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BCS Bustin': The Week in Realpolitik

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Except for the twisted "logic" of spots 6 and 7, if that noun could be applicable to such amnesiac foolishness, there is no reason to be alarmed:

Updated BCS Standings, 11-25
Rank Team BCS Pts. Harris Coaches Comp. Avg.
1. Missouri .978 1 2 1
2. West Virginia .971 2 1 2
3. Ohio State .919 3 3 3
4. Georgia .827 4 4 5
5. Kansas .792 6 T-5 4
6. Virginia Tech .781 7 T-5 6
7. LSU .774 5 7 7
8. Southern Cal .693 9 9 T-10
9. Oklahoma .683 8 8 12
10. Florida .618 11 11 T-10

My instincts tell me the race is between three equally viable one-loss teams, but the margins in the numbers show this is not true: if West Virginia and Missouri win Saturday, they will play for the self-ordained mythical championship in January. No style points, no scoreboard watching, no number crunching – WVU and Mizzou only have to win, by hook or crook. We’ll look at how "fair" this is later in the week by comparing resumés, but it’s academic. Both human polls favor the Mountaineers and Tigers, and not one of the computer polls ranks the Buckeyes ahead of WVU; one (Richard Billingsley’s) does prefer OSU to Missouri, but it’s tossed from the average in both cases as the high computer score for Ohio State and the low for Mizzou. From OSU’s perspective, there is no conceivable way to make up a half point without playing.

Obviously, the Buckeyes will be in with a loss by either West Virginia or (more likely) Missouri, and the odds of one or the other actually happening are probably about even, so it is, technically, a three-horse race – the tidiest scenario is a Missouri loss and subsequent overhyped Ohio State-West Virginia collision. But as long as surging USC is the opponent in the Granddaddy, OSU’s stance should be the same:

Who needs your stinkin’ championship? The AP and a couple dozen other polls are out there, independent of the BCS and no doubt itching for controversy, and they haven’t signed away their right to take the Rose Bowl or any other game into account. Define your own stakes in Pasadena and let the chips fall where they may.

Outlandish scenarios leading to a meeting of Ohio State and any one of the half dozen teams immediately behind the Buckeyes – one of which will actually occur, if form holds:

Georgia gets in. Missouri and West Virginia both lose, bumping the Bulldogs up to play Ohio State. Whether UGA can hold off any of the four two-loss teams behind it as said teams capture conference championships is the x-factor; for best results, the Dogs should be rooting for Tennessee, Boston College, UCLA and Oklahoma and hope the latter’s win over Missouri isn’t impressive enough to make the leap to number two.

Kansas gets in. Nein. For the love of god, nein.

Time to work your magic, big guy.
- - -
Virginia Tech gets in. Nein again, basically, but infinitismally possible if Missouri and West Virginia lose and the Hokies’ margin over Boston College is too overwhelmingly huge to be denied. Providing voters continue to deny the overwhelmingly huge loss Tech suffered in September to...

LSU gets in. Losses by Missouri and West Virginia, a shaky win by Virginia Tech (or win by Boston College) and a little anti-Georgia P.R. by Gary Danielson on the Tigers’ behalf during the SEC Championship – he should know: Saturday will be the sixth time Danielson and Lundquist call an LSU game this year – might do the trick. I like LSU, personally, and I'm having a hard time figuring out how the Tigers fell below both Kansas and Virginia Tech (argh!), but at any rate, the timing of the Arkansas loss puts them too far back to realistically jump five spots.

USC gets in. Missouri, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and LSU all lose, and the Trojans’ win over UCLA is enough to hold off Oklahoma.

Oklahoma gets in. West Virginia, Virginia Tech and LSU all lose, and either USC loses to UCLA or the Sooners’ win over Missouri is enough to leap SC – and Kansas and Georgia.

Now: Ignore all of that, because it requires at minimum that Pittsburgh upset West Virginia Saturday, which is so unthinkable – especially in tandem with an otherwise realistic loss by Missouri to Oklahoma, even in an "oh, this season!" sort of way – that any scenario not including the Mountaineers, Midwestern Tigers or Buckeyes is fantasy.