Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 20, 2013

Big stakes ahead in college football

By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Golf has its silly season. College football does too.

At least it ends on a BCSerious note.

The countdown is on.

The question that must be answered is whether or not there will be 70 teams with at least .500 records still standing when the regular season ends and college bowl season begins with four games on Dec. 21?

Actually, believe it or not, there are currently 65 teams that are bowl-eligible, and 25 more trying to play their way into a postseason game.

Surely, five more teams can get to that magic .500 mark and celebrate being eligible for a bowl game. Yet, it is always a close call when the final invitations are made, and it is questionable how many of these teams still deserve to be playing.

There will be 35 bowl games this season, 23 of which will be played between Dec. 21 and Christmas Eve. The other 12 will be played in 2004, with the big one slated for Jan. 6 in Pasadena.

While both Virginia Tech and Marshall will go bowling, West Virginia and Virginia will sit at home. Actually, that isn’t such a bad thing. Get the season over with and start finding talent to make that sure it doesn’t happen again.

There are actually times when staying at home is preferable to bowling. I mean who really cares about some of these games.

Quick, which bowl game did the Mountaineers and Hokies play in last year, and who did they play? Who won? The score? How about two years ago? Three?

If you know the answer to those questions without looking it up, then you are a real fan of your school, and have too much time on your hands.

In reality, one of these games will really matter, the other 34 will simply be the appetizer for the BCS National Championship Game.

Who will be in that game?

Four undefeated teams remain, but all four have tall tasks ahead.

Two-time defending champion Alabama (10-0) has been ranked No. 1 all season, and should remain there after Saturday’s contest with 8-3 Chattanooga in Tuscaloosa, which is where I plan to be.

However, the following Saturday is the Iron Bowl, and Auburn will be ready. The Tigers (10-1), which won in miracle fashion last Saturday over Georgia, have two weeks to prepare for the Crimson Tide, and they have the Tide at home.

The winner will meet either Missouri or South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game.

Let’s just say this is one nervous Alabama fan, especially after last week’s struggle to get past Mississippi State, which is one of those schools trying to play their way to the .500 mark.

Florida State (10-0) will conclude its season this week with Idaho (1-9) — don’t say a word about ‘Bama playing the Moccasins — followed by once-powerful Florida, which must win its last two games just to qualify for a bowl game. My, how the might have fallen.

That will be followed an ACC Championship Game, possibly against — of all teams — Duke. Virginia Tech still has hope, but must beat Virginia next week and hope the Blue Devils fall to Wake Forest and North Carolina.

It could happen, but just don’t count on it.

The biggest topic of sports talk radio for the last month — and I listen every day on SiriusXM — has been the plight of Ohio State, which has won 22 straight games, but is ranked third and just can’t seem to get any respect because of its schedule that includes the weak Big 10.

If Baylor keeps winning, the Buckeyes will slip, not rise, even with wins over Indiana and Michigan. Perhaps a win over Michigan State in the Big 10 Championship Game and a loss by Alabama, Florida State or the Bears could boost them into the final game of the season.

Then there is Baylor (9-0), which has its toughest two games of the season remaining, at Oklahoma State (9-1) — which still has Big 12 hopes of its own — followed by games with Texas (7-3) and  Texas Christian.

Get past the Cowboys this Saturday, and perhaps the Bears will play for it all, but only if they get help too.

There are also still several one-loss teams, including Oregon (9-1) and Auburn, who still have an outside shot of playing for the BCS national title if they win out and get a little help.

Clemson, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Michigan State also have a loss apiece, but are probably too far down the BCS standings to move up enough to be a threat for Pasadena.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some sort of playoff, much like every other division has in college football.

There will be one next year, although four teams may not be enough. It would, however, solve a lot of issues this season.

Four undefeated teams, four playoff spots. It would be perfect.

Don’t expect it to end that way. Three weeks of college football remain, and there is nothing silly about it. It is time to get serious.

Call me one worried Alabama football fan. Auburn in the Iron Bowl on The Plains isn’t my idea of fun.

What’s worst, I won’t even be able to watch the game, not with a wedding to attend on the evening of the game.

My niece, a former Graham soccer player, is getting married.

Congratulations Lauren. Just don’t be surprised if I sneak a peek at my phone to get an update on the score.

Hey, I fainted at my oldest brother’s wedding years ago, and this very embarassed usher had to be rolled — actually carried — out of the church.

This time I hope the only rolling going on will by my Crimson Tide.

—Brian Woodson is the sports editor for the Daily Telegraph. He encourages feedback at bwoodson@bdtonline.com