|On Football: BYU-TCU and the BCS|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 14 October 2008 12:01|
But when the ninth-ranked Cougars take on the Horned Frogs on Thursday night, it will have implications far beyond Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.
In terms of the Bowl Championship Series, it's bigger than Florida State-Miami and Notre Dame-Michigan. Way bigger.
Is the college football world ready to accept this?
``I don't think so,'' BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said on the Mountain West coaches teleconference. ``I think that we're intriguing to a lot of folks, and I think the ranking simply says that.''
BYU-TCU is another sign of a season that grows crazier by the week.
Consider what happened last Saturday.
Toledo took a 1-4 record into Ann Arbor and toppled Michigan, becoming the first Mid-American Conference to beat the Wolverines in 25 tries.
4-1 Notre Dame team wasn't ranked - and wasn't on national television. Since when did the Fighting Irish become fodder for late-game look-ins?
Army won a game without completing a pass.
Oklahoma woke up on Saturday as the No. 1 team in the nation. After losing to Texas, the Sooners went to bed that night as the fourth-place team in the Big 12 South.
But back to BYU-TCU, and how its ripples may extend as far as Pasadena.
If you're hoping to take a gander at the game, remember that the Cougars and Horned Frogs are playing on Versus, must-see TV for outdoorsmen but perhaps not the place one expects to find one of the college football season's pivotal games.
This is what the innovative Mountain West has to do as it tries to elbow its way into college football's elite. If it has to squeeze its games in between hunting and mixed-martial arts, so be it.
``As for our league right now, I think the best teams in our league are almost obligated to play on Thursday night for the benefit of the league to try to gain attention for our conference, and that's all members,'' Mendenhall said. ``There is a tradeoff, though, and I think it is hard on the players.''
The Mountain West needs the attention. And sorry, Horned Frogs, but it also needs BYU to extend the nation's longest win streak to 17 games.
lost, at Oklahoma. That left the Mountain West with two cards to play in the BCS: BYU and No. 14 Utah. Those longtime rivals meet in the regular-season finale on Nov. 22 in Salt Lake City.
If both the Cougars and the Utes are unbeaten heading into that game, it will amount to a BCS play-in. Winner probably goes to the Fiesta Bowl - or maybe the Rose.
But if one team enters with a loss and the other leaves with a loss, the Mountain West will likely be out of luck.
It's not fair. But it's reality for a conference that went 6-1 against the Pac-10 this year. And don't forget that Utah blew out Big East champion Pitt in the Mountain West's lone BCS appearance four years ago.
Mendenhall doubts the national perception of the Mountain West will change so long as it is denied an annual ticket to the BCS.
``I think right now the system has excluded us, so the perception nationwide is that we're excluded,'' he said.
They're not alone. Imagine how No. 15 Boise State or No. 24 Ball State or Tulsa will feel if they go unbeaten and are told to keep walking by the BCS, which reserves only one automatic berth for outsiders.
To qualify for a guaranteed BCS berth, the Mountain West champion needs to finish in the top 12 of the final BCS standings, or the top 16 if it is higher than a BCS conference champion.
t standings come out Sunday, and as we have seen, they are subject to be changed by goofy bounces, stupid coaching moves and other factors, including the weather.
In the latest Associated Press Top 25, the Mountain West has two schools - BYU and Utah - ranked ahead of the highest-rated ACC team (No. 17 Virginia Tech) and Big East team (No. 19 South Florida).
Do BYU and Utah have a shot at the national title game? Probably not, especially after once-beaten Florida leaped over the Cougars in last week's rankings.
But a BCS berth is a virtual certainty as long as one of them goes undefeated.
Most years, the BCS bowls quietly breathe a sigh of relief when the last non-BCS team goes down. But this year may be different.
In the feeble Pac-10, it's quite possible that only USC will qualify for a BCS berth. And if the sixth-ranked Trojans draw a bid to the BCS title game, the Rose Bowl would have to find a replacement. Ditto if it loses No. 3 Penn State to the title game.
In either case, it's widely believed that the Rose Bowl would prefer to take a Pac-10 or Big Ten team with multiple losses ahead of an unbeaten Mountain West team. While Rose Bowl CEO Mitch Dorger stressed the bowl's long ties to the Pac-10 and Big Ten, he rejected the assertion that the Rose Bowl won't consider other options.
As in BYU?
`I think that people think that we don't even look, and that's not true,'' Dorger said by phone from Pasadena.
The Fiesta Bowl, meanwhile, stands to lose the Big 12 champion - No. 1 Texas, perhaps. And if that happens, an undefeated BYU could be a blessing for the folks in the canary blazers.
Come selection Sunday, the Fiesta and the Rose Bowls both may have their eyes on the Cougars.
Now that's crazy.