Interesting weekend regarding the teams with a chance
to qualify for the Sugar Bowl against No. 1 Oklahoma.
USC, my No.2 team but no longer that of the real BCS,
rolled over porous Arizona, 45-0. Ohio State, pitted
against a dangerous Purdue team at home, survived in
overtime, 16-13, to move past USC into second. And LSU,
a club I've been touting virtually all season, completely
shut down Alabama on the road, 27-3.
Oh, and TCU improved to 10-0 by whipping Cincinnati,
43-10... but fell from sixth to eighth in the BCS.
How 'bout a quick comparison of the three primary one-loss
teams, to see who really should be nestled alongside
the Sooners (assuming you don't favor the Horned Frogs
as I do)?
USC's lone defeat was in overtime against California,
Ohio State's loss was a close one at Wisconsin, and LSU's
stumble was at home to Florida. Based on their overall
performances this season, I'd say that Florida would
rank as the best of the three, followed by Wisconsin
and then Cal. LSU's loss was at home but against a tougher
foe. USC's defeat came against a comparatively weaker
Cal team, but it was on the road in overtime. If this
were a decade ago, USC would be unbeaten with a tie and
clearly No. 2. So for my money, this is all essentially
In terms of quality wins, defined by me as victories
over strong opposition (not one-sided wins over also-rans),
Ohio State has four compared to two apiece for USC and
LSU. Certainly, that means an advantage to Ohio State,
but it should be tempered a bit that the Buckeyes got
all four of those quality triumphs at home.
A separate factor worth consideration is overall dominance.
Both USC and LSU have posted lopsided victories in all
the games each should, plus the Trojans' two quality
wins were by hefty margins as well, as was one of LSU's.
Ohio State has among its victories a three-point squeaker
over San Diego State at home, an OT win over North Carolina
State, again at home, and a one-point victory at lowly
Penn State. Neither the Trojans nor Tigers have had any
such struggles against weaker opposition.
I'm not trying to pick on Ohio State here. The Buckeyes
are the defending national champs who have lost only
once in the last two years, an incredibly impressive
streak that deserves respect and acknowledgement. But
despite the fact they've faced a more difficult schedule,
it can be argued with validity that they haven't played
as consistently well throughout the season as either
USC or LSU. Therein lays the debate, for which there
is no clear-cut correct answer.
And to many, that's the very beauty of it all.
Bob's Top 10
||Sooners are so
dominant that I would consider keeping them at No.
1 even if they stumble once between now and the Sugar
|Thursday game at Southern
Mississippi is no gimme, but then it doesn't matter
to those who have the Frogs still ranked in their
||I've been pulling for the
Trojans because I felt they had the best chance to
defeat OU, but I'm intrigued by a Sugar Bowl featuring
||To those who still aren't
convinced about the Tigers, this week's SEC West
showdown against Mississippi and QB Eli Manning will
||OHIO STATE (10-1)
||An impressive performance
against Purdue by the Buckeyes' defense, but their
run for a repeat national title in jeopardy at Ann
||Wolverines' offense has been
awesome -- great balance of running and passing that
not even Ohio State's D will be able to cope with.
||Came very close to losing
against Texas Tech, but that aside the Longhorns
proven themselves worthy since romp by OU.
||WASH. STATE (9-2)
||Some consider Apple Cup game
with arch-rival Washington almost anti-climactic
-- but I think the final result will be most interesting.
||MIAMI, OHIO (9-1)
||Impressive performances in
back-to-back games against relatively decent teams,
although both were at home in primetime.
||BOISE STATE (9-1)
||Wonder what the Broncos offense
would do against a defense such as, say, Ohio State?
Yeah, I know: probably not a heckuva lot.
|Also considered: Florida State, Georgia,
Miami, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia Tech.
2003 PREDICTION RECORDS:
Straight-Up -- 62-30 (67%)
Against-The-Spread -- 46-45-1 (51%)
LAST WEEK: 7-2 Straight-Up, 5-3-1 Against-The-Spread
Week 13 Schedule (the top games of the week)
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20
Southern Mississippi (-2 1/2) 31, No. 2 TCU 20 -- This would
appear to be the matchup that is most likely to prevent
the Horned Frogs from a perfect regular season. Southern
Miss has won four straight, and its only achilles heel
this year has been a failure to play well against elite
opponents. Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, that's
a biggie... but I don't foresee it as a problem here. The
national TV stage, with so much on the line, boosts the
home team to an emotional victory.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21
Fresno State (+9) 33, No. 10 Boise State 27 -- The Broncos
are remarkably lethal, and of course it won't be a shock
if they win this one with another big score, but the Bulldogs
are 5-0 at home this season while allowing 20 or more points
only once, and enter this matchup on a 4-game winning streak.
Boise State hasn't really played anyone, unless you count
the 50-12 rout at BYU (an impressive achievement), and
the Bulldogs have a victory over the only team (Oregon
State) to defeat the Broncos this season. But please note...
this is a tenuous pick at best.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 22
No. 1 Oklahoma (-19) 56, Texas Tech 28 -- A truly difficult
game to handicap, but hey... I don't shy away from the
tough ones. While I doubt the Red Raiders can score enough
points to even come close to getting the upset outright,
they might be able to cover the gaudy pointspread... but
I don't think so. Tech QB B.J. Symons should be a strong
candidate for the Heisman Trophy, but the Sooners defense
far outclasses any the Raiders have faced to date. And
there's no way Texas Tech can slow OU's attack, even at
home. The Red Raiders have yielded more than 40 points
five times this season, while the Sooners have scored at
least 50 an eye-popping six times.
No. 3 USC 41, UCLA (+22) 24 -- After a lengthy dry spell,
the Trojans have dominated this rivalry in recent years and
this one stacks up as the biggest mismatch in half a century.
But in a huge backyard rivalry game such as this, three TDs-plus
is too much. Bruins go down, but not that easily.
No. 4 LSU (-6 1/2) 34, at Mississippi 21 -- The difference
in this one will be LSU's ability to pressure Rebels QB Eli
Manning into just enough mistakes to make the difference.
Offensively, the Tigers won't be contained. LSU is 4-0 straight-up
and ATS on the road this season, but Ole Miss is 5-1 ATS
in its last six against the Tigers. Something will give.
No. 6 Michigan (-6 1/2) 24, No. 5 Ohio State 13 -- Wow,
I'm amazed that the line is a virtually a full touchdown.
I've been saying for weeks that the Wolverines will end OSU's
dream of a repeat national title, but I never believed it
would be a blowout. Still, I don't want to get caught splitting
hairs. This will be Michigan's day, though I won't be surprised
if OSU stays within the number.
Washington (+4*) 21, No. 8 Washington State 18 -- Clearly,
the Cougars are the superior team... but this rivalry, as
much as any in the country, is one in which the records coming
in can be greatly discounted. Wazzou QB Matt Kegel is listed
as questionable with an injured collarbone, so even if he
plays he's unlikely to be at full strength or effectiveness.
The Huskies are a fair team, playing on their homefield,
which would salvage a disappointing campaign with a win.
Two spread notes: Washington has won five in a row over the
Cougars at home, and the underdog is 7-2-1 ATS in the last
* - Estimated pointspread. Official spread unavailable.
Auburn 19, Alabama (+8) 16 -- Another of those emotional
rivalry, past-performance-isn't-necessarily-relevant games.
Plus, Auburn's offense is in disarray, and Bama's defense
is solid enough to keep it tight.