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Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Updated: September 25, 2:15 PM ET
Call me maybe ... yes ... no?

By Gene Wojciechowski
ESPN.com

As always, there is no running clock on the BMOC …

TAILGATING

Tom Cruise
Predictions are no "Risky Business" for the BMOC.

"The dream is always the same …"

I can't remember my wedding anniversary (Sept. 24 or 25?), but, for reasons that defy explanation, I can recite the opening line of the 1983 movie "Risky Business," and almost all the lines after it.

I'm the odd dude in "Diner," who, rather than form his own thoughts, repeats dialogue, word for word, from "Sweet Smell of Success."

I'm mostly cured, except when my wife asks how the weekly BMOC column is coming along. That's when I slip on the Ray-Bans and say, "Looks like University of Illinois!"

Anyway, in honor of Tom Cruise (Joel Goodsen) and Rebecca De Mornay (Lana), I introduce, "Yes? … No? … Maybe?" (Joel and Lana are in the basement, and Joel is on the phone with his parents, and … ah, just go watch the movie.)

If the BCS National Championship were played at this exact moment, would Alabama beat Oregon?

No.

And here's why: Alabama's secondary is a work in progress, thanks to injuries, inexperience and a drop-off in lockdown cornerback talent. And right now -- and that's the premise of the question -- Bama's defensive line doesn't put the fear of Bear Bryant into opposing offensive lines. It's good, but not terrifying.

Oregon Ducks
The BMOC is taking a leap of Ducks faith.

You saw what Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and a one-wide-receiver, zero-dominating running attack did to the Crimson Tide's defense. Oregon's quarterback is Manziel Lite/Taller. And the Ducks' offense has more weapons and speed than the Aggies'. So …

I'm going to semi-ignore the walk-through victory Bama had against Colorado State on Saturday night. The Tide's offense was awful on third downs (2-for-10); T.J. Yeldon, disciplined for last week's throat slash gesture, didn't get his first carry until midway through the second quarter; and wide receiver Amari Cooper (toe) and several other starters were held out because of injuries.

But Bama hasn't really looked like the Bama of 2012, and it probably won't. This is a different roster with different strengths and weaknesses.

And, yes, I'm taking a slight leap of Ducks faith here. I trust Oregon's offense, but who really knows about its defense yet? The Ducks beat Nicholls State in the opener 66-3, but big deal -- Louisiana-Lafayette beat the Colonels 70-7. Oregon's spring game (White beat the Green 65-10) was tighter.

Oregon has a 59-10 win against 2-1 Virginia, and a 59-14 victory against a Tennessee team that has 536 total yards in its past two games (both losses). That 536 total is 151 yards fewer than what Oregon put up against the Vols.

Meanwhile, longtime oddsmaker Danny Sheridan had Bama a 3-point favorite over Oregon.

Is Northwestern for real?

Tony Jones
Tony Jones is part of a deep and talented group of receivers at Northwestern.

Maybe.

The Wildcats are 4-0, but they looked like a team that decided to start its bye week in Saturday's game against four-touchdown underdog Maine. Northwestern won the game 35-21, but nobody is going to use the game tape for a "Here's How You Play Football" seminar.

In short, the Wildcats were probably looking ahead, way ahead, to their Oct. 5 home game against Ohio State. And remember, Northwestern is still without injured running back Venric Mark, who might make his return against the Buckeyes.

Still, it was an average performance, at best, against Maine. Do the same thing against Ohio State and the Wildcats will be 4-1.

Baylor is Oregon, but with a Texas twang.

Lache Seastrunk
Who can slow down Lache Seastrunk and the Bears?

Yes.

The Bears have scored 69 points, 70 and 70 in their first three games -- the first FBS team, according to Stats LLC, to begin a season with three consecutive games of 60 or more points. That's hard to do against air, much less an actual opponent.

