Bowl crisis system


Issue: "Soldiers in harm’s way," Nov. 15, 2003

VIRGINIA TECH'S THROTTLING of Miami on Nov. 1 ensured another controversial year for the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), college football's method of picking a national champion. The Hurricanes' loss left Oklahoma and TCU as the only undefeated teams in major college football and pulled all top one-loss teams back into the national title hunt.

That means new life for USC, Florida State, and Virginia Tech, which desperately needed either Oklahoma or Miami to slip up. Such is the BCS, which combines quirky computer polls with standard polls, schedule strength, and the ever-murky "quality win" category to determine the participants in the four BCS bowls, including the national championship game. After week 11 of the college football season, Oklahoma sat atop the BCS standings after taking apart rival Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have been Oklahoma's stumbling block to the national championship game lately. With that win in the book, the Sooners face little resistance until a possible Big 12 Championship game.

Most analysts agree that TCU, which plays in the non-BCS Conference USA, will be a long shot for the Sugar Bowl, even with an unblemished record. Expect Horned Frog fans to be hopping mad if TCU remains undefeated and still can't break into the very top of the poll.

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