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Top 25 countdown

August 15, 2008|Chris Dufresne

The Times' Chris Dufresne unveils his preseason college football Top 25, one day (and team) at a time:

No. 14 Brigham Young

"Where's your God now?"

A Utah fan, perhaps taking victory a little too seriously, raised a hand-held sign asking that question in 2004, after Utah defeated Brigham Young in Salt Lake City to become the first school from outside a so-called Bowl Championship Series conference to earn an automatic bid to a major bowl.

Four years later . . .

BYU is the team most likely to follow Utah, Boise State and Hawaii in the procession of schools that have worked over the BCS rule book pertaining to major bowl access.

It's fitting that BYU would finally get into this equity fight because it was the Cougars who kick-started the argument in 1996, when they finished 13-1 but failed to receive a major bowl bid.

OK, class, open your BCS textbooks to the chapter on "monopolies."

BYU was still a member of the Western Athletic Conference in 1996 when Commissioner Karl Benson used the bowl snub to initiate a legal threat that ultimately ended with the BCS, formed in 1998, assuring a major bowl bid to any non-BCS team that finished in the top six of the rankings.

Utah hit No. 6 in 2004 after its win over BYU. Two years later, when the access requirement was relaxed to a top-12 finish, Boise State earned a bid at No. 8 and last year Hawaii got in at No. 10.

This could be another crowning moment for BYU, now a Mountain West member, rekindling memories of that improbable run to the national title in the pre-BCS days of 1984.

Twenty-four years later, what's not to like?

BYU returns 10 from an offense that averaged 443 yards and 30 points a game. Max Hall, a transfer from Arizona State, needed to soak his arm after passing for 3,848 yards. BYU finished 11-2 with victories against two Pacific 10 Conference schools -- Arizona and UCLA. (The Cougars split with the Bruins, losing during the regular season but winning the Las Vegas Bowl.)

The keys to a BCS run this year will be sweeping Washington and UCLA in September and then running roughshod through the Mountain West schedule.

Oh, one more thing. BYU closes the regular season Nov. 22, against Utah, in Salt Lake City.

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The countdown so far:

25, Notre Dame; 24, California; 23, Fresno State; 22, Florida State; 21, Rutgers; 20, Illinois; 19, Penn State; 18, Oregon; 17, Tennessee; 16, Arizona State; 15, Texas Tech; 14, Brigham Young.

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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