Corbett: The coaches, the polls and the bowls
Prediction: Tommy Tuberville will be Clemson's next coach. He wins championships, comes from a similar school with a similar atmosphere, and despite winning regularly in the SEC, he is as unwanted as a President in his eighth year. Familiarity has bred contempt, not only in Clemson, but in Auburn too.
After watching Oklahoma beat No. 2 Texas Tech 65-21 on TV Saturday night and watching Florida pound USC 56-6 in person one week earlier, and knowing unheralded N.C. State rolled over #22 North Carolina 41-10, is there any reason we cannot say that Carolina is a Top Twenty Five team? Or should we just declare Florida the national champion right now?
It will be Florida and Oklahoma in the BCS Championship game. The Gators will win an exciting and close offensive shootout with a last minute score. Look for a 42-38 score.
When trying to figure out the Gamecocks' bowl destination, you cannot count on two SEC berths in the BCS just yet. With two Big Twelve teams a certainty, one ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Pac 10 champ - and Southern Cal, if Oregon State wins that conference - and then the SEC title game winner, there are just two spots left in the BCS. Utah and Boise State are each undefeated and ranked high in the BCS and the polls, and even BYU is 10-2 after losing to Utah. Can the BCS leave out former No. 1 Alabama if it loses the SEC title game to Florida? A two loss Florida squad if the Gators lose in the SEC title game? Wasn't Auburn unbeaten in the "best" college football conference in the nation and not in the BCS title game a few years ago when there were three unbeatens at the top of the rankings? The answer to all three questions is yes. With the SEC winning BCS titles the last two seasons and the emergence of the Big 12 this season, people may look at the number of bowl slots missing among the SEC tie-ins and choose to "help out."
What if the "Mississippi Riverboat Gambler" Tommy Tuberville engineers the upset and takes Auburn to a 7th straight win over the Crimson Tide. "One for the thumb" will be replaced by "Three fingers left to poke you in the eye" as the Auburn Tigers slogan for the week. Like Tommy Bowden, he beats his rival regularly and wins often, but he too will be forced to leave.
USC looks like a good bet to go to the Outback Bowl in Tampa, probably to face Michigan State, if the SEC gets two BCS berths. With Ole Miss beating LSU, the Reb's look like they will go to the Cotton Bowl. The Florida/Alabama winner goes to the BCS, probably the championship game; the loser goes to the Capital City Bowl or gets the second BCS bid. Georgia would go to the Capital One Bowl against Ohio State or give way to the SEC title game loser.
With two BCS bids, USC makes the most sense for the Outback with Vanderbilt, then either staying home for the Music City Bowl or going to the Liberty Bowl. Kentucky is more likely to go to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl or even the Chick Fil' A Bowl after two straight trips to Nashville. I do not buy the argument that Kentucky is vying with the Gamecocks for the Outback Bowl. Why would the Outback Committee choose a team that can finish at best 7-5 and 3-5 in the SEC with a victory against hapless Tennessee over a USC squad that will be at worst 7-5 and 4-4 with a win over Kentucky and a proven following of bowl fans? I don't think the Wildcats are a serious contender for Tampa.
LSU most likely will get the Chick Fil' A Bowl against an ACC team to be determined by a computer program or "Rock, Paper, Scissors," but might even sneak into the Outback Bowl instead of USC. But could LSU actually be sent to the Liberty Bowl? Yes, in a season that LSU loses to Ole' Miss for the first time since 2001 - and at home.
Meanwhile, Arkansas fans might be asking, "Why can't we count a win over LSU as two wins this year?" The answer is – not when you lose to Mississippi State and blow the chance to face the Bayou Bengals at 5-6 while you are just one win away from Bowl eligibility. Arkansas blew the chance to upset the reeling Tigers and sneak into a bowl game by losing to Mississippi State. And Auburn? Those Tigers have to beat Alabama to finish 6-6. That would likely put them in the Papa John's Bowl in Birmingham- and perhaps save Tommy Tuberville's job.
Ten six-win teams in the SEC? We ain't got some. If only Papa John sold enough pizzas last year to sponsor a bowl, the Gamecocks would have come and not even used any coupons.
So it is most likely Tampa for USC's bowl game. Atlanta does not need the ticket sales, and most USC fans would make it a one night trip. Besides, most of us couldn't get tickets to the Chick Fil A Bowl anyway.
Now if the SEC gets just one BCS berth, look for USC in Atlanta or, ee gads, Dallas? Back to Memphis? Maybe we should be rooting for the other USC, and therefore for Oregon to beat Oregon State.
Who said things were already settled?
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