Saturday night's BYU-Oklahoma matchup was borne of necessity. Oklahoma AD
Oklahoma and BYU could have chosen to follow so many other schools and schedule a creampuff opener. Instead, they took a gamble. As a result, the Sooners are paying a hefty price, their national-title hopes severely damaged and their star quarterback sidelined.
The Cougars, however, have set themselves up for a potentially unprecedented opportunity. Since the dawn of the BCS, we've assumed the loftiest goal a team like BYU could realistically achieve was a berth to the Sugar, Orange, Rose or Fiesta bowls. We've assumed justifiably -- no such team has finished higher than sixth in the BCS standings.
But no previous team from a non-BCS conference has ever beaten a top three team during that period, either. With BYU set to play three more games against teams ranked in the AP's preseason top 20 (TCU, Florida State and Utah), it's time to
At least one man thinks so. "I give BYU credit for scheduling itself into that position," Mountain West commissioner
BYU's upset could not have come at a better time for Thompson, who's spent much of the past eight months crusading for his conference's inclusion among the BCS's automatic-qualifying leagues. This being just the second year of a four-year review period, he needs MWC teams to continue their momentum from last season, when Utah and TCU both finished in the top 10.
Last January in New Orleans, Thompson watched the Utes rout a 12-1 Alabama team that nearly played for the national championship. On Saturday in Dallas, he watched the Cougars shut down a Sooners team that
Some will instinctively downplay BYU's 14-13 upset due to Heisman winner
"We knew the center [
Offensively, BYU played the entire game without returning 1,132-yard rusher
Last year, BYU began the season as the consensus favored "BCS buster," but ultimately the Cougars' young defense couldn't play at the same level as its powerful offense. This year's team is much better suited for a run at perfection -- if it can handle the schedule.
In the meantime, I'm eager to see how the voters treat BYU when the new polls come out Tuesday. When TCU knocked off No. 7 Oklahoma in the 2005 opener, the Horned Frogs barely made a dent, entering the AP poll at No. 22 (four spots lower than the Sooners). BYU, however, should benefit from having started the season ranked 20th, and, presumably, from the level of respect for its conference that did not exist four years ago.
"It will be really interesting to see what the nation thinks of that performance, and equally interesting will be where Oklahoma drops to," said Thompson. "It's all about how quickly you can move up in the polls, and ultimately, where you get stranded in the polls. If they continue to win, then it's going to be equally important to see what happens in November."
Besides Oklahoma, Boise State has to be the team most dismayed by BYU's upset. After handling Oregon last Thursday (yes, a game took place before all the punching), the Broncos seemed to have paved a near-unobstructed road to their first BCS berth since 2006, but now the Cougars figure to jump them. Not only did BYU notch a more resounding win, but there's a vast disparity between the teams' remaining schedules. Consider: Two of Boise's purportedly toughest competitors in the WAC are Nevada and San Jose State. Notre Dame blanked the Wolf Pack 35-0 on Saturday; USC stomped the Spartans 56-3.
However, should the Mountain West heavyweights knock off each other, the Broncos showed signs against Oregon that they may be fielding their most complete team since the '06 Fiesta Bowl champs. After basically ditching their running game last year due to a young offensive line, the Broncos pounded the ball against the Ducks with tailback tandem
Throw in gunslinger
Each week, I'll update my projected BCS lineup (as necessary) based on the latest week's games. My current predictions:
Would a BCS bowl (in this case, the Fiesta) voluntarily select a second non-BCS team? Probably not, but right now I'd take both BYU and Boise over a second team from the ACC, Big Ten or Pac-10. Following its uninspiring opener against Navy, I've taken Ohio State off my BCS board. The Buckeyes need to show me something next week against USC to regain their spot. And while Oklahoma may well rebound and produce another 10-win regular season, as of now I'm picking Oklahoma State to supplant the Sooners and take the Big 12 South's second berth.
• While attending a USC practice last week, I noticed junior tailback
• No major conference endured a more humiliating opening weekend than the ACC, which went 4-6 in non-conference play despite the fact six of those games came against I-AA opponents. The league lost all four of its BCS-conference matchups (NC State fell to South Carolina, Virginia Tech to Alabama, Wake Forest to Baylor and Maryland to Cal), while Virginia (to William and Mary) and Duke (to Richmond) fell to I-AA foes. Mind you, many of the victims were picked near the bottom of the conference anyway, but it doesn't make the idiot who said the league could be
• As if Oklahoma State didn't have enough star power with
• Virginia Tech has now dropped four straight games against SEC foes, but the two most recent -- Saturday's 34-24 defeat to Alabama and a 48-7 loss to LSU in 2007 -- have been particularly disturbing. The Hokies' normally stingy defense allowed a combined 1,106 yards to the Tigers and Tide. It's one thing to stifle the primarily mediocre offenses that have littered the ACC in recent years, but the Hokies have been outclassed when facing more physical, dynamic attacks. And that's on their
• Speaking of which, if Alabama's capable of winning a game like that even after allowing a 98-yard kickoff return, throwing a pick at its own 14, having one of its players commit multiple unsportsmanlike penalties on the same play and generally stinking it up for three quarters, it bodes pretty well for the Tide. Still, I wouldn't want to be in a meeting room with
• He runs like a track star. He's lethal on the deep ball. Now, add a new feat to
• Arizona coach
• New Purdue coach
• That thing I said last week about Penn State being overrated? Forget it. Never happened. The Nittany Lions outgained Akron 344 to 8 in the first half of a 31-7 win (all 31 points came in that half), and it seems
• Oh, and what I said about Cal? About how I wouldn't jump on the Bears' bandwagon until QB
• While we're at it, to anyone in St. Louis who listened to a radio interview I did there last week in which I proclaimed Illinois a potential national sleeper ... I misplaced my phone that day. Really. Wasn't me who answered.
• Only one weekend in, and I already want to pound my head into a wall every time I hear that
Last Thursday night, while most of the country was fixated on Oregon-Boise State, a stunning score popped up from Muncie, Ind.: North Texas 20, Ball State 10. If that doesn't register, this will: Ball State went 12-2 last year; the Mean Green were 1-11.
After going 3-21 his first two seasons, North Texas coach
Most remarkably, North Texas' defense -- which ranked dead last nationally last season -- held the Cardinals to 10 points. Granted, Ball State figured to take a dip following the departure of head coach
This was the San Jose State coach's assessment following his team's 56-3 loss to USC: "For a while it looked like we could compete with them. Obviously, it was an illusion."
Still traumatized by Oregon running back
The Lane Kiffin era got off to a rocking start -- literally. Saturday's 63-7 rout of Western Kentucky doesn't mean Tennessee will win the SEC just yet, but the Vols already take the cake for highest production value of a pre-kickoff Jumbotron segment. It certainly worked this dude into a tizzy (the real fun starts at the 3:42 mark).
I'm not sure I've ever endured a stranger game-trip than last week's jaunt to Boise.
It started almost bucolically, my buddy
Of course, the evening ended with my head spinning and my poor editors waiting on me at 4 a.m. EST as I tried to process the fact that a prominent college football player had just punched an opposing player in the face, among other things. In between, Bruce and I somehow got lost on that same river trail for two hours in 94-degree weather, I ate three different brewpub meals in less than 24 hours and I learned that I'd been mispronouncing "Boise" (it's
Boise really is a lovely place with a beautiful stadium and a splendid football team, though I do have one criticism (shared, apparently, by