OK, about those opponents …

Wofford, Buffalo and Louisiana-Monroe are cupcakes with frosting and sprinkles on top, but still … 69-70-70 points?

Two names zooming toward the national consciousness: quarterback Bryce Petty and running back Lache Seastrunk.

The muscular part of Baylor's schedule doesn't begin until Nov. 7, when the Bears face Oklahoma, then Texas Tech, then road games against Oklahoma State and TCU, and then the regular-season finale against Texas.

Is Ohio State better with Kenny Guiton at quarterback instead of Braxton Miller?

No.

Guiton has been spectacular while filling in for injured Miller. Let's see, he is completing 68.4 percent of his passes, has 13 touchdown passes and has been intercepted only twice in 95 attempts. He also just set an Ohio State single-game record for most TD passes (six, against ridiculously overmatched Florida A&M).

But Miller, who sprained his knee early in the Sept. 7 win against San Diego State, has a stronger arm and is more mobile than Guiton. If he's healthy, I'd be stunned if he didn't replace Guiton in the starting lineup for this Saturday night's game at home against Wisconsin.

Notre Dame will play in a BCS bowl.

Yes.

Notre Dame Celebration
Are the Irish on their way to a BCS bowl this season?

If the Irish get to nine wins, I think they're in. That means six more victories in the next eight games.

Figure they beat Air Force, Navy, Pitt and BYU. That means they have to win two out of four games against Oklahoma and USC in South Bend, Ind., vs. Arizona State in Arlington, Texas and at Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif..

There are no gimme putts in those four games, but I like Notre Dame's chances against Arizona State and USC.

The Irish are an imperfect team, to be sure. They don't have much of a running game, and the back end of their defense is iffy.

But three of those four pivotal games are at home, and, unless USC discovers an actual offensive attack, the Irish should be able to find nine wins out of that schedule.

Upset alert game: Nov. 9, at Pitt.

If Teddy Bridgewater leads Louisville to an undefeated regular season and the Cardinals beat every team by 30, will they play for the national championship?

Teddy Bridgewater
Louisville's schedule doesn't flex nearly enough BCS title-game muscle.

No.

With that schedule? No way.

Nothing against Bridgewater (after all, it's not his fault the Cardinals ended up in the American Athletic Conference and played crummy nonconference games), but it would take a series of football miracles for Louisville to reach the BCS championship.

First, Oregon, Alabama, LSU, Clemson, Ohio State, Stanford, Florida State, Oklahoma State, UCLA, Georgia, Texas A&M and possibly a few other top-ranked teams would have to be kidnapped. And even then, there's no guarantee an unbeaten Louisville team would finish ahead of a one- or maybe two-loss team from, say, the SEC or Pac-12.

PREGAME WARM-UP

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter wrote "APU" on his wrist tape for Saturday's game against Maine. APU stands for All Players United, which is a protest movement, still in its infancy, that encourages college athletes to draw public attention to the NCAA's policies relative to player safety and pay for play.

Colter wasn't the only player who went APU with his Sharpie. There were APU sightings on Georgia and Georgia Tech player wristbands, too.

Of course, some fans are probably rolling their eyes at this. Play football, not politics, right? In the case of Colter, some Northwestern followers might be wondering why he didn't write "CMP" on his wristband -- as in, Complete More Passes (Colter was 5-of-9 for just 85 yards, with 1 touchdown and 1 interception).

Arian Foster
Running back Arian Foster played for the Volunteers from 2005 to 2008.

But how can you read about Arian Foster's recent admission that he accepted money "on the side" and food during his time at Tennessee and not question whether the NCAA is really doing enough for players? Foster told producers of an upcoming documentary that he broke NCAA rules and did so willingly and without apology.

"There was a point where we had no food, no money, so I called my coach and I said, 'Coach, we don't have no food. We don't have no money. We're hungry. Either you give us some food, or I'm gonna go do something stupid,'" Foster said in the documentary.

