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Auburn wants to stay in hunt; 'Bama has other ideas

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  • Auburn wants to stay in hunt; 'Bama has other ideas

    Nov. 18, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Tommy Tuberville is taking it one championship game at a time: state, conference and, with two wins and some outside help, perhaps even national.

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    The Auburn coach wants his Tigers, tied with Oklahoma at No. 2, to forget about the muddled Bowl Championship Series and focus on what really matters in this football-mad state: winning the Iron Bowl.

    Nevertheless, the Tigers (10-0, 7-0 SEC) are stumping for national championship votes every time they step on the field these days, including Saturday's game at Alabama.

    "This is the most important game of the year and this is the championship game," insists Tuberville, whose team already has secured a spot in the Southeastern Conference title game. "There is no other like it and we approach it like that."

    The Iron Bowl is a 365-day-a-year borderline obsessive topic within the state. But this year, it's also got an abundance of national allure.

    The Tigers are fighting for a spot in the Orange Bowl at the BCS title matchup. They're ranked third in the BCS standings behind Oklahoma and No. 1 Southern California.

    Alabama (6-4, 3-4) would love to clear up that mess and erase some of those giddy feelings down on the Plains, boosting its own bowl standing in the process.

    If the Crimson Tide can end the Tigers' bid for No. 1, "I'd feel real happy," tailback Kenneth Darby said. "I think the whole team would feel happy."

    The game hasn't featured a national championship contender since 1992, when Alabama won the title. Last year, both teams were unranked. Two years ago, the Tide was ranked No. 9 but ineligible for the league title because of NCAA sanctions.

    "It's one of the greatest rivalries in college football history," Alabama safety Charlie Peprah said. "You can throw out the rankings, you can throw out our non-ranking. This is Auburn-Alabama. That's what we keep talking about. That's all it is: It's just Auburn versus Alabama."

    It's also a chance for the Tide to reverse a troubling trend for a program that had grown accustomed to being the team vying for national titles in this state. Alabama has lost 17 of its past 20 games against ranked teams in Tuscaloosa, dating back to 1997.

    "I'm not trying to ruin Auburn's season or anything like that," Tide free safety Roman Harper said. "I just want to get another win for Alabama. That's a better way to look at it for me. I'm not trying to be mean or anything like that. We just need a win."

    The Tigers haven't been ranked so high heading into this game since 1958. But tailback Carnell Williams said Auburn players have tried to block out the BCS buzz in class and around town.

    "It's chitchat here and there, but we kind of squashed that really quickly," Williams said. "Once we complain about polls and how we're not getting done right in that one, that's usually when you get knocked out."

    Alabama's players are a little tired of being overshadowed by their state rivals.

    "We can knock them out of the BCS. Their perfect season, we can ruin that," Tide receiver Matt Caddell said. But he hastens to add, "The main thing is we just want to beat Auburn. Whatever else comes with that is a plus."

    AP NEWS
    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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  • DJRamFan
    Utes became first to crack the BCS system
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 27, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Receiver Paris Warren knows fifth-ranked Utah is representing plenty of other schools in the Fiesta Bowl.

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    As the first school to appear in a Bowl Championship Series game from a conference that doesn't have an automatic BCS bid, the Utes want to take another shot at the system.

    "We're kind of carrying the flag for all the non-BCS schools," Warren said Monday.

    The Utes (11-0) play Pittsburgh on Saturday in the Fiesta, one of the four top games in the bowl hierarchy which have never featured a team from outside the six guaranteed conferences or Notre Dame.

    The BCS was adopted in 1998 and teams such as Utah in the Mountain West Conference could only watch their colleagues from the larger leagues play in the Fiesta, Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls. But by going unbeaten in the regular season and winning their second straight MWC title, the Utes became the first to crack the system.

    Yet they still hear questions about whether they belong.

    "Like they say early in the season. We're going to try and prove people wrong," offensive lineman Chris Komeatu said. "People say that non-BCS teams like Utah aren't good enough to be here. That's what makes everything more challenging to us and helps us get to this level."

    Pittsburgh (8-3) is fighting a similar battle of public perception. As the winner of the Big East's automatic bid, the Panthers' BCS merits have been widely questioned because of their conference. Winning the Big East when it no longer includes Miami and Virginia Tech just doesn't carry as much weight as it has.

    "This is a game of two teams that haven't garnered much national interest or respect," Pittsburgh defensive lineman Vince Crochunis said. "I think it will be an interesting game because each team is going to be out there trying to prove that they belong in this game."

    Any pressure the Utes are feeling as a heavy favorite and playing for the BCS outsiders is actually a welcome change from the weeks that immediately followed the regular season. Coach Urban Meyer was courted by Notre Dame and Florida and it was very apparent he was probably not going to be back next fall for a third season at Utah.

    When Meyer took the Florida job, it opened the spot at Utah and more coaching uncertainty. Defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham was offered the Utes' job as well as the one for rival Brigham Young, Whittingham's alma mater.

