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The Inside Track | ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Sentimentality in BCS? You Have to Be Kidding

September 16, 2002|Chris Dufresne

We don't normally break out the B-movie horror-flick imagery until much later in the season--you know, the monopoly monster known as "BCS" terrorizes villagers and squashes dreams of underdog, non-BCS college town kids across America.

Well, the kill came earlier than expected this year, before the official end of summer.

Bummer.

Once again, the sign hanging on the BCS door reads: Members Only.

What it also means to the 54 major college schools not affiliated with the six-conference, 63-school bowl championship series: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

To wit, the chances of a non-BCS school landing in one of four lucrative BCS bowls are now clinically dead in the wake of warmed over-the-weekend losses suffered by Marshall (Mid-American) and Brigham Young (Mountain West). Louisville, a preseason top-25 prospect from Conference USA, tossed in its cards after losing its opener and Colorado State (Mountain West) skidded out with that UCLA loss.

Thanks for playing our game, though.

Air Force (Mountain West) and Southern Mississippi (Conference USA) remain undefeated in their conferences but have no hope in Hattiesburg of rising into the BCS top six.

Utah of the Mountain West was 2-0 and had Arizona of the Pacific 10 on the ropes Saturday before an official negated the possible game-winning touchdown on a call Ute Coach Ron McBride called the worst he'd seen in 40 years.

(Time out here to vent your BCS conspiracy theories.)

Too bad. It's good sport when schools such as Fresno State and Brigham Young rattle royal jewelry and lead grass-root cries for more inclusion in the BCS Boys Club.

Conspicuously missing in college football are the little-school Gonzaga stories, the type that dominate syrupy CBS montages at the NCAA basketball tournament.

It doesn't work that way in football. The champions of the six major conferences earn automatic bids to eight berths in big-money BCS bowls.

A non-BCS school can earn one of two at-large bids if it finishes ranked sixth or higher in the final BCS rankings.

For what it's worth, that hasn't happened in the four-year history of the BCS, and it won't happen in the fifth.

The only chance non-BCS schools have

is to take on, and defeat, BCS schools, usually

on the road, and work up toward the glass

ceiling.

Last year, Fresno State knocked off Colorado, Oregon State and Wisconsin to open the season but lost its BCS bid--immediately and abruptly--after a midseason defeat to Boise State.

All 25 schools in this week's Associated Press writers' poll are from BCS conferences, and 24 of the top 25 spots in the coaches' poll are occupied by BCS schools, Colorado State the exception at No. 25.

Marshall was this year's BCS plaything, premiering at No. 19 in the preseason poll before getting the trap-door treatment after last Thursday night's loss to Virginia Tech.

This year, like the last, the BCS has snuffed out hope like a boot heel to a cigarette butt.

Nothing personal though, just business.

Weekend Wrap

Texas El Paso Coach Gary Nord publicly had no problem with Oklahoma scoring its last touchdown in a 68-0 romp on a fourth-quarter scoring pass, but Miner receiver Terrance Minor told the El Paso Times, "I felt like roadkill when they did that."

It's a shame former USC Trojan rah-rah assistant Marv Goux didn't live long enough to see the brewing renaissance of USC and Notre Dame football. The last time the schools started out 2-0 (Trojans) and 3-0 (Fighting Irish) the same year was 1990.

Maybe one of college football's most storied--but lately grossly overrated--rivalries will mean something again when the teams meet Nov. 30 at the Coliseum. If you're thinking way ahead, the last time the schools met as No.1 vs. No. 2 was 1988.

Speaking of overrated.... The Big 12 began the season touted as the cut-above conference, with four schools--Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Nebraska--ranked in the top 10, but it's time for a reassessment. Colorado is stuck in the gate again at 1-2, and Nebraska players are still picking corn out of ear holes after Saturday's lopsided loss at Penn State.

The Pac-10, meanwhile, went 7-1 over the weekend and raised its nonconference mark to 21-4. USC and California defeated ranked teams on the road, and UCLA scored a significant road victory at Oklahoma State. The only loser was Washington State, which held a 7-6 lead at No. 6 Ohio State before losing, 25-7.

With 3-0 Cal no longer a dopey doormat, the Pac-10 has to be considered the best top-to-bottom conference through Sept. 14, but that hurts the league's chances of pushing an undefeated team through to the BCS national title game.

Here is our ranking, best to worst, on the conferences with the best chances of landing a team in the Jan. 3 Fiesta Bowl:

Big 12 (Oklahoma, Texas), Big East (Miami, Virginia Tech), Atlantic Coast (Florida State), Southeastern (Tennessee, Georgia), Big Ten (Ohio State), Pac-10 (USC, Oregon).

This weekend's exit-poll question: Is Ohio State a legitimate national title threat?

Answer: Yes, based on what we saw Saturday against Washington State, with the caveat always being the Big Ten has not crowned a consensus national champion since 1968. That championship team was

It was also Hayes who said, "Freshmen may revolutionize college football."

Ohio State has a clear path to an undefeated regular season, with only three toss-up games left: At Wisconsin on Oct. 19, home against Penn State on Oct. 26 and home against Michigan on Nov. 23.

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