Sizing up the season, but pining for playoff

Two more years. Two more potentially fraudulent seasons before the national championship in college football begins to be decided in a more equitable manner. Two. More. Years.

But until the four-team playoff system that hopefully becomes eight sooner than later, we’ll have to endure two more seasons under the unjust guidelines of the Bowl Championship Series cartel.

Here are some things to watch for when September turns to December and the debate over who belongs again rules your television and Lee Corso’s biased statements:

– Easiest road to the BCS title game for a top-five team: Oklahoma, and it’s not close. Given their abundance of skill, you could make an argument the Sooners have two tough games, at West Virginia on Nov. 17 and at Texas Christian on Dec. 1. Problem is, quarterback Landry Jones plays more like Landry Clarke from “Friday Night Lights” when he’s away from Norman. Oklahoma is loaded again, but it almost seems like 2004-05, when it reached the BCS championship game and lost to Southern California, 55-19. Good enough to get there, destined to get drilled. Big Game Bob, my caboose.

– Toughest road to BCS title game for a top-five team: Alabama. It sounds crazy, given the Crimson Tide are good enough to be a two-touchdown favorite today over another top-10 team in Michigan. But they also must play at Arkansas and Missouri and Louisiana State. Short of that lunatic Harvey Updyke killing all the trees within 10 miles of those three stadiums and causing the home teams to lose focus, running the table might be a stretch for Alabama.

– Top-10 team that will break your betting heart: Florida State. Jay Kornegay of the Las Vegas Hilton said this week that other than Southern Cal, more tickets have been written on the Seminoles to win the national title than anyone else. It’s a good value pick. It’s also a dumb one. We heard all the same things about Florida State in 2010. Four losses. All the same things in 2011. Four losses. It will again lose a game it shouldn’t this season, and possibly two or three of them. Heck, maybe four.

– An unranked team that could go undefeated and make the BCS title game: Utah. It has one of the most explosive offenses in the nation that no one is talking about. Its defense is terrific and features a tackle (Star Lotulelei) who could be the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. The Utes also get Southern Cal and in-state rival Brigham Young at home and don’t play Oregon in the regular season. Missouri is said to be the nation’s biggest sleeper. I’m thinking Utah isn’t that far off the mattress.

– One coach we want to see given another chance: Bobby Petrino. You have to think a guy who threw away his career by crashing a motorcycle on which his 25-year-old mistress was riding is good for a few more crazy headlines. Petrino is a sight, but he can coach. He might have burned any chance at another BCS job, but I could see a lower-conference school looking past the whole hire-your-mistress-as-a-fundraiser fiasco and asking him to rebuild a losing program.

– One coach we just want to see: Mike Leach. There is a new pirate in Pullman, Wash., who is currently doing research on Geronimo while reading a Davy Crockett biography. He also has compared his quarterback at Washington State to Stonewall Jackson and a defensive lineman to Ulysses S. Grant. There aren’t many wackos more entertaining in college sports than Leach, who brings the Cougars to Sam Boyd Stadium on Sept. 14 to meet UNLV.

– And your Heisman Trophy sleeper is: Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina. The junior running back’s knee injury last year pushed him behind the preseason hype of quarterbacks Matt Barkley, Geno Smith and Denard Robinson and running back Montee Ball.

But if what we saw from Lattimore against Vanderbilt on Thursday – 23 rushes, 110 yards, two touchdowns – is any indication of his health, he has a shot at the famed statue. When you play as many high-profile games as a ranked Southeastern Conference team does, you have every chance to make a national impression.

– UNLV prediction over 13 games: If the defense is as improved as it appeared in spots against Minnesota and if someone actually begins to teach pass blocking out there, you can find five wins on the schedule. No, UNR isn’t one.

That would just be silly.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.

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