    But once Whittingham chose Utah, the Utes were able to relax a little, knowing there would be at least some continuity on the coaching staff. And now, they get to treat their time in Phoenix like any other game week -- just with better weather.

    The Utes also...
    -12-28-2004, 09:51 AM
  • DJRamFan
    It shouldn't be a surprise that the team backed Zook, a great recruiter who has often
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 26, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    AUBURN, Ala. -- Tommy Tuberville would be shocked if a Southeastern Conference team went undefeated, won the league title game and failed to get a shot at the national title.

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    But it could happen -- to Tuberville's Auburn Tigers.

    The third-ranked Tigers (8-0) are fourth in the Bowl Championship Series standings. Southern California has the top spot, followed by Oklahoma and Miami. For Auburn, winning out might not be enough to play in the Orange Bowl for the BCS title.

    "I'd be shocked if a team ever goes through their schedule in the SEC and wins an SEC championship game, be 12-0 and not have an opportunity to win the national championship," Tuberville said. "I think you can just look at the teams in our league, it's very demanding."

    Auburn can lock up a spot in the SEC championship game with a win Saturday at Mississippi, owning the West division title before its first open date next week. The Tigers then host No. 10 Georgia and visit Alabama, so while a spot in the league title game seems to be a lock, a perfect record is far from assured.


    Any team that wins the SEC should get a shot at the national title, Tommy Tuberville says.(AP)
    Just in case, Tuberville started his lobbying.

    "LSU won the (BCS) national championship last year and had a loss in the conference -- at home," Tuberville said. "If we would have an opportunity to win all the way through, I don't think there would be much doubt we would have an opportunity.

    "There would probably be some people who would think I'd be wrong about that, but that's the reason you have polls and the BCS to determine who has fought the toughest battle."

    Auburn almost certainly needs at least one of the higher-rated teams to lose.

    A rematch against either the Volunteers or Georgia would await for the league title game in Atlanta. Oklahoma also must survive a conference title game in the Big 12, while Miami still faces No. 13 Virginia on Nov. 13 and No. 22 Virginia Tech on Dec. 4. USC doesn't have a ranked opponent left.

    Tuberville said for Auburn to win the SEC championship and not get at least a shot at a national title, "I'd say there would be something wrong with the system if that happened. The Big 12 playing the championship game, (it's the) same thing. That's just added pressure and a tougher schedule obviously."

    Auburn won its only national championship in 1957. The last SEC team to win every regular-season game and not get a shot at the national title: Auburn in 1993, thanks to NCAA probation.

    "We've got something special going on with this team," tailback Carnell Williams said. "We've got a chance to do some...
    -10-27-2004, 11:17 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Boise State could replace Utah in Liberty Bowl
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 21, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    BOISE, Idaho -- Boise State is in line to take Utah's spot in the Liberty Bowl, now that the Utes have all but locked up a spot in the Bowl Championship Series.

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    The Liberty Bowl has a contract with the Mountain West Conference that requires the league's champ to play the winner of Conference USA in Memphis, Tenn., on New Year's Eve.

    Officials with the Liberty Bowl have started discussions with the Western Athletic Conference and Boise State to have the Broncos (10-0, 7-0 WAC) fill the vacancy left by MWC champ Utah.

    The matchup Liberty Bowl officials are hoping for is No. 10 Boise State taking on No. 7 Louisville (8-1). The Cardinals' only loss was against Miami.

    Broncos-Cardinals would match the two highest scoring teams in the country and it might be the only game with two teams in the top 10 of the BCS standings, outside of the national championship game in the Orange Bowl.

    "If it happens, we think that we would have the most compelling, exciting bowl game outside of the national championship game. There is no doubt about that," Liberty Bowl associate executive director Harold Graeter said before Boise State's 55-14 win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday.

    "Both of these teams play an entertaining style of football and that's what we're looking for."

    Contractually, the Liberty Bowl could have forced Utah to play in Memphis. But Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart, who was in Salt Lake City for Utah's 52-21 victory over BYU on Saturday, said he will continue to work with MWC commissioner Craig Thompson on a deal to free the Utes.

    "We understand the landscape and wish Utah well," Ehrhart said

    By beating Louisiana Tech, the Broncos extended the nation's longest win streak to 21 and tied BYU for the most consecutive conference wins at 25.

    They also clinched at least a share of their third consecutive WAC title.

    The Broncos still need to finish out their regular season Saturday at Nevada. Louisville has two games remaining, versus Cincinnati Saturday and at Tulane on Dec. 4. A win next week will wrap up the Conference USA title for Louisville and a spot in the Liberty Bowl.

    Then, there's still the matter of Boise State sneaking into the BCS.

    With losses Saturday by Michigan and Florida State, the Broncos -- No. 9 in last week's BCS standings -- still have the slimmest of hopes of joining Utah in the big-money games. They would need loses by California and Texas to even have a shot.

    Still, that was enough for Fiesta Bowl representative Steve Horrell to spend Saturday in Boise.

