Leave it to Beavers

It looked so easy for Southern Cal. The Trojans had their dominating win over Ohio State and appeared to have clear sailing to an unbeaten season and a return to the BCS Championship game. After all every other Pac-10 team already had a non-conference loss and none were nationally ranked.

Meanwhile USC had 62 of 65 first place votes in the A.P. Poll which was more than enough respect to keep them ahead of the back if they kept winning.

IF they kept winning.

Instead for the second straight time, the Trojans' visit to Corvallis, Oregon resulted in an upset loss to the Oregon State Beavers. Despite heading into the contest with a 1-2 record, Oregon State outplayed USC all night long, never trailed in the contest and all but killed their national title hopes.

Pac-Ten Struggles Hurt

There's no question an SEC or Big 12 team could overcome an early season loss and still play in the BCS Title Game. But for the Pac-10 saddled Trojans it will be much more difficult. First of all they lost to a team that had been blown out by Penn State 45-14 two weeks ago. Oregon State also dropped a 36-28 decision to Stanford. The rest of the league has also taken on some "bad" losses that will hurt the league's image. Arizona fell to New Mexico, Oregon lost to Boise State and California was tripped up by Maryland. Additionally Arizona State lost to UNLV and UCLA was humiliated by Brigham Young 59-0.

SEC, Big-12 Big Winners

The loss by USC clearly puts the SEC and Big 12 at the head of the pack when looking for participants in the BCS Title Game. The A.P. rankings tell the story pretty clearly. Each league has four top ten teams with only USC (still No. 1 for three days) and No. 9 Wisconsin crashing the party.

SEC in the A.P. --- Georgia-3, Florida-4, LSU-5, Alabama-8

Big-12 in the A.P. --- Oklahoma-2, Missouri-6, Texas-7, Texas Tech-10

It's hard to imagine how Southern Cal would be able to jump a one-loss conference champion in either of these leagues. Similarly, Wisconsin is up against it because of Ohio State's blowout loss (35-3) to USC. A less impressive victory by the Badgers when they face the Buckeyes would probably result in a collective yawn nationally. Now Penn State and Illinois are also carrying national rankings, so if any Big Ten team can run the table they'll have a shot, but there's no way a one-loss Big Ten Champ jumps a one loss team from the SEC or Big 12.

You gotta think the folks in Miami are pretty excited about this most recent development. An SEC/Big 12 BCS Title Game would be an incredible event with hotels and restaurants packed and a tremendous buzz surrounding the showdown of the winners of the country's two strongest leagues.

Of course there's still a lot of football to be played, but for now the BCS picture couldn't be clearer. We'll see how long that remains the case.


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