Who wants a piece of the BCS?

Who wants a piece of the BCS?

Who wants a piece of the BCS?
October 16th, 2007

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - LSU took a tumble last week in all the polls with its loss to Kentucky, but the Tigers remain ahead of every other one-loss club. Still, it's hardly a consolation prize for faltering just one week after Stanford upset second-ranked USC.

Despite the defeat, fans across America were able to witness an instant classic. The Wildcats were getting 10 points at home and were actually trailing the Tigers by 13 with 3:55 left in the third quarter. Nevertheless, the 'Cats were just beginning to purr. They put together an 83-yard drive to cut the lead to six and tied it with two field goals in the fourth.

Once overtime hit, the cover was in the bag, but the number one team in the nation was on the verge of relinquishing its perch. A touchdown and the two- point conversion were all the Tigers needed in the third overtime, but they couldn't even get a first down on fourth down, something that came so easily to them vs. Florida.

What was most astounding in this game besides LSU getting stopped on downs was how the Wildcats were able to march up and down the field almost at will. The Tigers came into the game leading the country in total defense, second in scoring defense, third in pass defense and fourth in run defense, but still allowed Kentucky to pile up 375 yards, including two TD drives of 70 yards or more.

In its first five games, LSU had given up just one touchdown drive of 70+ yards. Now all of a sudden, the once glorified defense has allowed a whopping five drives of that length for TDs in the last two games.

It will be interesting to see how the Tigers respond to this loss. Auburn comes to Baton Rouge this Saturday and the "other" Tigers have picked up their play of late with four straight wins and covers, two of which came on the road at Florida and Arkansas.

CALIFORNIA FAILS AS WELL

Followers of this column were well aware of Oregon State's recent success in Berkeley, as the Beavers had won both of their previous trips to Memorial Stadium. Besides calling for the cover, I also predicted the outright win, which was exactly what happened.

Injured California quarterback Nate Longshore watched this game from the sidelines as head coach Jeff Tedford did not want to play him against the fierce OSU defense, so Kevin Riley gained his first collegiate start. But in all honesty, it wouldn't have made a difference which QB played in terms of the spread. However, what Riley did at the end of the game cost the Golden Bears the number one spot in the polls.

With 14 seconds to go, down by three on the Beavers 12-yard line, Riley, fearing a sack, tried to run for the game-winning score instead of throwing the ball away. Unfortunately, he was caught way short, and then ran off the field hoping there was enough time for an attempted field goal. The clock hit zero and the Beavers celebrated on enemy turf. (Ironically, Cal would have been able to tie the score at 31 with a 45-yard FG if Oregon State wasn't flagged for a questionable pass interference call on the previous play.) The loss dropped the Golden Bears to 10th in the AP poll and 12th in the initial BCS poll, and most likely zero chance for a spot in the big game.

BCS PROBABLES

With the top two teams silenced, Ohio State, South Florida and Boston College have the greatest opportunity of reaching the all-important final game. Their straight up records are a combined 20-0, but more importantly to the gamblers, they are 12-5 ATS, good for 71%. On the other hand, LSU and Oklahoma, four and five in the BCS poll, are a combined 0-7 ATS since September 22.

A few teams in the BCS top eight need miracles to remain in the hunt come December. Boston College, at number three, must face Virginia Tech, Florida State, Clemson and Miami-Florida in the coming weeks so look for the Eagles to fall from grace, along with number six South Carolina. The Gamecocks have Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida and Clemson left on their schedule.

Seventh-ranked Kentucky will lose at least one more game, whether it comes vs. Florida, at Georgia or home against Tennessee. Undefeated Arizona State still must square off against California, Oregon, UCLA and USC, and Ohio State has games left with Wisconsin, Illinois, Penn State and Michigan. It's extremely doubtful any of the aforementioned clubs will go undefeated the rest of the way.

That leaves just three teams with realistic chances at reaching the championship game: South Florida, LSU and Oklahoma. The problem is only two can go. The Tigers' schedule still has dates with the big three "A" SEC schools in Auburn, Alabama, and Arkansas, but they should be able to defeat all three. The Sooners have the easiest path with home games vs. Texas A&M and Oklahoma State as well as a trip to Lubbock against Texas Tech.

The Bulls, after this week, have their two toughest games at home vs. Louisville and Cincinnati. However, there's a trip to Rutgers coming up this week, and a loss there will drop South Florida under both the Tigers and Sooners. On the other hand, a win will put the Bulls in prime position to reach the title game.

THE NEW TOP 10 AND LAST WEEK'S RESULTS

Oklahoma remains at the number one spot after dusting off Missouri, 41-31, but more upsets have revamped the remaining nine spots. West Virginia moves to number two with LSU's loss, while Ohio State is just two points away from the reaching the top.

1) Oklahoma, 104.5; 2) West Virginia, 103; 3) Ohio State, 102.5; 4) LSU, 101.5; 5) Oregon, 99.5; 6) USC, 98.5; 7T) Boston College, Texas and Missouri, 97; 10) Penn State, 96.5

Four of my six plays last week were winning ones, which puts the overall record at 26-27-1. Besides calling Oregon State win, I correctly nabbed another outright dog victory in Iowa over Illinois.

WEEK EIGHT PLAYS

Get ready because here it comes. The biggest money-making game of the year is on its way. There's no reason to even research this contest because I've done all of it for you. And no, it's not Auburn-LSU or Florida-Kentucky, or even USC-Notre Dame. It's a 1-5 team that will wipe the floor with its 2-4 opponent.

Rice hosts Memphis in what might be a meaningless Conference USA game to most people. However, the Owls are on their way up after getting pummeled their first few games, while the Tigers have been left for dead with three losses in their last four.

