- The Washington Times - Monday, November 15, 2004

The Washington Times’ college football writer takes a look at the week that was:

What a bunch of BCS.

Auburn’s demolition of Georgia virtually guarantees the season will end in the most controversial fashion since the advent of the Bowl Championship Series in 1998. There are only three loseable games left on the combined schedules of No.1 USC (at UCLA on Dec.4), No.2 Oklahoma and No.3 Auburn (at Alabama on Saturday, vs. Tennessee on Dec.4), and the two unbeatens in question will be double-digit favorites in all three of those games.

Oklahoma has a bye into the new year with Baylor (3-7) and likely Big 12 North champ Iowa State (5-4) left on the slate. When Auburn overtakes the Sooners in the polls and the BCS standings over the next three weeks, coach Bob Stoops will wish he hadn’t strong-armed the league into shifting the Bedlam series (vs. Oklahoma State) from its season-ending traditional date to October.

The Back Judge will keep his playoff politicking brief, but notice there is now a perfect setup for a four-team playoff. With Wisconsin (ouch) and Boise State (surrendering 49 points to 2-7 San Jose State qualifies as a loss) out of the argument, top-seeded USC should be slated to play fourth-seeded Utah with the winner to meet the Oklahoma/Auburn victor a week later.

Not only would such a scenario produce a legit champion, it would make the NCAA another mound of shekels and resolve the following questions: Is Utah the truth? How would USC fare against a team from a conference that actually plays football? Isn’t this virtually the same Auburn team that was put down on the Plains by USC (23-0) last season? When the clock strikes December, does Jason White always turn into a BUMpkin?

By the way, the Back Judge is sick of hearing about Cal. Not only did the Bears lose to USC (close doesn’t count), they struggled the last two weeks with a pedestrian Oregon team and a Washington squad that makes us think … defibrillator. Go away, Cal, and take along the raft of excitable West Coast media homers who created you.

Speaking of overzealous media types, the Back Judge would like to apologize for his ground-pawing genuflection to Oklahoma freshman Adrian Peterson. There’s a reason no freshman has ever won the Heisman. The best defense against Peterson appears to be the infamous freshman wall, which AD seems to have hit with a concussive vengeance. Peterson was a nonfactor last week against Texas A&M; and then failed to crack 100 yards for the first time all season against Nebraska. The Back Judge still thinks he’s a very special player (not of the short-bus variety). But he’s no Herschel. And he’s no longer Mr. Heisman, 2004.

The favorite for that honor remains USC’s Reggie Bush, though the Back Judge thinks the bronze boy should be hacked into three pieces and given to Auburn’s senior trio of Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown and Jason Campbell; give Williams the legs, Brown the hands and Campbell the head. By the way, the uberversatile Brown is a future nightmare for 31 unfortunate NFL teams.

Game balls and gassers — The Back Judge’s weekend MVPs are Auburn cornerback Carlos Rogers, Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton and Florida quarterback Chris Leak.

Rogers’ performance against No.8 Georgia was the best the Back Judge has seen from a college cornerback since Charles Woodson was stalking the Heisman. Rogers tormented the Bulldogs in every imaginable defensive fashion, recording a team-leading eight tackles (two for loss), a sack and an interception in the Tigers’ 24-6 victory. Rogers, likely an instant All-American, delivered several vicious hits on Georgia tailback Thomas Brown in run support, and snuffed Georgia’s only momentum-building drive with a fantastic second-quarter recovery and end zone interception of Georgia quarterback David Greene.

Stanton cued it up against No.4 Wisconsin despite a partial shoulder separation most thought would keep him sidelined, and then simply led the Spartans to a 49-14 decimation of the team formerly known as the Big Ten’s best. That’s a Miller High Life moment: Hats off, Drew Stanton.

Leak was superb in Florida’s destruction of South Carolina, throwing six touchdown passes in a 48-14 rout of the Gamecocks to celebrate senior day in the Swamp and guarantee lame duck coach Ron Zook a farewell bowl bid.

And, oh, how about a little leather for JoePa. That a’baby. We knew you hadn’t lost it, Joe. Have you ever thought about penning an Indiana clause into your contract? A victory over the mighty Hoosiers always takes the sting out of an otherwise disgraceful season.

The Back Judge’s gasser is a team affair and goes to Clemson, the team which beat Miami in the Orange Bowl last week, and then managed an even more difficult feat on Saturday … losing to Duke (16-13), the ACC’s previously winless mess. Tommy Bowden might want to consider a spontaneous vacation. If he goes back to Clemson this week, he’s likely to end up under Howard’s Rock.

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