By Andy Staples
November 27, 2009

Boise State's win against Nevada on Friday gave the Broncos their second consecutive WAC title, and it left the Broncos with a game next week against horrendous New Mexico State to complete a second consecutive undefeated regular season.

After Friday's win, Boise State coach Chris Petersen told ESPN the Broncos have done everything asked of them. "Let's hope the system works like it should," he said.

That's exactly why Petersen should worry.

If the system works as designed, the BCS bowls will protect the interests of the six conferences that designed the system 11 years ago. If that happens, a two-loss team from a big-six conference (either Oklahoma State, Iowa or Penn State) will get picked instead of the Broncos. This would happen because the power-conference schools will bring more fans to the stadium and provide more eyeballs for the television broadcast.

So the Broncos will spend Saturday pulling for the team they vanquished in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl (hereafter referred to as The Greatest Game Ever Played) to give them a legitimate shot at playing in a BCS bowl. That's right, Boise State needs Oklahoma to beat Oklahoma State to increase the Broncos' chances of getting selected as an at-large team.

If you've read my weekly power rankings, you know I don't think much of Boise State's schedule, which featured an opener against Oregon and not much else. But if Oregon beats Oregon State and wins the Pac-10 title Thursday, Boise State would have a win against an BCS conference champ. Neither Oklahoma State, Penn State nor Iowa could make that claim.

But under the current system, that doesn't matter. What matters is protecting the interests of the bowls, which don't always jibe with the best interests of the game in general.

Great win by West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl on Friday. West Virginia coach Bill Stewart showed a lot of faith in his freshman kicker, and Tyler Bitancurt rewarded that faith by booting a 43-yard field goal as time expired to give the Mountaineers a 19-16 win.

So what does it all mean for the Big East? Not much. The game had no effect on the conference title race. Cincinnati (11-0, 6-0 Big East) and Pitt (9-2, 5-1) will play for the title next week.

Then what does it mean for Cincinnati's national title hopes? Also not much. With a win at Pitt, Cincinnati still probably would leapfrog TCU in the computer and human polls that determine the BCS rankings. Jerry Palm, the publisher of, confirmed Friday that Pitt's Brawl loss will have no effect on Cincy's computer rankings. Why? Because the computers evaluate all of a team's opponents, and the Bearcats also play the Mountaineers. So no matter what happened in the Brawl, one of Cincy's opponents was going to win, and one was going to lose. That doesn't mean human voters won't notice, but the difference probably wouldn't change anything. Basically, the Bearcats must win and hope for a Texas loss.

So what about West Virginia? The Mountaineers still need to beat Rutgers next week, but they've put themselves in a good bowl position. West Virginia probably will go to the Gator Bowl if Cincy wins and Notre Dame -- which would be eligible for the Gator at 7-5 -- loses at Stanford. If Pitt wins, Cincinnati probably would go to the Gator, and West Virginia probably would play in its second consecutive Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte.

One more thing about the Brawl, and it involves my favorite Twitter feed, @InsidetheBCS. Last week, a Tweep named Michael James chummed the water with the following tweet to the official Twitter feed of the cartel that controls big-time college football's national title: "Pitt/WVU matter much? Not at all. RT @INSIDEtheBCS More than any other sport, the regular season is the most critical...Each week matters."

The hapless intern -- or whoever -- handling the feed took the bait. Here's the response: @mrjames2006 Pitt-WVU matters a lot because Pitt's vying for the Big East championship with Cincinnati and faces UC next week.

My guess is that particular intern went back to stuffing envelopes after contradicting one of the BCS honchos' favorite talking points. If you follow college football even a little bit, you knew the Brawl had no effect on the Big East race.

Naturally, fans -- and a certain writer -- piled on. The vitriol was pointed and hilarious. Like a good propaganda machine, the PR firm behind the BCS feed ignored this inconvenient presentation of actual fact.

