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COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Utah, not USC, deserves a shot at BCS title game

December 04, 2008|CHRIS DUFRESNE | ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL and Dufresne is a Times staff writer.

There has been talk this week that a school out west, starting with the letter "U," should get a shot at the national title if things break a freakish way over college football's final weekend.

This school is lower than No. 4 in this week's Bowl Championship Series standings and is considered "boxed out" by the Southeastern and Big 12 conferences.

Here's the Hail Mary hope:

What if Alabama hands Florida a second loss in Saturday's SEC title game and three-loss Missouri shocks Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game?

This would leave undefeated Alabama headed toward the Jan. 8 national title game but needing a BCS playing partner.

Everyone assumes Alabama would play Texas.

Not so fast.

Texas didn't even win its conference.

After 2001, when Nebraska advanced to the title game without even winning the Big 12 North, commissioners considered a rule change that would have required title-game participants to be league champions.

The commissioners decided against it, but many still think it's a good idea.

Sorry, Texas, for the purposes of this argument you're out.

Meaning: the school that deserves to play Alabama in this scenario would be the University of . . .

Utah.

All this talk-radio and Internet chatter about USC somehow slipping in the BCS title-game back door is being done with complete disregard for Utah.

I won't argue whether I actually think Utah could beat USC on a neutral field if you won't argue it was already done at the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl.

USC is the better team, OK, we all know that.

And Oklahoma was better than Boise State. We all knew that too.

Knowing Utah has no chance of making the BCS title game should not stop anyone from asking the question: Why not?

Every team that is going to gripe about getting left out of the BCS this year could have done something about it.

Texas could have stopped Texas Tech on its last drive.

Penn State could have not lost to unranked Iowa.

USC could have not lost at Oregon State, which just had 65 points scored on its home field by Oregon.

Utah did everything it could.

Utah went 12-0 and won the Mountain West Conference.

Most years, the champion of that league would not warrant title-game consideration, but this is 2008.

If Utah can be ranked in the BCS ahead of Penn State, the Big Ten champion, and Texas Tech, the Big 12 South tri-champion, why can't it be considered for the national title?

If you just looked at the facts without knowing the teams, would you vote USC ahead of Utah?

The Mountain West is 6-1 against the Pacific 10 Conference this year.

Utah defeated Oregon State; USC did not.

Anderson & Hester, one of the six computers used in the BCS standings formula, has Utah ranked No. 2 this week behind Alabama.

Wes Colley, another BCS computer man, has the Mountain West ranked No. 6 and the Pac-10 at No. 7.

Kenneth Massey, another BCS operator, has the Mountain West ranked ahead of the Big Ten and the Pac-10.

The BCS was set up for the national champion to emerge from one of the top six conferences.

What if the Mountain West is one of six?

Utah has defeated three teams in this week's Associated Press top 25: Texas Christian, Brigham Young and Oregon State.

Top-ranked Alabama has defeated two top-25 teams: Georgia and Mississippi.

USC has defeated two: Ohio State and Oregon.

Utah's overall computer rating is No. 5 compared to USC's No. 8.

What about undefeated Ball State and Boise State?

Sorry, Ball State's weaker schedule takes it out of the equation because the Cardinals are a member of the MAC (Middling America Conference).

Boise State has a more compelling case. The Broncos defeated Oregon in Eugene, but the Western Athletic Conference doesn't quite stack up this year with the Mountain West.

It wouldn't be a crime, actually, if the Fiesta Bowl took at-large Boise State instead of at-large Ohio State.

But that would mean a nation deprived of seeing the Buckeyes in a major bowl again.

And it would require the BCS taking two non-BCS schools when only a few years ago it didn't take any -- ask Tulane or Marshall.

Back to reality -- none of this is going to happen.

If Florida and Oklahoma lose this weekend, Texas is going to play Alabama for the national title.

What a shame that would be . . . for Utah.

Blitz package

* Commissioners Tom Hansen of the Pac-10 and Mike Tranghese of the Big East will receive "Legacy Awards" from the National Football Foundation at ceremonies next week in New York. Hansen and Tranghese, architects of the BCS who oppose a playoff, are retiring next year. We hear President-elect Barack Obama wishes these two distinguished men a happy and healthy retirement -- the sooner the better.

* Notre Dame did not fire Charlie Weis on Wednesday, meaning the fourth-year Irish coach will be a fifth-year Irish coach despite presiding over 15 losses the last two seasons. It could be 16 if 6-6 Notre Dame loses its 10th straight bowl game. Weis' returns also means his signature "victory" remains a loss against USC in 2005 that led to a 10-year contract extension.

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