Don't dial the BCS crisis hotline yet, USC football fans. Everything, for now, looks fine and Vandy. Stunningly, though, less than two weeks...
Don’t dial the BCS crisis hotline yet, USC football fans.
Everything, for now, looks fine and Vandy.
Stunningly, though, less than two weeks after USC’s 35-3 victory over Ohio State left the Trojans as overwhelming favorites to get to the national-title game, the watchwords in coming weeks might be: Watch out.
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Watch out for the Big 12 and Southeastern conferences.
Watch out for Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana State and perhaps Alabama.
Watch out for voters and analysts getting amnesia about what USC did in its first two games and concentrating on what the top-ranked Trojans do in their last 10.
Watch out for sloppy, uninspired efforts against Pac-10 piñatas Washington, Washington State and UCLA.
USC stayed on top over the weekend, but did you notice how the bottom dropped out?
The Associated Press media poll, released Sunday, shockingly revealed no ranked schools left on USC’s schedule.
The Pac-10’s supposedly second- and third-best schools, Oregon and Arizona State, lost Saturday and neither is in the Top 25.
The USA Today voting coaches kept Oregon at No. 22 after a home loss to Boise State, but how long will that last with the Ducks running out of quarterbacks?
What a drag the Pac-10 has become.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame, USC’s last remaining nonconference opponent, was sniffing the Top 25 until Saturday’s loss at Michigan State opened the trapdoor.
USC has to hope it has built up enough prime-time equity to compensate for a crumbling Pac-10 foundation.
Even the Trojans’ 52-7 victory at Virginia has been somewhat offset by Virginia’s follow-up, 35-point loss to Connecticut.
In 2004, USC, Oklahoma and the SEC champion all finished unbeaten, and SEC champion Auburn got left out.
You’re nuts to think that is going to happen again.
Good as it looks, there is no guarantee that going 12-0 is going to get USC to the BCS title game.
Georgia, at 13-0, could not possibly be denied, nor could any other 13-0 SEC champion.
On Saturday, visiting Georgia walloped Arizona State, the team picked to finish second in the Pac-10 before the season.
Georgia has regular-season games left against current AP No. 4 (Florida), No. 5 (LSU), No. 8 (Alabama), No. 15 (Auburn) and No. 21 (Vanderbilt), plus a possible berth in the SEC title game.
USC owns all but three first-place votes in the AP poll and all but five in the coaches poll, but some votes would no doubt move away from the Trojans.
On another flank, the Big 12, enjoying one of its best years, is the second-strongest conference this year behind the SEC.
The Big 12 this week has four teams in the AP Top 10, led by Oklahoma at No. 2.
Wouldn’t you think a 13-0 champion from that conference would trump USC?
While USC is gearing up for Oregon State, which lost to Stanford, which lost to Texas Christian, No. 8 Alabama gears up for No. 3 Georgia in Athens.
In the Big 12, Oklahoma plays No. 7 Texas on Oct. 11, the same day USC will be cleaning up on has-been Arizona State.
Soon, there will also be the BCS computers to factor in, and we fully expect them to factor out the Pac-10.
The flip side is that USC, by far among the contenders, has the best chance to avoid losing.
It will also help the Trojans’ cause if Ohio State, led by star-is-born freshman Terrelle Pryor, keeps winning.
What USC really needs is fistfights to break out in the Big 12 or SEC, producing a one- or two-loss champion — not a far-fetched notion.
Just don’t expect a repeat of 2004, when three undefeated teams left standing meant good news for USC and Oklahoma and bad news for the SEC.
We get the feeling USC gets aced out this year in the same scenario.
Right now, coincidentally, it is USC, Oklahoma and the SEC again at 1-2-3 in the polls.
It’s nothing to worry about yet, Trojans fans. It’s just something to think about.
Last year, Hawaii wondered all year whether a 12-0 record would be good enough for a top-12 finish and an automatic BCS berth before sneaking in at No. 10. An undefeated Brigham Young is not going to have that problem. The Cougars, who outscored UCLA and Wyoming 103-0 the last two weeks, are already No 11 in both polls.
There probably is no one-loss wiggle room for conferences without automatic BCS qualifying status.
What about a one-loss BYU?
“I really believe some day an 11-1 Mountain West Conference team can play in a BCS bowl,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said recently. “It’s not so far-fetched where it’s, like, ‘What, are you crazy? “
Memo to Thompson: You’re probably crazy.