31 October 2008

The World's Largest O'Douls Party

(From BCS Guru)

Thanks to another bow to political correctness, the schools and the SEC demanded that this game be called by the astonishingly clever sobriquet of The Florida-Georgia Game (or was it Georgia-Florida, is it depending on which side downs more cocktails? I forget). Sure, alcoholism is a problem that needs to be addressed, but does banishing the nickname of a time-honored event really change the way people go about things?

If we refer to these tyrants of academia as cognitively challenged, does that change the fact that they're idiots?

But I digress.

This year's Coke Zero Party is by far the most significant game in the series since the inception of the BCS in 1998. With Georgia sixth and Florida eighth in the BCS standings, both teams still have a good chance of advancing to the BCS title game. At the minimum, a place in the SEC title game is on the line. For the winner, a BCS bowl berth is all but assured. For the loser, well, it's Orlando, here we come!

In all likelihood, the winner of the game will ascend to No. 4 in the BCS standings, behind Alabama, Penn State and the winner of the Texas-Texas Tech game. Basically, winning the game in Jacksonville puts a team in the position of a vice president - one heartbreak upset away from a spot in the BCS title game.

Florida has dominated this series in the BCS Era, winning eight of 10, though Georgia did prevail last year in a game most memorable for the Bulldogs' over-the-top celebration following their opening touchdown. The bad blood is boiling beneath the surface, as Gators coach Urban Meyer has ordered a gag order on his players. This should be one heck of a cocktail party ... er, I mean, intercollegiate athletic engagement by the student-athletes.

The Florida-Georgia, 3:30 p.m. ET showdown headlines this week's BCS Biggies ... and here are the others:

No. 1 Texas at No. 7 Texas Tech, 8 p.m. ET - Somebody is gonna score half a hundy in this game, probably Texas. Last year's game ended with a 59-43 Texas victory, with Colt McCoy and Graham Harrell combining for 785 passing yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers might be shattered this year as both quarterbacks return with offenses armed to the teeth. Without a question, this is the BGISH (Biggest Game in School History) for Texas Tech - though its schedule is only getting warmed up. For Texas, a win in Lubbock just might seal the No. 1 ranking and a trip to the BCS championship game.

No. 10 Utah at New Mexico, 9:30 p.m. ET - Somebody from the Mountain West probably will end up with a BCS bowl berth, but they'd better keep winning. Utah has a showdown against TCU next week, making the trip to Albuquerque the proverbial trap game.

No. 13 Texas Christian at UNLV, 8 p.m. ET - See above, ditto.

No. 24 Oregon at California, 3:30 p.m. ET - Cal is one of two Pac-10 teams actually in control of their own Rose Bowl destiny (USC is NOT the other, Oregon State is). The winner of the game likely will cement second place in the Pac-10 and keep alive some teeny hopes of making it to a BCS bowl game. For the Golden Bears, this is the make-or-break part of the season. A victory here, followed by another upset at USC next week, just might propel them to the school's first Rose Bowl berth since the 1959 game.

No. 18 Tulsa at Arkansas, 2 p.m. ET - The Razorbacks are the 2008 version of the pinata in some sense - the biggest bullies on the block have taken their turns beating up on them. Arkansas has already played - and gotten creamed - by No. 2 Alabama, No. 1 Texas and No. 8 Florida in succession. Now Tulsa, a newly-minted non-BCS power, will visit Fayetteville and see how it measures up. A win - maybe a big win - is needed to put the Golden Hurricane into the top 14 and BCS bowl-eligible territory. They've averaged merely 55.6 points per game in their 8-0 start.

P.S. Doesn't it say something about the state of the program at Nebraska when its game at No. 4 Oklahoma didn't come close to making this list whereas three non-BCS teams did?

30 October 2008

Taiwan Needs a Serious Opposition Party

(From RealClearWorld)

If physically assaulting a visiting dignitary is proof of a vibrant democracy, then please, bring back Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek!

This can't be all that Taiwan has to show for being Asia's freest society.

With another Chinese delegation scheduled to visit next Monday, topic No. 1 on everyone's mind is whether they will receive proper protection. A protest is scheduled. A demonstration is planned. And perhaps another assault is being mulled. All the more reason the Taiwanese need a new opposition to replace the ideologically bankrupt Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The DPP had been a transformational force, the vanguard that helped usher in true democracy to Taiwan after years of authoritarian rule under Chiang and his Kuomintang Party (KMT). It won the island's first free and fair election in 2000, bringing about a peaceful transfer of power as Chen Shui-bian took office as president.

But in the intervening eight years, it all went south. Chen proved to be a corrupt political opportunist, doing everything he could to funnel funds to his and his family member's bank accounts. He rigged the election in 2004 to stay in power, and in the meantime, has done little other than stir the pot to raise the temperature in the Taiwan Strait.

The collateral damage to Chen's incorrigible behavior was his party. The DPP, under his stewardship, became a one-trick pony: Being anti-China at all cost. The party's only platform and raison d'etre was, and is, the promotion of fictional Taiwan "independence," and with it igniting ethnic tensions between the mainlanders and islanders.

But the Taiwan electorate, fickle but with growing maturity, resoundingly rejected the DPP in this year's elections. First, in the Legislative Yuan, the former majority party is now relegated to irrelevance as the KMT picked up an astounding three-fourth majority. Then, in the presidential election, KMT's Ma Ying-jeou won 60 percent of the votes to easily sweep into office.

Ma's campaign slogan was pretty much "It's still the economy, stupid!" With Taiwan's economy underperforming amidst a global boom, the Taiwanese wanted to get back in while the getting was still good. Unfortunately for Ma, his timing was awful.

And his political skills were equally inept. With a milquetoast personality, Ma seems ill-equipped to take command of his mandate and deal with opposition intransigence forcefully. He was right to open channels of communication with China, but so far he has not been able to effectively answer the criticism that he's "soft" on the communist dictatorship.

To be sure, Taiwan's frayed relationship with the mainland will require years of fence-mending; it can't be done overnight. Repairing that relationship will become more crucial to Taiwan's welfare in the face of sagging U.S. support. With the U.S. increasingly reliant on China to stabilize the current financial crisis, Taiwan will have little chance of receiving unflagging American backing should things get hot in the Strait.

