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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Looking out for No. 1: Oregon, you're up next

With Ohio State dispatched from the top spot, there's a chance the Ducks will face Boise State in the BCS championship game if both can remain unbeaten.

October 16, 2010|Chris Dufresne

Think about just how crazy this is: Oregon started the year looking for a new quarterback after star Jeremiah Masoli was kicked off the team and landed all the way in Mississippi after violating Coach Chip Kelly's two-strike law.

And now the Ducks are going to be No. 1 in the polls?

Boise State started the season ranked in the top five, but everyone knew it would have to navigate a rat's maze of booby traps to overcome the politics of being a former junior college from a potato state.

And now, on Oct. 17, the Broncos are going to be No. 2?

These are the same two schools that christened 2009 with an embarrassing, ugly game/postgame on a Thursday night.

And now there's a chance they'll meet again for the national title?

Think about how hard this was for ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, the former Ohio State quarterback, to concede about Boise State in front of America and Brent Musburger: "They needed help and they're getting it."

Help us all.

We've barely hit the halfway point and there's already been a season's worth bedlam.

For the second time in as many Saturdays, No. 1 lost.

South Carolina broke loose last week to upset No. 1 Alabama and this week Wisconsin broke loose to topple top-ranked Ohio State.

And now all that's left to break is the glass ceiling.

There's a theory floating around that pollsters, particularly voting coaches from big boy conferences, were not going to allow Boise State to rise above its current No. 3 rank.

Today, though, voters with shaky hands are going to have to dip quill in ink and write in Boise State at No. 2.

For some coaches in the USA Today poll, it will be as pleasant as signing their last will and testament.

We've come to that inevitable point, though, where what they think they can manipulate doesn't matter.

The games on the field have dictated events, at least for now. Boise State started the week ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press poll and the two indexes used in the Bowl Championship Series standings formula: USA Today and Harris.

After Wisconsin whipped Ohio State, 31-18, and Boise State routed San Jose State, 48-0, there is no direction to move the Broncos except up.

Oregon, which enjoyed a bye weekend as it prepares for UCLA next Thursday in Eugene and then USC at the Coliseum, should slide up from No. 2 to No. 1, although it appears Boise State will debut as top team in Sunday's first release of the BCS standings.

And don't go to sleep on another sleeper, No 4 Texas Christian.

Last year, it was sort of cute that undefeated Boise State and TCU could be pared off in the Fiesta Bowl, sort of a "junior" national title game.

Now, with a few more crazy bounces, Boise State and TCU could feasibly end up playing for the national title in the same stadium.

Some experts, admittedly, can't wait to dismiss these two powerhouses from non-power conferences.

Almost every conversation about Boise State's likely rise to No. 1 in the BCS is followed by how temporary the stay will be once the Broncos dig into the mush on their schedule.

Think of Boise State as seat-fillers for the Academy Awards.

You can say the boys of blue easily dispatched an inferior team in San Jose State, but also say it was the same team that earlier lost to Wisconsin in Madison by 13 points — the same margin of victory as Wisconsin over No. 1 Ohio State.

Oregon needs not worry about its fate because the Ducks control it. Oregon will play in the national title game if it wins its final six games in the Pac-10, arguably the nation's toughest conference this year.

The hard part, of course, will be winning six straight in a brutal league.

Boise State still needs the football gods to cooperate — and so far they are. The Broncos got a boost when Texas upset No. 5 Nebraska in Lincoln.

The threats to Boise's rear remain real and are dressed as the undefeated champion of the Big 12, likely Oklahoma, and the champion of the Southeastern Conference.

Oklahoma routed Iowa State on Saturday, 52-zip.

Auburn and Louisiana State are the last undefeated SEC teams, but one will suffer a loss next week when they meet on the Plains.

Auburn won a 7-on-7 drill Saturday against Arkansas, 65-43, although the Tigers trailed in the second half.

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton shot to the top of Heisman Trophy lists in leading his team to four touchdowns and 567 total yards. The Tigers have come a long way offensively since 2008, when they celebrated a 3-2 win over Mississippi State.

Louisiana State, which has been dodging defeat darts for years under Les Miles, spotted McNeese State leads of 7-0 and 10-7 before winning, 32-10.

Utah stayed undefeated with a 30-6 win over Wyoming and Michigan State is suddenly the lone unbeaten team in the Big Ten. The Spartans are 7-0 for the first time since 1966 but may not have the schedule juice to climb from No. 11 in the coaches' poll all the way to the top.

If the second half of the season is as nuts as the last two weeks — look out.

South Carolina, which knocked off No.1 Alabama last week, blew a huge lead at Kentucky and lost, 31-28.

Gamecocks Coach Steve Spurrier went for victory in the end and then watched his visor spin when Stephen Garcia's pass was intercepted in the end zone by Kentucky's Anthony Mosley.

It was, for some, an upsetting day.

Mississippi State defeated Florida, 10-7, winning in Gainesville for the first time since 1965, when Spurrier was a junior Gator.

Florida, which has won two national titles since 2005, has now lost three straight games since Oct.2.

And Boise State is going to be No. 1 in the first BCS standings.

What planet is this?

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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