©02 the media desk
According to Merlin the Wizard and the Bowl Championship Series Computer the Miami Hurricanes are the best college football team in the land once again.
A close second is the Ohio State Buckeyes.
The rest of the top five work out as Washington State, Oklahoma, and Georgia. Notre Dame and Penn State are in the top fifteen. And if you are looking for other perennial favorites like Nebraska, UCLA and Alabama, keep looking. 'Bama is on probation and won't see a Bowl no matter how they finish, and UCLA is sitting at 7 and 3, Bowl eligible, and will probably go to on, even if it's the Meat 'Possum Bowl in Little Rock, and Nebraska is 7 and 5, bowl eligible, but nobody outside the 'Husker State cares.
There are twenty eight bowl games (not counting the fictitious Opossum Bowl which we shall talk about at length as we go).
The BIG ONES (Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta Bowls) are part of the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) which despite its high-falutin name isn't any more of a Championship Series in the sense of playoff tournament than the consensus system that had ruled major college football for years.
The Top Eight teams in this mysterious ranking which only Merlin and the BCS programmers understand are eligible for those four Bowls. With the Top Two playing for the Sears Trophy and the claim to be the National Champion.
And right now it looks good. Of the Big Time College Football Teams, only Ohio State and Miami are undefeated. If they stay that way through the last couple of weeks of the season, Ohio State has Michigan left (no slouch of a game that) and Miami has three dates remaining including Virginia Tech which is top fifteen in every poll but the BCS and Pittsburgh who is ranked 21st and On Paper is actually the better team and seeded higher in the Big East Conference, the BCS wizards will have worked their magic yet again.
IF… on the other hand… Miami or Ohio St or, gasp, BOTH, loose, then you have an orgy of conflicting claims to the top spot and you might end up with something like Georgia and Iowa butting heads for the Crystal Ball. (Pun intended. The Trophy is literally a Crystal Football.) And the Ratings Disaster of chilling out the Major Markets who will get their New Year's Football Fix watching Notre Dame beat Southern Cal half to death in our Meat Opossum Bowl New Year's Afternoon.
Or as the Bowl Schedule on CNN reads:
If a WAC team is chosen for the GMAC Bowl, a MAC team will be selected in either the Silicon Valley Classic or the Humanitarian Bowl. If a MAC team is chosen, a third bowl-eligible MAC team will be invited to either the Silicon Valley Classic or the Humanitarian Bowl if no bowl-eligible team from a BCS conference is available.You can't make stuff like that up.
The reason it will be a mess if either / or OSU or UM loose is that according to the BCS, Number Three is Washington State, with a record of nine and one. But they have cross state rival Washington and UCLA left. So the Cougars don't have a cakewalk for their last two games either.
Number Four is former Number One OK. The Sooners would love to make a run at it. But they have Texas Tech (and we know how they feel about Texans right about now) and OK State to play.
Coming in at BCS Five is the Georgia Bulldogs at 10 and 1 with only GA Tech left on the schedule.
So how will all this play out before the last weekend of the season and the Army Navy Game?
The Desk expects Miami to wallop Tech and Pitt, and Ohio State to sneak away from the Wolverines like they did Illinois last week in Overtime. Then all we have to do is wait for the final bell from the BCS computer.
It would LOVE to see the Pitt roll into the Orange Bowl and stomp the wind out of the 'Canes. And then see the Hokies do things that ain't even nice to them a couple of weeks later. It isn't expecting it, but it would like to see it happen and Miami end up playing for the Golden 'Possum.
For all their faults, Miami may have the class of the field this year. True, they still have Connecticut on their schedule for reasons that don't make sense to anybody except the accountants for the Sports Department at UConn, but hey… It's only one game. What says more about it is that the Huskies scored two touchdowns against the Hurricanes. But Miami came back. The State University of New Jersey was actually leading for a time against them. But Miami came back. Florida State lost by one point. Florida A&M put seventeen on the board against them (OK, Miami ran up sixty three points, but still the Rattlers are a Div I-AA team).
Miami has done everything they HAD to do this year to be number one. They have come back against good teams and won, they have gone out and shredded so-so teams and they have done so without apologizing to anybody. Tennessee, West Virginia, Florida have all gone down before them. Only Pitt, Syracuse and VA Tech are left to give us any hope that we don't have to put up with them hoisting that Crystal Ball once again.
As for the Buckeyes. It would seem they'd rather be lucky than good. They've let some of the also-ran teams of the Big Ten get a little too close, and yet pulled it off. There is no way the Illini (may Chief Illiniwek forgive me) at 4 and 6 then should have been able to take the Buckeyes then 11 and 0 into OT homecoming in Champaign or No. But what counts is that the big O came back and won.
They too have done everything they had to do too. Wisconsin was close, so was Cincinnati. Even Penn State looked like they might come back on them until the end.
So do we have the two best teams getting set to go for it?
Remember… any given Saturday…
Heck, even Delaware State wins a game once in awhile... but they will never play for the 'Possum.