The Herald Bulletin

November 22, 2013

Mike Lopresti: Time running out to impress computers


The Herald Bulletin

---- — The top three teams in the BCS standings — Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State — don't have byes this Saturday, but maybe the next best thing. In other words, home games with Chattanooga, Idaho and Indiana.

Good appetite, guys. But then again, one wrong twitch can be fatal now, since we're slicing logarithms. There is scrambling for position just below them on the ladder, too. As is clear in this week's Tense 10.

1. Baylor at Oklahoma State: This probably settles the Big 12. The pollsters are beginning to truly ooh and ahh at Baylor's fireworks show — the 61.2-point scoring average, the total offense that is churning out 104 more yards a week than anyone else in the nation. But this is the test the voters have been waiting for. Oklahoma State has won 16 of its last 17 at home, and Baylor's last victory in Stillwater was just after Hitler went into Poland, in 1939. Win this one, and the Bears could zoom past Ohio State in the BCS.

2. Arizona State at UCLA: It's been 27 years since both were ranked for this game. An Arizona State victory means the Pac-12 South division title is in the bag for the Sun Devils. If UCLA wins, the Bruins can take the division by beating USC. The last two meetings between UCLA and Arizona State have been decided by a total of three points.

3. Indiana at Ohio State: This is life in the BCS. Ohio State scored 60 points last weekend for its 22nd consecutive victory, and lost ground to Baylor. No wonder Urban Meyer was hot enough to melt a buckeye nut. All his team can do now is exercise a scorched earth policy against Indiana. And since Ohio State has scored 179 points its last three games while the Hoosiers just gave up more than a quarter-mile of rushing to Wisconsin — 554 yards — the voters expect nothing less.

4. Texas A&M at LSU: Beating the Tigers in Baton Rouge might clinch Johnny Manziel's Heisman re-election. His passing numbers are up and rushing totals down from last season. Jameis Winston's possible legal problems are a sudden new dynamic in the race.

5. Chattanooga at Alabama: Auburn Who? The Nov. 30 Iron Bowl has the state in a two-week tizzy, but the Tide — having just napped through Mississippi State — might want to note there is another opponent on the schedule first. Chattanooga is 8-3 and one of those nothing-to-lose FCS underdogs that can turn into a pest.

6. Missouri at Mississippi: Missouri's magic number for an astonishing berth in the SEC championship game is two. The Tigers will be facing a 7-3 Mississippi team that probably can't even find its road white uniforms. This is the Rebels' sixth consecutive home game. They haven't played away from Oxford since Oct. 5.

7. USC at Colorado: Ed Orgeron is 5-1 since taking over as interim USC coach and has made it clear he'd like the job for keeps. The Trojans seem to love him, from the tailbacks to the tuba players. So it's Orgeron's bosses, not the BCS computers, that his team needs to keep impressing. Should be a good week to enhance his application. USC is 7-0 all-time against Colorado.

8. Illinois at Purdue: Might be now or never for these two to avoid going 0-8 in the Big Ten. The Illini have dropped 20 consecutive conference games. For the Boilermakers, the only thing more depressing than their 111th nationally rated defense is their 119th nationally rated offense.

9. BYU at Notre Dame: Stick a shillelagh in the Irish's BCS bowl chances. So they need to be polishing their numbers for any other postseason location that might be shopping for the holidays. The winner of this game can proclaim itself King of the Independents. Confetti optional.

10. Wisconsin at Minnesota: It's their 123rd meeting, and no two rivals in the FBS have more. Take your pick. Minnesota — with coach Jerry Kill on the road back from epilepsy — can continue as the feel-good story of the Big Ten, or Wisconsin can roll on as the nation's most under-rated team. The Gophers have won four consecutive Big Ten games. The last time they won five in a row was 1962.