This isn't some hayseed. Foster is a thinking man's player. He is respected by his teammates. He speaks his mind. And he thinks before speaking.

So, to dismiss what he said to producers as another example of a greedy college football player on the take is a mistake. The same goes for Colter's APU wristband gesture.

There are serious issues involving player safety and compensation, and they deserve more than the NCAA's textbook public relations response: "As a higher education association, the NCAA supports open and civil debate regarding all aspects of college athletics."

That's wonderful -- the NCAA says it's OK that the players speak. But a growing number of players want more than open and civil debate. They want change, and they deserve change.

PREGAME SPEECH

More heartache in college football …

Ben Flick, a Cincinnati freshman offensive lineman, was killed in an automobile accident Saturday night. UC wide receiver Mark Barr was listed in critical condition and WR Javon Harrison in stable condition after the crash, which took place about 25 miles outside of Cincinnati.

Earlier this month, UCLA redshirt freshman Nick Pasquale was struck and killed by a car while walking home from a party in his hometown of San Clemente, Calif.

There is no coaching manual for this sort of tragedy. UCLA coach Jim Mora asked his father, coaching legend Jim Mora Sr., for advice after Pasquale's death.

"The first thing I did is call my dad and say, 'OK, Dad, how do I handle this?'" Mora said. "So, my two thoughts initially were how do I support the family and how do I help 118 kids understand what just happened? And how do I help them understand the emotions that they may feel or may not feel?

"What I needed to tell our kids was, 'You all had a different relationship with Nick. Some of you have dealt with death before. Some of you, this is a new experience. So whatever you're feeling, that's OK. If you feel like crying, it's OK to cry. If you feel like laughing and telling funny stories about Nick, that's OK. If you don't feel anything, you don't need to feel guilt over that. You know, what you feel is what you feel.' So it was just … it was a surreal day."

Nick Pasquale
Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins honored Nick Pasquale's memory at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.

According to the Pasquale family, Mora has done everything possible to ease their pain and to draw them closer to the UCLA football family. The family attended Saturday night's game against New Mexico State, where the Rose Bowl field featured Nick Pasquale's No. 36 jersey number. Mora has retired the number for the foreseeable future, has renamed the scout team award in Pasquale's honor, and allowed the Bruins, with his blessing, to run their first offensive play with just 10 players.

The 11th player was Pasquale.

"Football is a game where … there's a definitive start and end every week with regards to the contests that you play," said Mora earlier last week. "And we're very adept at turning the page. You know, we're kind of trained to do that. Whether you win or you lose, you turn the page and you go on to the next event, which this week is another game.

"But I think it's really important that we don't necessarily turn the page on how we feel about Nick. And so we're going to continue to honor him with things that we do. Things that we say. Ways that we act. You know, I think what's really important here is that we continue to make sure that the family feels our love and our support.

"There's a [memorial] service, and then people kind of, you know, move away slowly. And I don't want them to all of a sudden find themselves alone. So I think it's just really important that, as a team, as a university, that we stay connected to them. And we're going to do that. We're absolutely going to do that."

There is no coaching manual for this sort of tragedy, but classy Mora is helping to write one. Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville, who no doubt will do the right thing, too, might want to consider calling the UCLA coach.

FIRST QUARTER

It was considered a waste of time by those who had seen Kansas football in recent years. And yet, KU coach Charlie Weis had used precious spring practice time in the past to work on a rare sight in Lawrence.

The Jayhawks celebrating a win.

So, after KU place-kicker Matthew Wyman converted a last-second, game-winning 52-yarder against Louisiana Tech on Saturday, Weis reminded everyone of the value of those celebration practices.

Matthew Wyman
Matthew Wyman kicked the Jayhawks to an FBS win.

According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Weis said that "everyone laughed at us and said, 'Look what they're practicing.' Well, there it was today. And that's what the locker room felt like. It felt like what you want it to feel like."

At last, it felt like a win against an actual FBS opponent.

