Ducks hoping for second shot at LSU
This BCS race could very well come down to which team gets a second chance.
The field of contenders has been separated into the two at the top — No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Oklahoma State — and the next three — Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma.
The Tigers and Cowboys are unbeaten. Stay that way for a few more weeks and there is your BCS championship game. There would be few complaints about that matchup. At least none with any merit.
But there is already an ongoing debate over which team should be in the on-deck circle should Oklahoma State lose.
In fact, Southeastern Conference fans were pushing for a rematch of LSU-Alabama BEFORE the Tigers and Crimson Tide played.
LSU's 9-6 overtime victory in Tucsaloosa, Ala., was not a thing of beauty, but it did re-affirm what most already knew: The best two defenses in the country play in the same division. And if NFL scouts decided which teams should play for the national championship, there's a good chance there would be an LSU-Alabama II. You will not find two more talented rosters.
However, those who support the Bowl Championship Series like to remind those who don't that college football's regular season is the most exciting in sports because it's essentially a playoff every week. If Alabama gets another shot at LSU, the "Game of the Century" was pretty much meaningless.
Oregon fans are now looking for a mulligan, too.
LaMichael James and the fourth-ranked Ducks were at their breathtaking best Saturday night, routing Stanford 53-30. Oregon's opening 40-27 loss to LSU in Dallas Cowboys Stadium now seems like a long time ago.
Tide fans can claim — rightfully — that their team played LSU to a standstill. Ducks fans can counter — rightfully — that their team wasn't playing at home like Alabama and has been improving.
Losses late in college football have always been more damaging than losses early in the season. Though Alabama's schedule has been tougher than Oregon's.
Of course, the same arguments against an Alabama-LSU rematch can be made against a redo of Oregon-LSU, including: How is it fair that LSU could split with the Tide or Ducks but be relegated to No. 2.
Yes, it happens in the NFL — the most obvious example being the Giants beating the unbeaten Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl — but the NFL has this thing called a playoff and the BCS is not a playoff.
The BCS is supposed to match the best two teams at the end of the year, but by using subjective means to do that, basically it becomes a guessing game.
If it does comes down to an educated guess between Alabama and Oregon, better make it a three-headed coin toss because it most likely means Oklahoma is back in play, too.
The fifth-ranked Sooners have the ugly stain of a 41-38 home loss to Texas Tech on their resume, but they also have a road date with Oklahoma State on Dec. 3.
Since Texas Tech beat Oklahoma in Norman, the Red Raiders have lost three straight and been outscored 159-33. It's hard to excuse the Sooners for that loss, but beating the Cowboys in Stillwater, it could be argued, would be more impressive than anything Alabama or Oregon has done (or could still do) this season.
And if the voters who comprise the Harris and coaches' poll board really are anti-rematch, well, Oklahoma hasn't played LSU yet.
The Tigers aren't exactly in the clear yet either. Their next game is at home against awful Ole Miss. They then host No. 6 Arkansas the day after Thanksgiving. Get clear of those and the SEC championship game, most likely against Georgia, is next.
What happens if LSU loses along the way? Let's leave that potential mess for another day.
In the BCS era, the Heisman Trophy has become something of an MVP award, given to the best player on a team that plays for the national title.
Nine of the last 11 Heisman winners have played in the BCS championship game.
The problem with tying the Heisman so closely to the national title race is players get penalized for losses even when they play well.
Alabama running back Trent Richardson had 169 yards from scrimmage against LSU and was one of the best players on the field. The Tide's special teams problems and inability to generate a passing game should not be held against Richardson.
Same goes for Andrew Luck, the preseason favorite. The Stanford quarterback was 27 for 41 for 271 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions in the 53-30 loss to Oregon. The Cardinal are probably out of the national title race, but not because of Luck.
Another issue with narrowing the Heisman field to players on title contenders is some great players get missed.
Virginia Tech running back David Wilson has more yards rushing than any player in the country. Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson has had a brilliant season but two late, almost fluky, long touchdown passes against the Badgers have relegated him to second-tier Heisman contender. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III might be more important to his team than any player in the country, but because the Bears can't tackle he might not even be a Heisman finalist.
That doesn't seem fair.
Luck's loss could be Brandon Weeden's gain. If the Cowboys' quarterback can keep them undefeated, he just might be able to win a Heisman race that seemed pre-determined last winter when Luck said he'd return for another season at Stanford.
If Boise State had reached the BCS, it would have cost the school about $21 million to leave the Mountain West Conference and join the Big East in 2012. The MWC's bylaws state a team that leaves the conference on short notice must relinquish double its share of revenue from bowls and TV contracts. After losing to TCU and likely kissing those BCS bucks goodbye, the Broncos could save about $10 million if they do move.
No. 4 Oregon will try to keep its late-season surge going against No. 18 Southern California.