Bowl picture is out of focus

November 21, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. -- If you think NAFTA is confusing, try to figure out how the college football polls will come out today after yesterday's upset of top-ranked Notre Dame.

Boston College's frantic 41-39 victory over the Irish in South Bend, Ind., threw a fuzzy national championship picture completely out of focus.

With the No. 1 team getting beat two weeks in a row -- Notre Dame defeated then No. 1-ranked Florida State, 31-24, last Saturday at home -- it leaves third-ranked Nebraska (10-0) as the likely candidate for the top spot this week.

Despite the national media's disregard for the Cornhuskers, which stems from their streak of six straight defeats in New Year's Day bowl games, Nebraska will play for the national championship as long it beats No. 15 Oklahoma in Lincoln on Friday.

Nebraska's opponent will depend greatly on the outcome of this week's bowl coalition poll, which takes the votes each team receives in The Associated Press poll of writers and broadcasters and the USA Today-CNN poll of coaches.

That will give the Federal Express Orange Bowl the national championship game, with the Big Eight champion Cornhuskers going against the team finishing second in the coalition poll during the regular season. Nebraska was idle yesterday.

"I think we're in a great position to host the national championship game," Orange Bowl president Bob Epling said here last night, after ninth-ranked West Virginia upset fourth-ranked Miami, 17-14, at Mountaineer Field.

Notre Dame's loss leaves Nebraska, West Virginia (10-0) and sixth-ranked Auburn (11-0) as the only unbeaten teams in Division I-A. With the Tigers on NCAA probation, the Cornhuskers and Mountaineers are the only unbeatens left in the running for a national championship.

Last week, Florida State was voted ahead of the Cornhuskers in the bowl coalition poll despite losing to Notre Dame because it was a clear No. 2 in the AP poll and a close No. 3 in the USA Today-CNN poll.

Now the only thing that seems certain is the uncertainty of it all.

"I even heard some writers in the press box saying they were going to vote Auburn No. 1," said Epling.

West Virginia has one more game remaining, Friday at Boston College.

Florida State (10-1), which routed North Carolina State in Tallahassee last night, finishes the regular season Saturday at .. No. 8 Florida.

Among other teams in the top five, Florida State beat Miami, 28-10, last month at home.

"There's still a lot of football left," said Epling, a West Virginia native. "Isn't this a great country, or what?"

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