- The Washington Times - Monday, November 3, 2008

Guns up. BCS down. Texas Tech’s last-second upset of top-ranked Texas practically guarantees that yet another college football season will be marred with BCS controversy.

With five weeks left until all the bowls are set, the BCS spits out an Alabama (9-0) vs. Texas Tech (9-0) title game.

The Red Raiders vaulted Penn State in the BCS standings even though they didn’t supplant the Nittany Lions (9-0) in either the Harris or ESPN Coaches polls.

So the humans like Penn State. The computers like the Red Raiders. Both like Alabama. The result is a conflicted mess.

If both Texas Tech and Alabama win out, it would be difficult to argue with a title game pitting the unbeaten champions of the two best conferences in the land. Even if you’re not from State College, Pa., there’s just one major problem in the offing. Neither the Red Raiders nor the Crimson Tide are likely to win out.

Texas Tech’s victory over the Longhorns was far from a fluke. Quite the contrary. Though the Red Raiders scored the winning touchdown on a 28-yard pass from Heisman dark horse Graham Harrell to wideout Michael Crabtree with one second remaining in Saturday night’s game, Texas Tech dominated the line of scrimmage throughout, outrushing, outpassing, outgaining, outsacking and thoroughly outclassing the Longhorns for most of the contest in Lubbock.

There was little doubt Texas Tech was the better team Saturday night in Jones AT&T Stadium. Unfortunately, there’s considerable cause to believe the Red Raiders still aren’t the Big 12’s best. That should become clear in the next three weeks. Texas Tech hosts Oklahoma State on Nov. 8, and then travels to Oklahoma (Nov. 22) to face the team with the longest home winning streak in the nation (23 games).

Alabama’s path is equally ugly. To run the table, the Crimson Tide would need to beat LSU on Saturday in Baton Rouge, La., handle struggling Auburn and best surging Florida (7-1) in the SEC title game.

Unfortunately, Alabama ranks 102nd in the nation in passing offense. They lack gamebreakers and balance. Much like Penn State, the Crimson Tide are fundamentally flawed, though exceptionally well-coached and disciplined. That’s enough in the Big Ten this season; it isn’t enough in the SEC or the Big 12. Alabama will lose to LSU, Florida or both. Take it to Vegas.

So what happens if both Texas Tech and Alabama go down?

Who fills that one-loss slot opposite Penn State and gets the pleasure of pounding the Nittany Lions in Miami the way that Florida and LSU pounded a less overmatched Big Ten bunch in the last two BCS title games?

There is no shortage of candidates. The three hottest teams in the nation at the moment - Florida, Oklahoma and Southern Cal - all have one previous blemish. And what of Texas, the only team in the one-loss mix that has dispatched three top-12 teams this season?

There is no right answer, but you can bet the lucky team will be chosen by humans and computers alike on the basis of style points like margin of victory. How else is anyone to select between a cast of similarly strong one-loss teams without a playoff? The BCS has turned college football into a beauty pageant, and this season it might decide more than just the national title.

If Texas Tech loses at Oklahoma and the Sooners, Red Raiders and Longhorns finish in a tie atop the Big 12 South Division, the team ranked the highest in the BCS standings released Nov. 30 will represent the division in the Big 12 title game. That could be fairly significant, not only as an extra BCS audition but as a final Heisman platform should Harrell, Texas’ Colt McCoy and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford remain the three favorites.

Gameballs and Gassers

Team kudos go to Texas Tech, Florida and Oklahoma. The Red Raiders dropped 579 yards of total offense on Texas and bullied the Longhorns considerably more than the 39-33 final score would indicate.

Florida strapped the worst loss of the Mark Richt era (49-10) in Georgia on the team previously known as preseason No. 1.

Words don’t do justice to what happened to Nebraska in Norman, Okla. En route to the most emphatic beating in the 96-year history of the series, the Sooners led the Cornhuskers 35-0 … at the end of the first quarter.

Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant snags individual leather after grabbing nine passes for 171 yards and four touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 59-17 destruction of Iowa State. Has one conference ever been blessed with a class of receivers like Big 12 sophomores Bryant, Crabtree and Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin?

The team gasser goes to Washington State for being the worst major-conference team in history. The Cougars rank 118th in total offense and 119th (dead last) in scoring defense, have been outscored 127-0 in their last two games (by Southern Cal and Stanford) and have lost all eight of their games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents by an average of 46.4 points.

The week’s golden goat is Florida State’s Marcus Sims, who fumbled away the Seminoles’ 12-game winning streak against Georgia Tech on what should have been a game-winning touchdown plunge inside the final minute.

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