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IT'S BACK: THE BCS RETURNS
October 20, 2005

SCS.comIt might have a different poll this year, and it might still not be a fair system, but the BCS is back to weekly prominence in the college football world. At this critical midpoint of the season, looking at the BCS standings can tell us a lot about the hopes and dreams of the top teams in the nation for making the Rose Bowl or another BCS bowl come January.

One certain outcry of the BCS this week is how low Notre Dame fell after their loss to USC and their downfall at the hands of computers. Computers take into account the quality of opponents played, and an honest look at Notre Dame's wins (Michigan, Purdue, Washington, and Pittsburgh) shows not a lot of impressive victories. There is no debating they are one of the top ten teams in the country right now with how well they are playing, but the human polls can reward teams for how they play while computers reward quality schedules. Notre Dame still has tough games remaining on their schedule, and they will likely find a BCS bowl if they win out anyway.

In the end, the middle range of teams are very hard to differentiate without proof on the field to see the differences. The top two-loss teams in the country such as Notre Dame, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Florida are pretty much indistinguishable as far as who deserves to make a BCS bowl the most if they win out. Where these teams rank when other teams above them lose their second games will be hard to determine as well. Polls generally favor good play towards the end of the season, but computers will try and keep this system honest by taking into consideration the statistical aspects of a team. My advice is to ignore the BCS standings until the last couple weeks of the season, as that will be the only time it determines anything important. The fact of the matter remains that USC and Texas probably deserve the Rose Bowl if they win out (a general consensus at this point of the season), and the BCS does not disagree with this at midseason. Virginia Tech and an undefeated SEC champion Georgia or Alabama will have great arguments, such as playing in harder conferences than the top two, but at this point, the top two teams in the country are undisputed.

Now, just like every other week, I bring you my top three games of the week. The fact that now they can officially be called "BCS Spotlight Games" doesn't change a thing about the beauty of these big matchups. I doubt there will be games as good as Michigan beating Penn State and USC beating Notre Dame this week, but hopefully the following games will still be very exciting.

West Virginia showed a lot of heart, a lot of determination, and a little bit of luck in coming back to beat Louisville last week. South Florida destroyed Louisville a few weeks ago, so West Virginia has to be ready for a big attack from the Bulls this week. West Virginia seems to come up with big plays when they need to, and I suspect their offense will continue to find its stride this week against a mediocre USF defense. That is, if something called Wilma doesn't prevent this game from happening this weekend. West Virginia eliminates another good team from the Big East race this week by 7.

Update! Since Wilma has stormed out WVU-USF, I'll give a bonus pick: Alabama beats Tennessee by 21 in a resurgence. The Tide knows how to win the big home games, and I don't expect that trend to stop.

Game of the week number two is also from the SEC, Auburn at LSU. LSU is the feel-good story in college football this year, but Auburn is the toughest competition the Tigers have hosted this year. The loser of this game will probably not overcome the loss to make the SEC title game, with Alabama and the winner of this game running away with the division. I'll take Auburn by 3.

Texas has only one obstacle between them and the Big XII title game, and that obstacle, Texas Tech, is coming to town this weekend. Texas Tech has a great offense as they have had the past few seasons, but the team has been playing much better ever since last year's drubbing at the hands of the Longhorns. Texas should not be giving up this game on their home field, but don't think this game will be anything like last year's blowout. The Red Raider offense and the Longhorn defense are very impressive and will probably negate each other, but Texas has a huge advantage in Vince Young and the offense. Young has dismantled every defense he played against this year, and Texas Tech is no Ohio State. I will always take a prolific defense over a prolific offense, so Texas wins this one by 17.

No realistic chance to go over each conference battle this week, but keep your eyes on the Big Ten as always this week. All five teams with only one conference loss play one of the six teams with two or more conference losses this week, so the conference could become a real mess or a little more defined this week. Every week is exciting in this part of the country, and I expect Michigan at Iowa and Northwestern at Michigan State to be a couple of the best games this week.

Top 3 Games of the Week Record to date: 10-11 (3-0 last week)

Fitzy's Top 10 - Week 8
1. USC (6-0)
2. Texas (6-0)
3. Virginia Tech (6-0)
4. Georgia (6-0)
5. Alabama (6-0)
6. Miami (5-1)
7. UCLA (6-0)
8. Texas Tech (6-0)
9. LSU (4-1)
10. Boston College (6-1)
Dropped Out: #5 Florida State, #7 Penn State, #8 Notre Dame

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