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Weekend in Review: 'New' BCS still could produce a mess

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  • Weekend in Review: 'New' BCS still could produce a mess

    Oct. 10, 2004
    By Dennis Dodd Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!

    Halfway through the season, the national championship race has some feel, some texture.

    Dodd's Power Poll

    1. Oklahoma
    2. USC
    3. Miami
    4. Florida State
    5. Auburn
    6. Virginia
    7. Purdue
    8. Louisville
    9. Georgia
    10. Texas
    11. Utah
    12. Boise State
    13. Wisconsin
    14. Arizona State
    15. Cal
    16. LSU
    17. Michigan
    18. Tennessee
    19. Florida
    20. West Virginia
    21. Oklahoma State
    22 Minnesota
    23. Navy
    24. Southern Miss
    25. Missouri
    25. UCLA
    Non-BCS Top 10
    1. Louisville
    2. Utah
    3. Boise State
    4. Navy
    5. Southern Miss
    6. Florida Atlantic
    7. UAB
    8. Memphis
    9. Wyoming
    10. Northern Illinois
    And some chaos just in case you forgot the BCS is a week away from weighing in. USC remains No. 1 but lost style (and poll) points in beating Cal. No. 2. Oklahoma handled Texas to creep closer. It's hard to believe Miami is now a heartbeat away at No. 3 considering some of its problems.

    What's it all mean? Refer back to last season when the BCS couldn't make up its mind between LSU, USC and Oklahoma. A similar nightmare scenario is developing.

    Three words: Split national champions. The new BCS that was supposed to lessen that likelihood looks like it is leading down the same path. Remember, there is nothing in the new BCS formula that can pick the "right" teams if there are three or more worthy teams for the two Orange Bowl slots at the end of the season. By leaning more on the human polls this year, the BCS commissioners are hoping the credibility of those rankings will sort things out.

    One of many problems: The computers still count for one-third of the formula, which could just as likely create split champions as prevent it. Last season, LSU, Oklahoma and USC all lost one game before the bowls. The BCS math picked Oklahoma and LSU to play in the Sugar Bowl despite the fact USC was No. 1 in both human polls.

    We'll say it again: More reliance on the human polls this year doesn't necessarily clean things up.

    Here's an early glimpse at this year's potential train wreck: Assume there are these 13 legitimate national championship contenders at this point. Nine of them are undefeated -- USC, Oklahoma, Miami, Purdue, Wisconsin, Virginia, Utah, Arizona State and Auburn. Four have one loss -- Florida State, Michigan, Cal and Tennessee.

    At this point a year ago (using the Oct. 12, 2003 Associated Press poll), there were 14 contenders. But there were only three undefeated teams worthy of title consideration: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Miami and No. 3 Virginia Tech. Co-champions USC and LSU were among 11 other one-loss schools from major conferences that were contenders at that point.

    If anything, that recent history proves that 2004 is going to be more complicated than 2003. Start with the reliance on the human polls, but point totals will be weighted. How that is going to impact the BCS no one is really sure yet.

    Poll points are determined on a descending order basis: The No. 1 team on a ballot gets 25 points, No. 2 gets 24, etc.

    QB Jason White and the No. 2 Sooners are closing in on No. 1 USC. (AP)
    For example, USC went into Saturday with a 44-point lead over No. 2 Oklahoma in the AP (1,604 points to 1,560) and 45-point lead in the coaches poll (1,507-1,462). USC's lead in both polls shrank to a mere 19 points in the AP and 33 points in the coaches.

    More significant might be the difference between No. 2 and No. 3. Oklahoma had a 69-point cushion last week in AP and 64 in coaches. After shutting out Texas, that margin grew to 118 points in the AP and 78 in the coaches.

    "I don't think it's going to matter," BCS guru Jerry Palm said. "It's USC and Oklahoma until someone beats them."

    We'll see. With more reliance on the human polls, we might be back to the old week-to-week fashion show. It's a good thing margin of victory was eliminated from the BCS formula, because it's going to be reflected each week by the voters.

