Can't Spell Shreveport, Louisiana Without SOS

There's a lot of bowl politicking and lobbying going around these days and everyone has a different breakdown for how the invitations will shake out. While the variety of conclusions being formed from the same set of facts is remarkable, it's not surprising. We all come at this with our biases. Still, I'm convinced that when all is said and done it will be South Carolina, not Florida occupying the home sideline at the Independence Bowl.

The Peach Bowl had a woody for the Gamecocks with hopes of matching Steve Spurrier with Bobby Bowden. But that urge has long since subsided. First South Carolina lost a dull game with Clemson. Then FSU took another giant step backwards with a loss to N.C. State. The clincher came in the Swamp last Saturday when Florida humiliated the ‘Noles on national TV.

FSU has become the college football equivalent of the crazy aunt in the attic. Nobody wants them in their game. The Seminoles have morphed into a dysfunctional team with internal strife, coaching staff controversy and disappearing confidence. If, as expected the Noles fall to Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game, they will take a four-game losing streak into a bowl game. That means it's likely very few fans will follow along.

As for South Carolina, the buzz created when Steve Spurrier beat his Alma Mater was severely diminished by the loss to Clemson. The SEC has six bowl-eligible squads, and five of them are ranked. The SEC has six bowls waiting for teams from the league and five always get a ranked team. Care to guess which bowl normally gets the unranked entry? Care to guess which bowl is likely to get unranked South Carolina? Bingo! Shreveport.

Saturday Could Shake Things Up

The status of the BCS is where all bowl discussions begin, so a shake up on Saturday could alter the picture significantly. Southern Cal and Texas must post victories in order to secure their spots in the National Championship game. An LSU loss could send the Tigers to Tampa for the Outback Bowl and Florida back to Atlanta for a peachy matchup with Clemson.

Then there's the matter of the two at-large spots in the BCS. There are four solid candidates for the spots: Auburn, Ohio State, Oregon and Notre Dame. Ohio State has lost to # 2 Texas and # 3 Penn State but has not beaten a team with eight wins. Oregon has only one loss, to # 1 Southern Cal, but lacks a notable win. Ditto Notre Dame, which also lost to Michigan State. Auburn, in my view has the best credentials of all, losing to # 4 LSU and Georgia Tech, but boasting wins over two nine-win teams (Georgia and Alabama).

Notre Dame will get one of the two because of their history, tradition, name recognition and TV drawing power. Most speculation has Ohio State getting the other spot and playing Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl but I'm not convinced. There's no need for Ohio State's drawing power when you already have the Irish. And the BCS is under intense pressure to make up for the snubbing of the Pac-Ten (California) last year. Auburn looks like the odd-team out, just like they were a year ago when the Tigers were passed over for of the Championship Game.

That send Auburn to Orlando to face Ohio State (if Oregon gets the Fiesta) or Wisconsin (if the Buckeyes get it). Alabama is a virtual lock for the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Of course, should FSU upset Virginia Tech in Jacksonville Saturday night, all bets are off.

This Weekend Should Be Round One

Instead of conference championship games this weekend should be round one of a 16-team NCAA Championship playoff. The first weekend would have eight games on campus sites. The matchups, using the BCS standing with slight adjustments to avoid regular-season rematches look like this:

Texas Tech at Southern Cal
Miami at Notre Dame

Georgia at Virginia Tech
Texas Christian at Penn State

West Virginia at Ohio State

Auburn at Oregon
Alabama at Texas

Assuming the home teams all win, I see the following matchups in the elite bowl games as the national quarterfinal games.

  • Orange Bowl ----- Virginia Tech Vs Penn State
  • Sugar Bowl ------- Ohio State Vs L-S-U
  • Fiesta Bowl ------- Texas Vs Oregon
  • Rose Bowl -------- Southern Cal Vs Notre Dame

Try telling me these matchups aren't vastly superior to what three of the games will be this year. The four winners move on to play it off for the first true, legit champ in college football history!

At least I can dream.

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