The Washington Times - November 16, 2008, 05:11PM

Maryland checked back into the BCS rankings this week at No. 25. The Terrapins are No. 23 in both the coaches and the Harris poll, but registered in the top 25 of only one of the six computer rankings.

So No. 25 still isn’t bad.


But I’m more interested in the headaches the BCS could face, so this entry is quickly taking a sharp turn.

From the looks of things, it will be difficult for Ball State (10-0) to crack the top 12 and earn an automatic BCS berth even if it wins out. The Cardinals are No. 17 (down three spots from last week), and while potential victories over Central Michigan and Western Michigan could help, it might be dicey for them to take an otherwise at-large spot. But it could happen.

But let’s look at who could make up a less-than-glamorous 10-team crew heading to BCS bowls.

If No. 7 Utah (11-0) and No. 9 Boise State (10-0) win out, they’ll be assured spots. The ACC has no team in the top 20 at this point, so for the fun of it let’s toss Maryland (7-3) out as the Land of 8-4 Teams’ representative.

Cincinnati is the quietest major-conference team around with an 8-2 record, and would be in fine shape with a victory over Pittsburgh. Oregon State (7-3) can lock up a Pac-10 berth with two more victories. Missouri (9-2) still stands as a potential spoiler in the Big 12 title game.

Let’s also toss out one less-likely possibility: Ohio State loses to Michigan and Michigan State (9-2) topples Penn State, giving the Spartans the Big Ten title. Here’s an extremely likely possibility: The winner of Alabama (11-0) and Florida (10-0) make it to the national championship.

Now if, somehow, Ball State (10-0) cracked the top 12 in the rankings, they would be assured a spot. And based on some basic math, that’s 10 teams for 10 spots.

It means the Big 12 South winner wouldn’t fit in. It means one of Southern California or the Big 12 South runner-up wouldn’t fit in. And it means the SEC runner-up is off to the Capital One Bowl.

How hilarious would it be for a system designed to match 1 against 2 to not have enough slots to do so?

And, while we’re at it, who would be clamoring for these matchups?

National title: Florida vs. 11-1 Texas or 11-1 Texas Tech
Rose: Oregon State vs. Michigan State
Fiesta: Missouri vs. Utah
Sugar: Boise State vs. Cincinnati
Orange: Maryland vs. Ball State

The odds of this unfolding? Not great, especially since Ball State has plenty of room to make up (their spot would probably be assumed by the Florida-Alabama loser).

The amusement of seeing such a trainwreck develop, however? Immense.

Patrick Stevens