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Friday, October 21, 2011
Updated: November 3, 12:53 PM ET
Let the confusion begin

By Rick Reilly
ESPN.com

Boise State's Chris Petersen, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy
Thanks to the vagaries of the BCS system, coaches like Boise State's Chris Petersen, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy can have undefeated teams and yet not play for the national title.
College football has more ways to hose you than Home Depot.

There are 10 undefeated teams right now. Thanks to the prehistoric and Mr. Magoo-sighted BCS one-game playoff system, only two teams will get a chance to prove they're champions.

Compared to the BCS, North Korean dictators are chosen in a richly satisfying process.

So let's play ... Who Will the BCS Crucify This Time?

Will it be ... Oklahoma?

The Sooners (6-0) started the season No. 1 in the coaches' poll and have done nothing but sledgehammer every team since. And yet they're No. 3 in the inexplicable BCS standings -- behind LSU (No. 1 BCS and FBI) and Alabama (No. 2). The BCS is so SEC-bent that even if the Sooners beat undefeated and fourth-ranked Oklahoma State in the Bedlam Bowl, there's insane talk that if the LSU-Bama game is close those two would play again in the title game.

The SEC. We don't have to prove anything.

If you're Sooners coach Bob Stoops, what do you do: weep like Sally Fields? Kick a hole in a window? Egg BCS chairman Bill Hancock's house?

"I'd be disappointed because I feel like we've played a particularly challenging schedule," Stoops says, "and up to this point have won our games convincingly. But any of us in college football have no choice but to accept it. That's the system we're using so we abide by the outcome."

Boise State (6-0) has been robbed more than a Sicilian Brinks truck. The Broncos are No. 5 in the BCS and probably hosed again. This would be the third time since 2002 they've gone undefeated and not been invited to The Big Bowl.

Can somebody buy this man a warm glass of milk? Get mad, Bob! Throw a Naomi Campbell fit! College football head coaches like you are the face of the game. If you started shaking your fists and turning blue, we'd have a playoff system by 2014! Instead, you all shrink like Chippendales dancers in a cold pool.

Is it ... Wisconsin?

The Badgers (6-0) have been chewing up teams like balsa wood. They've clubbed every team by an average of more than 40 points. They crushed then-No. 8 Nebraska by 31.They finally have a quarterback who can run AND throw. And yet they're ranked sixth, behind Boise State.

True, trying to win a national championship by beating Big Ten teams is like trying to get drunk drinking non-alcoholic beer, but what do you want them to do? They can only play their schedule and they've fricaseed every team they've played, 301-58. It's enough to make a Wisconsin fan hurl his lunch, which would be known as Bielemia.

Is it ... Stanford?

The Cardinal (6-0) have been holy. It's not just Luck. They're allowing only 11.2 points a game. They've won by an average of 35 points. Who does that and is still only ranked eighth?

QB Andrew Luck can shred any secondary in the country, up to and including the Indianapolis Colts'. Just because they play too late for you to watch their games doesn't mean they aren't great. You hadn't heard of Scarlett Johansson, either, had you?

The irony is that while the humans love the Cardinal, the computers hate them. Imagine that, in the home of Google, Stanford's search will probably be "Not Found."

If they go undefeated, they'll have beaten a solid USC team, Oregon, Notre Dame and somebody else good in the first-ever Pac-12 championship game. And yet they'll be studying trig textbooks when the title game is held.

Hey, BCS: FAIL.

Is it ... Oklahoma State?

Computers love Stillwater, perhaps because they've never been there. The Cowboys are ranked No. 1 in four computer polls, but fourth in the BCS. They could beat Oklahoma, then-No. 8 Texas A&M and still get SEC'd with a heinous LSU-Bama sequel in the title game.

So, OSU head coach Mike Gundy, would you be hacked off?

"Yes," he says, "because you'd like for your team to have an opportunity to play for a national championship if they win every game. But there really isn't anything you can do if this happened."

Sigh.

Is it ... Boise State?

Boise State (6-0) has been robbed more than a Sicilian Brinks truck. The Broncos are No. 5 in the BCS and probably hosed again. This would be the third time since 2002 they've gone undefeated and not been invited to The Big Bowl. And yet every time they play a big-conference school they tend to win, including Georgia this year and TCU coming up.

Me? I'd sue.

But Boise State head coach Chris Petersen? He makes nice.

"We only worry about things we can control," Petersen says. "Each week the team tries to play to the best of their abilities and get better. Whatever happens at the end of the season happens. ... The BCS has been very good to Boise State. Twice we've been to BCS games and had great experiences. Six to seven years ago we were not even in the discussion."

Sound of me slapping my forehead.

Is it ... Clemson?

Nick Saban
Because of the reputation of the SEC, Alabama and coach Nick Saban could lose a game and still be ranked ahead of some undefeated teams.
Only Alabama has a tougher schedule among The Ten as seventh-ranked Clemson (7-0). If the Tigers go undefeated, they'll have beaten everybody but the Chinese army -- Auburn, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Florida State and South Carolina.

If they get left behind, would Clemson coach Dabo Swinney go out in his back yard and rip out a juniper bush with his bare hands?

"Well, after a 6-7 season last year, I really haven't thought about going undefeated," Swinney says. "At 7-0 we haven't done anything yet other than get some attention."

But, Coach, if it happened ... ?

"Well, there are a lot of bushes to be removed from our yard."

Is it .. .Kansas State or Houston?

Both are undefeated. Houston (6-0) has a chance to ride it out. Kansas State (6-0), probably not. If either went undefeated and forgotten, it wouldn't start any Occupy Bristol movements, but it's still not right.

The point is, this could be the most disgusting BCS year yet and that's saying something. We could end up with six undefeated teams that would have a legit right to play in the title game, four of which would get buried alive:

1) LSU/Alabama winner

2) Oklahoma/Oklahoma State/Kansas State survivor

3) Wisconsin

4) Stanford

5) Boise State

6) Clemson

This would break the previous BCS stain of burning two undefeated teams in 2004 and 2009, doubling the number of undefeated teams not deemed worthy of the title game.

And yet the BCS and its see-no-evil university presidents have no intention of getting it right and giving us a playoff when the contract comes up in 2013.

The BCS: See, We Just Don't Really Care.

So ...

Q: Who Will the BCS Crucify This Time?

A: Us.


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Rick Reilly is the 11-time National Sportswriter of the Year. He contributes essays and commentary to "Monday Night Countdown," "SportsCenter," and ESPN/ABC golf and tennis coverage. He's also the host of "Homecoming," ESPN's unique, one-hour interview show set in the hometowns of legendary athletes. For more Rick, check out the archive.


Feel like taking a detour from sane sports? Try Rick's latest book, "Sports from Hell."