One victory. That's all Missouri and West Virginia needed to ensure a trip to the BCS National Championship Game. Neither team had to worry about scenarios, voter swings or computer recalculations. They just needed to win to get in.
Missouri, which was a three-point underdog, gave up a crucial turnover to swing momentum Oklahoma's way in its 38-17 Big 12 Championship loss, the Tigers' second defeat to the Sooners this season.
West Virginia, which was favored by four touchdowns over Pittsburgh, lost starting quarterback and Heisman hopeful Pat White for most of the game due to a dislocated thumb on his non-throwing hand. With their offense in complete shambles, the Mountaineers were upset by the Panthers 13-9.
LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux reacted after receiving his Most Valuable Player trophy after a 21-14 win over Tennessee in the SEC Championship game Saturday in Atlanta. Associated Press
With Missouri and West Virginia losing, the BCS found itself mired in yet another college football controversy as Ohio State takes over the top spot in the final BCS standings.
Buckeyes stand still, advance
The Buckeyes are the only top-tier BCS team that has won its conference and has one loss. They had set themselves up with a surge to first with six first-place votes in the USA Today Coaches' Poll and 11 first-place votes in the Harris Poll last week.
Ironically the Buckeyes have moved from fifth to third and now to first in the past two weeks without playing as teams ahead of them have lost. Without a Big Ten Championship game, the Buckeyes didn't have to suit up again, which could have jeopardized their season as in Mizzou's case.
LSU pounces over competition
For LSU however, a conference title game was exactly what it needed to stay alive and capture the second BCS title berth. The Tigers, who have been either No. 1 or No. 2 in the BCS standings three times heading into last weekend, bounced back from being upset by Arkansas to scratch and claw their way to a 21-14 win over Tennessee for the SEC Championship.
In order to clinch a spot in the title game, the Bayou Bengals leapfrogged 10-2 Georgia, 11-1 Kansas and 11-2 Virginia Tech.
While fans of the Bulldogs and Jayhawks will be up in arms for years to come, their teams didn't win their conference. If Kansas had a tougher schedule, just having one loss could have been enough for the Jayhawks to secure a BCS title game spot like non-conference winners 2001 Nebraska and 2003 Oklahoma.
Virginia Tech ended up with a higher computer ranking than LSU after defeating Boston College for the ACC Championship but the voters pushed the Tigers over the Hokies because of Tech's 48-7 road loss to the Bayou Bengals. If Tech could've beaten either LSU or Boston College earlier in the season, with one loss, it would be the Hokies instead of the Tigers in the BCS title game.
Oklahoma, Southern Cal left behind
Not to be left out of the BCS controversy are 11-2 Oklahoma and 10-2 Southern California. The Sooners will make the argument that they defeated the No. 1 team in the country in Missouri, won the Big 12 Championship and should rightfully take over the throne.
If there was only one poll vote for the entire season that took place after the end of the conference title games, it could be Oklahoma instead of LSU in second place. But with the Sooners behind the Tigers in voting going into the conference championship weekend and with the voting mentality that if a team wins, someone behind them cannot overtake them, LSU ended up ahead of Oklahoma.
Human voting aside, Oklahoma ended up playing a much weaker schedule than LSU that kept its computer ranking low. The Sooners beat the 5-7 (2-6 ACC) Miami Hurricanes as their quality non-conference opponent while LSU defeated 11-2 (8-1 ACC) Virginia Tech.
Southern California also won its conference and had two losses. However, its non-conference quality opponent was 5-7 (2-6 Big 12) Nebraska. They also lost to 41-point underdog Stanford who finished 4-8 (3-6 Pac-10). The Stanford loss knocked the Trojans so far back in the polls they spent the rest of the season climbing out of that hole.
What about undefeated Hawaii
Hawaii rallied and came back to beat Washington to go undefeated on the season. Despite winning out, Hawaii never had a shot at a BCS title berth. Its only opponent of consequence was Boise State who finished 24th in the BCS rankings. The Warriors had terrible schedule strength due to the weak Western Athletic Conference.
Warriors fans in the stands during the Washington game were realistic and were only seeking a major BCS game. They got their wish and will play Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
This college football season once again reinforces what a team needs to do in order to get to the BCS title game. 1) If you have to lose, lose early and/or lose to a tough opponent. 2) You can't control your conference, but you can control your non-conference opponents, so schedule at least one tough team. 3) In the words of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, "Just win, baby."
My sister Melanie's thoughts
Unless it's white, solid color uniforms like the Gophers' gold on gold are ugly. Tennessee wore solid orange, West Virginia wore solid old gold and Missouri wore solid black. They all lost. Coincidence?
BCS schedule, times subject to change
Jan. 1 Rose Bowl at Pasadena, Calif., Southern California (10-2) vs. Illinois (9-3), 4 p.m. (ABC)
Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl at New Orleans, Hawaii (12-0) vs. Georgia (10-2), 7:30 p.m. (FOX)
Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl at Glendale, Ariz., West Virginia (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (11-2), 7 p.m. (FOX)
Jan. 3 Orange Bowl at Miami, Kansas (11-1) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2), 7 p.m. (FOX)
Jan. 7 BCS National Championship at New Orleans, Ohio State (11-1) vs. LSU (11-2), 7 p.m. (FOX)
TREVOR WILLIAMS, sports copy editor, may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5866.
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