Of course, the DPP, marginalized as it is, jumped on Ma's perceived weakness toward China as a tool for its own long march back to relevance. It orchestrated last week's unprovoked physical attack on Zhang Mingqing, vice chairman of mainland China’s semi-official Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), while he was touring in Tainan. Afterward, the DPP - and the always-bombastic Chen - had the temerity to insinuate that Zhang "asked for it."

Instead of unleashing a torrent of condemnation, Ma's reaction was muted, further enhancing his image as someone incapable of standing up to anyone. While China remains undaunted and pledges to stick with Monday's visit as scheduled, the situation is so out of control it remains to be seen if anything can get done at this time.

For Taiwan's democracy to survive, and thrive, it is necessary for it to have a meaningful opposition party that's dedicated to protecting the best interests of its citizens. The DPP isn't it. The party's sole agenda, if carried out, ensures the island's physical annihilation - hardly something worth voting for.

The DPP needs to reform itself, moderating the anti-China, de-Sinicization nonsense into something more in tune with reality. Taiwan may - and should - continue to fight for international space and deal with China. And there are other issues dear and near to Taiwanese people: The economy, first and foremost.

If the DPP is incapable of generating new ideas and reforming itself, it should get out of the way in favor of a more meaningful and moderate opposition party. The fear is not a potential KMT hegemony - it can easily lose the next round of elections - but what a return to power by the DPP may bring for Taiwan.

If last week's event is any indication, don't expect China to turn the other cheek the next time around.

29 October 2008

First Bowl Cast, 2008

(From BCS Guru)

Yes, the Guru knows the economy is bad. People are not traveling. Heck, I run a bed and breakfast and we haven't sold out the Georgia-Florida weekend - which was usually a given in my six years in Jacksonville (Good rooms are still available! Pardon the shameless advertising!)

But chances are, you still might harbor dreams of spending New Years somewhere nice, like in California, Arizona, or South Florida. Maybe the stock market will rebound. Maybe oil will hit 20 bucks a barrel. Maybe the Chinese will buy out all of our bad debts and write them off.

We can only dream.

But if you really do want to hit one of those BCS bowls and would like to plan early, the Guru is here to help. With one hand on the crystal ball and the other working a dart board, I now present you with this season's first fearless Bowl Cast:

BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: January 8, Dolphin Stadium, Miami

Matchup: Texas vs. Penn State (Odds: Texas 70%, Penn State 80%)

Outlook: The No. 1-ranked Longhorns will have their toughest remaining game this week at Texas Tech. A victory should send Texas smooth sailing into Key Biscayne. Penn State has an even easier slate, but it still needs Alabama to lose one game.

Other potential suitors: Alabama (20%), Florida (10%), Georgia (10%), Texas Tech (5%), USC (3%), Oklahoma (2%).

ROSE BOWL: January 1, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

Matchup: USC vs. Ohio State (Odds: USC 90%, Ohio State 50%)

Outlook: The Tournament of Roses red coats don't want this rematch - it would be the third time these two teams meet in 12 months - but it will have to really think outside of the box to avoid it. If Penn State somehow doesn't make it to the BCS title game, fine. If USC somehow doesn't win the Pac-10 outright, fine. But would the Rose Bowl dare to invite an SEC team to finally matchup with the Trojans in a bowl game? That would be nice, but that would also risk ticking off the Big Ten. Just remember, these guys invited Illinois last year. The track record isn't good.

Other potential suitors: Oregon State (20%),California (15%), Penn State (10%), Michigan State (5%), Minnesota (3%), Oregon (2%), Alabama (2%), Florida (2%), Georgia (1%).

FIESTA BOWL: January 5, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

Matchup: Alabama vs. Utah (Odds: Alabama 20%, Utah 60%)

Outlook: Say what? You ask. Well, this is going on the assumption that Oklahoma would be the obvious second choice from the Big 12 and the Fiesta Bowl doesn't want a third consecutive appearance by the Sooners. The quandary here is that although the Fiesta would get the first pick if it loses Texas to the BCS title game, it pretty much has no way of avoid taking a non-BCS automatic qualifier, be it Utah, TCU, Boise State or even Tulsa.

Other potential suitors: Boise State (50%), Texas Christian (20%), Texas (10%), Ball State (5%), Tulsa (5%), Brigham Young (5%), Oklahoma (5%), Oklahoma State (5%), Texas Tech (5%), Florida (5%), Georgia (3%), Missouri (2%).

SUGAR BOWL: January, 2, Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans

Matchup: Florida vs. Oklahoma (Odds: Florida 40%, Oklahoma 50%)

Outlook: If the Fiesta does pass on Oklahoma, then the Sooners land here to play the SEC champion. If Oklahoma is gone, then the Sugar will be forced to take the Big East champion, leaving the second SEC team for the Orange Bowl. If the SEC champion somehow ends up in the BCS title game, then the Sugar will take the Big 12's second team.

Other potential suitors: Alabama (30%), Georgia (25%), Big East champion (25%), Oklahoma State (15%), Texas Tech (10%), Texas (4%), Missouri (1%).

ORANGE BOWL: January 1, Dolphin Stadium, Miami

Matchup: ACC Champion vs. Big East Champion (Odds: ACC 100%, Big East 80%)

Outlook: The price you pay for hosting the BCS title game is that your bowl game would suffer. And there's just about no way the Orange Bowl can avoid this stinker involving two teams maybe ranked in the 20s. The only hope to avoid this is for the Sugar to take the Big 12's second team, leaving a second team from the SEC available.

Other potential suitors: Alabama (10%), Florida (5%), Georgia (3%), Ohio State (2%).

28 October 2008

Mailbag Time Again

(From BCS Guru)

Guru gets so much mail, especially right after the new BCS standings come out, it takes time to get through them. But here it is, the highlights:

  • Can USC still make the title game?

This is the most asked question, and at the moment, it's not looking good.

All but one of the following will have to happen for the Trojans -

Penn State will have to drop a game (unlikely).

Texas will have to lose to Texas Tech, and then Tech will have to lose to someone else (also unlikely - because the Longhorns should win Saturday).

Alabama will have to lose once, but not to a one-loss Florida or Georgia team in the SEC title game (possible but not probable).

Oklahoma will have to miss the Big 12 title game (probable).

As of now, USC is too far back in the pecking order. A lot will have to happen for that door to be open again. And of course, don't forget that at the moment, the Trojans don't even control their own destiny in terms of winning the Rose Bowl bid.

