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Ness Notes -- College Football, Oct. 21

   by Larry Ness - 10/21/2004


It's Baaaaaaaack! The "new and improved" BCS rankings that have been 'tweaked' to near-perfection! There is just one small problem. The whole process is BULL*#@!...


Of course you've heard of the phrase "garbage-in, garbage-out". Well that's exactly what we have and I am not just talking about the computer rankings. I'm referring to the entire system that continues to choose its national title game participants by a subjective process. It's just WRONG and it will never be RIGHT until a legitimate playoff structure is put into place. That however, is just wishful thinking....


I am not one of the people who think the computer rankings are the problem. The computer rankings are no more of a problem than the voting done by the coaches' poll or the writers' poll. Remember last year? Prior to the Big-12 Championship Game, the so-called human polls had Oklahoma as the nation's top-ranked team and many were championing Oklahoma as not only 2003's best team but arguably the best team in college football history. Of course Oklahoma then went out and lost 35-7 to a three-loss Kansas State team. So much for the 'genius' of the humans!...


My point is that we should never be allowed to choose our champions. Championships MUST be won on the field of play. We all get to have our opinions (even computers) but as long as the college football hierarchy continues to promote the current system, it's a waste of breath to argue over the injustices of a fundamentally UNJUST system....

The PGA Tour is entering what it refers to as its "silly" season (millionaires playing for millions in limited fields!) and I think that's a pretty good name to steal for college football. Although since the BCS began in 1998 it has never had a year in which more than two teams have finished the regular season unbeaten, that possibility looms in 2004. It's a stretch but the fact is that six of the top-seven in the initial BCS rankings are undefeated and NONE are scheduled to play each other....

Let's just imagine for a minute! The Orange Bowl could host the national title game between 11-0 USC and 11-0 Miami, the Rose Bowl could get 11-0 Wisconsin vs 10-1 California, the Sugar Bowl 12-0 Auburn vs 10-1 West Virginia and the Fiesta Bowl 12-0 Oklahoma vs 11-0 Utah! Of course that's a highly unlikely scenario but one can DREAM!...

Other BCS 'nightmares' loom. Do you realize that under current BCS rules Notre Dame earns an automatic BCS bid if a non-BCS school earns an automatic bowl (can you say U-T-A-H!), IF the Irish win nine games and finish in the BCS top-10? ND would have to beat both Tennessee and USC for that to happen but who knows?...

A scarier thought is that with the watered-down Big East still getting an automatic bid for its conference champion, the BCS faces the fact that at this point Pittsburgh (needed OT to beat Div 1-AA Furman), Rutgers (lost at home to Div 1-AA New Hampshire) and Syracuse (already with three losses including a 51-0 one at Purdue) are all still 'alive' for that league's regular season title....

Of course everything could work out but isn't that the argument the powers-that-be made last year right before USC, ranked No. 1 in both the AP and Coaches' poll, got left out of the BCS title game?

This weekend's college football schedule does not include the marquee matchups we saw last weekend but maybe we'll see some more competitive games? A look back at last weekend's games reveals this fact. Very few were CLOSE!...

Eight top-25 teams lost last weekend, five to other ranked opponents. The surprise came in the margin of victory in those games. Just two of the five games that involved two ranked opponents turned out to be close contests. Miami beat Louisville 41-38 and Wisconsin beat Purdue 20-17. In the three other games involving two ranked opponents, the final margins of victory came by 38, 33 and 16 points. Even more surprising was that the three top-25 teams that lost to unranked opponents lost by margins of 34, 26 and 24 points!...

The lone game between ranked opponents this week features No. 12 Purdue facing No. 13 Michigan. Purdue has lost 12 of its last 14 against Michigan and if the Wolverines win, the Big-10 could be facing a scenario in which both the Badgers and the Wolverines could finish unbeaten in Big-10 play as the two schools do not meet in 2004!...

Other major games of note see No. 4 Miami-Florida at NC State, a school that leads the nation in total defense allowing just 203.7 YPG. No. 8 Texas travels to Lubbock where it takes on Texas Tech, a team that is averaging 70 PPG at home (just two games but that's still impressive!). The last two years has seen Texas beat Texas Tech in Austin 43-40 and Texas Tech beat Texas 42-38 in Lubbock!...

The Fresno State-Boise State (ranked No. 21) game has lost some of its luster (no longer dubbed the "BCS-Buster Bowl") now that Fresno enters with two losses but Fresno has been a 'giant-killer' in the past and would love to end Boise's overall 17-game winning streak (the nation's longest current winning streak) as well as its 22-game home winning streak (also a nation-best mark). You may remember that back in 2001, Boise State as a 16-point underdog beat Fresno State 35-30 on its home field, ending Fresno's 17-game home winning streak. Revenge would be sweet!...

Central Florida is the nation's only winless team in 2004 at 0-6 (1-5 ATS). The not-so Golden Knights will try to end their nation-worst 10-game losing streak at Miami-Ohio, where they are more than a three-TD underdog....

There are 117 Division 1-A teams but only the Washington Huskies are winless ATS, at 0-6. The Huskies assignment this week? A visit to No. 1 USC. The Trojans have won 15 straight games (12-3 ATS) plus 18 straight at home in the Coliseum (13-5 ATS). Washington is about a five-TD underdog!...

Louisville (5-0 ATS) is the only Division 1-A team still unbeaten ATS. The Cardinals lost their first game of the season a week ago Thursday at Miami 41-38 but easily covered as a nine-point underdog. Friday night, the Cardinals will have to win by at least 30 points over South Florida, if they want to keep their perfect ATS mark intact....
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