Kansas hadn't beaten an FBS team in its previous 22 games and has won a grand total of eight games against any level of competition in the past three-plus seasons. So the idea of practicing a celebration was a little like Anthony Weiner practicing the oath of office.

Still, you can sort of excuse Weis, who has been under criticism after only one-plus season at KU, for celebrating a little himself.

"You know, I would like to win every game by four touchdowns and breathe easy," he said afterward. "I'm too old, I'm in crummy shape, I don't need games like that. But that might be the best thing that happened for our team. I'm kind of counting on us being able to look back at this game and saying, 'That was the game where they turned the corner.' We've been waiting for one of those times, and I'm hoping that maybe today was the day."

Or it could be nothing more than a nice moment. The Jayhawks, 2-1 this season and 3-12 overall under Weis, have a bye week followed by games against Texas Tech, at TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor, at Texas and at Oklahoma State before next playing someone their own size (West Virginia).

SECOND QUARTER

I'm just asking the question, but are we sure Manziel is the best college player in Texas?

I'm sticking with Manziel -- for now -- but Baylor will argue that quarterback Petty and running back Seastrunk had better be on the same Heisman Watch lists as Johnny Football.

The BMOC's Heisman clock doesn't start until Oct. 1. By then, we'll be pretty much done with the FAMU versus Ohio State matchups and into actual conference schedules. That's when the numbers start to matter.

But right now, the Baylor folks have a point.

HALFTIME SPEECH

Not that the college football gods will listen, but I have a wish list.

The video link: Click here.

THIRD QUARTER

The general consensus is that Nebraska's Bo Pelini is dead Husker walking. That unless he leads Nebraska to a postseason game that matters, he doesn't have the long-term internal and external support to survive in Lincoln.

Bo Pelini
Bo Pelini found himself in the eye of a Nebraska controversy.

Pelini does have a legendary temper, a vast command of four-letter words and the people skills of a bill collector. He'd get in the Dalai Lama's grill.

But two things bother me about the heat he's taking over the release of a 2-year-old recording of Pelini ripping Nebraska fans in a profane rant:

• It was leaked two years after the fact and done so anonymously by a coward who must have had a dozen axes to grind. Those circumstances don't change what he said, but they do need to be acknowledged.

• None of this should come as a surprise. Pelini had a temper and a potty mouth before he got to Nebraska, and he'll have a temper and a potty mouth after he leaves Nebraska. The Cornhuskers didn't hire him to act like Gandhi but to win football games -- and Pelini has done that in his six seasons in Lincoln.

Has he won national championships or enough signature games to satisfy Big Red fans? No. But then again, a lot of Huskers fans are still caught in the Tom Osborne time machine.

Pelini says he has enough goodwill equity to survive this controversy. I'm not sure about that. But I do think he's a good football coach who does deserve the chance to earn back the trust of Nebraska officials and the fans.

FOURTH QUARTER

OK, I give up. Why would Saban leave Alabama for Texas?

Texas can pay more.

Nick Saban
If you think Nick Saban is just going to open up daily about the QB competition, think again.

You sure about that? And by the way, Saban already has more money than Floyd Mayweather (OK, maybe not, but it's not as if he's checking his 401(k) account balance each day).

There are rich people in Alabama who won't mind contributing to the greater good of Tide football (and Saban's income).

He needs a new challenge.

He what? Are you nuts?

What greater challenge is there than to win three national championships in a row? And get there by surviving the most challenging conference in college football?

Texas will give him anything he wants.

Uh, he has everything he wants: autonomy, recruits, a roster full of talent, TV coverage, facilities, no politics and no rogue regents.

He'll cement his coaching legacy if he wins it all at Texas.

Excuse me while I do a spit take.

Saban's legacy is already secure. I mean, he has his own statue on campus and a nice collection of national championship rings. And, I repeat, he did it in the toughest conference.

And, as Saban himself said, he's too damn old (62 on Oct. 31) to start from scratch again.