    "That football can bounce some funny ways sometimes," Horrell said. "These...
    -11-21-2004, 05:01 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Latest BCS a feel-good for Cal, upset stomach for Utah
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 1, 2004
    By Dennis Dodd
    SportsLine.com Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!


    Good day for Cal. Not so good for Utah.

    BCS Standings
    Team Rating
    1. Southern California .9895
    2. Oklahoma .9648
    3. Auburn .9238
    4. California .8050
    5. Wisconsin .7579
    6. Utah .7429
    7. Texas .7370
    8. Tennessee .7124
    9. Georgia .7019
    10. Miami .6530
    That's the summary of the latest BCS standings released on Monday. Cal made the most significant jump, up four spots to No. 4. If the season ended today, the Bears would be automatically qualified for an at-large BCS bowl berth, most likely the Rose.

    "The Rose has to be absolutely giddy," BCS expert Jerry Palm said.

    After the six BCS conference champions, there are two at-large berths. Those berths are guaranteed if a team or teams finish third and/or fourth in the BCS standings. Utah, which stayed at No. 6, would automatically qualify as a non-BCS team if it stays in the top six.

    As things stand, the Rose Bowl would lose No. 1 USC to the Orange Bowl in the BCS title game. It is allowed to replace the Pac-10 champion, in that scenario, with another BCS-eligible from the conference. It looks like Cal will be eligible. It wants to finish automatic.

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    "I think they have a chance of holding on," Palm said of Cal.

    The Bears (7-0) have games left against Oregon, Washington, Stanford and Southern Miss.

    Palm doesn't have same feel-good vibe about the Utes. Utah, despite moving up in both human polls, slipped in the computers and is only .0059 of a point ahead of No. 7 Texas. Considering the strength of schedule of each team, Texas should be able to move up, if it keeps winning.

    Texas (8-0) has Oklahoma State, Kansas and Texas A&M left. Utah has Colorado State, Wyoming and BYU.

    "Basically what this comes down to is if the top seven win out, Utah is toast," Palm said.

    It would be significantly harder for Utah to land a BCS berth if it was out of the top six. Though non-BCS teams in the top 12 are eligible, they are automatic if they finish in the top six.

    Utah dropped 1 1/2 points in its average computer ranking (from 5.25 to 6.75) despite moving up two spots in both the AP and coaches polls.

    "It goes to show you what can happen," Palm said. "Utah moved up two spots in the polls and dropped one in the computers even though two teams ahead of them lost. That's an indication of why they're not safe. There are no gimmes for them."

    Elsewhere, there were no surprises in the BCS standings.

    Auburn moved up to No. 3, matching its spot in both human polls, after...
    -11-02-2004, 03:31 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Pac-10 could find itself left out of 'lower' bowl bids
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 10, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    The way things are going in the Pac-10, the conference could have as many teams playing in the four Bowl Championship Series games as it has in the other 24 bowls.

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    No. 1 Southern California can clinch a berth in the Rose or Orange bowl with a win against Arizona this week, and No. 4 California is in good position to grab an at-large spot in the BCS with wins in its final three games.

    Arizona State and the winner of this week's UCLA - Oregon game also will be bowl bound. But after that it gets dicey. The conference could have anywhere from zero to three more bowl teams, leaving four spots possibly open.

    Being unable to fill all of its bowl slots is less important to commissioner Tom Hansen than getting two teams into the BCS for the third time in the system's seven years.

    "That's the important measurement," Hansen said. "We've been the best conference top to bottom for a number of years. People said, 'You have good teams but not great teams.' This year we have two great ones. It's a very fine development. I'm proud of it."

    It also has some outside observers very interested in how the next few weeks play out in the Pac-10. Because every bowl berth the Pac-10 doesn't fill is one that could open up for a school from the Mid-American Conference or an independent such as Navy.

    Hansen has already given the Silicon Valley Bowl and Emerald Bowl permission to talk to other teams in case the Pac-10 doesn't have teams for those games.

    "We told them, 'It does not hurt our feelings. You have to protect yourself,"' Hansen said.

    MAC commissioner Rick Chryst, whose conference already has four eligible teams and only two bids, has already begun lobbying for a spot in the Silicon Valley Bowl.

    "Three times in the last six years, the MAC has had a 10-win team not get invited to a bowl game," Chryst said. "We're trying to do our work and make our calls."

    There are a few problems contributing to the Pac-10's inability to fill its bowl slots, most importantly an 11-game schedule that requires teams to go 6-5 instead of 6-6 to become bowl eligible and dominant teams at the top of the conference.

    This week's games will go a long way in determining which Pac-10 teams will be bowl eligible. The conference has seven bowl tie-ins and would have eight if two teams make the BCS.

    The loser of the Oregon State- Stanford game will join Arizona and Washington as teams eliminated in the running. Washington State also would drop out if it loses at Arizona State or next week to Washington.

    The UCLA-Oregon loser would need to win its final game with the Bruins ending against USC and the Ducks finishing with Oregon State....
    -11-11-2004, 10:13 AM
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