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Chris Dufresne / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

An idea gains credence: BCS is BYU country

September 29, 2008|Chris Dufresne

Three answers to three questions emanating from the first question-filled weekend of the season:

All the answers, incredibly, are "yes."

Can Brigham Young, a member of the Mountain West Conference, win the national championship this season?

Is USC, which suffered a humiliating Thursday night defeat in Corvallis to 25 1/2 -point underdog Oregon State, back in the Bowl Championship Series title race?

Is the Big 12 Conference better right now than the Southeastern?

Yes, yes and yes.

No?

Let's take these in order:

1: BYU. The general assumption for years has been that a school from outside the six power conferences had no chance of ever ascending to No. 1 or No. 2 in the BCS standings, which would guarantee that school a spot in the national-title game.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, September 30, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 41 words Type of Material: Correction
Chris Dufresne column: A Sports column Monday on college football said the Mountain West Conference is 5-0 against the Pacific 10 Conference this season, with a chance to make it 6-0 Thursday. It's 5-1 with a chance to make it 6-1.

Schools from the five conferences whose champions do not receive automatic bids to BCS games have been fighting for years, sometimes with lawyers at their sides, for better access into a system that has been called a monopoly.

But take a look at Sunday's college football polls. BYU, which was Bye-YU this weekend, benefited from key losses involving several top teams to jump four spots, to No. 7 in the USA Today coaches' poll.

The Cougars are No. 8 in the Associated Press media poll, which is no longer a part of the BCS standings, and No. 9 in the first Harris Interactive Poll. Harris has replaced the AP survey in the BCS formula.

BYU, which won the national title in 1984 with a victory over a mediocre Michigan team in the Holiday Bowl, appears to have a legitimate chance to get to this season's BCS title game, to be played Jan. 8 in South Florida.

BYU has a couple of tough games left, at Texas Christian on Oct. 16 and at No. 15 Utah on Nov. 22.

On the credibility front, the Mountain West is 5-0 against the Pac-10 this year with a chance to make it 6-0 Thursday when Utah plays host to Oregon State.

This could get real interesting. Four teams ahead of BYU in the polls play each other. Oklahoma and Texas go at it in Dallas on Oct. 11 while Alabama and Louisiana State meet Nov. 8 in Baton Rouge.

If everybody else loses and BYU keeps winning, why can't the Cougars end up No. 1 or No. 2?

The question then might turn to BYU's strength in the BCS computers.

What if BYU ended up No. 1 in both polls but No. 3 in the BCS?

Hey, it happened in 2003 to USC.

Stay tuned.

2: USC. As horrid as that loss at Oregon State seemed at the time, and it was a four-star stinker, the Trojans dropped to only No. 9 in the AP and USA Today polls and debuted at No. 7 in the Harris poll.

USC has an immediate chance to earn back BCS brownie points this weekend when it plays host to respected Oregon, which rebounded from a home loss to Boise State to throttle Washington State. Because the Ducks are now back in the AP poll, at No. 23, USC has a chance to defeat a ranked Pac-10 opponent.

Of course, if USC's offensive and defensive lines are manhandled by Oregon the way they were against Oregon State, and Joe McKnight continues to play hot potato with the football, the Trojans' title chase will be over Saturday night.

3. The Big 12 is better than the SEC. There, it might be sacrilege, but it's been said. We'll only add this caveat. The Big 12 is better right now. The conference has four of the top seven schools ranked in this week's AP poll.

Oklahoma, which battered No. 24 Texas Christian in Norman, is the new No. 1, supplanting USC, with Missouri and Texas checking in at Nos. 4 and 5 and Texas Tech moving up three positions to No. 7.

The SEC, which two weeks ago boasted a record five schools in the AP top 10, now boasts only two, with Alabama at No. 2 followed by Louisiana State.

The USA Today coaches were not as impressed with Alabama's 41-30 win at Georgia, elevating the Crimson Tide to No. 4 behind Oklahoma, LSU and Missouri.

Alabama received only two first-place votes in the coaches' poll compared with 21 first-place votes received in the AP poll.

Alabama debuted at No. 3 in the Harris poll, receiving seven first-place votes compared with 102 for Oklahoma.

Weekend wrap

Just asking: Will voters who don't want to see Ohio State in a third straight national title game make sure the Buckeyes are left out of the equation? Despite all the poll movement this weekend, Ohio State did not budge from its No. 14 spot in the AP survey despite a 13-point win against previously undefeated Minnesota. Ohio State moved up one position, to No. 12, in the coaches' poll, and debuted at No. 14 in Harris.

BYU, conversely, did not play but moved up three spots in the AP poll and four spots in the coaches'.

Glory Day. Boston College rocks, at least it did Saturday, as rock superstar Bruce Springsteen and wife Patti Scialfa attended parents weekend in Chestnut Hill and were treated to a 42-0 victory over Rhode Island. The couple's son, Evan, is a freshman at BC.

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