Winterized College Football Notes

No, it's not the wintry weather that has the brass at BCS headquarters shaking in their boots. It's the thought that after the SEC and Big 12 conduct their championship games this Saturday there'll still be five unbeaten teams. Strangely enough, the BCS honchos may get some help in a most unlikely form.

Chris Field, AFAFalcons Staff WriterBUFFALO STAMPEDE. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, I know. Oklahoma is a three TD favorite over Colorado, champions of the Big 12 North in spite of itself. The Sooners' offense looks as though it could give the New England Patriots or the Pittsburgh Steelers a run for their money, but all Bob Stoops' troops need to do is decimate the Buffoons, er, Buffs. Just keep in mind the following "sure things" in previous Big 12 title contests, all of whom fell flat on their face.

1996: Texas, an unranked twenty-one point underdog, upended number three ranked Nebraska, 37-27.

1998: Tenth ranked Texas A & M was an eighteen point underdog when the Aggies dismissed second ranked Kansas State in double overtime by a, 36-33, score.

Want more? 2001: Colorado, then ranked just ninth in the nation, and an eight point underdog, defeated number three Texas, 39-37.

2003: Just one year ago Kansas State was a fourteen point underdog when the Wildcats clawed Oklahoma, 35-7, to topple the nation's top ranked squad. I don't think Darren Sproles has been tackled yet by that Sooners' defense.

Yep, this weekend's game has 'blowout' written all over it. Just like the four games previously described. The BCS is in an untenable position. If OU wins there still may be three top of the heap undefeated teams in division 1-A: OU, USC and Auburn. If Colorado pulls the latest upset for the ages the BCS will have to give a four loss team an invitation to a big money bowl game.

OU should be primed and ready for this one especially in light of the manner in which Kansas State manhandled the Sooners in 2003. Oklahoma will be playing in its third consecutive conference championship game and fourth in five years. Bob Stoops is 15-3 when coaching against teams from the Big 12 North.

A TIGER'S TALE. Auburn had little trouble early in the season when it pummeled Tennessee, 34-10, in Knoxville. With the Volunteers plumbing the depths of their depth chart to find a quarterback to take the field against the Tigers this Saturday in Atlanta coach Phil Fulmer's team isn't in the strongest position. Junior Rick Clausen will get the starting nod for Tennessee.

Tommy Tuberville's Auburn team knows that short of some much needed help in the form of an upset by Colorado it has little chance of vaulting into one of the top two slots in the polls which would guarantee the Tigers a berth in the Orange Bowl. It's likely that AU will try to bury the Vols under an avalanche of points and hope that OU either loses or is unimpressive in beating Colorado.

Auburn is this year's most quietly efficient unbeaten team. The Tigers are 11-0 for the first time since 1993. The defense has allowed 1 TD via the rush this season (to Rafael Little of Kentucky). Auburn has the nation's fourth longest intact win streak at 14 games. It hasn't lost since 2002 in a game when it scored first. With QB Jason Campbell, RBs Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown, and WR Courtney Taylor leading the offense the Tigers have an embarrassment of riches. Tennessee couldn't beat Auburn when the Vols were healthy and playing in Knoxville. There's no plausible reason to believe Tennessee can, or will, spring an upset now.

My voice won't be heard in either Norman or Southern California above the celebratory dins, but I still think Auburn is the best team in the country.

TROJAN WARFARE. USC faces PAC 10 rival, UCLA, on Saturday in a bid to maintain its standing atop all the significant polls which will be released on Monday, after which, bowl destinations and pairings finally will become clarified.

This series has been more than a little one-sided of late with SoCal having won the past five meetings by an aggregate score of 126-43. Since USC's defense has been air-tight in allowing a mere 11.5 points a game in 2004 the Bruins figure to be in for a long day.

Heisman hopeful QB Matt Leinart is coming off an impressive 5 TD performance against Notre Dame. The tandem of Reggie Bush and LenDale White will make it easy for USC to move the ball on the ground and coach Pete Carroll's team has a balanced attack that will give Karl Dorrell's UCLA team all it can handle on defense. If there's an upset among the unbeatens--Oklahoma, Auburn or USC--it's not likely to be here.

HURRICANE WARNINGS. California, which looks as though it's headed for the Rose Bowl, will take on Southern Mississippi in a game postponed earlier in the season by a Hurricane Ivan. QB Aaron Rodgers and the combination of RBs J. J. Arrington and Marshawn Lynch are the main reasons the Golden Bears' offense is scoring a shade over 38 points a game. Southern Mississippi is yielding nearly 27 points and will be hard pressed to hold Cal under its average.

THE COACHING CAROUSEL. It's one thing for the carousel to revolve and quite another for it to spin out of control as it has this season and this week. BYU, UNLV, Notre Dame, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Utah State, Mississippi, and Stanford are among the division 1-A teams looking for new head coaches.

South Carolina has already replaced Lou Holtz with Steve Spurrier. (Holtz's son, Skip, was hired on Thursday by East Carolina to replace John Thompson as head coach). Utah's Urban Meyer seems to be mentioned for every job opening but those in the Bush Cabinet, and when he takes one of the jobs being thrust at him, Utah will be looking for its third coach since Ron McBride coached the Utes in 2002. The Mountain West Conference will already be replacing John Robinson at UNLV and Gary Crowton at BYU. With the success Joe Glenn has had at Wyoming over the past two years don't be surprised if a school lures him out of Laramie later this winter.

Once the NFL season ends, and the usual spate of coaches are fired, there may be another round of musical chairs in the college coaching ranks if the scent of Sunday-coaching-money proves to be more enticing than the lure of the recruiting trail.

UNIFORM BRAVERY. Army and Navy meet for the 105th time this weekend with the Black Knights holding a narrow 49-48-7 lead in the service academy rivalry. A win by the Midshipmen will not only give coach Paul Johnson's team its second consecutive Commander-in Chief's Trophy, but hoist Navy's record to a sparkling 9-2 before it sets sail for the postseason.

The offenses will be led by Navy FB, Kyle Eckel(883 yards and 10 TDs on the season), and Army RB Carlton Jones(1171 yards and 17 TDs on the season).

BOWL GLUT. Who can keep track of all twenty-eight bowl games that will be played this year? As it is you can't tell the Barley, Malt & Hops Bowl from the Giant Flat Screen TVs R Us Classic with all the postseason fiascoes that are scheduled to be played. Just be grateful the: Aviation, Bacardi, Bluebonnet, Bluegrass, Burley, California, Cherry, Cigar, Freedom, Garden State, Gotham, Harbor, Los Angeles Christmas Festival, Mercy, Oil, Pasadena (not to be confused with the Rose), Presidential Cup, Raisin, and Seattle Bowls are no longer in business.
 


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