Friday, December 13, 2002
Strength-of-schedule is getting more and more important
By Jack Arute
Special to BCSfootball.com
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T-minus 21 days until the first BCS posting, and if my somewhat limited extrapolations are any indication, people will be very surprised.
While several of the computer calculations are hard to come by, Jeff Sagarin may be setting the stage with his current Top 10. With Florida State on top, Jeff lists the following schools in descending order: Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Nebraska, K-State, Clemson, TCU, Miami, Southern Miss. and Oregon.
Borrowing from my colleague Keith Jackson, "Whoa, Nellie."
The way the BCS is structured, eight computer rankings, combined with the coaches and media rankings, provide the backbone to the BCS. Strength-of-schedule and opponents' strength-of-schedule, continue to be the decision makers. That's why things will change from week to week until mid-November. While I can agree with Jeff's decision to place FSU at No. 1, I am somewhat surprised at his posting of Nebraska at No. 4.
The Sagarin Poll in past years has generally reflected the overall BCS equation. If Jeff's initial postings are this radical, I can't wait to see the wild and wacky Seattle Times Poll.
This weekend's key games
However, there are some key matchups this weekend that could end up putting all of this in the trash bin.
No. 2 Florida State at No. 8 Miami
|A healthy Chris Weinke is vital for FSU to beat Miami.|
The Seminoles and a gimpy Chris Weinke face off against Miami. This time, Miami doesn't have to travel cross-country. Miami puts its 3-1 record on the line at home. The FSU-Miami clash is a college keeper, and for the first time in almost eight years, Bobby Bowden might be having some wide right nightmares. Let's face it, his kicking game is the team's Achilles Heel, or, toe, as it were.
No. 10 Texas vs. No. 12 Oklahoma
Another war takes place in Dallas in the Red River Shootout. Coach Mack Brown's shuttle quarterback diplomacy will be put to the test. Meanwhile, the Switzer-type swagger is back at Oklahoma and this is the Sooners' chance to fire a shot heard 'round the college football world.
North Carolina State at No. 5 Clemson
Chuck Amato gets his first shot at a Bowden in the N.C. State-Clemson game. The Wolfpack exemplify Amato's philosophies. They exhibit incredible toughness and a refusal to quit. Tommy Bowden, on the other hand, gets the nod because the game is in Death Valley, arguably the most hostile place for a visitor to play a football game.
Hawaii at No. 14 TCU
TCU gets my Year 2000 Kansas State award. Horned Frog fans are already screaming about the lack of respect their 4-0 squad is getting. Here's the problem folks: it's spelled W-A-C (or what's left of the WAC). It's another scintillating matchup this weekend when TCU hosts Hawaii's Rainbow/Warriors (I wish they would make up their mind).
No. 13 Auburn at No. 20 Mississippi State
Sleeper Game of the Week: The Auburn Tigers against Jackie Sherrill's Mississippi State Bulldogs. This is a chance for Auburn to prove that its 5-0 record is not as soft as the filling in a Twinkie. Should the Tigers beat the Bulldogs convincingly, Tommy Tuberville and his squad will get my respect. But they have to play in Starkville, where the echoes can still be heard from the Bulldogs' stunning upset of Florida.
Jack's Top 10
1. Florida State: Do the coaches have it in for Bowden?
2. Nebraska: Things get serious for the Cornhuskers in just a couple of weeks.
3. Kansas State: They are making a believer out of me.
4. Virginia Tech: Boston College is not enough. Beat Miami.
5. Ohio State: Let's see if the Buckeyes can stay undefeated now that they are in the middle of Big Ten play.
6. Oklahoma: My Tony Award winner.
7. Clemson: Don't let the Bowden Bowl distract you from the Wolfpack.
8. Auburn: Just keep winning, baby.
9. North Carolina State: A team with a linebacker mentality.
10. TCU: The WAC may be a creampuff conference, but the Horned Frogs are still undefeated, so settle for No. 10.
Jack Arute writes a column every Monday for BCSfootball.com.
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