It was the bloodiest weekend on the battlefield since the college football war began and it has left the outcome of the yearlong conflict in doubt. Let’s tally up the carnage:
» Third-ranked Louisville followed up its huge win over West Virginia by losing to No. 15 Rutgers. Yes, Rutgers.
» No. 4 Texas, a one-loss team coming in, and dreaming of a repeat national title, lost to Kansas State.
» No. 5 Auburn, with one loss coming in, was hammered by Georgia.
» No. 6 Florida, another one-loss team, needed a blocked field goal in last seconds to beat 5-5 South Carolina … at home.
» No. 7 Southern Cal beat No. 21 Oregon, but was exposed as a pretender with the loss to Oregon State three weeks ago.
» No. 8 Cal, also with one loss coming in, lost to a bad Arizona team.
» No. 15 Rutgers remained unbeaten with their upset of Louisville, but they also remain, well … Rutgers.
Meanwhile, No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan rolled their overmatched opponents to remain unbeaten heading into their showdown this week for a spot in the national title game, which brings us to this question:
If No. 1 and No. 2 stay within a touchdown of one another in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, regardless of which team wins it, should anyone from that group of No. 3 through
No. 8 vault over either one of them and stop a rematch for the BCS title?
Clearly, the two-loss teams have now eliminated themselves from title game contention. Bye-bye, Longhorns, Tigers and Bears.
The remaining one-loss teams have been underwhelming at best. This means you, Gators, Trojans, Cardinals and Mountaineers. And it means you, too, Arkansas, infamous for a 36-point loss to Southern Cal in September.
And one-loss Notre Dame? Beating up on every military academy in America doesn’t make up for the 47-21 mob-beating Michigan laid on you. (Who’s next, by the way? National Guard? Border Patrol?)
As for unbeaten Rutgers, allow me to introduce you to Boise State. You two have a lot in common, I believe.
In other words, Saturday’s war in Columbus should be much, much more than just Game of the Year, with the winner taking the Big Ten Conference title and claiming a spot in the BCS title game. If the Buckeyes and Wolverines keep it close, within a touchdown or so, BCS boss Mike Slive should sprint to the PA system after the final gun and scream, “Let’s play two!”
Honestly, is there any scenario in which the top-ranked Buckeyes should not be in that national championship game — even after a hypothetical close loss to their arch-rival, who happens to be the No. 2 team in the nation? Should that one loss drop them below an unimpressive one-loss Florida or a soft USC?
Likewise, how could any of those once-beaten teams leapfrog Michigan after a close loss to Ohio State to end their regular season? Should Notre Dame, which could finish 11-1, speed past the Wolverines, who took them to the woodshed in September?
The BCS has committed many sins since its formation, chief among them not having a playoff system to settle all these arguments, but they now have a chance to redeem itself. Barring a blowout on one side or the other in Columbus, a rerun of college football’s greatest rivalry must be staged in Glendale, Ariz.