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College Football Spotlight

The Big Picture

September 28, 2003|Elliott Teaford

USC went conservative on its final drive in the fourth quarter against California, and paid a steep price for settling for the tying field goal that sent the game to overtime.

Considering that the Trojans showed they could make a play when it mattered by picking up a first down when faced with a fourth-and-nine situation on the drive, playing it safe -- running instead of continuing with the short passing game that got them into scoring position -- didn't make sense.

As a result, the Trojans joined a growing number of teams with dwindling chances of playing for the bowl championship series national title Jan. 4 at New Orleans. A 34-31 loss to Cal was devastating for the Trojans.

Goodbye, Sugar Bowl.

Hello, Rose Bowl. Maybe.

As it stands now, the idle Oklahoma Sooners and Miami Hurricanes lead the pack of contenders to play in the BCS championship game. Of course, there are other unbeaten teams, including Florida State, Louisiana State, Ohio State and Virginia Tech, still in the running.

But you might as well scratch the Trojans (3-1), Florida (3-2), Kansas State (4-1), Michigan (4-1), Oregon (4-1), Washington (3-1) and Washington State (4-1) from any list of possible BCS title challengers.

By the looks of it, Minnesota (5-0) has a better chance of booking a flight to New Orleans than all of the above. Matters could change, but more and more the BCS has come to resemble basketball's March Madness. Lose and go home.

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-- Elliott Teaford

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