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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

LSU and Oklahoma State might be able to get BCS off the hook

The top-ranked Tigers and second-ranked Cowboys, should they win out, could make it easy for the Bowl Championship Series.

November 13, 2011|Chris Dufresne
  • Oklahoma State and cornerback Brodrick Brown, returning an interception for a touchdown at left, are on a collision course for quarterback Jordan Jefferson and top-ranked LSU if both teams can remain unbeaten this season.
Oklahoma State and cornerback Brodrick Brown, returning an interception… (Photos by Associated Press…)

Things no one could have imagined a month ago:

• Joe Paterno's being fired after 46 seasons at Penn State with a late-night Wednesday phone call from the interim school president.

• Boise State's losing its first conference game at home since 1998 on another botched, last-second field-goal attempt.

• Oregon tailback LaMichael James' returning from a seemingly season-ending elbow dislocation to rush for 146 yards against Stanford and possibly wrest the Heisman Trophy from Andrew Luck.

• UCLA's suffering another humiliating defeat in the state of Utah, yet still controlling its destiny in the Pac-12 Conference race.

• Houston's improving to 10-0 as it zeroes in on a Sugar Bowl berth.

• The Bowl Championship Series' working out of the morass of undefeated teams to find itself with its best two tracking toward a Jan. 9 showdown for the national title in New Orleans.

In other words, there's a reason you play things through until the end.

Did you know Texas A&M would be 8-1-1 if its games ended at halftime this year but is only 5-5 after Saturday's four-overtime loss to Kansas State?

Boise State, for the second straight year, saw its BCS hopes crushed on a missed field-goal attempt.

These and other topics are trending near a social-network water cooler near you.

Four weeks ago, the BCS race was a mess. There were 10 undefeated schools and all kinds of disaster scenarios.

Suddenly, the only serious mess is at Penn State.

The BCS, imagine that, could actually end up getting off the hook.

Louisiana State and Oklahoma State are, indisputably, the two top teams and headed for a quarrel-free collision in the BCS title game.

LSU and Oklahoma State are the only remaining undefeated schools from the six major conferences.

The Tigers and Cowboys were a rock-solid 1-2 in Sunday's release of the weekly BCS standings.

LSU needs only to beat Mississippi on the road and Arkansas at home and then win the Southeastern Conference title game to play for its third BCS title since 2002. The Tigers won the two previous title games played in New Orleans (2003 and 2007).

Oklahoma State needs a win at Iowa State this week and then to beat Oklahoma in Stillwater on Dec. 3.

LSU and Oklahoma State as undefeated schools would have probably gone to the BCS title game no matter what, but Saturday losses suffered by Stanford and Boise State ended any sort of arguments those schools could have made.

It could be simple now, with the prospect of a tremendous BCS title game pitting LSU's tremendous defense against Oklahoma State's stupendous offense.

The uneasiness of undefeated Houston's being left out of a major bowl has also been deftly sidestepped.

Boise State lost only its third game in four years, by a total of five points, but boy, did it pick the wrong game to lose.

The 36-35 home defeat by Texas Christian was a crippling blow to the Broncos' BCS hopes because it all but handed TCU the Mountain West title.

TCU's two defeats, by Baylor and Southern Methodist, were both nonleague games. The Horned Frogs will clinch the Mountain West with closing home wins against Colorado State and Nevada Las Vegas.

This is great news for Houston, because the at-large bid for the best non-automatic qualifier school ranked in the top 12 must be a conference champion.

That means undefeated Houston will earn the bid if it wins the Conference USA title even if it finishes below Boise State in the BCS standings.

Some might argue an undefeated Houston would deserve a shot at the national title, but that wouldn't hold water in the face of LSU versus Oklahoma State.

What's more, Houston might get to prove its worth, or not, against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

Playing out BCS bowl possibilities assuming the top teams take care of business:

BCS: LSU vs. Oklahoma State

Rose: Oregon vs. Big Ten champion

Fiesta: Stanford vs. Oklahoma

Sugar: Houston vs. Alabama

Orange: Virginia Tech vs. Big East champion.

The Sugar Bowl, because it lost LSU to the title game, will get to pick Alabama, and the Fiesta Bowl, a Big 12 partner, will get to sub in Oklahoma for Oklahoma State.

After that, the Fiesta Bowl this season gets first pick in the selection order and will almost assuredly take one-loss Stanford.

The Sugar Bowl, selecting next, would gobble up undefeated Houston, with the Orange Bowl being left with the Big East champion.

Architects of BCS anarchy, to foment dissent, need LSU or Oklahoma State to lose.

If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, which one-loss team would deserve the right to play LSU?

Should Alabama get the rematch, or Oregon? Both would have lost regular-season games to LSU.

Those who vehemently oppose a rematch would push for Oklahoma, but the Sooners would have the stain of a home loss to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders lost at home to Oklahoma State, 66-6, on Saturday.

There's still time for chaos. Arkansas could upset LSU in Baton Rouge on Nov. 25, but time is running short.

It was a bad weekend for Stanford, Boise State and playoff proponents, but the BCS is smiling.

And isn't that what matters most?

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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