After two months' of college football completed, two diametrically opposed yet equally intriguing outcomes to the regular season could occur. Will we see the finish foreseen by most talking heads during the summer or will unpredicted outcomes of games throw the system into disarray?
The widely predicted a showdown between Texas and the winner of the Southeastern Conference Championship between Alabama and Florida remains probable though not guaranteed. The Longhorns have proved themselves in a league of their own when compared to the rest of the Big Twelve. The top three teams still have to avoid the possible pitfalls in a regular season-ending grudge matches against in-state rivals. Alabama is the only one of the three who will play a team in the Top 25 before the conference championship game. Such a seemingly pre-ordained national title game has not been foreseen so clearly since 2004.
The other extreme is a huge controversy if one or more of the following occurs:
-Texas stumbles in November or is upset by whichever decrepit squad emerges from the mire of the Northern Division of the Big Twelve.
-Neither Alabama nor Florida finish undefeated or, even more unsettling, neither one wins the Southeastern Conference. Although no one seems to consider this possibility, LSU could upset Alabama this Saturday then remember to bring its offense to a rematch against Florida in Atlanta. If that happens, LSU will possibly rise to the Top Two.
-Both Texas Christian and Boise State conclude the regular season as undefeated and find themselves among the Top 5 in the polls, if not higher. Could both expect bids to BCS bowls? Would either finish high enough to play for the national title?
-The only undefeated teams from BCS conferences are Iowa and Cincinnati. Would the lack of respect for their conferences curtail their number of votes, leaving them out of the BCS title game?
Half of this possibility seems tantalizing close to fruition. Would an undefeated Iowa team settling for the Rose Bowl instead of a shot at the national title light a fire under the Big Ten to support a playoff? The obstinacy of the Big Ten in its preference to send its champion to Pasadena on New Year’s Day instead of a multi-team playoff could dearly cost the Hawkeyes.
Here a look at this season’s prominent overachievers so far:
1. Iowa: Kirk Ferentz has recaptured his highly successful formula which he possessed earlier in this decade. The Hawkeyes are in the driver’s seat to win the Big Ten, and with some help, sneak into the BCS title game.
2. Texas Christian: The Frogs have leaped over Boise State in the BCS standings. TCU is well positioned to try to prove that Utah is not the only Mountain West Conference team capable of winning a BCS bowl.
3. Temple: This perennially atrocious program has its first winning season in nearly twenty years. One of the bowls with a tie-in to the Mid-American Conference might invite the Owls. Their hope is that residents of Philadelphia might actually be interested enough to watch a Temple football game for once in their lives.
In contrast, the following are the year’s most notable chokers:
1. Mississippi: The Rebels have crashed hard from their pre-season Top Ten loft. Ole Miss was mathematically eliminated from contention for the SEC Western Division before the start of November. The best case scenario is qualifying for a third-rate, pre- New Year's Day bowl game.
2. Southern California: The huge crashing sound reverberating across the country on Halloween night resulted from the huge number of media and fair-weather fans leaping from the Trojan bandwagon. The decade of domination on the Left Coast by the Trojans is nearly at its end. Will the team and fans throw in the towel already knowing they will not play in a BCS bowl for the first time since 2001?
3. Oklahoma: The season-opening loss to BYU foreshadowed a disappointing year for the Sooners. The only consolation available is sweeping the games in November and an invitation to the Cotton Bowl, assuming their fans still care enough to journey back Dallas for a third time this season.
COPYRIGHT NOVEMBER 2009 BY CHARLES KASTRIOT