USC, Texas aim to contain chaos

Victories today by nation's top two teams would stop any potential BCS controversy

December 03, 2005|By DON MARKUS | DON MARKUS,SUN REPORTER

Instant replay erased much of the potential controversy from the 2005 college football season.

Southern California and Texas, the two best teams since the start of the season three months ago, can eliminate any other chaos by winning today.

The top-ranked Trojans need to beat crosstown rival UCLA at the Los Angeles Coliseum and the No. 2 Longhorns must defeat Colorado in the Big 12 championship game at Houston's Reliant Stadium to set up their much-anticipated Bowl Championship Series national championship matchup next month at the Rose Bowl.

Not that those two games are the only ones being played today that will affect the four BCS games.

The first ACC championship game, played between No. 5 Virginia Tech and unranked Florida State in Jacksonville, Fla., as well as the SEC title game between LSU and Georgia that was moved to Atlanta in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, will also have a trickle-down effect on the BCS.

Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg will have a rooting interest in the Longhorns winning, as well as in getting a good night's sleep before the BCS bids are announced tomorrow. Not that Weiberg is expecting order to prevail, since it rarely has before.

"I think I'm pretty much a realist about the BCS arrangement," Weiberg said earlier this week. "It would be great if we finish the season without a lot of questions about whether we have the right two teams in the championship game. But we've seen every year produce some surprises, so I'm not banking on that we won't see some surprises this year."

If anything, it will be a surprise if there are any upsets today aside from the Bulldogs beating the Tigers at the Georgia Dome. Texas is a 27-point favorite. USC is favored by 20 1/2 over UCLA.

And let's not forget that the Seminoles are riding a three-game losing streak.

Asked earlier this week about the various scenarios that could play out if the Trojans were to lose, coach Pete Carroll didn't sound as if he'd even considered it.

"I don't know how it would respond to what happens this weekend. I do know this, if we win this weekend we would probably play them [the Longhorns] in the Rose Bowl," Carroll said.

"That is all we know right now and whatever else happens, happens. The BCS people are probably a little happier with this right now with the scrutiny. I don't have much to add about this whole situation with the BCS."

Could - or should - either the Trojans or Longhorns still manage to get to Pasadena if either (or both) lose today? It seems doubtful, given recent history suggests that it's better to lose early in the season than in the last regular-season game.

"It's probably not fair because if you lose early, you're in better shape than if you lose late. What does it matter? A loss is a loss," said Brown, whose Longhorns are coming off a sloppy 40-29 win last week at Texas A&M.

It has happened before.

UCLA and Kansas State were in the same situation seven years ago, and losses on the last weekend of the regular season cost both teams a shot at the title.

Dominant teams have also been given the benefit of the doubt, as happened when unbeaten Oklahoma lost badly to Kansas State in the 2003 Big 12 championship game but still got to play in the BCS title game at the Sugar Bowl against LSU.

The Trojans certainly remember that, since Oklahoma's loss put USC No. 1 in the Associated Press poll, but Carroll's team wound up in the Rose Bowl rather than in New Orleans. USC shared the title after LSU beat Oklahoma at the Superdome.

This year, the Trojans are on top of the both the coaches' poll and the Harris Interactive poll, as well as the Associated Press poll that opted out of the BCS formula after last season. It seems that USC's 33-game winning streak could give the Trojans the edge over the Longhorns should they both lose.

"I'd definitely say that if we were to lose this weekend we should still be able to play for a national championship," said USC tailback Reggie Bush.

Carroll doesn't anticipate a letdown after last week's 50-42 win over Fresno State.

"Well, I think our chance to hold onto this level of play over a long period of time goes to our ability to hold onto our principles that we talk about day in and day out in the program," said Carroll.

don.markus@baltsun.com

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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