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Chris Dufresne / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Crystal Ball Had Plenty of Cracks

October 20, 2005|Chris Dufresne

Looking back is fine if you're a historian or backing a car down the driveway but really serves no purpose when leaves start to turn on a football season.

We should have all learned by now the print spent on preseason magazines is better suited for bird cages and that there are differences between records against preseason rankings and records against reality.

Don't wonder how Notre Dame went from unranked to No. 10 after beating Pittsburgh and Michigan, schools that have combined to go 7-7.

Or how Texas Tech has risen to No. 10 with a schedule that included Indiana State, Florida International and what-in-Sam Houston?

One scribe tabbed Iowa to play in this year's Rose Bowl but the Hawkeyes have already lost two games -- although there's still a chance we, um, they can win the Big Ten title.

Who knew about UCLA?

Games you had circled in August don't seem so hot now.

Michigan at Iowa, USC at California, Pittsburgh at Louisville, Florida vs. Georgia, Florida State at Florida, Ohio State at Michigan have been subbed-out as must-see games by Texas Tech at Texas (Saturday), Alabama at Auburn (Nov. 19) and who-would-have-thought-it: UCLA at USC (Dec. 3).

There are seven schools left without a loss and only two tickets available for the Jan. 4 Rose Bowl, host of the bowl championship series title game.

"The elites are sitting there with no losses," Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden lamented after a loss to Virginia dropped his team to 5-1. "Then you've got the good guys. We just got thrown down there with the good guys."

Days are growing short; the contenders are a precious few.

* USC (6-0): The Trojans have the straightest (and shortest) route to the Rose Bowl. The tricky part comes with a three-game finish that starts at California on Nov. 12 before closing with home games against Fresno State and UCLA. Cal has two losses but is the last team to beat USC; Fresno State is dangerous because Coach Pat Hill has been begging for this fight; UCLA is UCLA.

* Texas (6-0): The Longhorns seemed in jeopardy of debuting at No. 3 in the first BCS standings before last weekend broke, almost perfectly, their way. Texas still has to win out and hope the schools chasing the Longhorns -- Virginia Tech, Georgia, or Alabama -- don't pick up enough points in the BCS computers to nip Texas at the wire. Texas is No. 2 in the computers now but has only one ranked opponent left (Texas Tech) on its schedule.

* Virginia Tech (6-0): The Hokies need to close the points gap in the two human polls and then hope winning out against six opponents with an aggregate record of 26-10 (assuming they play Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game) will be enough to pass Texas. Florida State's losing to Virginia did not help Virginia Tech's power-rating cause, though, and the Hokies still need to take care of home business against Boston College (Oct. 27) and Miami (Nov. 5).

* Georgia (6-0): The Bulldogs can clinch the Southeastern Conference East Division with wins the next two weeks against Arkansas and Florida, but it might take 12-0 and two teams losing for Georgia to get to the No. 2 BCS spot.

"I really and truly don't worry about it one bit," Georgia Coach Mark Richt said Wednesday of the BCS situation. " ... I hope we play good enough that I can be mad at the end of the year."

How about steam coming out of your ears?

* Alabama (6-0): If you thought there was screaming last year when 12-0 Auburn did not qualify for the national title game, just wait to see what happens if Alabama gets to 12-0 with a win over Georgia in the SEC title game and the conference gets snubbed again. A longtime observer of Southern football recently remarked that Alabama fans might "take to the streets with pitchforks" in such an event.

* Miami (5-1). Needs to beat Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, avenge its opening-season loss to Florida State in the ACC title game and then hope enough undefeated teams lose.

* Louisiana State (4-1): Oh, what might have been had the Tigers not squandered that huge lead at home against Tennessee.

* Florida State (5-1): Seminoles still control their fate in the ACC Atlantic Division and might sneak back in the picture with a win over Miami or Virginia Tech in the title game. In 1998, Florida State got a BCS title-game bid from its couch on the final Saturday after UCLA and Kansas State suffered dramatic defeats.

* Texas Tech (6-0): Sorry, can't get there even with a win over Texas and a perfect season thanks to that cream-puff nonconference schedule. Kansas State tried this Big 12 routine for years under Bill Snyder and it didn't work for him either, although boy did he come close in 1998.

* UCLA (6-0):

Memo to BCS commissioners: How could we get knocked out of a chance for the national title just because no one ranked us in the preseason and Oklahoma stinks this year?

BCS to UCLA: Good points, we'll take it up at our spring meetings in between facial massages and the annual golf outing. Best of luck in this year's Holiday Bowl.

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