  • How can the BCS possibly think that this formula works when the computer polls are so incredibly screwed ... er, skewed? Consider these disparities, particularly in the SEC, which is the league that gets kicked in the teeth the most by these polls (using last week's rankings):

Florida, ranked #5 by the AP, gets no love...
Anderson & Hester - 10th
Billingsley - 8th
Colley - 12th
Massey - 11th
Sagarin - 17th
Wolfe - 20th

Somehow, Mr. Sagarin and Mr. Wolfe both agree that the Gators rank behind Boise State, Utah, TCU, Tulsa and Ball State. Interesting, particularly when Sagarin's predictive index, which he says is far more accurate at predicting actual outcomes, says the Gators would destroy any and all of these teams by 15, 17, 13, 22 and 18 points, respectively.

Of course, Ball State, ranked 18th by the AP, gets tons of respect from Sagarin and Wolfe, but no one else...

Anderson & Hester - 18th
Billingsley - unranked
Colley - 17th
Massey - 23rd
Sagarin - 13th
Wolfe - 10th

It would seem that these polls should have some measure of consistency in their rankings. When the numbers are so wildly scattered all over the board, how can this system possibly be taken seriously?

This brings back one of something I've pounded on for the last few years. Margin of victory needs to be put back into the computers, otherwise, it's just a farce.

You mention Sagarin's Predictor Index, which by his own admission is more accurate than the ELO_CHESS version that's used by the BCS. A gambler wanting to bet on the games would not even take a second look at ELO_CHESS as they know the ratings are bogus. Winning margins do speak volumes about a team's strength. You think the voters don't consider that when they're making up their ballots?

That MOV is verboten in the computers will someday come back to bite the BCS big time - hopefully sooner than later.

  • Assuming UF goes without losing for the rest of the season, can they overcome and otherwise undefeated penn state and/or a 1 loss big 12?

The real answer is NO (to the first part) and maybe (to the second part).

The Gators will not jump an undefeated Penn State team but they might squeeze into the top 2 if everything else falls in place for them. For starters, they need Texas to lose to Texas Tech this week and for Tech to lose somewhere down the road. I think they can jump a one-loss Oklahoma or Texas Tech, but they'll need a loss by Texas big time.

  • Given the following scenario, which team would play for the Big 12 Championship:

Texas has already beaten Oklahoma. If Texas Tech beats Texas and Oklahoma Beats Texas Tech, then who plays for the Big-12 Championship (assuming they all end up with only one loss).

As mentioned in a previous mailbag session, this will come down to who's where on the BCS standings - and voila! scores matter.

Assuming they're all close games, I think Texas has the best chance to be ranked higher than the other teams. The reason is that Tech suffers from a recognition deficit and they'll automatically be the lowest ranked among the three teams. And then, the lemmings known as the pollsters will put Texas ahead of Oklahoma because of head-to-head results. Of course, if somehow Tech blows out Texas, it'll all be different.

  • If Texas Tech wins this week ... can I argue the undefeated Red Raiders have a better win (over Texas) than Penn State and should be in the top 2 ??

You may argue that and you may be right. but the voters are still not going to put Texas Tech ahead of Penn State - unless it's a big-time blowout - because of ... again, brand recognition. Polls are inherently biased in favor of traditional football powers. That's why the heavy emphasis on human polls is a huge flaw in the current formula.

  • I'm hearing a lot about PSU not making the championship game, even if they are 12-0. Losing the spot to a one loss sec or big 12 team. I don't think it is a possibility. what are the chances? I do see them out if they lose one.

The only scenario that Penn State doesn't make it to the BCS title game, if it goes 12-0, is if Texas and Alabama both stay undefeated. The Lions will not get jumped by a one-loss team. There is just no such possibility.

That said, PSU could get jumped by an undefeated Texas Tech, though the Lions have a healthy edge in the computer ratings. But yes, if PSU loses another game, it's done.

  • If Oregon State wins out and wins the PAC10 Auto Bid, where do you think a Oregon State team that is 9-3 overall from the PAC10 would be ranked in the final Poll? If they become the BCS Auto Bid, I would expect a HUGE jump in the Human (biased) polls, but how much would it be? 25? 20? 15? Higher or lower than the ACC champ? Higher or lower than the Big East champ?

For that to happen, OSU most likely would have to win its remaining five games. If the Beavers do, then they'll be in the top 25 in the polls, probably in the high teens with a 9-3 record.

Just to show how much attention voters pay to non-glamour teams. Oregon State in fact received ZERO votes from either the Coaches poll or Harris poll this past week. None. What did the Beavers do last week? Oh, they were idle.

  • What of TCU getting a shot at a BCS bowl? Even with one loss they're still positioned well in the rankings. If they manage a win over Utah, all they would seem to require is a Boise loss. And what do you figure the odds are of TCU passing BSU if they both win out? TCU has the tougher schedule to finish the year and will certainly start to close the gap, but will it be enough?

TCU is poised to become the first non-BCS team to win a BCS bid without going undefeated. If TCU beats Utah and wins its remaining games and finishes 11-1, there's a good chance that the Horned Frogs would end up in a BCS bowl.

The catch? Boise State winning out. Without a BSU loss, it's highly unlikely that TCU will pass BSU in the BCS standings. Their poll numbers will be comparable, but the computers give a preponderance of consideration to teams without a loss, so a 12-0 BSU's computer ratings will trump an 11-1 TCU's ratings, thus serving as the tiebreaker. TCU needs a BSU loss.

  • How does the BCS calculate really low scores? For example, if South Florida loses on the road this Thursday, and drops even lower in the polls ...do they continue to give BCS points for "others getting votes" category? If South Florida falls out of the top 25 in the Human polls, and continues to be 40+ in the computer polls, how does the BCS calculate their BCS rank?

It matter not whether a team is actually ranked in the top 25 in the human polls. The BCS formula uses votes received as the numerator, divided by the total votes available (denominator). So any team that receives at least one vote will be placed in the standings

But since South Florida's computer ratings are non-existent at the moment, it'll have to rack up all the points from the human polls - assuming they continue to win. Another loss might permanently banish the Bulls outside of the BCS top 25.

  • Well, two weeks ago or so I questioned about the two non-BCS teams. I'm back to say the Guru was right and I was wrong. The Big Ten WILL end up with two teams in the top 14. I really expected OSU to fall 5 to 8 places (similar to Michigan State's 10-place drop the week before and Mizzu's drop the week before that). They didn't, they only fell like 3 places.