    In essence, USC will have to win by "enough" in coming weeks to keep Oklahoma from overtaking it. Yardage, turnovers, even comments will be considered by voters.

    "If they're No. 1 ... we would beat them nine out of 10 times," Cal free safety Ryan Gutierrez said after USC's narrow escape on Saturday. "This was the day they beat us."

    Split champions?'s Power Poll already has foreshadowed it this week in disagreeing with the humans. Oklahoma was elevated to No. 1. Georgia, No. 1 since January, tumbled to No. 9 after losing to Tennessee.

    Six of those 13 contenders will be involved in what amounts to head-to-head elimination games. It's safe to assume that at least three of the 13 will be eliminated in these showdown games: Wisconsin-Purdue, Arizona State-USC and Virginia-Florida State.

    That would leave 10 title contenders surviving into the third week of October, which is also the first week of the BCS. Anyone else getting nervous?

    Now, officially, the Big Dead
    It's going to hurt a lot and for a while at Nebraska.

    Texas Tech's historic 70-10 victory over the Huskers raises several questions but one stands out: How does it feel? What goes around comes around. Tom Osborne was known for being merciless over the years for the way he stomped lesser opponents, frequently leaving in first stringers for extended periods.

    Now that the Huskers are struggling to adapt to Bill Callahan's system, well, we should still pity Nebraska (3-2). The 70 points are the most scored against the Huskers in their 115-year history. There were five interceptions by the Red Raiders and seven Nebraska turnovers overall. Five of the turnovers came after Texas Tech led 35-10. All five were converted into touchdowns.

    "It's obviously very embarrassing," Huskers linebacker Barrett Ruud said. "It was an embarrassment to everybody involved in it. This is the worst loss I've ever been involved in." The basic problems in Lincoln are significant. The Huskers can't defend the pass or throw one. Quarterback Joe Dailey threw only one of the five interceptions but now has 12 for the season. Meanwhile, Texas Tech's Sonny Cumbie hit on 44 of 56 passes for 436 yards and five touchdowns.

    "I never saw anything like it," Tech defensive end Adell Duckett said. "The last nine minutes took forever. Everyone got involved, it was good stuff."

    To his credit, coach Mike Leach did run the ball on Texas Tech's last series. If Nebraska wants to complain about Texas Tech (Texas Tech? ) running it up, it should quit turning the ball over.

    The wackiest thing about the result: Nebraska (1-1 in the Big 12 North) still has a heck of a chance to win the division.

    Scoping the nation

    The top three losing streaks in the country ended -- Army, East Carolina and Louisiana-Monroe. But the only one you should care about is Army, which earned, deserved and finally received relief from its 19-game streak. Coach Bobby Ross and the goalposts were carried off the field after a 48-29 victory over Cincinnati. Now on the clock is Central Florida with the nation's longest losing streak at eight.

    Tennessee (4-1, 2-1) is suddenly in control in the SEC East after its 19-14 upset at Georgia. The Bulldogs (also 4-1, 2-1) were spent emotionally from the previous week's big victory against LSU. The loss ended Georgia's 17-game home winning streak and gives the Vols the tiebreaker. South Carolina is also 2-1 in the division but has already lost to Georgia.

    As for the SEC West, an Auburn-Tennessee rematch in the SEC title game looks inevitable. The Tigers (6-0, 3-0) cruised past Louisiana Tech 52-7. Auburn has allowed a touchdown or less in five of its six games and haven't allowed a rushing touchdown.

    A week after its offense failed at Georgia, LSU ran up 464 yards against Florida in a 24-21 victory in The Swamp. The Gators blew a 14-0 lead. The wolves are sure to start howling now that Florida (3-2, 2-2) is all but out of the SEC race. The result takes a lot of the steam out of the Georgia-Florida game (Oct. 30) too.

    The Old Ball Coach used to alternate quarterbacks at Florida. Mississippi's David Cutcliffe did him one better. He used three quarterbacks -- pretty much on a play-by-play basis -- in the Rebels' 31-28 victory over South Carolina. Cutcliffe kept the plan secret from even his own team. Ethan Flatt, the designated "thrower" on passing downs, completed 18 of 27 passes for 214 yards.

