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BCS could be major mess

Get ready for the biggest BCS mess you’ve ever seen. Just when you thought it was safe to trust the computers, the already murky water of college football is about to get choppy.

The championship scenario is rather simple if BCS No. 1 Oregon and No. 2 Auburn win out. They can punch their tickets to Glendale, Ariz. for the title game Jan. 10 without much complaint outside of two other likely unbeaten teams, BCS No. 3 TCU and No. 4 Boise State.

But if the Ducks and Tigers stumble down the stretch, the NCAA and university presidents may have to deal with an antiquated BCS system that can’t factor in neither logic nor common sense.

Logically, Auburn should be ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings, in part, because they play a more difficult schedule than Oregon. The Tigers have beaten six ranked opponents — more than the combined ranked opponents on the schedule of Oregon, TCU and Boise State.

The argument that reads, “Boise State and TCU only have to beat the teams on their schedules,” is weak. Can anyone suggest with a straight face that those two teams can conquer BCS No. 5 LSU, No. 13 Arkansas, No. 17 South Carolina, No. 21 Mississippi State, a vastly improved, fired-up Georgia and No. 11 Alabama, all in the same season?

Well, Auburn can. The Tigers get Alabama in their regular-season finale Nov. 26 before a rematch with South Carolina in the SEC Championship game Dec. 4.

I’ve laid the whip to the BCS many times before. And now that we’re turning toward the stretch, let me make the case that even a one-loss Auburn team deserves a spot in the national title game.

The War Eagles probably will lose to either Alabama or South Carolina. The computers will probably cut them some slack no matter the poll voters’ sentiment for media darlings Boise State and TCU.

Ultimately, strength of schedule might account for something. There remains, however, a void in logic.

Logically, BCS No. 7 Wisconsin (9-1) shouldn’t be ranked ahead of No. 12 Michigan State (9-1). The Spartans dealt the Badgers their lone defeat, but chances are if the stars align perfectly and everyone ahead of Wisconsin withers, then the Badgers will play for the national championship and the Spartans will have to settle for a non-BCS bowl bid.

Of course, this is a familiar BCS scenario. Even though 11-1 Miami defeated 11-1 Florida State, the Seminoles slipped into the back door to play Oklahoma for the BCS title in 2001.

But if the Hurricanes had gotten the Orange Bowl bid to play the Sooners, 11-1 Washington would have felt slighted, considering it handed Miami its only defeat during the regular season.

At some point, the NCAA must clean up this BCS mess. Here’s hoping the most unlikely, unwanted, unfathomable possibilities blossom at season’s end.

Consider this: 12-1 Auburn vs. 11-1 LSU in the title game, if they finish Nos. 1-2 in the BCS poll. It’s a championship scenario involving conference rivals — albeit slim, yet possible.

Only then will the NCAA consider dredging the murky water of college football to navigate its way toward a logical system — say, playoffs — to determine a national champion.

Tribune-Review power rankings

1. Auburn (Last week: 1) — Despite the obvious distraction surrounding quarterback Cam Newton, the Tigers were impressive in defusing charged-up Georgia this past weekend. The Tigers have glaring weaknesses on defense, and they become even more pronounced against familiar SEC opponents. Auburn needs this week to prepare for a grueling finish against rival Alabama and a rematch with South Carolina in the SEC title game.

2. LSU(7)

3. Oregon(2)

4. TCU(3)

5. Michigan St.(9)

6. Wisconsin(4)

7. Ohio St.(5)

8. Boise St.(6)

9. Stanford(8)

10. Nebraska(10)

Others to watch: Oklahoma State, Missouri, Utah, Nebraska, Arizona, Iowa, Arkansas, Alabama

HEISMAN WATCH

1. QB Cam Newton, jr., Auburn — It’s a shame that one of the best individual performances in years is suddenly overshadowed by controversy. Until he’s proven guilty, Newton should win the Heisman Trophy in a landslide. Even if he doesn’t, there’s no better college football player in the land. And he’s got the numbers to prove it: 2,092 yards passing, 21 TDs and 1,297 yards rushing — including 151 on 30 carries in win over Georgia.

2. RB LaMichael James, soph., Oregon — Despite a season-low 91 yards on 29 carries in a 15-13 win over California, James still leads the nation in rushing with 1,422 yards.

3. QB Terrelle Pryor, jr., Ohio State — He was poised under pressure during a near-perfect second-half performance against Penn State. He has the fifth-best passer rating (166.4) in the country.

4. QB Andrew Luck, sr., Stanford — If leadership matters, then Luck should get an invitation to New York. The Cardinal wouldn’t be the same team without him.

5. QB Kellen Moore, jr., Boise State — His 191.2 passer rating is the nation’s best. More impressive, he’s leading the Broncos to another undefeated season to put them in championship contention.

Others to watch: QB Russell Wilson, N.C. State; RB John Clay, Wisconsin; QB Taylor Martinez, Nebraska; CB Patrick Peterson, LSU; QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas.

Additional Information:

Games of the week

Pitt at South Florida — The Panthers’ disappointing loss at Connecticut could be what they needed for the Big East stretch run. They’ll be far more focused and motivated with their conference lead trimmed to one game. THE PICK: Pitt, 27-20

No. 8 Ohio State at No. 21 Iowa — The Buckeyes proved they can turn it up a notch in coming from behind against Penn State. They can’t afford a similar slow start at Iowa. THE PICK: Ohio State, 31-21

No. 14 Virginia Tech at No. 24 Miami — The Hokies have come a long way since losing to James Madison. The Canes look more confident with freshman QB Stephen Morris. THE PICK: Miami, 28-27


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