BCS Bull

If college football prides itself on basically being a playoff every weekend, how does a team that lost its season finale still play for the National Championship? It has happened twice since the Bowl Championship Series was introduced eight years ago, and it appears that it's going to happen again.

That's not the only b.s. concerning the BCS. And by the way both Nebraska in 2001 and Oklahoma in 2003 went on to end those seasons with two-game losing streaks.

Theoretically, two late-season match-ups could be revisited in January when the BCS takes center stage. No. 2 Michigan, who just lost 42-39 to No. 1 Ohio State last Saturday, retained its spot in the latest BCS standings, and is in line to get another crack at the Buckeyes in the title game.

If that's the case, No. 5 Notre Dame, no matter what happens in its season finale against No. 3 USC this coming Saturday, could face, guess who, but the same Trojans in the Rose Bowl.

The BCS bowl that loses the highest-ranking team to the title game gets first selection of an at-large team. The Rose Bowl usually pits the Pac 10 champ (USC) versus the Big 10 champ (Ohio State). The Rose Bowl committee would've probably taken Michigan, but if they're in the title game, the Irish are the next best business selection.

No college football program has fans that travel as well as the Irish. No matter the bowl, no matter the match-up, the traveling contingent will still be strong. As long as the Irish are ranked in the BCS top-12, where they are eligible to be selected (a top-eight ranking guarantees a selection to a BCS bowl), the Rose Bowl will have to think long and hard before choosing a team other than Notre Dame.

Irish head coach Charlie Weis just shook his head when proposed with the question of possibly playing the Trojans two weeks in a row.

"I think that whatever bowl wants to take us versus whomever we're going to play, we'll go and be a good representative and we will be happy to go," Weis said at his Sunday press conference.

Which is true, but you know the Irish don't want to play USC two games in a row.

College football shouldn't be happy that they're in this predicament. This should be one of the most exciting endings in history. The perfect situation played itself out regarding the two spots in the title game, making for a dramatic final three weeks of the season. In three weeks, teams ranked in the BCS top-six could settle it on the field. No. 1 Ohio State beat No. 2 Michigan. No. 3 USC takes on No. 5 Notre Dame this weekend. No. 4 Florida will play No. 6 Arkansas in the SEC title game in two weeks. Winners take all. Instead, Ohio State and Michigan could very well play again.

The only thing preventing a rematch of the two Big 10 rivals is if the Trojans beat the Irish and UCLA the following week. That could be enough for them to leap Michigan in the BCS standings. Florida, Notre Dame and Arkansas will be on the outside looking in no matter what, and they earned a chance. A chance ruined by the implemented BCS scenario when a real playoff system was constantly being avoided by the NCAA governing body.

How it should've played out is the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game versus, USC if they run the table, Florida if USC loses, or Notre Dame or Arkansas if they beat the Trojans and Gators respectively.

The nation already saw Ohio State beat Michigan. Give somebody else a chance.

It's understood that Notre Dame lost to Michigan by 26 points at home back in September. It's tough to think it is fair that the Irish should jump them three months later. But the Wolverines had their chance, lost, and Notre Dame, USC and Florida have stayed in position to capitalize.

Regardless of the fact that the Irish won't get a chance to play for the National Championship, the goal at the start of the season, the year can still be considered a great success. If Notre Dame (10-1) can end a four-game losing streak against the Trojans, and snap an eight-game bowl losing streak with a BCS win, 2006 will truly be a memorable season. Not a miserable one for Weis.

Beating USC (9-1) will obviously be easier said than done. They aren't one of just two teams (again just two teams) vying for a spot in the title game for nothing. Under Pete Carroll, they have won 32-straight home games, 54-out-of-57 games overall, with the three losses coming by a combined eight points.

USC is getting hot at the right time, beating rivals California (No. 15 at the time) and Oregon (No. 20 at the time) the last two weeks. The Irish on the other hand beat Army and Air Force in their last two games. They will have a big adjustment to make when it comes to the speed of the game when the Trojans line up across from them.

"I really don't have an answer for that one, though, it's not like I'm going to pull some track team in here now," Weis joked about preperation. "I mean, that is a good question. I think that you don't; you adjust to it."

"You try to simulate it just like we talked about simulating the option and then not being able to get it the same speed that it's really run at when you're playing the game. I think that you have to game plan for speed. You have to game plan realizing that there's speed on both sides of the ball. That's just part of what you've got to do. I can't go into any more depth in an answer to that question."

The Trojans average 392 yards per game (23rd in the nation) against a tough schedule that included a 36-point victory over Arkansas in the season opener. The defense only surrenders 288.6 yards per game (21st in the nation). They have speed at every skill position on both sides of the ball. The thing they maybe do best is get teams to play at their tempo, which is fast.

The Irish offense is prolific, averaging 397.45 yards per game (21st in the nation), but they still want to play ball control against a dynamic USC attack.

"You don't want to try to get into a track meet with USC," Weis stated. "Everyone who does ends up losing. That's not how you want to play the game. You don't want to play the game 50-49. That's not what you want to try to do."

Weis might have to keep that same game plan in mind two games in a row.

What BCS.

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