    Purdue went 14 quarters this season before its first turnover against Penn State. Kyle Orton threw two interceptions but was fairly effective throwing for 275 yards and a touchdown in a 20-13 victory. The last two undefeated teams in the Big Ten go at it this week when Wisconsin travels to West Lafayette.

    Speaking of which, it's not that Ohio State is dead, it's just that Barry Alvarez has started channeling Jim Tressel: Run, run, screen pass, punt. Repeat. The nation's top scoring defense allowed the Buckeyes only two first downs in the second half of a 24-13 victory in Columbus. It's still staggering to imagine the innovative and talented John Stocco (two touchdown passes) could actually set foot on the Rose Bowl floor. Ohio State is 0-2 in the Big Ten for the first time since John Cooper accomplished the feat in 1992. Watch your back, Tres.

    More Purdue: Receiver Taylor Stubblefield (271) passed former teammate John Standeford (266) for the Big Ten career receptions lead.

    Florida State converted one third down against Syracuse. It was Leon Washington's 21-yard scoring run in the 'Noles' 17-13 victory over the Orange. The victory sets up this week's ACC showdown when Virginia visits Tallahassee.

    This is the first time Missouri (4-1, 2-0) has been alone in first place in the Big 12 North. The Tigers beat Baylor 30-10.

    The two best teams in the Sun Belt are 2-4 overall. Fortunately for New Mexico State and North Texas, both are tied atop the conference at 2-0.

    Connecticut (4-1, 1-1) can take a giant step toward Big East contention on Wednesday when it plays host to West Virginia (4-1, 0-0). The Huskies already have lost to conference leader Boston College (4-1, 1-0) meaning they essentially need the Eagles to lose two conference games. But it is fascinating this late in the season to think that UConn could be playing in a BCS bowl.

    Kansas broke an 11-game losing streak against Kansas State, winning in Lawrence 31-28. This one was personal. The Wildcats had won the last nine by an average of 40 points. The combined score the past two years was 106-6. Both goalposts came down at Memorial Stadium. The Jayhawks (3-3) are one of the better stories in the Big 12 this year. All the hype has been drained from next week's Oklahoma-K-State game. The Wildcats dropped to 2-3.

    A parting shot from the Red River Shootout
    Or, another reason to interview coaches right after games. They're still hyped up and full of venom.

    "I'm done answering any damn questions about, you know, 'All the sudden you can play defense,'" Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator Brent Venables told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "This wasn't the first rodeo for any of these guys on the field and certainly our coaching staff. ...

    "This wasn't the invention of the wheel or anything else. It's 11 guys playing together. All of a sudden we don't go from being the Bad News Bears to the Pittsburgh Steel Curtain. I don't know who has the questions, but we don't have questions."

    Texas didn't penetrate Oklahoma's 20 on Saturday and was shut out for the first time 24 years. Just in case you didn't get that impression from reading The Annotated Venables.

Related Topics


  • DJRamFan
    No. 2 Oklahoma gains on No. 1 USC
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 10, 2004 wire reports

    The gap between No. 1 USC and No. 2 Oklahoma is smaller than it's been all season.


    The Sooners' 12-0 shutout of Texas and Southern California's close call against California persuaded some voters in the Associated Press Top 25 released Sunday to change their first-place vote.

    USC received 41 first-place votes, a season low, and 1,601 points in the media voting. Oklahoma got a season-high 23 first-place votes and 1,582 points, leaving the Sooners 19 points behind the Trojans with the Bowl Championship Series standings just a week away from making their 2004 debut.

    The BCS will release its newly formulated standings on Oct. 18. The AP poll will count for one-third of a team's BCS points this year. Thecoaches poll will also count for a third and a compilation of computer rankings will make up the remaining one-third.

    In the latest coaches poll, USC is No. 1, followed by Oklahoma, Miami, Auburn and Purdue.

