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Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Updated: November 16, 4:48 PM ET
Just For Argument's Sake …

By Ivan Maisel

From nagging questions to soapbox moments to Heisman hype, here's a look at the hottest topics in college football.

3 Nagging Questions | Soapbox Moment | Whatever Happened To ... | Introducing
Just A Thought | How To | Heisman Hype | Power 16 | 3 Games Worth TiVo-ing

1. Let's revisit. Which is the best rivalry in the college football?
Ohio StateMichiganAlabamaAuburn We live in the era of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. It has everything: top rankings, great tradition, compelling backstories. The game Saturday will be the pinnacle of all that college football fans hold dear.

(And my employer, which will be televising it to an audience that will be as big as any regular-season game in recent memory. I know this because my wife wrote the game time down on the kitchen calendar so that she will remember to watch it. We're talking big Nielsens).

The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry has every element of a great college football rivalry but one, the one that means it will never be the greatest rivalry.

When the game is over, Ohio State fans will remain in Ohio and Michigan fans will return to Michigan.

In Alabama, the losing fans have to go to work on Monday and face their co-workers from the other side.

When you can never let your guard down, a rivalry is a 365-day affair.

The Iron Bowl engages more people in Alabama than any other event, sporting or otherwise, in the state. There is no NFL team, no major-league professional team of any kind. The state plans its life around the game.

In 49 states, Ohio State and Michigan will win the TV ratings. But when Auburn and Alabama meet at 3:30 on Saturday, you can book that no one in the state will know or care who wins at the Horseshoe.

Yes, as an Alabama native, my perspective might be skewed. But my logic isn't. Ohio State-Michigan is the most important rivalry now. It is and always will be a grand spectacle. But until Ohio and Michigan become one state, Alabama and Auburn will be the best rivalry in college football.

2. How will Oklahoma make it to a BCS bowl?

That's a question I've been answering from Sooners fans ever since I projected that Oklahoma will get to the Orange Bowl. Here's what I think will happen:

The Ohio State-Michigan loser will get one at-large bid.

Boise State will get one at-large bid because it will finish ahead of the ACC champion in the final BCS standings.

Notre Dame will get one because it will finish no worse than 10-2 and because it is, well, Notre Dame.

That leaves one bid, with the most likely candidates being a two-loss team from the SEC, the Big East runner-up, and Oklahoma.

If Florida is 10-2, it will be coming off a loss in the SEC Championship Game after a string of uninspiring victories.

If Arkansas is 10-2, it will be after a loss to Florida.

That leaves the Big East runner-up. Does it take Rutgers at 11-1, which would mean it ended the season with a loss? Does it take a 10-2 West Virginia team after a loss to Rutgers? Does it take 11-1 Louisville?

LSU at 10-2 would be a threat to a 10-2 Oklahoma, but as hot as Arkansas is, I don't think LSU will beat the Razorbacks in Little Rock.

Louisville is the biggest threat to my Sooners theory. The Cardinal fans will travel, which might be important to a bowl with a Wake Forest as its host team. But Oklahoma with a seven-game winning streak and a healthy Adrian Peterson would be awfully enticing.

3. Will Bobby Bowden recover?
It has been obvious to everyone but the Florida State head coach that he needed a change at the top of his offense. Bowden, who skirted the state nepotism rules in order to hire his son Jeff as offensive coordinator, ended up proving why the rule exists.

Jeff Bowden resigned Tuesday in the wake of Wake. The Seminoles' 30-0 loss at home to Wake Forest, the first shutout loss for Bobby Bowden in 31 seasons in Tallahassee, made the son realize he had to do this for the good of the team and for the good of his father.

Bobby's response to Jeff's resignation Tuesday came from his heart. The response came from the father, not the head coach.

"I am disappointed in Jeff's decision," Bobby said in a statement released by the athletic department. "I tried my best to encourage him to stay the course, but he was firm in his belief that it is time to move on. This is a big loss to me personally. I would hope that everyone understands that his decision is an emotional one for me and for that reason I'm not going to discuss it any further at this time."

This from Bobby Bowden, who will discuss anything at anytime with anyone, who has lost Wide Right I, Wide Right II, Wide Left and assorted other games to archrival Miami, who is renowned for the perspective he brings to a competitive game. Bobby Bowden is renowned for being a family man, He proved it with his feral defense of his son as the Seminole offense sputtered.

Jeff Bowden has moved on, effective end of the season. We will watch closely to see how long it takes Bobby Bowden to move on from this heartbreak.