Is one team already in the BCS national championship game?
One might think so after listening to Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit make the case for Boise State on Labor Day night.
Welcome back to The Campus Game, where we never anoint a king until a crown has been earned.
Boise State will not earn a place in the national title game (although the boys from the blue turf may be awarded one). The Broncos could (and should) win the rest of their games, but against a soft WAC-caliber schedule, competing for a national championship should be out of the question. Even if two teams from automatic-qualifying (AQ) conferences do not finish unbeaten, teams with only one loss should earn a bid over Boise.
That said, it is easy to like the Broncos.
Every time they get on the big stage, Chris Petersen and his squad perform in a loose, confident, tough manner. The win on Labor Day against an inconsistent Virginia Tech team was legitimate.
Can the Broncos beat any team on a given night (as boldly proclaimed by Herby on Monday night)? Yes, but could Boise go through a full schedule of challenging games and emerge undefeated or with only one loss … like the “big-time” teams must? Doubtful.
So, a schedule with New Mexico State, Toledo, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, and Hawaii (and those are consecutive mid-season games) is not championship quality. The most dangerous game remaining for the Broncs may well be at Idaho on Friday, November 12th. Think a trip to Idaho would frighten Florida … or Alabama … or Ohio State … or Texas … or Oklahoma … or Georgia Tech … or … well, you get the picture.
Around the Nation
The publicity machine at ESPN has dubbed week two “monster” weekend … as usual the four-letter network is correct.
Several huge intersectional games match opponents that once squared off for national championships, the conference races get started with key games, and college football’s living legend makes a final trip down to Dixie.
East: The slate along the eastern seaboard is as meek as a Democrat running for reelection. West Virginia plays at Marshall in the Take Me Home Country Roads Bowl on Friday night. Central Michigan tries not to get sick on Philly cheesesteaks when the Chippewas head to the city of brotherly love to face Temple in a pretty important MAC game.
Midwest: Hurricane warnings will be in effect along the banks of the Olentangy River in Columbus, Ohio, when Miami blows into the Horseshoe to play Ohio State. The winner moves near the front of the pack in the championship chase. At South Bend, the nation’s two winningest programs square off again when Notre Dame hosts Michigan.
Southwest: Florida State gallops into Norman for a showdown with the Oklahoma Sooners. The Noles and new coach Jimbo Fisher could emerge as a threat in the ACC, but will need all their weaponry against Bob Stoop’s troops.
West: An early season PAC-10 game between homestanding UCLA and tough Stanford is significant in the conference race. Jim Harbaugh’s Cardinal squad is one of my favorite west coast teams.
Around the SEC
Off-field news continues to plague the SEC.
The big South Carolina-Georgia game will be played without Georgia’s best player and one of the top Gamecocks. Bulldog receiver A.J. Green was suspended four games by the NCAA for selling a used game jersey to an agent for $1000. SC tight end Weslye Saunders is out indefinitely due to the on-going probe into agents and several college players, and six other Gamecocks are under scrutiny for living arrangements in Columbia.
Marcell Dareus of Alabama will miss another game after being snared in the same agent investigation that nabbed Saunders and Green.
Houston Nutt suspended Ole Miss dismissed offensive lineman Rishaw Johnson and suspended linebacker Brandon Sanders.
On the field, the conference looks as strong and invincible as ever … off the field (?) … the NCAA might accomplish what teams have not been able to do between the stripes … take down the SEC.
The conference offers a tremendous schedule this week as Alabama and Tennessee host intersectional rivals (Penn State and Oregon respectively). That Penn State-Bama game will – in all likelihood – be the last regular season trip to the deep South for lengendary Lion Joe Paterno. Whether you roll with the Tide or pull for Penn State, savor seeing Joe one more time.
The East race gets an early leader when Georgia travels to South Carolina; the West does the same with the Miss State-Auburn pairing. Florida hosts an in-state foe in the South Florida Bulls and new coach Skip Holtz, and LSU takes on Vandy in a cross-divisional game.
Here are the week’s conference games and the Thursday night Professor’s Pick.
Auburn at Mississipi State (7:45 ESPN): The Bulldogs of MSU have put a tremendous emphasis on this game, and must now deliver or potentiallysuffer a severe letdown. Professor’s Pick Miss State
Saturday Games (All Times Eastern)
LSU at Vanderbilt (7:00 ESPNU)
LA-Monroe at Arkansas (7:00 FSN)
South Florida at Florida (12:21 SEC)
Western Kentucky at Kentucky (7:30 CSS)
Georgia at South Carolina (12:00 Noon ESPN2)
Oregon at Tennessee (7:00 ESPN2)
Penn State at Alabama (7:00 ESPN)
Ole Miss at Tulane (9:00 ESPN2 or Classic)