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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Civil War leads into a whole lot of big conflicts

Game between Oregon and Oregon State has significant BCS ramifications, just like several others on tap for the weekend.

December 03, 2009|Chris Dufresne

Notre Dame fired Charlie Weis, Florida State pushed Bobby Bowden down retirement's elevator shaft, a Florida defender needs a public defender after being charged with an SUI (snoozing under the influence) and Tiger Woods ran into a tree and then a lot more.

We're not sure how this weekend could be more exciting than this week's beginning, but here's the setup:

College football's last regular-season stand begins tonight in Oregon, where the schools that played to a 0-0 tie in a 1983 game dubbed "the toilet bowl" are 26 years later meeting in the second biggest Civil War contested.

It's Oregon State versus Oregon, at Autzen Stadium, with the winner going to the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl and the loser likely headed back to Corvallis.

Oregon may earn an ESPY nomination for "Best Comeback Mallard" after getting this close to the Pacific 10 Conference title after getting embarrassed at Boise State in early September.

Remember that?

"Oh yeah," first-year Oregon Coach Chip Kelly said this week, "I can recall it."

If last year is the engine light indicator, this could be another recycle campaign of "Go Green." Playing at home with a chance to earn its first Rose Bowl berth since 1965, Oregon State gave up 694 yards in a total 65-38 loss.

"John Wooden says competitive greatness is when you play your best against the best," Kelly recalled of last year's game. "Our players just made plays."

In terms of protecting the home field, Kelly might have quoted Native American John Wooden Legs, who once said, "Our land is everything to us."

Bad news for the Beavers: Jeremiah Masoli, Oregon's quarterback in last year's rout, is still Oregon's quarterback.

We move forward to a weekend that could be as boring as every previous Woods news conference, or as exciting as his next one.

It hinges on whether Nebraska (9-3), a team that had more turnovers (eight) than points (seven) in a two-point home loss to Iowa State this year, can shock Texas (12-0) in Saturday's Big 12 Conference championship game at Texas Stadium.

What about No. 1 Florida versus No. 2 Alabama for the Southeastern Conference title?

We already saw this game last year and Florida won. It still has Tim Tebow and the stakes haven't changed: Winner goes to the national title game, loser to the Sugar Bowl. Florida will be down one Gator, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, suspended after being found sleeping at the wheel, in a car, at an intersection.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, the odds don't favor Nebraska, but they didn't favor Texas in 1996, when the underdog Longhorns used a fourth-down play to stun Nebraska in the first Big 12 title game. It knocked Nebraska out of the national title game that Florida ended up winning in the Sugar Bowl.

A Texas victory Saturday will clarify the postseason and could clinch the Heisman Trophy for quarterback Colt McCoy.

A Texas victory means the Florida-Alabama winner in Atlanta will play the Longhorns in the BCS title game Jan. 7 at the Rose Bowl.

It would ensure two champions from outside the six-conference BCS power structure, Texas Christian and Boise State, snag two of the four at-large BCS picks.

This would be huge, politically, for BCS proponents who claim their system is as rickety as the jalopy Jed Clampett owned, but not illegal.

Projected BCS bowl lineup if Texas, Florida and Georgia Tech (which plays Clemson on Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game) win:

BCS: Florida-Texas. Rose: Oregon-Ohio State. Fiesta: Texas Christian-Cincinnati. Orange: Iowa-Georgia Tech. Sugar Bowl: Boise State-Alabama.

Not a playoff, but not bad.

Remember the rules: If it's Florida-Texas in the BCS title game, the Sugar Bowl will get to select a replacement team, no doubt Alabama.

The Fiesta picks next to replace Texas and would not likely pass on Texas Christian. Then the selection order goes: Orange, Fiesta, Sugar.

The Orange then takes Iowa -- it had Cincinnati last year -- to play projected ACC champion Georgia Tech. The Fiesta then has a choice between Boise State or Cincinnati. We're projecting Cincinnati because Texas Christian and Boise State played in last year's Poinsettia Bowl.

The Sugar Bowl then takes Boise State to play Alabama.

If Nebraska upsets Texas, well, whoa.

In this scenario, Texas Christian might do what people thought impossible -- advance to the BCS title game. Unless, of course, a Cincinnati win over Pittsburgh allows the Bearcats to jump Texas Christian, which would give the anti-BCS movement reason to start court proceedings.

A Texas loss might also knock Boise State out of a BCS game.

How?

Texas, with one loss, would drop to claim an at-large pick and Nebraska, as Big 12 champion, would be wed to the Fiesta Bowl.

Alabama (if it loses to Florida) would drop to the Sugar and the final pick would come down to Iowa and Boise State. The Orange Bowl might consider Iowa here for reasons that are unconscionable and, in terms of its long-term interests, cannibalistic.

Yet, BCS bowl reps might feel a responsibility to keep it "in-family" and take a 10-2 Big Ten Conference team.

Taking Iowa over Boise State would be a crime.

Boise State has the nation's No. 1-rated passer in Kellen Moore (38 touchdowns, three interceptions) and No. 2 scoring offense at 44.33 points per game.

Iowa has the nation's No. 61-rated passer in Richard Stanzi (15 touchdowns, 14 interceptions) and the No. 87 scoring offense at 23.08 points per game.

Would Iowa bring more fans to a game than Boise State?

OK, but what about the part about having to watch the game?

Ugliest BCS bowl lineup:

BCS: Alabama-Cincinnati. Rose: Oregon State-Ohio State. Orange: Texas-Clemson. Fiesta: Nebraska-Texas Christian. Sugar: Iowa-Florida.

So what's the weekend battle cry?

"Go Texas?" or "Go Nebraska?"

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

twitter.com/DufresneLATimes

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