    So, I guess I'm here to say "you were right and I was wrong!"

The Guru appreciates the candor. Just don't doubt the Guru ever again!

25 October 2008

Nothing, and Everything, Has Changed

(From BCS Guru)

Upset Saturday it was not, with nary a higher ranked team losing. But while everything seemed to have gone status quo, nothing's the same anymore.

Penn State's 13-6 knockdown of Ohio State in Columbus put the Nittany Lions perilously close to the BCS title game. At 9-0, Penn State has just three games remaining, all against very mortal opponents - Iowa, Indiana and Michigan State. The Lions' biggest task just might be scoreboard watching, as they'll need either Texas or Alabama to lose at least one more game.

The Longhorns are through 3/4 of their four-game gauntlet after a taut 28-24 affair against Oklahoma State. Next week, they'll try to finish off the quartet with a showdown against also unbeaten Texas Tech. A win in Lubbock should put Texas on the fast track to Miami for the BCS title game.

With that being the outlook, things all of a sudden are looking grim for all the one-loss teams. The top three teams will not get jumped if they stay undefeated. The rest of the field - Oklahoma, USC, Georgia, Florida and perhaps Oklahoma State - likely will be playing only for a BCS bowl berth.

The other fallout from the Penn State victory is that Ohio State most likely will still stay eligible for a BCS bowl berth by finishing in the top 14. That means should the Nittany Lions end up going to Miami, the Buckeyes will get an invitation for Pasadena. That also means that there will be just one BCS bowl berth left to be fought out by the remaining undefeated non-BCS teams - Utah, Boise State and maybe even Tulsa and Ball State.

The Guru's projected BCS standings for Week 9:

1. Texas, 2. Alabama, 3. Penn State, 4. Oklahoma, 5. USC, 6. Georgia, 7. Texas Tech, 8. Florida, 9. Utah, 10. Oklahoma State, 11. Boise State, 12. Ohio State, 13. Texas Christian, 14. Missouri, 15. Tulsa.

24 October 2008

Here Come the Buckeyes ... Again

(From BCS Guru)

If you're sick and tired of Ohio State, just can't stand the thought of all things Scarlet and Gray and the Hairless Nut ... look away. (That's pretty much all of you SEC fans, no?) You're not going to like what you're about to read.

Ohio State's quest for a third straight BCS title game appearance isn't dead.

In fact, with a victory over No. 3 Penn State on Saturday in Columbus, it would be alive and well. By the end of the night, the Buckeyes may just creep back into the top 5 in the BCS standings - back in line for another trip to the BCS championship game.

Ohio State, currently No. 9 in the standings, seems to have rediscovered its mojo after being manhandled by USC on Sept. 13. The Buckeyes have turned the reins over to precocious freshman QB Terrelle Pryor and the appetizing Big Ten slate is making them hungry for more. After last week's annihilation of always-fraudulent Michigan State, Ohio State is now playing Penn State for the Big Ten championship, a spot in the Rose Bowl - at least - and perhaps an open path to Miami for the BCS title.

Of course, a victory by the Nittany Lions puts them just three cupcakes away from their first shot at the national title since 1994, when they finished second in the polls despite going undefeated. This time, they may get to settle it on the field as long as either Texas or Alabama drops another game the rest of the season.

Those of you who don't believe that the Big Ten should have a place in the BCS title game, you'd better pick your poison. And as distasteful as it may sound at the moment, you're better off rooting for the Buckeyes and hope for the best. Otherwise, you can pretty much pencil in Penn State and 81-year-old Joe Paterno for a place in Dolphin Stadium on Jan. 8.

The Ohio State-Penn State, 8 p.m. ET showdown headlines this week's BCS Biggies ... and here are the others:

No. 6 Oklahoma State at No. 1 Texas, 3:30 p.m. ET - This is Part III of the four-game gauntlet Texas is trying to clear in a four-week span. The Longhorns do have the benefit of playing at home again - as they were last week against Missouri - and offensively, they're pretty unstoppable. A loss wouldn't necessarily be catastrophic for Texas, but it could potentially put its quest for the Big 12 South title in doubt. For Oklahoma State, this is the biggest game in school history ('Nuff said!).

No. 7 Georgia at No. 13 LSU, 3:30 p.m. ET - This is where the Bulldogs - the preseason No. 1 team - may be eliminated from BCS title contention. But if you're a Florida fan, you really actually should be cheering for Georgia. The Gators already beat LSU soundly, and they will get to play the Bulldogs next week in Jacksonville. Florida would want Georgia to be ranked as high as possible before it's knocked off. Hard to believe? Well, the BCS makes strange bedfellows.

No. 8 Texas Tech at No. 23 Kansas, noon ET - A classic trap game if there's ever one. Next week, Tech will host Texas in what could be the biggest game in school history (I'm just gonna call it BGISH from now, has a nice ring to it). The Red Raiders may well be thinking ahead to the Longhorns while getting pasted in Lawrence. Mike Leach had better not count on winning this game on a field goal.

No. 2 Alabama at Tennessee, 7:45 p.m. ET - Alabama could lose this game. Seriously. Not likely. But it could happen.

No. 5 USC at Arizona, 10:15 p.m. ET - Ditto for the always nap-prone Trojans.

22 October 2008

USC Needs A Lot of Help

(From BCS Guru)

(First thing first: Where was the Guru on this monumental first weekend of the BCS standings? Well, it was the weekend of Mrs. Guru's birthday so the Guru clan went on a camping trip roughing it in the woods. No internet, you see. But the Guru is back now and promises to go nowhere until after Dec. 9.)

At first glance, USC is No. 5 in the first official BCS standings of the season, slipping just one slot from last week, safely tucked behind Oklahoma among one-loss teams, ready to pounce as the unbeatens get peeled off, one by one.

But take a closer look, then you'll know that if the Trojans want to return to their first BCS title game since 2005, they'll need help - a lot of help - besides winning all of their remaining games.

The Guru had projected the Trojans to check in at No. 6, behind even Oklahoma State. USC got enough of a cushion in the polls to hold off the Cowboys by a mere .0024 points. But in the grand scheme of things, Oklahoma State is not going to be USC's problem.

If the Trojans are looking in the rearview mirror, they'll notice that Florida, Georgia, and even, gulp, Ohio State have more horsepower under their hoods, and there's not a thing they can do about it.

