Steve Townsend has diligently cast his vote in the Harris Poll each week. More important than casting the vote, though, has been preparing for it. Few people read more about and/or see more college football than Townsend.
Early on he said that USC, which has been number one for a record 32 weeks in the Associated Press poll and is going for its third consecutive national championship, and talent-rich Texas would play in the Rose Bowl on January 4, 2006, for the BCS national championship.
And with the same two teams entrenched in the Associated Press poll, which took itself out of the BCS formula prior to this season, it is likely both polls will have the same national champion.
Townsend said, "UCLA and USC should still be an interesting ball game. I think it will be entertaining because both teams can score, but I don't think UCLA can beat Southern Cal."
As for the Big 12 Championship Game, Townsend said, "Colorado slipped back into Big 12 championship. Colorado looked awful against Nebraska. Like I've said for several weeks, the Big 12 is pretty down except for Texas."
If things go as expected and Southern Cal and Texas make it undefeated and into the Rose Bowl, Townsend said, "It will be some heck of a showcase offensive football game . I don't know how much defense will be played, but there will be some points scored."
Townsend enjoyed watching the Texas vs. Texas A&M game last weekend, a game that was probably closer than the final 40-29 score. "Funny things can happen in a rivalry game," Townsend said. "I remember a couple of years ago when (former Oklahoma Coach) Barry Switzer was here and I was taking him around our facilities. We talked about the option and he said it was still a great offense, perhaps even more so now than in the wishbone era because so few teams ran it and so defenses didn't see it. It sure looked like Texas didn't have any idea how to defend the option. The Texas A&M quarterback, Stephen McGee, had Texas off guard with his running."
Townsend added, "What surprised me more than Texas A&M moving the ball was that they really did a nice job defensively containing Texas. The 40 points is misleading because of total special teams breakdowns by Texas A&M. That's what gave Texas the chance to win the ball game.
"That's the first team I've seen slow down (Texas quarterback) Vince Young. The best thing he does is beat you with his legs, and he didn't take off much against A&M. I think that game probably took Vince Young out of the Heisman Trophy. Based on what I've seen and read, I'd say Reggie Bush has it wrapped up unless he just does something horrendous. He'll be the third USC player in the 2000s to win it and USC has a chance to win its third national championship game."
Townsend was not surprised to see Penn State jump LSU in the Harris Poll and move up to third ahead of LSU in the BCS rankings. "It looks like Virginia Tech (fifth in the BCS) and Penn State will be the Orange Bowl. I don't see FSU beating Virginia Tech. I don't know of any so-called good team playing worse than Florida State. They have been blown out a couple of times lately."
Most expect the Fiesta Bowl to choose Notre Dame with its first pick, even though the Fighting Irish are only eighth in the BCS rankings. Townsend said, "Notre Dame was lucky to win Saturday. Stanford has improved a lot. Notre Dame should have been in the Pac-10 this year. They can score, but they have trouble slowing people down. It will be interesting to see who the Fiesta takes as an opponent. Most think it will be Ohio State, but it could be Oregon, which is 10-1, or it could be Penn State, though most think not.
Alabama is no longer involved in BCS aspirations after back-to-back losses to LSU and Auburn. The Tide has fallen to 14th in the polls and 15th in the BCS compilation. But, Townsend said, "If Alabama ends up 10-2 and some other head-to-head meetings go a certain way, Alabama could get back into the final top ten. But it won't be until after the bowl games."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Steve Townsend, an independent consultant for college football, is one of 113 voters in the Harris Interactive College Football Poll, which is part of the equation for choosing teams for the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games at the end of the season. The BCS formula also consists of the USA Today Coaches Poll, and an average of six computer rankings (Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin and Peter Wolfe).
Steve Townsend previously served as media relations director at Alabama (1988-98) and for the Southeastern Conference, co-publisher of Tiger Rag (the LSU equivalent of ‘BAMA Magazine), and as a graduate assistant under famed LSU Sports Information Director Paul Manasseh.
He shares his thoughts on the national scene with BamaMag.com on a regular basis.