In a later tweet, James himself summed it up best: "@insidethebcs Free PR advice: when you have the logical low ground, keep your mouth shut, lay low and rest on your impenetrable dictatorship."

Smart guy. I guess great minds think alike.

Two undefeated teams got major scares between Thanksgiving and Black Friday. One undefeated team rolled to a 49-36 win that wasn't nearly as close as the final score. The difference? Texas and Alabama played bitter rivals. Cincinnati played an odd, late out-of-conference opponent whose schedule gave it nothing left to play for.

If anyone should have come out flat, it should have been Cincinnati. No one would have blamed the Bearcats for overlooking 3-7 Illinois and looking ahead to next week's de facto Big East title game in Pittsburgh. No one would have been surprised had all the rumors about Cincy coach Brian Kelly and the soon-to-be-open Notre Dame job distracted the Bearcats.

When Illinois marched down the field to take a 7-0 lead, it seemed Cincy would follow the same script as its undefeated brethren. Then Mardy Gilyard answered with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and freshly healed quarterback Tony Pike tossed a 59-yard scoring strike on the first play of Cincy's next possession. Suddenly, the rout was on.

If Cincinnati can duplicate that intensity next week at Pitt, the Bearcats will finish the season 12-0. Then they'll become the world's biggest Nebraska fans.

"I wouldn't say it was easy to get to 11-0, but 11-0 is not going to matter if we lose to Pittsburgh, and the guys know this," Gilyard said after a three-touchdown day. "If we take care of business, the rest is up to the voters and the computers whatever else is out there, to figure out what we do with the postseason."

After watching Texas A&M scorch the Texas defense Thursday for 39 points and 532 yards, Nebraska fans probably got their hopes up for next week. They're probably thinking a little more realistically after the Cornhuskers' 28-20 win at Colorado on Friday.

The Huskers scored on offense, defense and special teams to beat the Buffaloes, and they'll have to do the same if they want to shock the Longhorns in the Big 12 title game. Even though the Aggies exposed some flaws in the Texas defense, Nebraska doesn't have the offensive firepower to exploit it.

But a complete game from Nebraska's excellent defense -- with a few Ndamukong Suh and Jared Crick sacks and maybe a pick-six like the one Friday from Matt O'Hanlan -- and maybe Nebraska has a chance.

The defense will have to play well to prop up an offense that gained only 217 yards against Colorado. Remember, these are the same Buffalos who gave up 54 points and 624 yards to Toledo early this season. But if anybody has the big-play defense to give Texas a game, it's Nebraska.

Someone will punch his ticket to New York next Saturday. Either it will be Texas quarterback Colt McCoy for slicing and dicing a very good defense, or it will be Suh for helping the Blackshirts turn the college football world on its ear.

I've never been happier than I was Friday to be at the stadium instead of watching at home. While I watched Alabama and Auburn play a classic Iron Bowl apparently most of you were being bombarded with updates on the Tiger Woods crash.

Readers on Twitter alerted me that CBS kept breaking in with Woods news, but I remained blissfully unaware. With an uncluttered mind, I waited for the next Gus Malzahn trick play or the next Alabama defensive stand.

Only after I returned from interviews did some of the details permeate my fortress of gridiron solitude. In snippets of press box chatter, I heard "Elin" and "golf club" and "window." I have to admit, that sounded pretty interesting.

So I asked readers on Twitter if I should even bother writing an Iron Bowl column. With the world's most recognizable athlete embroiled in such controversy, would anyone care about a little football game played in the Loveliest Village on the Plains. A few readers responded, asking me to deliver them from Tiger burnout -- or at least to give them something to read in the john. So if you're sick of Tiger, by all means, enjoy all the college football coverage has to offer.

I'm going to plow through these late games, and then I'm going to read what SI's Damon Hack had to write about Eldrick's wild day. C'mon. Elin. Golf club. Window.

That sounds like a crazy story.

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