And this is assuming that among Texas, Alabama and Penn State, at least two of them will drop a game before the end of the season, thus allowing a one-loss team to get into the BCS title game.

So just what are we looking at, exactly?

To be sure, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech will not be able to keep up. Both teams will face No. 1 Texas in the next couple of weeks. If they aren't beaten by the suddenly invincible Longhorns, they'll lose another game or two - or three - down the road. These two Big 12 South also-rans will not be a factor.

But Georgia and Florida will be. And with those two, the Gators have a better chance to get to the BCS championship game even though the Bulldogs are now three spots ahead of them in the standings. Those two will settle things on the field in Jacksonville on Nov. 1, but the Gators will benefit more from a win at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

All of Florida's remaining opponents - except I-AA Citadel - are credible teams, including the resurgent Florida State Seminoles. A winning streak against these teams - capped with an SEC title game win over Alabama - will rocket the Gators up the polls and leapfrog the Trojans. In other words, if both Florida and USC go undefeated from this point and on, Florida will finish ahead of USC in the final BCS standings.

What's more disconcerting for the Trojans is that they may be jumped by Ohio State, a team they walloped at the Coliseum, 35-3, on Sept. 13. With teams such as Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and the loser of the Florida-Georgia game guaranteed to drop in the standings, the Buckeyes will steadily move up. A victory over No. 3 Penn State this weekend will provide the fuel for Ohio State to make a significant jump.

If Ohio State is barely behind USC in the polls - one or two slots, say - then the Buckeyes eventually will jump the Trojans in the BCS standings because of their superior computer ratings. Had Ohio State been ranked sixth or seventh in the polls this week - in Texas Tech's slots, for instance - it would be ahead of USC purely on the strength of the computer numbers.

The poor computer ratings - to say nothing of their loss to Oregon State - may prove to be USC's undoing. In a year when the Pac-10 is exceedingly weak, the Trojans will be severely punished by their conference slate. They will not play another team within a sniffing distance of the top 25 the rest of the year and their Saturday's opponent - Arizona - happens to be the highest ranked team they'll face, at No. 34. All other remaining opponents range from damaged goods (Cal), middling (UCLA, Notre Dame, Stanford) to downright atrocious (Washington).

The irony is that the team that's beaten USC might be the best conference team it would face all year. Two of the Beavers' three losses are against undefeated teams (Penn State and Utah) and they really should've beaten the Utes. And it's not beyond the realm of possibility that Oregon State may win the Pac-10 and the Rose Bowl bid by winning their remaining five games.

In fact, it's improbable, but not impossible, for Oregon State to clinch a trip to Pasadena while "relegating" the Trojans to the BCS title game. But even for that scenario to occur, USC will need help - a lot of help.

19 October 2008

The Battle for No. 4

(From BCS Guru)

It was a remarkably uneventful night in the world of BCS. After BYU was beaten by TCU on Thursday, there was not a single upset this weekend among team ranked in the top 10 of the unofficial BCS standings. The most exciting game Saturday was, well, the Red Sox's 4-2 victory over Tampa Bay in Game 6 of the ALCS.

Besides Alabama's 24-20 squeaker over Ole Miss, every top 10 team won by at least two scores. Some won by absurd margins, such as USC's 69-0 demolition of Washington State.

And what a costly blowout for the Trojans.

Despite the complete-game victory that was played mostly by scrubs (such as it is) in the second half, the Guru projects that USC will drop to No. 6 in the first official BCS standings. The top three spots will be occupied by three unbeaten teams - Texas, Alabama and Penn State, in that order - followed by Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

The Guru expects the Trojans to drop to No. 6 because simply playing the woeful Cougars hurt USC's computer rankings. In addition, some voters will drop USC in the polls because either they consider other teams played tougher opponents (particularly Oklahoma, against a ranked Kansas team) or they perceive that the Trojans ran up the score, despite all evidence to the contrary.

The setback may prove temporary, however. The top of the polls are still very fluid with a host of one-loss teams jockeying for position, in addition to the five BCS conference unbeatens. USC does need to be concerned, though, as they might not face another ranked team the rest of the season.

The Guru's projections for the first official BCS standings, with clusters indicated:

1. Texas, 2. Alabama, 3. Penn State, 4. Oklahoma, (5. Oklahoma State, 6. USC, 7. Texas Tech), (8. Utah, 9. Georgia, 10. Florida), 11. Ohio State, 12. Boise State, 13. LSU, 14. South Florida, 15. Texas Christian.

The first BCS official standings will be unveiled Sunday during the NFL postgame show on FOX.

18 October 2008

Cold Mountain West

(From BCS Guru)

Last week, it was a bloodbath in the Big 12, where two of the undefeated teams were dropped in shootouts. This week, it's moved to the Mountain West Conference, where intra-conference fratricide claimed a high-profile victim that could prove to be quite financially costly.

Texas Christian's 32-7 dissection of Brigham Young effectively ended the Cougars' BCS bowl bid. The faint talk of BYU being in the BCS title game was plenty silly before, and now it seems downright absurd.

With the Cougars eliminated from BCS bowl contention, the conference now will hang its hopes on Utah, the lone undefeated team in the MWC. The Utes had been the highest ranked non-BCS team in the unofficial BCS standings anyway, and now they will get a chance to consolidate their position. Without a question, if Utah wins its remaining games, it will get an automatic bid to one of the BCS bowls, most likely the Fiesta Bowl.

The Utes get the benefit of playing three of their five remaining games at home - including the two most difficult ones. Utah hosts TCU on Nov. 6 and BYU - now reduced to a spoiler - in the season finale on Nov. 22.

Should they falter, the only other non-BCS team that has a chance to claim a BCS bid is Boise State. The Broncos, after Friday night's 27-7 win over Hawaii, play four of their final six games on the road. Their most daunting obstacle would be the Nov. 28 season finale against Fresno State on the Blue Turf. Boise State, currently No. 14 in the unofficial standings, have good enough computer ratings to keep them in the top 14 and eligible for a BCS berth should they stay unbeaten.

There are a host of other teams with hopes and dreams of crashing the BCS party, but they will probably remain just that. Both Ball State and Tulsa are too far down in the polls to have any realistic chance of landing in the top 14 even if they finish the season unbeaten. TCU, though its only loss was at Oklahoma, has unimpressive computer rankings that won't get that much of a boost from the games left on its schedule.