FIFTH QUARTER

Two-liners:

• SEC historians will know better, but the first half of the Tennessee-Florida game had to be one of the worst 30 minutes of football in conference history. It was so agonizingly off-the-charts bad (seven combined turnovers in the first half … snaps off hands, off face masks … dumb penalties, etc.) that you couldn't quit watching the carnage.

Nathan Peterman
The Gators kept the pressure on Vols QB Nathan Peterman.

• Hey, Nathan Peterman, go make your first career start in The Swamp, in front of 90,000 people, in your home state. Peterman, a redshirt freshman, never had much of a chance -- and played like it (two interceptions and one fumble before getting pulled in the first half).

• After FIU was held to 30 total yards and two first downs in the 72-0 running-clock loss at Louisville, The Miami Herald asked its readers whether such mismatched nonconference games should be allowed. Fifty-five percent of the voters said no, that it ruins the integrity of the game.

• When I last looked, 371 votes had been cast saying small school versus big program games ruined the integrity of college football. I wonder how many times FIU coach Ron Turner voted.

• I understand that sometimes these kind of ridiculously lopsided matchups can't be avoided (last-second scheduling change, etc.), but wait until next year, when a playoff selection committee determines who makes the final four. When in doubt, the committee members will give the edge to the teams that don't schedule softies.

• Ole Miss must wish there were a committee in place right now. The Rebels' schedule from Sept. 14 to Oct. 19: at Texas, W; at Alabama, at Auburn, Texas A&M, LSU.

• Well, by winning at NC State on Thursday, Clemson avoided the kind of loss that has plagued the program in the past. A home game against Wake Forest this Saturday shouldn't be a problem, but then it gets interesting in October (at Syracuse, Boston College, Florida State and at Maryland).

• Notre Dame's Kyle Brindza missed a field goal and had a punt blocked against Michigan State on Saturday … and got the game ball? "You know, that's football," said ND coach Brian Kelly, who praised Brindza for his punting in the fourth quarter (a 45-yarder, a 51-yarder and another 51-yarder -- only 6 combined return yards on the three punts).

• You hear that? It's the quiet that comes from those seeking the resignation letter from Texas coach Mack Brown.

POSTGAME

From the home office in Wheaton, Ill., comes this week's version of a four-team BCS playoff format.

No. 1 seed Oregon vs. No. 4 seed Stanford. Or as I like to call it, "The Pac-12 North Championship."

No. 2 seed LSU vs. No. 3 seed Alabama. Yes, that's right: I dropped Bama to third and bumped up LSU to second. If you have a problem with that, then you didn't watch the Tigers run over Auburn in the rain at Death Valley. You didn't listen to Shaq's prediction about LSU coming after Bama. And you didn't notice that Bama has a few issues, which I fully expect Saban to steam-press out of the Tide's houndstooth clothes by December (or sooner).

On the bubble:

5. Clemson: First of all, people, don't get your shorts in a bunch over the rankings. It's still early in the season, so things change. And right now, there's not a huge degree of separation between No. 5 and No. 15. But when it comes to Clemson, I didn't turn off the TV after the win at NC State and think I'd just seen a national title team. But that could change, especially when the Tigers get to October.

6. Ohio State: If Urban Meyer says his team is ready for the Big Ten schedule -- and he does -- then that's good enough for me.

7. Georgia: By the end of the week, Georgia is either going to be in the final four or out of the top 10. Why? LSU at Georgia on Saturday.

8. Florida State: The season-opening win at Pitt is looking a bit more impressive.

9. Texas A&M: If the Aggies end the season with only a seven-point loss to Bama on their résumé, we could possibly see an Oregon versus Johnny Football title game.

10. UCLA: I've been sweet on the Bruins from the start, so I'm not going to stop now.

Close, but not quite there: Oklahoma State, Baylor, Oklahoma, Louisville, South Carolina.