07 November 2008

President Obama, Stay Out of My Business!

(From BCS Guru)

One the eve of the presidential election, when asked what's the one thing he'd like to change in sports, Barack Obama fired this stunning rejoinder:

"I think it's about time that we have playoffs in college football. ... Get the top eight teams ... get a playoff, decide on a national champion."

Are you crazy? The Guru thought. What about me? How am I gonna put food on my table for me and my family? What am I gonna do in my spare time? Is this the "socialism" that Rush and Hannity were talking about?

I should've voted for John McCain on that alone!

But now that he's won the election, I'd make this urgent plea to our president-elect: Leave it be. You've got better things to do, like dealing with Ahmadinejad, Kim, Chavez ... not to mention the Republicans, than worrying about the toy department. Just leave us be.

Besides, with a playoff, how on earth would Lubbock - yes, freakin' Lubbock, Texas - become the center of the college football universe - two weeks running?

Yes, the BCS, as flawed as it is, makes every week in college football a playoff week. One loss you might be done. Just ask Pete Carroll and USC. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Trojans are going to chew on what might have been - for eternity - if not for a slipup on a moonless night in Corvallis in September.

It's so cruel, yet so delicious.

In the NFL, nothing really ever happens until December. You might have a few "statement" games, but no loss is ever fatal until it gets really cold. In pro football, regular-season games are no more than debates where people pontificate. In college football, every week could be Hamilton-vs.-Burr.

Which brings us to this week's duel: Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders may be No. 2 in the BCS standings, but few expects them to stay there for very long. After last week's dramatic last-second victory over former No. 1 Texas, the question is no longer if they're for real, but if they can avoid a hangover against a terrific but underrated Oklahoma State team this week.

Oklahoma State, ranked No. 9, might be the most under-appreciated one-loss team. Yet, the Cowboys will have a lot of say on who wins the Big 12 South. Besides the narrow loss at Texas and Saturday night's game in Lubbock, OSU also will host Oklahoma in the Bedlam game on Nov. 29. The Big 12 South title may well come down to that game.

If you're an Oklahoma fan, you want the Red Raiders to win this game so they will be undefeated and perhaps top-ranked when they come to Norman on Nov. 22. If you're a Texas fan, you want OSU to win this game so you'll have the most favorable situation in the case of a three-way tie. And if you're a fan of Penn State or any other one-loss team, you'd pull for the Cowboys, too.

Besides the Oklahoma State-Texas Tech, 8 p.m. ET game, there are a few other BCS Biggies this week:

No. 1 Alabama at No. 16 LSU, 3:30 p.m. ET - This game was once thought to be a showdown to determine the SEC West winner. While that's no longer the case, and with LSU reduced to an also-ran after surrendering over 100 points in losses to Florida and Georgia, this game is still huge because of BCS implications. Florida needs the Tide to win and stay No. 1 when they face each other in the SEC title game - thus greatly enhance the Gators' chances to get into the BCS championship game. On the other hand, the Big 12 and USC are rooting for an Alabama loss - anytime, but the best chance is here - before the SEC championship game to take the edge off the Gators. But the Tide already got a break as this game will not be played at night, when Tiger Stadium is at its most intimidating.

No. 3 Penn State at Iowa, 3:30 p.m. ET - The Nittany Lions will have just two home games left after this one, so some consider this to be the last hope of knocking them out of the BCS title game. There is a glimmer of hope here - but just a glimmer: The Hawkeyes are 4-1 at home this year, losing to Northwestern. But these two have not played at Kinnick Stadium since 2003, with Iowa winning, 26-14.

No. 21 California at No. 7 USC, 8 p.m. ET - At the very least, the Pac-10 title could be on the line here (though Oregon State still has something to say about that). Bigger picture: The Trojans still have a slim chance of getting into the BCS title game, but an impressive win over Cal is a must - USC does not play another ranked team the rest of the season and needs all sorts of help being at the seventh spot. For the Golden Bears, this is simply the 2008 version of the BGISH: If they win out, the Bears will be in the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1959 game.

Purdue at No. 18 Michigan State, Noon ET - Huh? You say. The deal is this: If Michigan State wins this game, the Spartans will go to Happy Valley on Nov. 22 to play for the Rose Bowl bid. Yep, you heard it right. With an MSU victory here, that game will decide the Big Ten representative in Pasadena (unless PSU goes to the BCS title game, of course). Sparty owns the tiebreaker in the event of a three-way tie involving Penn State and Ohio State - MSU played fewer games (zero) against Division I-AA teams than either PSU or OSU (one each).

P.S. Finishing the thought on Obama - without the BCS, would a Thursday night game between Utah and Texas Christian, televised on CBS College Sports, ever mean anything? As it is, the Utes are just two wins away from their second BCS bowl berth in five years. The BCS is at least as mind-blowingly addictive and satisfying as the Electoral College. Obama should be the first to appreciate that!

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