Cinderella can dance but can she wear pads.
In sports, we all rout for the underdog. Like a scene from Rudy, Hoosiers or We are Marshall, we still get emotional when the unexpected or improbable occur. We still get chills when remembering Villanova upsetting Georgetown in the NCAA championship or Doug Flute’s infamous “Hail Mary” pass. If you’re old enough, you can probably remember where you were when The U.S.A. beat the Soviet Union in the “Miracle on Ice” game.
Every year in March, the NCAA treats us to the greatest tournament in all of sports. Sixty-eight teams enter with one goal. Sixty-seven teams and their fans leave with heartbreak. Cinderella steals the show with underdogs like Butler, Virginia Commonwealth and Northern Iowa shattering the dreams of major conference powers. The BCS offers us no such drama.
This year might be different. This might be the year that a very unexpected team sneaks into the limelight. This might be the year where the BCS’s own rules come back to disrupt the greater bowl picture. It could happen.
Rule 3 of the BCS automatic qualifier states that a “champion of Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt or the WAC will earn an automatic berth if it ranked in the top 16 and its ranking in the final BCS standing is higher than that of a champion from a conference with an automatic berth in a BCS bowl.” This is still very much alive for one team.
This rule has applied to teams like TCU and Boise St. in the past. The difference is both TCU and Boise St. were much higher rated and did not sneak in at 16. This team might just do that.
Hail to the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech. This year they managed to fly under the radar while racking up non-conference wins against Conference USA (2), The Mountain West (1), The Big Ten(1),The ACC(1) and a narrow two point defeat to the SEC. Louisiana Tech is now just two tough games away from 11-1 and a WAC championship.
Louisiana Tech leads the nation in yards per game (576.5) and total yards 5765. They are second in the nation in points per game (53.4) just behind Oregon. In their only defeat, they managed to score 33 more points against Texas A&M(57) than Alabama could muster (24). They lost by only two. So, can Cinderella wear pads?
Yes, but three things must occur. 1) Louisiana Tech must win their last two games. 2) For Rule 3b to apply, either unranked Wisconsin has to beat Nebraska for the Big-Ten Title or Rutgers has to beat Louisville for the Big East. 3)Oregon and Kansas St. must remain unbeaten. It is not that unimaginable, is it?
Here is how it happens:
1) Louisiana Tech’s remaining two games are against (8-2) Utah St. and (8-2) San Jose St. If Tech loses one to either bowl bound team, they’re finished. Win both and they need the following help.
2) For BCS rule 3b to apply for Louisiana Tech, lower ranked Wisconsin or Rutgers must win their conference championships. This will give Louisiana Tech an automatic berth if ranked 16th or higher. Wisconsin plays Nebraska and they played a very close game earlier this year. Wisconsin will be coming off of tough games against Big Ten opponents Ohio St and Penn St. before meeting Nebraska. They could enter the Big Ten championship game with five losses. Rutgers (9-1) finishes the regular season with BCS dreams in a home game against Louisville. Both scenarios are very possible.
3)Oregon and Kansas St. need to remain unbeaten. Louisiana Tech must jump four spots in the BCS standings for rule 3b to apply. They are currently ranked 20th. They have to reach 16th. For Oregon to remain perfect, they would defeat Oregon St., Stanford and the winner of the USC/UCLA game thus giving each of these teams one additional loss. USC and UCLA will play each other racking up an additional loss.
If Oregon stays unbeaten, the PAC 10 will only have one BCS representative. Kansas St. would have to defeat Texas.
Oregon St., Stanford, USC, UCLA and Texas are just ahead of Louisiana Tech in the polls. Oregon and Kansas St. will have to remain unbeaten to meet in the National Championship. Therefore, Stanford, Oregon St., USC, UCLA and Texas will all have one additional loss. This will give each of these team three losses. This should allow Louisiana tech to jump the remaining four or five spots. Add Louisville to the mix for one more. If this scenario occurs.
The BCS would then have (8) automatic qualifiers for the first time.
1) Big 12 Champ–Kansas St.–undefeated–automatic qualifier
2) Pac 10 Champ–Oregon–undefeated–automatic qualifier
3)Notre Dame– with one loss or none–automatic qualifier
4)SEC Champ–automatic qualifier–Alabama?
5)Big Ten Champ–automatic qualifier–Wisconsin or Nebraska
6)Big East Champ–automatic qualifier–Rutgers
7)ACC Champ–automatic qualifier–Florida St.–even with Florida loss
8)Louisiana Tech–automatic qualifier–Rule 3b–11-1 ranked 16 This would leave only two at large selections:
9)SEC #2 team:At-large selection: Florida or Texas A&M or LSU. Only two teams to BCS from one conference.
10) Oklahoma. At-large selection: Fiesta chooses first and would take Oklahoma due to conference affiliation
Let’s send the flawed BCS and their much maligned system out with a bang. These final scenarios are all still possible with three weeks remaining:
#1) There could be three undefeated teams and the argument for no true national champion.
#2) a conference could have 6 top ten teams but none in a national championship game.
#3) an automatic qualifying conference with an 11-1 team (Clemson) would not be in a BCS bowl game while the conference champion possibly 10-2(Florida St.) would be in a BCS game.
#4) a potential 5 loss Wisconsin team would be in a BCS bowl game while Clemson, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, S. Carolina, Stanford, Texas, Oregon St and USC would not.
#5) Rutgers would be in a BCS bowl game over those teams just mentioned.
#6) The Rose bowl would feature a five loss Big 10 team and no Pac 10 representative.
#7) A 16th ranked Louisiana Tech team makes it to a BCS bowl.
Let’s just hope Cinderella can do more than dance. Its time to wear pads. Bye-Bye BCS