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The Wacky Season

   by Al McMordie - 12/03/2007

Is there any doubt that whoever is #1 heading into the BCS title game will win? That’s because of the #2 curse in this crazy 2007 college football season. If the #2 team can’t even beat Stanford or Pitt, what chance does it have against #1? West Virginia’s shocking loss at home to Pitt only muddies the crazy national title picture. Which begs the questions: Does any college football team in America WANT to play in the big game? They’ve been dropping like flies all season, including LSU despite being ranked No. 1 TWICE, then losing games.

"Hey, we shocked the world," said Pitt offensive lineman Mike McGlynn. Indeed. Pitt was a 28-point dog, just as Stanford was a 41-point puppy when it upset USC. And let’s not forget Appalachian State beating Michigan. A total of seven teams in the past two months lost when ranked #2 in the nation, six of them to unranked opponents.

But now even the teams that are ONE win away from playing for the whole thing can’t get it done. A win away from playing for the national championship, the Mountaineers were expected to roll over rival Pittsburgh to the Bowl Championship Series title game. Instead, a 13-9 loss as a 28-point favorite. Go figure. Some offshore books offered West Virginia on the money-line at 1-to-60 (minus-6,000), with a play on Pitt to win the game at +3,200 (32-to-1). Oh, if only we had tomorrow’s newspaper today!

The Mountaineers were at home against an opponent that hadn't won on the road in 14 months. Yes, Pitt was 0-4 on the road heading into Saturday’s game averaging 14 ppg. They also had lost 7 of 9 games overall, after opening the season by beating Eastern Michigan and Grambling. And how about the 331 yards rushing and 48 points they had allowed to Navy in another loss?

With all the flashy offenses that has dotted the landscape this college season (Kansas, Missouri, Oregon), one thing we learned again was how not to overlook the importance of defense. Oklahoma flattened top-ranked Missouri 38-17 Saturday in the Alamodome, a nice win for us as our Conference Title Game of the Year. It's important to recognize that Missouri's offense had scored at least 30 points in every game this season until Saturday. Indeed, the Tigers reached first-and-goal three times, but had to settle for field goals on all.

Bob Stoops made a case for his team to leapfrog into the title game: “You all just voted them Missouri No. 1,â€쳌 Stoops said. “And we beat ‘em on a neutral field by 21 points.â€쳌 So who is #2,

Oklahoma, Georgia, LSU, Virginia Tech, USC or Kansas? Some are quick to leave out Kansas, the only one-loss team out of that group as it played a weak schedule. That’s true, but #1 Ohio State played Youngstown State, Akron and Kent!

So what are we to make of the new #1? A month ago, Ohio State was #1 and in control of the Bowl Championship Series title race when it lost at home 28-21 to Illinois. The Buckeyes beat Michigan a week later to lock up the Big Ten, but that didn’t seem to matter much. It does now.

All right, should we allow LSU to play for the national title, despite blowing games in overtime two times this season when ranked No. 1? The Tigers just dominated Tennessee despite a 21-14 final in the SEC title game. With a backup QB Ryan Perrilloux, the game’s Most Valuable Player, LSU finished with 464 yards of total offense. LSU can also claim to be the only team in the country that hasn’t trailed in any game at the end of regulation this season. Its two losses were both in triple overtime to Kentucky and Arkansas.

Actually, there is one other team that hasn’t trailed in any game at the end of regulation -- Hawaii. The Rainbows have won all their games, a perfect 12-0, after Saturday’s 35-28 comeback win (21-point deficit) over Washington. Colt Brennan finished with 42 completions in 50 attempts for 442 yards, 5 TDs and no interceptions.

So should we have Hawaii play Ohio State for the whole thing? Not if you want TV viewers. Forget that idea: Hawaii has beaten Northern Colorado, Louisiana Tech, UNLV, Idaho and Charleston Southern. And they beat La Tech by one point, and Nevada by two points. "The whole thing was just a nightmare," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said Saturday. "It was a flat out nightmare." Hey Rich, I feel your pain. I'm a Michigan grad, and root against Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes! Good luck, as always....Al McMordie.

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