    The polls and rankings released on Oct. 17 and 18 will determine the first BCS standings. The top two teams in the BCS standings at the end of the regular season will play in the Orange Bowl for the national title.

    Oklahoma and RB Adrian Peterson ran past Texas Saturday to close in on No. 1 USC in the polls. (AP)
    USC and Oklahoma have been 1-2 in the AP and coaches polls since the preseason, but before the Trojans' 23-17 victory over Cal on Saturday the points differential between the teams was more than double what it is now.

    Voters may have been impressed by the performance of Sooners freshman running back Adrian Peterson, who proved himself a more-than-capable complement to Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jason White by rushing for 225 yards against the Longhorns.

    "We expected to be able to run the football, and it wasn't just Adrian," Stoops said. "I think our offensive line and the way they played are all part of running the ball. We're improving with it."

    Georgia had been No. 3, but a 19-14 loss at home to Tennessee on Saturday dropped the Bulldogs to No. 12.

    Idle Miami moved up one spot to No. 3. No. 4 Auburn received the remaining first-place vote and Purdue moved up four spots to No. 5.

    Auburn's ranking is the Tigers best since Nov. 6, 1994. Purdue hasn't been ranked this high in 25 years. On Sept. 10, 1979, the Boilermakers were ranked fifth in the country.

    Unbeaten Virginia is No. 6 and No. 7 is Florida State. The Cavaliers and Seminoles will play in Tallahassee on Saturday.


    Cal slipped one spot to No. 8; Texas dropped four spots to No. 9; and undefeated Wisconsin is 10th.

    The second 10 starts with No. 11 Utah, followed...
    -10-11-2004, 01:38 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Oklahoma pulls back ahead of Auburn for No. 2 in AP poll
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 21, 2004 wire reports

    Oklahoma is the only No. 2.


    After a week of sharing the No. 2 ranking with Auburn, Oklahoma edged ahead of the Tigers in the Associated Press Top 25 on Sunday.

    No. 1 Southern California lost some support during a bye week, dropping three first-place votes to 48. Still, the Trojans have a comfortable lead in the rankings with 1,603 points.

    Oklahoma has nine first-place votes, one more than last week, and 1,541 points. No. 3 Auburn got two more first-place votes than last week, increasing its total to eight, and 1,536 points.

    The Sooners defeated Baylor 35-0 on Saturday, and Auburn rallied in the second half to beat Alabama 21-13.

    After blanking Baylor, Jason White and Oklahoma are all alone at No. 2. (Getty Images)
    Oklahoma decided to rest its starters once it got a big lead against the Bears, instead of piling it on to impress voters. Last week, Sooners coach Bob Stoops did the opposite against Nebraska.

    "I'm comfortable in the fact that we chose to run the clock out," Stoops said. "Anyone that doesn't see the dilemma we're in is not being totally fair. We're in a bad, bad position right now."

    In the coaches poll, USC is still No. 1 and No. 2 Oklahoma added two points to its lead over No. 3 Auburn.

    The Tigers (10-0) needed to pull way out in front of the Sooners in the polls to make up ground in the Bowl Championship Series standings, which will be released Monday.

    The Sooners are second behind USC in the BCS standings because of strong computer ranking. To make up for Oklahoma's large advantage in the computers, Auburn needs to be a clear No. 2 in the polls.

    No. 4 California, No. 5 Utah and No. 6 Texas all held their positions from last week in the new rankings.

    Louisville moved up to No. 7, followed by Georgia, Miami and Boise State. Florida State dropped 10 spots to No. 20 after losing to Florida, 20-13. The Gators moved back into the rankings at No. 25. Michigan, which was upset by Ohio State 37-21, dropped six spot to No. 13.

    Virginia Tech is No. 11 and Iowa, the co-Big Ten champ along with the Wolverines, is No. 12. No. 14 is LSU, followed by Tennessee, Virginia, Boston College and Arizona State.

    Wisconsin is down to No. 20 after its second straight loss, a 30-7 defeat at Iowa that dashed the Badgers Rose Bowl hopes.

