Monday, October 24, 2005

The only thing worse than being strapped with the BCS formula is suffering the misinformation propagated by those who do not understand it. At least four times this week, the Back Judge was assaulted with the assertion that a Southern California-Texas title tilt in the Rose Bowl was a virtual guarantee if the Trojans and Longhorns win out.

After No. 2 Texas trounced Texas Tech 52-17, one CBS Sportsline scribe even went so far as to write: “It’s obvious. One half of the national championship game is filled.”

Where’s Lee Corso when you need an intervention by interjection?

Please picture Corso donning the oversized head of one HokieBird before delivering a spirited, “Not so fast, my friend.”

Texas certainly will sit in strong second when the latest BCS standings are released today, but a Trojans-‘Horns party in Pasadena is far from fait accompli, even assuming both teams stroll home unbeaten.

Why? Because if everyone keeps winning, Texas is going to spend the remainder of the season losing ground in the BCS standings to unbeaten Virginia Tech and the undefeated SEC champion (Georgia or Alabama).

The question is how much ground?

Likely a huge chunk to the No.3 Hokies (7-0), who could cap a flawless season by collecting stretch-run wins against No.13 Boston College (Thursday), No.6 Miami (Nov.5) and No.10 Florida State (Dec.3 in the ACC title game).

During the same six-week closing stretch, Texas (7-0) won’t see a single ranked opponent nor a whole lot of television screens. And the forgettable Big 12 North isn’t likely to give it a meaningful title-game boost with Colorado and Missouri both at 5-2.

The result? Wins against the nation’s sturdiest remaining schedule would almost certainly bump Virginia Tech past both Georgia and Texas in the computer rankings that make up one third of the BCS standings. The Hokies have an average ranking of fourth in the six sets of computer rankings, behind USC, Texas and Georgia. But those computer rankings are based almost entirely on to-date strength of schedule. In fact, if Georgia wins out and beats an unbeaten Alabama team in the SEC championship game, Texas could easily finish fourth in the Deep Blue portion of the BCS standings.

Throw in the people poll points patsy-pounding Texas is likely to lose to the tiger-tangling Hokies, and the Rose Bowl’s second slot is far from filled. Barring a loss, Southern Cal is a lock, but the eyes of Texas will spend the rest of the season focused on Blacksburg.

Gameballs and Gassers

This week’s leather belongs to a pair of Midwestern quarterbacks: Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn and Northwestern’s Brett Basanez.

Quinn completed 32 of 41 passes for 467 yards, no interceptions and a Domer-record six touchdowns in the Irish rout of BYU. And Basanez, the game’s most underrated major-conference performer, finished 24 of 30 for 331 yards, passing for two scores and running for two more in the Wildcats’ 49-14 road humiliation of Michigan State.

Gassers go to the three teams who recorded no-shows Saturday: ranked squads from Michigan State and Virginia and a one-time top-10 team in Arizona State.

As noted earlier, the Spartans celebrated homecoming by crowning Basanez king of East Lansing.

Virginia, apparently still celebrating last week’s upset of Florida State, left its offense in Charlottesville and dropped a 7-5 groaner to North Carolina.

And in the season’s ultimate head-scratcher, Stanford defrocked once-formidable Arizona State, the team which nearly knocked out the top-ranked Trojans (38-28) a month ago. The lowly Cardinal, who lost earlier this season to the Fightin’ Sliderules of Division II UC-Davis, led Arizona State 45-14 before granting fourth-quarter quarter.

The transitive property, of course, solves all our BCS issues: Clearly, USC should face UC-Davis in the Rose Bowl.

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