put up an impressive résumé a sub-par Big Ten
this season. All four of their key wins listed above occurred when each of
those teams were ranked in the AP Top 25. A loss at home against Illinois
hurts, but because of the Illini's success this season, it wasn't devastating.

The lack of a Big Ten Championship game hurts the Buckeyes
in terms of strength of schedule. However, it would only be a rematch against
Michigan, a team Ohio State beat just two weeks ago in the Big House. The Bucks
didn't play anyone worth noting out of conference, but four wins against ranked
opponents speaks for itself. Should either Missouri or West Virginia lose
Saturday, Ohio State will be in position to play for the national title again
this year.

No. 6 Virginia Tech

Key Wins: at Clemson, at Virginia

Key Losses: at LSU, Boston College

Because Miami and Florida State played as poorly as they did
this season, the ACC was mediocre at best when compared to the other powerhouse
conferences. However, while Ohio State was beating up on Akron in Week 2, the
Hokies were traveling to Baton Rouge to take on then-No. 2 LSU, which begs the
question: 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 State
opponent)? Had the Hokies done that, they'd be sitting pretty in the BCS
standings, 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 the
ACC Championship and an automatic BCS entrance. While the Hokies take on
Heisman hopeful Matt Ryan and BC, the Buckeyes will be sitting in their living
rooms watching, rooting for the Eagles, because should the Hokies win
convincingly, they could make a case for leapfrogging No. 3 Ohio State.

No. 5 Kansas (11-1)

Key Win: at Kansas State

Key Loss: Missouri

A one-loss season in the Big 12 is always impressive. But if
there's a way to make it as unimpressive as possible, the Jayhawks did it this
year. KU avoided Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech on its schedule this season,
making schedule that much weaker. Its scenario is very similar to Wisconsin's
last season, when the Badgers finished 11-1 without playing Ohio State or
beating a ranked opponent. Kansas did beat Kansas State on the road when the
Wildcats were ranked No. 24, but that's it; its four non-conference games were
nothing to brag about. The Jayhawks' chance to prove to the nation that they
are for real escaped them last Saturday night when Missouri dismantled them on
national 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 they
beat BC) as the next in line, without winning its own division and earning a
spot in the Big 12 Championship game.

No. 7 LSU (10-2) and
No. 9 Oklahoma (10-2)

Both teams will be playing in their respective conference
championship games Saturday, but with two losses each, neither has a realistic
chance at landing a spot in the national championship game. A win for either
team will give them an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game, but because Ohio
State's season is over with just one loss, neither team deserves to pass the
Bucks with a win Saturday.

No. 12 Hawaii (11-0)

Not even an undefeated season is good enough for the
Warriors to play for the national championship just based on the fact that the
WAC is so weak. In the future, Hawaii will have to play at least two top-notch
non-conference games if it wants to qualify to play for the national title.
That said, should Colt Brennan and company get by Washington Saturday, they
should earn an at-large bid into a BCS bowl game; if Boise State can beat
Oklahoma in last year's Fiesta Bowl, Hawaii could do some damage against a
legitimate opponent as well.

Others that fell victim to tough non-conference schedules:

No. 14 Tennessee

With the SEC as competitive as it is, why on earth would the
Vols schedule an opening game at California? Fortunately for UT, they were able
to salvage the SEC East title, meaning a win against LSU will give them an
automatic BCS bid. However, a fourth loss will hurt them in terms of a non-BCS
bowl bid. Considering its conference schedule, Tennessee's risk vastly
outweighed 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 against
Missouri. Granted, no one knew the Tigers would be this good this season, but
at 10-2 Illinois would have a Rose Bowl appearance all but locked up should
either Missouri or West Virginia fall Saturday. There's still an outside chance
that they will play in Pasadena come January. However, since the Rose Bowl is
no longer exclusively Big Ten versus Pac-10, nothing is certain.

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