COMMENTARY: Should Beavs play Nicholls State?

CORVALLIS -- A "Nicholl" for your thoughts? Should Oregon State play Nicholls State? The makeup game is slated for Dec. 1 and it may well have bowl game implications for the Beavs. Whatever OSU decides, it could make the difference between an eight, nine or 10-win regular season. It could make the difference in which bowl game Oregon State plays in. Ultimately a win is a win, right?

Not precisely.

It is hard to ignore the prospect that by playing and beating Nicholls State, an FCS school that is 1-8 on the season, it could effectively lower OSU's rank in the BCS polls – the last thing Mike Riley and Co. want to see.

After all, whether you're talking about a BCS, Alamo or Holiday Bowl, the committees generally like to take the team rated highest in the BCS rankings (with some exceptions.)

Most of the pundits see OSU headed to the Holiday Bowl (Pac-12 No.3 vs. Big 12 No.5) and Stanford headed to the Alamo Bowl (Pac- 12 No.2 vs. Big 12 No.3).

This assumes Stanford and Oregon State both lose to Oregon, with Stanford beating UCLA. But what if Stanford loses both of their final games to top 20 ranked teams? What happens is Oregon State upsets Oregon? What about UCLA and USC? What if Oregon State wins out, in which case they'll be ranked in the top 14 of the BCS and eligible for an at-large selection?

What about all the money that's involved, and how it differs from one bowl to the next?

Let's forget about all that for a moment. Let's talk about one other reason to play, or not to play, the Nicholls State game.

What about sportsmanship.

How about playing a game because they can and they should.

Should OSU, no matter their ranking, no matter what playing the game might do to their ranking, back out and refuse to play an opponent? It's absurd that it's come to this. What should they do on that Saturday? Stay home and watch T.V. all day? They are a football team, they should play football.

No game should be considered a waste of time – it goes against the underdog tradition that OSU has so desperately clung to all these years.

Oregon State is a good football team, a blue-collar bunch who win despite not having the money and resources of college football's elite. For the Beavs to turn around now and say – "You, Nicholls State… We will not play you because we are bound to win and we don't want to hurt our chances at clinching our best bowl prospect" – that flies in the face of what Oregon State purports to believe in.

Beaver Nation would have flipped if, as a hypothetical, it was Alabama vs. OSU in a makeup situation and the former refused to play. If a hurricane shuttered a huge non-conference tilt between OSU and ‘Bama and the latter chose the buyout clause because "it wouldn't benefit Alabama in our BCS ranking" – the OSU fans would have gone nuts. Why should Nicholls State receive the cold shoulder?

The game, which is scheduled to be played in Corvallis on Dec. 1, will generate income for the University and the athletic programs. The argument can also be made that the approximate $500K it would cost Oregon State not to play the game has far too little a chance to be made up by increasing their bowl payout possibilities.

At any rate, I see OSU playing the game. This team loves football, and loves to play no matter the circumstance. I see it in the players and coaches alike -- and I have since fall camp. And I hope they play, if not for anything other than the tradition of sport - for the love of the game.

I know this won't be a popular opinion. I know some will scream at the top of their lungs that if OSU beats Cal and Oregon, OSU should lobby and cajole their hearts out to not play Nicholls State in the hopes it will, even if by the slimmest of margins, improve the bowl standing. I know all this. And I don't give a damn.

Let the other programs go onto bended knee and whine and cry and jockey their way up the bowl berth chute, if they can. Good riddance to whatever the BCS implications may be. Let all that other stuff work itself out -- after the games.

Let's play Cal, let's play Oregon, let's play Nicholls State.

Let's just play football, and then let come what may.

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