    No. 21 West Virginia, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and UTEP join Florida in the final five.

    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
    -11-21-2004, 04:58 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Miami and Florida State tumble in Top 25
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 31, 2004 wire reports

    Miami and Florida State tumbled in the Associated Press poll on Sunday, falling out of the top 10 after being upset on the road.


    The Hurricanes' first loss of the season, a 31-28 defeat at North Carolina, dropped them seven spots to No. 11 in the media poll. They were one of five ranked teams to lose on the road to unranked opponents Saturday.

    The Seminoles lost 20-17 at Maryland to snap a six-game winning streak. They fell eight spots to No. 13.

    Southern California is No. 1 and Oklahoma is No. 2 for the 10th consecutive poll. Texas-El Paso is No. 25 as coach Mike Price has the Miners in the rankings for the first time in their history.

    USC received 56 first-place votes and 1,616 points after a 42-12 victory at Washington State. The Sooners had eight first-place votes, five less than last week, and 1,556 points after squeaking by Oklahoma State 38-35 on Saturday.

    The Sooners are back on the road next week at Texas A&M. "It is another big game and an important game in the Big 12," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said.

    Connor Barth's field goal for UNC ended Miami's threat of going undefeated and dropped the 'Canes to 11th in the AP poll. (AP)
    Texas A&M was upset 35-34 in overtime to Baylor and fell six spots to No. 22.

    No. 3 Auburn (8-0) received a first-place vote. California moved up three spots to No. 4, its highest ranking since 1952, and Wisconsin (8-0) is No. 5.

    Rounding out the first 10 are Texas, Utah, Georgia, Tennessee and Michigan. The top five teams in the coaches poll are Southern California, Oklahoma, Auburn, Wisconsin and Georgia.

    The Bowl Championship Series releases its standings Monday, with USC and Oklahoma expected to remain first and second, respectively.

    In the AP poll, No. 12 Virginia is right behind Miami and in front of Florida State.

    No. 14 is Louisville, followed by West Virginia, unbeaten Boise State, LSU, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State and Iowa.

    Joining Texas A&M and UTEP in the final five are No. 21 Southern Mississippi, No. 23 Arizona State and No. 24 Boston College, which is making its season debut in the rankings.

    Price's Miners (6-2) are in the midst of one of the best turnarounds of the season. They clinched just their second winning season in the last 16 years with a 38-20 win over San Jose State and matched their victory total for the three previous seasons combined.

    Falling out of the rankings was Purdue, which lost its third in a row, 13-10 at Northwestern. The Boilermakers were No. 5 just three weeks ago. Minnesota also dropped out after losing 30-21 at Indiana.

    The Associated Press News Service

    -11-01-2004, 09:39 AM
  • Nick
    Top 25 games of the season (or why the SEC still rules)
    by Nick
    Top 25 games of the season (or why the SEC still rules)
    By Dennis Dodd Senior Writer
    Aug. 26, 2011

    This season's five Ws -- who, what, when, where and wahoo!

    The games of the year (ranked 1-25):

    1. LSU at Alabama, Nov. 5: Seriously, can we hit the "sim" button on the season and just fast-forward to this mega-matchup? A lot of folks think these are the two best teams in the country. This game could decide the SEC West, the SEC and half of the BCS championship game. Alabama still has quarterback issues, but, oh, that defense. Speaking of quarterback issues, for all of his problems, Jordan Jefferson has missed only seven of 27 passes in his career against Alabama. Last year's 10-of-13 performance in Baton Rouge was one of the best of his career.

    2. Oklahoma at Florida State, Sept. 17: FSU has to prove it's back. No. 1 Oklahoma has to stay unblemished to continue its national championship run. The Sooners will have to win without leading tackler and best trash talker Travis Lewis. You get the feeling this is an all-in game for the 'Noles. In other words, if they do lose it's going to be hard to recover emotionally with a trip Clemson up next. Bottom line: OU can afford a loss. FSU can't.