On Saturday, civil war returns to the Big 12, as Missouri now tries to mar Texas' unbeaten record and deny the Longhorns a trip to the BCS title game. Oklahoma, while pining for a Texas loss, will also have its plate full with the offensively potent Kansas team in town. At the end of the night, we'll see if the Longhorns will emerge as No. 1 in the first official BCS standings of the season.

Join the Guru for Saturday night's live blog - and you'll be richly rewarded when the Guru counts down the projected top 15 teams in the official BCS standings at the end of the night.

17 October 2008

China and the Financial Crisis

(From RealClearWorld)

I was the guest Thursday on The Ed Morrissey Show on Hot Air. You can listen to the entire 30-minute banter here. This is part of our continuing effort to get RealClearWorld into different media. There may be more appearances in the future.

16 October 2008

Ed Morrissey Show: Samuel Chi, Mary Katharine Ham

(From HotAir)

Today, on the Ed Morrissey Show (3 pm ET), Mary Katharine Ham joins us in the second half to discuss last night’s debate and the presidential race. In the first half, Samuel Chi of RealClearWorld makes his first appearance on TEMS to talk about the financial collapse and its effect on American policy on trade and foreign affairs, especially as it relates to China.

Now you can join the conversation in the chat room! Be sure to register at Ustream to participate in our raucous live-chat sessions. (And if the log-in prompt doesn’t come up in the chat box below, use this link instead.) Jazz Shaw of The Moderate Voice moderates the chat, and he has his Troll Gun Trivia Contest running before the show, for those who get there early — and are registered!

15 October 2008

Mailbag! Your Questions Answered

(From BCS Guru)
  • I am confused. It shows that your site was updated yesterday…but when I look at the computer rankings (based on the links provided) I get different numbers than what you show. For instance, I assume “JS” must equal the Jeff Sagarin rankings. You have Utah as 22 and BYU as 0. I followed the link on your site to Sagarin’s rankings and see Utah as 12 and BYU as 13. This is just one example.

Jeff Sagarin actually publishes two rating - Predictor and ELO_CHESS. The ranking of the ratings is a synthesis of these two - that's where you saw Utah at No. 12 and BYU at No. 13.

Now, look at the ELO_CHESS rankings - ELO_CHESS is the unbiased formula where margin of victory isn't not taken into consideration, i.e., a 59-point win is equal to a 1-point win on a blocked last-second PAT (you get my drift). The BCS uses Sagarin's ELO_CHESS ranking, and now you see that Utah is ranked 4th and BYU 35th. In the BCS system, first place gets 25 points, second 24 and so on. Therefore Utah gets 22 points and BYU gets 0 for being outside of top 25.

Obviously, BYU's blowout wins are not helping because of this scheme. What matters is that UCLA and Washington need to win as many games as possible to help out the Cougars.

  • Virginia Tech has a lead in the cumulative scores of the Coaches and Harris Polls. According to you, Michigan State has a computer average of .63, while Virginia Tech has a computer average of .47. However, after subtracting the top and bottom scores of both teams, Tech averages a ranking of 14.25, while MSU averages a ranking of 15.75. Can Michigan State really own such a sizeable advantage in computer scores?

The computer scores are calculated as such: For each team, a value is assigned to each computer ranking in inverse of 25 - i.e. No. 1 gets 25 points, 2 gets 24, and so on. So the points you see in each column is NOT rankings, but values. And for that purpose, the bigger the number, the better. Michigan State, after discarding the highest and lowest rankings, has a point total of 63, which translates into .630 in the computer average, and VT has 47, so .470. And yes, MSU's computer scores more than offset VT's better poll numbers.

  • I'm surprised you said "chances for two non-BCS teams are virtually nil". I think it looks like two non-BCS are virtually assured!

As it is right now, six BCS conference champions, a second team from both the SEC and Big 12, and one non-BCS team are assured of berths, so that leaves one.

That pick will end up with the second-place Big Ten team, in my estimation. Any combination of PSU-OSU-MSU will yield two teams in the top 14. An outside chance also is there for Cal to finish 10-2 and get into the top 14.

I'd love to see two non-BCS teams in the top 14 and force the BCS to take both, but that's just so unlikely.

  • IF, in the final BCS poll, there are TWO non-BCS in the top 14, (the first pool of at-large teams) and the PAC10 runner up and BigTen runner up are NOT in the top 14, then the BCS HAS TO TAKE the second non-BCS team. Right?

1. The top 14 rule is sacrosanct UNLESS there are not 14 eligible teams. Therefore, if none of the second place teams in the Pac-10, Big Ten, ACC and Big East are in the top 14, then by rule the BCS MUST take a non-BCS team that's eligible. The top 18 rule can only be invoked if there are not 10 eligible teams in the top 14 (regardless of conference affiliation).

2. All that said, I just don't think it's likely that only the SEC and Big 12 will have more than one team in the top 14, here's why:

The top 14 currently is populated by five Big 12 teams - four from the South Division - and that just won't hold. You'll see at least two of those teams, maybe three, drop from the top 14 after they all play each other.

Remember how far down Illinois was last year? Yet, at the end of the season, a 9-3 record was still good enough to be ranked No. 13 and a Rose Bowl invitation (a criminal one, but I digress).

  • Do you have to win your conference championship to go to the BCS title game? There was talk of Georgia maybe deserving to go last year. What are the chances of a rematch if Texas and Oklahoma both win out and of course Penn State and Alabama both loose?

You don't have to win the conference to get into the BCS title game. But a rematch of OU and UT in the BCS title game is unlikely because OU can't even advance to the Big 12 title game and will be punished by the voters for it. (As Georgia did a year ago)

  • What if OU, Texas & Texas Tech all have 1 conf loss at the end of the year (i.e OU beats Tech, Tech beats UT). Who makes the B12 title game?

In the three-way tie scenario, it'll probably come down to the placement in the BCS standings on Nov. 30. Here's the tiebreaker procedure:

1. The records of the three teams will be compared against each other.

2. The records of the three teams will be compared within their division.

3. The records of the three teams will be compared against the next highest placed teams in their division in order of finish (fourth, fifth and sixth).

4. The records of the three teams will be compared against all common conference opponents.

5. The highest ranked team in the first Bowl Championship Series Poll following the completion of Big 12 regular season conference play shall be the representative.

