Sunday, October 18, 2009
BCS twists still to come
By Brad Edwards Special to ESPN.com
If we've learned anything during this past week of college football, it's that no team is untouchable in this 2009 season.
Although the top seven ranked teams in the nation all faced opponents ranked outside the top 15, two of them (Virginia Tech and Ohio State) lost, one (Florida) needed a winning field goal in the final seconds, three (Texas, USC and Boise State) had to hold on in the last minute, and Alabama, the only one of the bunch to win by more than a touchdown, didn't put its opponent away until less than five minutes remained on the clock.
A First For Florida
Even though the Florida Gators have won two BCS titles, they hadn't previously been ranked first in the BCS standings, because the standings don't exist after the bowls, and they went into both championship games as the No. 2 team.
Most weeks as BCS No. 1 (SEC teams)
These results are worth filing away in your memory bank, because the first BCS standings are sure to make some fans feel as if the national championship race already has been reduced to three teams.
On one side of the hypothetical bracket is the SEC tandem of Florida and Alabama. Before their potential showdown in the SEC championship game, they each have only one game remaining in which they might not be substantial favorites -- Florida at South Carolina and Alabama versus LSU.
On the other side is Texas. The Longhorns seem to be a slam dunk to earn a spot in the BCS Championship Game if they win out, and only their next two games -- at Missouri and at Oklahoma State -- feel like legitimate potential challenges.
So, barring an upset in one of those four games, it sure seems as if we're waiting for a BCS title game matchup of Texas against either Florida or Alabama.
But seasons have rarely played out according to script during the BCS era, so at least one more surprising result should be almost expected.
And what happens if Texas loses? USC is the cream of the once-beaten crop, but that loss to Washington has the Trojans ranked so low in the computers that they're looking up the BCS ladder at three teams they lead in the polls: Boise State, Cincinnati and Iowa.
At the end of the season, could USC receive a spot in the BCS Championship Game if Iowa runs through the Big Ten unscathed? Or Cincinnati emerges from the Big East unbeaten? And what to do with Boise State if Oregon doesn't lose again?
There are plenty of questions to be answered during the next seven weekends, so don't fool yourself into thinking all but three teams have been eliminated from the championship race.
Even if that's the way it feels right now.
Brad Edwards coordinates the college football research for ESPN and is an analyst for "College GameDay" on ESPN Radio each Saturday throughout the season.