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BCS picture clears up with crazy Saturday

By By Stan Torgerson / sports columnist
Nov. 4, 2002
The thank you letters from Bowl Championship Series officials to Florida, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Georgia Tech will likely go out any day now.
Talk about being bailed out of a leaky boat. Friday there were eight undefeated Division I-A schools with only two places available for the Jan. 3, 2003 BCS championship game in the Fiesta Bowl. Today there are only four and one one of those, Bowling Green, is a non-factor.
When last Saturday Florida dropped Georgia, Pittsburgh beat Virginia Tech, Boston College defeated Notre Dame and Georgia Tech surprised North Carolina State that wind-like sound you heard was not a result of the latest Gulf Coast hurricane. It was wheeeews of relief from those selectors who would have had to decide which two of the eight would have been paired for the game, leaving six to cry foul in words primarily composed of four letters.
Now it's down to three, Miami (8-0), Oklahoma (8-0) and Ohio State (10-0), assuming at least two of those three can keep their skirts clean for a few more weeks. Admittedly in this crazy, mixed up, doesn't make sense at times football season any one, or all, of the three still standing could have their legs cut out from under them by some team whose members would rather beat them than win their home state lottery. Tennessee comes to mind since they go head to head with Miami this week, and in Knoxville no less. It doesn't get any easier after that for the Hurricanes. They would still have to beat Virginia Tech's conquerer, Pittsburgh, followed by a pushover in Syracuse and but finishing up against a now bloody and angry Virginia Tech, a team that has the talent to beat Miami or anyone else.
As for Ohio State, they play traditional rival Purdue Saturday, and don't think the Boilermakers won't be higher than a crowd at a rock concert. This game is followed by a lackluster Illinois. If the Buckeyes get by those two, waiting in the weeds will be the Michigan Wolverines, 7-2 at this moment, nationally ranked and tough as the ugliest mug on the Sopranos.
As for Oklahoma, they catch Texas A&M this Saturday, a team still smarting from losing to Oklahoma State last week for the first time since 1988. Will the Aggies be up? Do Texas cattle have long horns?
After that it's a cakewalk against Baylor, potentially dangerous Texas Tech and finally those self-same Cowboys from Oklahoma State.
In other words none of the three has this thing locked up while Georgia, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame are going to their prayer books every night to ask the football gods for a second chance. We did not include North Carolina State in the may-be summation because the ACC does not get that kind of respect and can't possibly get the nod unless everyone else at the top loses two and that's not going to happen.
But as it stands today the big three are as above, Miami, Oklahoma and Ohio State. Miami has the toughest job with Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech still ahead, along with the breather against Syracuse. Ohio State should beat Purdue and Illinois so they have only the big, bad Wolverines keeping them out. In my book, Oklahoma has the easiest run. If the Sooners can go to Texas A&M and win Saturday they should go the rest of the way.
So my somewhat educated guess is Oklahoma and Ohio State in the BCS title game. If two of the remaining undefeated teams lose, all bets are off. We'd have a repeat of last year when Miami qualified and the committee had to reach down in a hat and pull out Nebraska as their opponent.
The winner? Oklahoma, but don't bet it on my say-so. In fact, just forget I said it.
The Beat Goes On
Same old. same old last Saturday. Ole Miss still does not have a running game, and please don't find solice in Ronald McClendon's 62 yards in the second half. It was hardly enough. The fact is the Rebs got only 74 on the ground during the entire afternoon, giving them a total of 114 in their last four games. Yes, total. Auburn tailback Ronnie Brown had 152 all by himself in the first half against Ole Miss and 224 for the afternoon, about twice what the Rebels have in three full games. As a team, Auburn rolled up 254 to the Rebels 74. Ole Miss still doesn't have a defense either. In their last three times out the opponents have scored 121 points, an average of 40 per game. Three games!
As for Mississippi State, if it truly is more blessed to give than to receive, the Bulldogs are the most blessed team in the SEC. Four more interceptions against Kentucky. Two fumbles, one of them lost. Total five turnovers. Plus allowing two punt returns for touchdowns, both in the third quarter. The game was at Starkville, proving again that, indeed, charity begins at home.
This Saturday Ole Miss has Georgia on the road and State has Alabama at Tuscaloosa. If you don't believe things can get any worse, you may be right. But they're not likely to get any better either.