6. The team with the best overall winning percentage [excluding exempted games] shall be the representative.

7. The representative will be chosen by draw.

  • Who would be your BCS bowl matchups if the were to be picked for this Sunday?

Wow, this is waaaaaay too early. But what the heck, here's my crystal ball -

BCS - Alabama vs. Penn State

Rose - USC vs. Michigan State

Fiesta - Texas vs. BYU

Sugar - Florida vs. Oklahoma

Orange - Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh

Finally, the BCS standings tracking has been updated to give better balance to unranked teams. And be sure to come back Saturday night as the Guru will unveil projections for the first official BCS standings. It will be published shortly after the Texas-Missouri 8 p.m. ET game. A live blogging comment forum will be available for those of you want to banter while you wait.

13 October 2008

Battleground: Penn State

(From BCS Guru)

While presidential candidates are busy traversing the Keystone State trolling for votes, Pennsylvania just happens to be the epicenter of another important race that will be settled this fall - the battle for the BCS title game.

While as expected, Texas and Alabama are Nos. 1 and 2 in the latest unofficial BCS standings, it's No. 3 Penn State that has the inside track to the championship game in Miami.

The reasons are pretty simple: Penn State doesn't have to play in a conference championship game; and the Nittany Lions have an astonishingly favorable schedule.

With three of their remaining five games at home, the Lions also will face just two ranked teams the rest of the way. Their biggest test, of course, is the Oct. 25 trip to Columbus. But Ohio State has been anything but an offensive juggernaut, having scored just one offensive touchdown in its last seven quarters. Penn State, meanwhile, has averaged over 45 points per game.

The Lions' BCS quest, and Big Ten title hopes, might come down to the season finale against Michigan State. After losing at Cal in the season opener, the Spartans have ripped off six straight. If they can get by Ohio State this Saturday, a Penn State-Michigan State at Happy Valley on Nov. 22 will have Pasadena on the line, perhaps more.

Penn State has been flying under the radar - partly because of a benign schedule devoid of ranked teams, partly because the Big Ten has been so thoroughly discredited after repeated Ohio State debacles, including this season's 35-3 shellacking by USC. But the Lions served notice after Saturday's 48-7 romp over Wisconsin, which nearly defeated the Buckeyes a week prior.

Even Joe Paterno was impressed by his own team, declaring his Lions a national title contender.

"We certainly deserve to be considered," he said. "I thought we'd win, but anybody who thought we'd win by 41 hasn't been in the game very long."

While Penn State's road to Miami seems pretty open, all other top contenders will have to knock heads with one another, and the survivors will have to play a conference championship game. Texas, for example, faces the murderer's row of Missouri-Oklahoma State-Texas Tech in the next three weeks. Not to mention Kansas and the Big 12 title game still to come. Alabama must face LSU in Death Valley, Auburn in the Iron Bowl, and possibly Florida or Georgia in the SEC title game.

Another team with a smoother path that has sneakily returned to the chase is USC. The Trojans, stunningly, are now No. 4 in the standings, behind just the three unbeatens and lead all one-loss teams. USC should be the prohibitive favorite to win its remaining seven games, against only one ranked opponent, Cal - at home.

Other one-loss teams have much taller mountains to climb. Oklahoma, the erstwhile No. 1, now needs Texas to lose twice to get into the Big 12 title game, thus its prospects of going to the BCS title game become a longshot. Florida and Georgia will play each other in essentially an elimination game on Nov. 1 in Jacksonville, but both teams are hampered by low computer ratings and lag behind USC. Both Missouri and LSU, after last week's losses, are just about out of it.

Of the five non-BCS conference unbeatens, both Utah and BYU have a legitimate shot at a BCS bowl berth. And if both remain undefeated, the Nov. 22 game at Utah should be a BCS play-in game. Boise State is waiting in the wings should both teams falter, but the chances of two non-BCS teams getting an invitation to a BCS bowl game are just about nil.

At least one team can be safely crossed off the potential BCS guest list - Notre Dame. After their dramatic loss at North Carolina, the Irish now virtually have no shot at finishing in the top 14 of the BCS standings to warrant consideration. Virtually, unless the Irish run the table from here on out, including an unthinkable upset of the Trojans at the Coliseum on Nov. 29.

Even the most optimistic Irish fan probably wouldn't bet on that.

07 October 2008

Red River: There Will Be Blood

(From BCS Guru)

Six weeks into this college football season, nearly half of the Big XII membership remains undefeated. Since there are only 10 unbeaten BCS conference teams - 14 total in Division I-A - an argument may be made that the Big XII is the top dog of 2008.

In the latest unofficial BCS standings - an almost exact facsimile of the real thing since we have all but one of the six computers accounted for - three of the top four spots are taken by Big XII members, with Oklahoma on top and Missouri and Texas at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively. Texas Tech is a bit further down at No. 10 and Oklahoma State checks in at No. 17.

What exactly is leading to this Big XII dominance? Or it is merely a charade?

To be perfectly blunt: This is but a house of cards.

Oklahoma may be a legitimate No. 1 team in the nation, and Missouri, on any given Saturday, can hang 50 points on anybody, but beyond that, there isn't really much there.

Credit shrewd scheduling. Though these five teams managed to go a combine 25-0, they have played exactly two bona-fide quality opposition. They faced a total of four BCS conference foes, and three of which - Washington, Washington State and Arkansas - are bottom feeders who are winless in their own conferences. The only team of consequence, Illinois, was beaten by Missouri, 52-42, in St. Louis.

Oklahoma had the best non-conference win of the bunch, ironically over a non-BCS team - Texas Christian, in Norman. The rest of the slate for these five unconquered, in the immortal words of OSU coach Mike Gundy, is just "garbage."

The good news - for those of you who are annoyed at the Big XII power play so far - is that these guys have to start their own backyard brawls now, beginning with Saturday's Red River Shootout in Dallas. Oklahoma is favored against the Longhorns, and, if recent trends hold, the Sooners should win in a blowout.

Until last year's 28-21 affair won by Oklahoma, the Red River Rivalry of recent vintage hasn't exactly been nailbiters. The last 10 contests have been decided by an average of 23.4 points. The higher-ranked team has won EVERY time. And Oklahoma has dominated for the most part, winning five of the past seven.

Texas, despite its 5-0 record and five easy, breezy victories, is still an unknown. Its five victims are a combined 11-15, with just 3-2 Colorado possessing a winning record. The Longhorns never left the Lone Star State in the month of September.

