Starting 11: It Will Be Oregon vs. TCU by Saturday Night
The oddsmakers have installed Alabama as four-point favorites over Auburn for Friday's Iron Bowl. That's the right call because Alabama is going to win by at least a touchdown, and much of the Cam Newton brouhaha will be dialed down a level in the wake of that Tiger defeat.
Sure, there will still be people who are aware that Newton is going to eventually be declared ineligible so that Auburn's SEC title, it if wins -- as well as the Heisman, if Newton wins -- will eventually be ruled invalid, but the major national implications of Newton's eligibility will dwindle.
And the end result of Auburn's Iron Bowl loss to Alabama will be that your national title game matchup will shift: Oregon will be slotted to play TCU. Will that remain the title game? Who knows? Just for fun, I've decided to play around with the matchups in alternating slots here in the Starting 11 this week. (Primarily because there were so many crap games last week and nothing that interesting happened).
The one lesson to take away from everything is that TCU is the only team guaranteed to go 12-0. That's because TCU is already 11-0 and faces one of the weakest teams in the country, New Mexico, to complete its season. How weak is New Mexico? TCU is a 43 1/2-point road favorite.
Sitting at No. 3 in the latest BCS standings, TCU has the clearest path of any contender to the title game. In fact, it's fair to say that TCU will take one of the spots if either Oregon or Auburn stumbles. So as we play BCS Championship Game dominoes, the one consistent opponent if Oregon vs. Auburn doesn't happen is TCU.
1. I know there are cynics everywhere, myself included, but who could keep a dry eye when Southern Miss player Martez Smith, a week after being paralyzed in a shooting, waved to the crowd from the field before kickoff.
The visit was amazing.
Then a local newspaper rolled out the most insensitive headline in recent media history: Golden Eagles Win Shootout Over Cougars.
Nice editorial work there by a south Mississippi newspaper. Your Pulitzer is in the mail.
2. Potential BCS title game: TCU vs. Boise State
Last year was the separate but equal bowl. This year? Perhaps the BCS title game on the same field. All it takes is two in-state rivalry losses. Auburn goes down to Alabama on Friday and Oregon loses at Oregon State next week. (The Ducks could also lose to Arizona this weekend and make it happen). Given that Oregon State beat USC 36-7 Saturday, could the Beavers be poised to deliver the most crippling defeat in Oregon history on the first Saturday in December?
It's certainly possible.
And it might be the only way that TCU and Boise State end up in BCS bowls, if they're automatically selected to play each other. Otherwise it looks like the BCS may spurn one of these teams because they won't make as much money on ticket sales as other teams might. Every game matters? Please. We need a new slogan.
The BCS -- Every Sold Ticket Matters.
3. Nebraska's ship hit a major iceberg.
The Pelini brothers nearly turned into modern day versions of Woody Hayes, overcome with rage after their team lost the game 9-6 and the penalty differential 16 to two against Texas A&M.
Sixteen to two!
Bo Pelini nearly choked an official out and Carl Pelini went one step further. He actually grabbed a camera and broke it. On the field.
You can watch here.
At this point, let me reiterate my call for Nebraska to win the Big 12 title and then shatter the trophy on the field during the celebration. It would be a fitting end to the Cornhuskers' tenure in the league.
4. Potential BCS Title Game: Auburn vs. TCU
If the Tigers can get past Alabama and then survive a rematch with South Carolina all while managing to keep their quarterback eligible, Auburn would travel to Glendale to take on TCU. Of course, this game might end up not counting, but it would be really exciting, right?
Could TCU devise a scheme to stop Cam Newton that didn't involve his father soliciting illegal payments?
By the way, if Auburn fans thought Cecil Newton was dangerous when it came to looking for money before the season even started, how much danger is he going to be in the five weeks between the SEC title and the BCS title game, when Cam is about to turn pro and only has one game left? Auburn ought to insist that Cecil turn over his cell phone and confiscate any computer in the house. (Then hope Cam doesn't steal his dad a new one). Basically, put Cecil under house arrest until the game is over.
Then his son can go pro and Cecil can get to work taking all of Cam's money without having to worry about the NCAA.
5. Michigan, oh poor Michigan
It may seem like rubbing it in, but in his third season at the helm, Rich Rodriguez's Wolverines have beaten one Big Ten team this season with a winning record, Illinois. And it took the Wolverines a home game and three overtimes to pull that one off. And they still gave up 65 points in the process.
Congrats, Wolverines fans, you've waited three years to go 7-5, which is fewer wins than the man you rid yourself of had in his final season at the helm. Now you get to spend another season wondering how long it's going to take to stop being a laughingstock program. In the meantime, you've got to decide whether to ax Rich Rod while keeping in mind the real irony here. If you fire Rich Rod now, you've waited three years for him to get spread offense talent and you'll probably flip back to a pro-style offense. Which means you've got to wait to get pro-style offense talent.
