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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

With four unbeaten teams, plenty of questions remain in BCS picture

There's still the possibility that an unbeaten Boise State wouldn't get a spot in a BCS game.

November 07, 2010|Chris Dufresne

There are four weeks and only four undefeated teams left, so let's point a few "we're No.1" foam fingers and ask some hard questions.

Are Bowl Championship Series commissioners really prepared to leave undefeated Texas Christian or Boise State out of a BCS game?

Somebody would have to go if Oregon and Auburn play for the title and the at-large contenders for four spots are, let's say: Louisiana State, Stanford, Ohio State, TCU and Boise State.

The top four in this week's BCS standings remained the same: Oregon, Auburn, TCU and Boise State.

TCU or Boise State, in this scenario, is guaranteed a spot in the Rose Bowl, which has to take the higher-ranked team in the final BCS standings.

Right now, TCU would be Pasadena-bound.

But let's get one thing straight: It would be unconscionable for the BCS to snub Boise State, especially if Virginia Tech, which lost to the Broncos, ends up winning the automatic bid from the Atlantic Coast Conference. It would be worse in light of a multiloss, unranked Big East Conference champion heading to the Fiesta Bowl.

Unless the BCS wants a lawsuit that might just have traction, it must accommodate undefeated TCU and Boise State at the expense of a second team from a major conference.

Sorry, Ohio State or Stanford … probably Stanford.

How did Auburn pass Boise State in the Associated Press poll?

Boise State was No. 2 and defeated Hawaii, 42-7. Hawaii was on the cusp of the top 25, ranking No. 26 in all three leading indexes.

Auburn hosted, and defeated, Chattanooga, a Football Championship Subdivision team.

When the AP poll was released Sunday, Boise State dropped two spots to fourth and Auburn moved up one spot to No. 2.

Everyone knew Auburn was eventually going to pass Boise State, but it looks foolish -- if not suspicious -- to do it after Boise routed a quality team the same day Auburn beat a train stop.

The USA Today and Harris polls both moved Texas Christian to No. 3 behind Oregon and Auburn and dropped Boise State one spot to No. 4. That was understandable given that TCU's win at Utah was more impressive than Boise's home win against Hawaii. But at least the BCS polls already had Auburn ahead of Boise.

If Auburn loses to Alabama and everyone else wins out, are voters prepared to pit Oregon vs. TCU at the expense of Boise State, which defeated both schools last year on its way to an unbeaten season?

It's true every year is different. And also true Boise State returned every starter but one from the team that defeated Oregon and TCU.

Or, in the BCS, maybe that's just the way it goes.

If it's Oregon and Auburn in the title game, are we looking at another standings battle for a Rose Bowl berth?

Sorry to say: Yes.

In 2004, the BCS suffered its most pathetic moment when Texas and California got locked in a beauty contest for the Rose Bowl bid. It came down to which team finished fourth in the final BCS standings.

As Texas openly lobbied poll voters, Cal had to go onstage against Southern Mississippi in a late-season makeup game. Cal won, but not impressively enough for some voters. Texas "earned" the Rose Bowl spot by a margin of .8476 to .8347.

The AP got so sick to its stomach it pulled its poll out of the BCS.

Six years later, TCU and Boise State might end up in a similar situation because of a first-year rule that stipulates the Rose Bowl must take the highest-ranked team from a non-automatic-qualifying conference the first year it loses an anchor to the BCS title game.

If Oregon is that anchor, and TCU and Boise State are both undefeated, let the vote pandering begin.

TCU has two remaining game: home against San Diego State and at New Mexico.

Boise State has four games left, including a showdown Nov. 26 at BCS No. 21 Nevada.

Might that game be the decider, the way Cal vs. Southern Mississippi was in 2004?

It would be less onerous this time if the TCU-Boise State debate "loser" ends up in another BCS game (Cal ended up in the Holiday Bowl).

Both times, though, a Pac-10 team from the Bay Area would have been stiff-armed.

Was it a mistake for BCS commissioners to reject the seeded "plus-one" playoff plan proposed in 2008 by Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive?

You tell me.

This year we could be left with four undefeated teams, ranked first, second, third and fourth in the final BCS standings.

Taking the standings today, Slive's plan would have paired No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 4 Boise State in the Rose Bowl with No. 2 Auburn and No. 3 TCU playing in the Sugar. The Fiesta Bowl would still get Big 12 vs. Big East and, for argument's sake, let's make Wisconsin the Big Ten champion and put the Badgers in the Orange Bowl to play the ACC champion.

The winners of the Rose and Sugar bowls would meet the next week for the BCS title, and you would end up with one undefeated, unanimous champion.

Slive's plan was derailed by heavy opposition from the Big Ten and Pac-10.

How is Stanford not the highest-ranked one-loss team in the polls?

Stanford's loss was at No. 1 Oregon, yet the coaches' poll has Wisconsin, LSU, Ohio State and Nebraska ranked ahead of Stanford this week. The Harris poll has Wisconsin, LSU and Ohio State ranked ahead of the Cardinal.

Stanford, thanks to a jolt to its computer component, jumped seven spots, to No. 6, in this week's BCS standings.

Maybe we need random drug testing for coaches too. Nebraska needed a defensive stop to prevent an overtime loss at Iowa State on Saturday, the same day the Cardinal was blasting No. 13 Arizona at Stanford.

Nebraska lost at home to Texas, which fell to 4-5 on Saturday with a blowout loss at Kansas State.

What is it coaches are always telling their players during team meetings?

Oh, yeah: "Wake up!"

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

twitter.com/dufresnelatimes

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