But Texas will get its just desserts in the coming weeks. In the next four games, the Longhorns will play four teams with a combined 20-0 record. That's right, they'll face each of the other four Big XII unbeatens in succession - no byes, no nothin'. If they can some how get through that gauntlet unscathed, then they would deserve to be No. 1 themselves.

Just don't bet on it.

A few other observations from the new standings:

* Under the radar a bit, but the truly significant game of the week is LSU's trip to the Swamp. Last year, the Tigers ended the Gators' title hopes at Tiger Stadium by handing them a second straight loss. This time, it's up to Florida to return the favor. Despite its lofty poll rankings, LSU is only sixth in the BCS standings because it has only played four games and against mostly non-descript competition. A victory in Gainesville will get the computers' attention.

* BYU's slim hopes of playing in the BCS title game is DOA. The Cougars come in at No. 12, well behind two teams already with one loss (USC and Georgia). In fact, they're not even the highest ranked non-BCS team. That distinction belongs to Utah, at No. 9 thanks to its robust computer ratings. BYU, meanwhile, can only curse UCLA and Washington - its BCS conquests with a combined 2-8 record - as its strength of schedule is ranked 126 (by Sagarin) among all Division I teams.

* USC didn't have to do much to get back in the BCS title chase. The Trojans' 44-10 dissection of the Oregon Ducks gained them enough currency in the polls to move them up to No. 7 in the BCS standings. They have a decent lead on Georgia and are well ahead of all other one-loss teams. USC is very well positioned to move up when the top six teams start losing.

* The only Big East teams currently in the top 25 is No. 23 South Florida, coming off a home loss to Pittsburgh. Four non-BCS teams are ahead of the Bulls - Mountain West's Utah and BYU, WAC's Boise State and even MAC's Ball State. Worry not, though, as the Big East is guaranteed a BCS bowl berth no matter what.

* Slowly but surely, Notre Dame is creeping up the standings, checking in at No. 36 this week. The Irish are hoping a 10-2 season would be enough to place them in the top 14, making them eligible (and all but guaranteed) for a BCS bowl berth. Notre Dame's 2008 schedule is much softer than last year's, when it went 3-9, but it's about to get a little rougher. The Irish are playing at resurgent North Carolina this week and a loss there, with a trip to the L.A. Coliseum still looming on the schedule, we can file the Irish BCS C.V. away for another year.

01 October 2008

One Loss Should Be Good Enough

(From BCS Guru)

Good news, if you root for USC, Georgia or Florida - your team's disheartening loss last week most likely meant squat.

Bad news, if you pull for Oklahoma, Alabama, LSU, Missouri, Texas or any other BCS conference team that hasn't lost a game this season - your team committed a royal faux pas by still being undefeated. Should've found a way to get that loss out of the way.

As we enter October, only 13 teams in the six BCS conferences have yet to lose a game - and none in the Pac-10 and ACC. Mathematically, the maximum possible number of BCS conference teams remaining undefeated at the end of the regular season is 5. But according to our projections, that number will be 0 - or at the most optimistic, 1.

On the other hand, five non-BCS conference teams are still unbeaten and it's likely that 3, or maybe even 4 of those teams still will be undefeated at the end of the regular season.

So what does all that mean?

For starters, having 13 undefeated BCS teams at this juncture of the season is not an anomaly - it's about average. Over the past five years, 13.4 BCS conference teams have remained unbeaten at the end of September. So we're just about right on the number.

What's tricky is that the number of unbeaten teams - from this point of the season and on - have decreased steadily since 2004. Here's the breakdown:

2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
End of September 13 13 11 16 14
First BCS Standings 6* 5 6 7 10
End of October 3* 2 4 3 4
End of Regular Season 1* 0 1 2 3

Of those 13 unbeaten teams, five are in the Big 12 - four in the South Division. Only one team from this conference may emerge unbeaten, in a best-case scenario. The same goes for the four teams in the SEC. South Florida and Connecticut, the only remaining unbeaten teams in the Big East, will have to face each other.

That leaves the Big Ten, with Northwestern and Penn State unbeaten and missing each other on the schedule, as the only conference that may produce more than one unbeaten team. But with both teams still having to face Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State (and also Wisconsin for Penn State), the odds aren't good that either team will finish the season unscathed.

So what does that leave us?

That means just about all the teams with one loss are in pretty good shape - assuming they run the table from here on out. While that's not saying a two-loss team is completely out of it (see LSU, 2007), a second loss will leave any team to the whims of the voters and idiosyncrasies (some of you may think it should be idiocy) of the BCS formula. Furthermore, the system favors teams that lose early rather than late.

Voters are notorious for their lacking in recall. While computers make no distinction of when a team loses a game, any team that loses late in the season always will be punished more severely in the polls than another one that loses earlier. If you're going to lose only one game in a season, be advised to lose it in September rather than December.

With that in mind, which of the one-loss teams is in the best shape?

It's USC, of course.

The Trojans began the lost weekend with that stinker at Oregon State, but they're now the first team on the road to recovery. The simple reason why the scenario favors USC is the schedule: It doesn't have to play in a conference championship game and the Pac-10 is incredibly mediocre, as is Notre Dame, USC's only remaining non-conference game.

While Georgia, Florida, and every team in the SEC and Big 12 still have to slog through tough schedules mined with highly-ranked opponents and treacherous road games, the Trojans' biggest remaining obstacle is this Saturday's home game against No. 23 Oregon.

The Bulldogs may be the highest ranked one-loss team in the unofficial BCS standings right now, and they certainly will have ample opportunity to improve both their poll and computer rankings. But with road games at LSU and Auburn, the Cocktail game in Jacksonville against Florida, and if they get through all that, the SEC championship game against either Alabama or LSU again, Georgia will be pushed to the limit.

Florida has an easier road, but at the same time, its weaker schedule means it will have a harder time making its way back up the ladder from the current No. 15 position. Ohio State lost even earlier than USC, but it will not move past the Trojans if both teams finish with one loss each because, well, the Trojans thumped the Buckeyes, 35-3.

One last thing, though, before you Trojan fans get all excited and start making travel plans to Miami once again. There is one team USC has yet been able to beat, three years running. That would be USC.

Yes, the Trojans have been quite adept at beating themselves. They have nine more chances to do it again.