Honestly, what a mess.
6. Potential BCS title game: TCU vs. Oregon (one loss)
If Boise State loses on Friday to Nevada, Auburn loses to Alabama on the same day, and Oregon lost to Oregon State on the last Saturday of the regular season, what the hell would happen then?
You'd have a one-loss Auburn going head--to-head for the berth against a one-loss Oregon. But that one-loss Oregon team would be coming off a loss on the day before the bowl selection. Meanwhile Auburn would be coming off a win over South Carolina. Your guess is as good as mine, but I tend to think this is where Auburn would get hit on the Cam Newton mess. Enough voters would side with Oregon over Auburn given the future uncertainty of Newton's eligibility.
And Auburn would become the first team in the modern era to finish third in two BCS races.
7. Upon further review, the SEC has nearly $20 million at stake on Auburn's advancing to the title game.
I tweeted that I thought the SEC would get a second team regardless of Auburn's selection, but after looking over things Sunday night, I'm not so sure. That's especially the case if LSU loses to Arkansas on Saturday and both teams finish 10-2.
If Auburn wins the SEC title and goes to Glendale, then the Sugar Bowl will pick an SEC team to replace the Tigers -- the winner of Arkansas and LSU. That's an easy way to get two teams. But if Auburn loses to South Carolina, then that money doesn't come to the SEC unless LSU goes 11-1 and gets a berth in the Orange Bowl. Or the Orange Bowl selects an 11-1 Auburn team even coming off an SEC title game loss.
So there's big money at stake here. Now keep in mind that the individual monetary benefit to the school isn't extraordinary since the SEC splits bowl revenue evenly. But you think that money isn't huge to the SEC?
It's something to keep in mind as the Cam Newton mess continues to play itself out.
8. Potential BCS title game: TCU vs. Auburn (one loss)
But maybe voters would reward Auburn in a decision between the Tigers and one-loss Oregon. After all, the SEC is a four-time defending champion. And maybe things with Cam Newton could clear up in Auburn's favor between now and then. This is when the Newton uncertainty would become a major issue, when voters were attempting to deliberate between relatively even teams.
Here's another question for you: Would Oregon try and cite the oddsmakers to make its case for inclusion over Auburn? If so, how ridiculous would the system for selecting a champion be if the NCAA's own pariah, gaming, ended up swaying the final matchup?
Oh, the delicious irony.
9. Boise State's win over Virginia Tech was a big deal.
First, if Virginia Tech doesn't lose to James Madison five days after losing to Boise State, how highly ranked are the Hokies now in the BCS? Probably fifth, right, the highest-ranked team with one loss? And if Tech beats Boise State, then aren't the Hokies probably undefeated right now and sitting at third at worst in the BCS standings? They might well be second above Auburn.
My point in all of this? Boise State has the best victory of any title contender. (The second-best contender would be Auburn's win over LSU, but that game took place at Auburn whereas Boise went across the country and on the road for its win). In fact, if Tech just has a bye week after the Monday night's loss to Boise, then the Hokies beat James Madison. Now that Virginia Tech has gone 9-0 since those back-to-back losses, it's fair to say that Tech will be favored to beat N.C. State or Florida State in the ACC title game.
So Kellen Moore's last-second touchdown toss really did help to settle the national title picture. And it was, in fact, a huge win.
10. Potential BCS title game: TCU vs. LSU
This would be the Milacle to end all milacles, Les Miles manages to advance to Glendale despite not winning his division championship. What would need to happen? LSU would need to win on the road at Arkansas, a game it is currently an underdog in, and then wait for the world to implode. Oregon would need to lose at least one game, Boise State would need to lose to Nevada, and then Auburn would probably need to lose two games or have Cam Newton declared ineligible.
Then in a two-way choice between Oregon, which would be coming off a loss, LSU would have to get lucky and hope the numbers came up right. And do you really doubt the numbers would come up right for LSU in this scenario? Miles has already won a national title despite two SEC losses. Winning a national title without winning the SEC West? That's child's play.
11. Oklahoma State won 10 games for the first time in its 110-year history.
Now, if it beats Oklahoma, it wins 11 for the first time. And gets a shot at 12 in the title game against Nebraska. A title game which, as I said earlier, should end with Nebraska slamming down the Big 12 trophy on the championship stage.
It would be a fitting end to this season's mess.
Follow Clay Travis on Twitter here. With All That and a Bag of Mail back on a weekly basis, you can e-mail him questions at Clay.Travis@gmail.com.