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 Can you believe this? The folks who run the BCS computer certainly can't.
The last big Saturday of the college football season was pretty much like the rest of them - nothing went to form.
No. 1 Missouri and No. 2 West Virginia each lost and blew their chances to play for the national title.
That opened the door for Ohio State, the clear No. 3, to play in the BCS championship game Jan. 7 in New Orleans. There are no fewer than six candidates to face the Buckeyes - including Georgia, LSU, Kansas, Virginia Tech, Southern California and Oklahoma, the 38-17 winner over Missouri in the Big 12 title game. All those teams except Kansas have two losses.
``I'm getting ready to get in the fetal position and crawl under my desk,'' joked Jerry Palm, the BCS analyst who runs www.collegebcs.com, when reached Saturday night.
Palm thinks LSU is the favorite to take the spot opposite Ohio State in the championship game, though he conceded nothing is for sure.
``Virginia Tech might have better computer rankings. Oklahoma might be better with the polling numbers,'' Palm said. ``But I don't think either has the combination that LSU will have.''
BCS selection day, scheduled for Sunday, is often a pro forma exercise, filling in slots with teams that already know where they're going.
This time, though, it will be a genuine mystery - completely appropriate considering the way this season has gone.
The biggest upset of the day was West Virginia's 13-9 loss to Pittsburgh in the 100th playing of the Backyard Brawl. The Mountaineers were 28-point favorites, but only led briefly in this one. The Mountaineers became the sixth second-ranked team to lose since Oct. 6.
Four top-ranked teams have now lost this season, as well - the most since 1990 - after Missouri fell. This is the third time in two months that Nos. 1 and 2 have lost on the same weekend.
Ohio State, which held the top spot until a loss to Illinois on Nov. 10, sat home and soaked it all in. Fitting with the way this crazy season has gone ... a team not playing gained the most.
``We would be honored to represent Ohio State and the Big Ten in the national championship game,'' coach Jim Tressel said in a statement. ``We know we will be up against a tremendous challenge whomever the final standings present as our opponent.''
Who will that opponent be?
Not surprisingly, coaches and athletic directors from all the possible candidates were weighing in.
``Unfortunately, that game is killing us right now,'' USC coach Pete Carroll said of a loss to 41-point underdog Stanford earlier in the year. ``Without that, we'd be coasting into the national championship game. ... It's pretty clear about our team, nobody would want to play us right now.''
And LSU athletic director Skip Bertman: ``Of the two-loss teams, none of them did two things that we did. We won our league championship and we went undefeated in regulation.''
Both of LSU's losses came in overtime.
Also in the running is Georgia, ranked fourth in the latest poll with its 10-2 record. But the Bulldogs were sitting at home Saturday while LSU and Tennessee were playing in the Southeastern Conference title game.
Like LSU and USC, Virginia Tech also won its conference Saturday with a 30-16 win over Boston College in the ACC title game.
Kansas is also out there at 11-1, but like Georgia, the Jayhawks were sitting home watching other teams play for the conference title Saturday. KU lost 36-28 to Missouri last week.
Technically, Missouri and West Virginia might still have a chance, too, to become the first two-loss team to play in the title game. Still, Palm said it's hard to imagine either surviving given the size of Missouri's loss and the magnitude of West Virginia's upset.
Of course, with the title game still in the air, it's hard to figure how the rest of the BCS games will be slotted.
That traditional USC-Ohio State dream matchup in the Rose Bowl is gone. Now, USC-Illinois is the best hope of getting a Big Ten-Pac-10 meeting in the ``Granddaddy of 'Em All.'' The Rose Bowl might also pick a team outside its favored conferences.
Virginia Tech would be an Orange Bowl participant if it doesn't make the title game.
Oklahoma, which wasn't looking like a BCS team before Saturday's win, is now a Fiesta Bowl candidate, which could knock Kansas out of the picture completely.
LSU can plan on a trip to New Orleans; the Tigers would play in the Sugar Bowl the week before the title game if they're passed over for the championship.
Another Sugar Bowl slot was expected to go to Hawaii if the Rainbows could defeat Washington in their season finale. But the last game in the BCS puzzle wasn't scheduled to end until early Sunday morning on the East Coast.
Then, the computers take over and the real games begin.

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