This time, BCS gets it right

National Analysis

November 27, 2006|By Chris Dufresne | Chris Dufresne,LOS ANGELES TIMES

Southern California is No. 2 in the new Bowl Championship Series standings and, depending on your accent and zip code, this is either good news or reason to blow up the system.

Which raises a question: blow it up, then what?

There is an important component missing from the here-we-go-again arguments about whether the BCS should be dismantled either today or tomorrow and fed to junkyard dogs.

If USC beats UCLA next week, the BCS is going to produce the national title game most people want to see: Ohio State vs. USC.

If the protesters were objective about this, and dispassionately assessed the talent levels and the thrill factor, USC is the only team out there with a chance to give Ohio State a bang for its Buckeye.

Ohio State is as good a front-runner as USC was two years ago, when the Trojans went wire-to-wire to win the BCS title.

Call for a playoff, shout from the rooftops, go hoarse doing it.

But this season, most pollsters and even four out of five dentists agree: It should be Ohio State vs. USC.

Buoyed by its 20-point win over Notre Dame, USC supplanted Michigan as the No. 2 team in yesterday's BCS standings.

The Trojans also jumped Michigan for second place in the Associated Press poll, strengthened their No. 2 position in the Harris and USA Today coaches' polls and replaced No. 2 Michigan in the BCS computers.

One-loss Michigan might not like any of this, but the Wolverines had their chance to get to the title game and didn't get it done.

Michigan didn't win its conference, did not beat Ohio State and has not convinced three major poll services it deserves a title-game rematch.

What about No. 4 Florida?

This prickly issue would be solved if two-loss Arkansas defeated Florida next week in the Southeastern Conference title game.

That would leave the SEC without a national title candidate and put the kibosh on Florida coach Urban Meyer, who is standing on tabletops in advance of the possible title-game exclusion of his possible one-loss Gators.

Meyer is incredulous that just winning isn't good enough for his 11-1 Florida team, which struggled to beat 6-6 Florida State on Saturday and has not scored more than 28 points against a Division I-A opponent since early September.

Florida might play in a tougher conference than USC, but in nonconference games the Gators played Southern Mississippi, Western Carolina and Florida State.

USC, by contrast, has crushed three teams that still are in contention for BCS bowl bids - Arkansas, Nebraska and Notre Dame. The combined record of those teams is 29-7, and USC defeated those schools by a combined 122-48.

Sorry, but Ohio State vs. USC instead of Michigan or Florida doesn't seem like such an outrage.

The nation's top pundits and coaches have assessed the situation and rated Michigan No. 3 and Florida No. 4.

People can cry all they want for a playoff so long as they accept the fact it's not going to happen.

The BCS is in the first of a new four-year deal with Fox under the present "double-host" system.

The best the playoff-shouters can hope for in the next three years is a "plus-one" upgrade, an extra game played after the four BCS bowls.

The "plus-one" could even be folded into the present double-host framework.

How it could work:

First, go back to the old bowl ties.

This year, Ohio State and USC would play in the Rose Bowl.

The Fiesta would be the Big 12 champion vs. Boise State, with the Sugar getting Florida vs. Michigan and the Orange pairing the Big East and Atlantic Coast champions.

The at-large teams left out here are two-loss Notre Dame and LSU, but you have to keep the top-12 access clause for schools such as Boise State.

After the four bowls, use the BCS standings to calculate No. 1 and No. 2.

If Ohio State and Florida win their BCS bowls, they play for the national title Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz., and Meyer gets his shot at the championship.

Chris Dufresne writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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