The Owls had lost by a combined 94 points in their three Big 12 defeats earlier in the season, but bounced back very well on the road against CUSA opponents Southern Miss and Houston. They led the Golden Eagles 31-7 heading into the fourth quarter, before allowing 22 points in the final 11 minutes. Last week, they were in a shootout with the Cougars and had a 48-35 lead after 45 minutes of play. Unfortunately, Houston shut them down in the fourth and scored three touchdowns to pull out the eight-point win. Now the Owls come home for the first time since week three to face a team that lost both its road games this year by a combined 40 points. Not only did UCF crush Memphis by 36, the Tigers even fell to Sun Belt member Arkansas State.

The Tigers have allowed opposing league QBs to hit on 76% of their passes for over 500 yards, and Central Florida and Marshall are not anywhere near as explosive through the air as Rice is. The Owls lit up a Houston secondary last week for 355 yards, a game that saw wide receiver Jarett Dillard return to his old form. One of last year's finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, Dillard had struggled this year averaging only four receptions for 53 yards prior to the game, but broke out with seven catches for 133.

Memphis has won just four of its last 18 games and only two against Conference USA opposition: a three-point win against 0-6 Marshall at home earlier this year and a victory over UTEP the last week of the '06 campaign. And the only reason they beat Texas El-Paso was due to the Miners' failure to win a season finale since Ronald Reagan was president.

The Tigers came out flat last week losing by 14 to Middle Tennessee, their second consecutive loss to a team from the Sun Belt Conference. They did not record a sack against the Blue Raiders, a team that allowed 18 in their first six games. They also were outgained 490 yards to 248, and the only reason this game wasn't a blowout was that Memphis was a +3 in turnover margin.

Rice will come out smoking and put this game away early. The only question mark is how the Owls respond with another fourth quarter advantage. However, it's one thing to allow Southern Miss and Houston to come roaring back, it's another to let Memphis do it. One other interesting nugget to chew on. The Owls have gone OVER the total in all five of their lined games this season and seven straight going back to last season. Expect another OVER on Saturday.

Take Rice minus the points.

There are other games of note to wager on, including the aforementioned LSU- Auburn game. This contest must be attacked differently than others as betting the total instead of a side is the preferred method for this one.

Here are the facts:

1) LSU quarterbacks have thrown for less than 50% the last four weeks combined.

2) They have also failed to reach the 150 mark in passing yards in four straight SEC games.

3) Auburn held Arkansas, a team that had rushed for an average of 340 yards per game this year, to just 67 rushing yards on 2.7 yards per carry.

4) Auburn has averaged only 151 passing yards per game in its four SEC contests.

5) LSU is allowing opposing QBs to throw for only 155 yards this season with a completion rate of just 44%.

LSU has looked flat on defense the last two weeks, giving up 51 regulation points. They had allowed a total of 32 the previous five games. The Bayou Bengals should regroup against the "other" Tigers, who have scored a total of 29 points in their two road games this year.

The last five meetings in this series have gone UNDER the number with the highest total coming in at 38 points. The last three games had final scores of 7-3, 20-17 and 10-9. Expect a similar result this time around.

Take the UNDER in Auburn-LSU.

The Indiana Hoosiers watched while Michigan State gave them a lesson they would not soon forget. The Spartans limited them to just nine first downs and outgained Bill Lynch's club, 558-193 in East Lansing. How will the Hoosiers respond?

Iowa was in a similar situation last week after Penn State held the Hawkeyes to eight first downs and outgained them 489-194 in Happy Valley. Does anyone remember what Kirk Ferentz's club did the following week at home? The Hawkeyes came back to Iowa City and upset Illinois, winners of two straight at home.

Indiana will respond with flying colors to answer my own question. Penn State comes to Bloomington, winners of two consecutive games at home, and the Nittany Lions disposed of two teams, Iowa and Wisconsin, that were banged up with injuries. They are also 0-2 on the road with losses to Illinois and a Michigan team that played without Chad Henne.

The Hoosiers have won five of their last seven home games after going through a stretch of six home defeats in seven games. They are one win away from bowl eligibility and have the offensive capability to match strides with Penn State.

Take Indiana plus the points.

Kansas puts its undefeated streak on the line in Boulder, Colorado against the Buffaloes. Despite the fact the Jayhawks have yet to lose a game, a victory by Colorado will give the Buffs the top spot in the North Division of the Big 12.

The Buffaloes are not the same team that looked flat scoring a combined 20 points vs. Arizona State and Florida State earlier in the year. They may not put forth an effort like the one that knocked off Oklahoma, but they won't have to vs. the Jayhawks.

Kansas has played only one road game this year against arch-rival Kansas State and was lucky to get the Wildcats the week after they beat Texas. Sure the Jayhawks have disposed of everyone in their path, but besides K-State, they haven't played anyone of note.

Now they must take on a much-improved Colorado team that will run all over them. Hugh Charles has had one huge game after another since returning from an injury that cost him tons of playing time the first three games. The senior has gained over 100 yards the last four games averaging 6.3 yards per carry.

Kansas can run the ball effectively as well, with Jake Sharp leading the way, but the Buffaloes have held the opposition to only 3.0 ypc in their four home games. Colorado has also limited opposing quarterbacks to a 49% completion rate and that includes games vs. Oklahoma and Florida State. The Jayhawks will not know what hit them.

Take Colorado plus the points.

Other top plays include Kentucky plus the points vs. Florida, Central Mich plus the points at Clemson, Air Force minus the points against Wyoming and Notre Dame plus the points vs. USC.

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