The waiting game
Saturday evening, AMC will be airing sword-and-sandals flick
Enticing, but Georgia defensive end
"I'm going to just be doing what everybody else on the team is going to be doing," Howard said. "We're going to be glued to the TV, just watching the games hoping West Virginia lose and Missouri lose so we get a shot at that natty."
It will be anything but relaxed viewing in Athens. Coach
"The whole team is nervous ... It's not in our hands, so we're a little worried, a little stressed," Howard said.
Nearly 600 miles away, Ohio State offensive tackle
"I'll probably watch [the Big 12 title] game a little bit, just to see how it's going in the beginning," he said. "I probably won't watch the whole thing, then I'll probably tune in the middle to see if it's close or not."
Consider the levels of attention -- and anxieties -- a testament to their places in the pecking order should either the Tigers and/or Mountaineers fall: Ohio State (11-1), No. 3 in the BCS Standings, is a sure thing to move up to No. 2 and earn a second straight place in the national title game with either losing, while No. 4 Georgia (10-2) would need a cataclysmic event to reach New Orleans.
Though if a season that's seen 12 top-five teams fall to unranked opponents has taught us anything, it's to expect the unexpected.
When the Buckeyes walked off the Ohio Stadium turf on Nov. 10 after a 28-21 loss to Illinois, a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth looked to be the only things within their grasp. The Buckeyes had been No. 1 since the initial BCS standings, but fell to seventh with their first loss, though they would climb two spots after beating Michigan in the regular-season finale.
Before they left for Thanksgiving, coach
"We knew it was a longshot," Barton said. "We needed a lot of help with a couple of teams to fall by the wayside and it's happened. But we need one more to happen."
They're not banking on it, though. Barton says the Illinois loss looms large in Columbus as the Buckeyes are resigned to waiting for help from Pitt, a 28-point underdog, or three-point favorite Oklahoma.
"You don't hold your breath or anything because we didn't take care of our business," Barton said. "We just have to sit back and hope for a couple of results that could put us in that game."
If Ohio State did climb to No. 1 or 2, it would be the third team in the BCS era to lose one of their last two games but still play for the national championship, following in the footsteps of Nebraska (2001) and Oklahoma ('03). That Cornhuskers team, which went on to lose to Miami 37-14, failed to make its conference title game -- exactly the same spot Georgia is in this season. Though unlike one-loss Nebraska, the Dawgs would be the first two-loss team to ever play for the title.
"You have to look at the fact that we play in the SEC, which is, if not the strongest, then one of the strongest conferences," Georgia senior wide receiver
For these Dawgs, loss No. 2 was a turning point. They went to Knoxville ranked 14th in the AP Poll, but after the 21-point beatdown Georgia was 4-2 and ranked 24th.
"At that point, the team had one of two choices: We could go into the tank and finish with a sub-par season or we could rally together and unify the way we have," Bailey said.
The Bulldogs opened 20th in the BCS, but rattled off six straight wins, including victories over the No. 9 Florida, No. 18 Auburn and No. 22 Kentucky to crack the BCS top 10, then climbed to fourth after last weekend.
"You wish that we could have taken care of business earlier in the season, therefore we'd be able to control our own destiny, but we're still in a great position," Bailey said.
Though the position they'd rather be in is that of the Volunteers, who are opposite former No. 1 LSU in the SEC title game Saturday in Atlanta. Should we see another shakeup atop the rankings,
"I certainly think the champion, in that position, should be allowed every opportunity to play in the most prestigious bowl," Miles said. "I would like to envision an opportunity for a team from Louisiana that's fortunate enough to win a conference championship -- and who played the schedule that we did with the victories we've achieved and not lost a game in regulation yet -- to have that opportunity."
The Buckeyes, Bulldogs, Jayhawks, Hokies and Tigers will all be on edge for what could be a fittingly turbulent ending to a turbulent season. Though Missouri and West Virginia could always do what so many highly ranked teams have failed to in 2007 -- simply avoid catastrophe.
In that case, Howard and Velasco can always find solace in clicking over to MTV and catching a marathon of