    3. Alabama at Auburn, Nov. 26: Don't sleep on the Iron Bowl after last year's all-timer. Remember what has happened in the offseason -- the Toomer's Oaks, the tornado, Saban's 9-foot statue, the Cam Newton investigation hovering over it all. 'Bama will be favored but what will that mean? This is guaranteed to be one of the most emotional Iron Bowls ever.

    4. Oregon at Stanford, Nov. 12: This game should decide the Pac-12 North. (It feels funny just writing that.) It also could decide the Heisman given that the leading active vote getters are playing in this game (Andrew Luck, LaMichael James). This is the Cardinal's revenge game. There aren't many of them. After blowing a 21-3 lead last year at Oregon, Stanford watched the Ducks score 49 of the next 59 points.

    5. Nebraska at Wisconsin, Oct. 1: Anyone not wearing red gets smacked over the head with a full Leinenkugel's. This is what Jim Delany had in mind when he expanded the Big Ten. Inventory for the league, lots of hype and two top-11 teams. Big Ten title-game preview? Nebraska plays its first conference game in its new league. Wisconsin tries to remind the Huskers who's boss. Russell Wilson never faced a defense like this in the ACC.

    6. LSU-Oregon, Sept. 3 in Arlington, Texas: At this rate, patrolmen from Eugene and Baton Rouge will be going out for the coin toss. Call it in the air -- heads and Jordan Jefferson is suspended. Tails, Oregon receives -- another call from the NCAA. But seriously folks, this is one of the biggest season openers in years. The last time two top-five teams played on a neutral field to start the season was 1984. LSU will want to keep its momentum...
    -08-30-2011, 05:22 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Big 12 preview: No end in sight for North's woes
    by DJRamFan
    By Dennis Dodd
    CBS Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!

    The Big 12 North isn't a division, it's a kennel.

    You know, a place where all the mutts go.

    The division's six teams fell just short of making it into Letterman's monologue last year. Colorado was the "champion" and lost by 39 points to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. In inter-divisional play, the North won only three of 19 games against the loaded South. Conference officials are still determining whether those even count. All three were against Baylor.

    Big 12
    Predicted Finish
    1. Colorado
    2. Iowa State
    3. Nebraska
    4. Kansas State
    5. Missouri
    6. Kansas
    1. Texas
    2. Oklahoma
    3. Texas A&M
    4. Texas Tech
    5. Oklahoma State
    6. Baylor
    Off. player of year:
    Vince Young, Texas
    Def. player of year:
    Rodrique Wright, Texas
    Coach of the year:
    Dennis Franchione, Texas A&M
    Once again, the conference's title game (Dec. 3 in Houston), is expected to be a formality. Texas or Oklahoma will wipe the floor with the North's Last Comic Standing.

    It wasn't always this way. The league debuted 10 years ago with most of the power concentrated in the North. Nebraska was in the midst of winning three national championships in four years. Kansas won 10 games in 1995. Kansas State was an emerging national power. But while you were in the kitchen getting a sandwich, Big 12 North football became the island of misfit boys.

    Actually, it took a little longer than that. In the pillow fight that was the Big 12 North race last year, all Iowa State had to do was beat floundering Missouri -- which had lost to Troy -- to win its first race of any kind since tying for the Missouri Valley in 1912. After 92 years, a tap-in right?

    No, just another case of the yips. Missouri won in overtime, leaving the field feeling somewhat better about a 5-6 train wreck of a season in which its hothead coach needed some anger management and a new offensive coordinator. How dare media ask why Gary Pinkel's offense was able to turn Brad Smith from brilliant scrambling Heisman contender to pocket piņata?

    Once again, all six teams in the North have a chance to win the division going into 2005. That's kind of the problem. Colorado won it last year as much as the other five didn't.

    Gary Barnett and the Buffs are the best team in a bad Big 12 North division. (Getty Images)
    Can the Big 12 North bounce back? The short answer is "no" which, for now, is also the long-term answer. Blame it on Tom Osborne. When T.O. hung it up in December 1997, in retrospect, that sent Nebraska and the North...
    -08-18-2005, 07:49 PM