In the second quarter Saturday morning, Southern Mississippi leads Houston 21-14, in the Conference USA title game, which could introduce some intrigue on a final regular-season Saturday of college football that otherwise looks pretty static.
If Houston beats USM, the Cougars nail down an at-large berth (and then try to hold onto coach Kevin Sumlin). But if they lose, it gets crazy. TCU, as a conference winner (Mountain West, over Boise State) would take Houston’s berth, but only if the Frogs can move up from No. 18 into the top 16.
What’s at state in the rest of Saturday’s key games:
SEC title: Oddly, the LSU-Georgia game is seen as one with little at stake, even though LSU is top-ranked in the BCS standings. Most analysts figure the Tigers to stay among the top two of the BCS even with a loss to the Bulldogs, which means almost certainly an LSU-Alabama rematch for the BCS title. Initially, that threw me. Isn’t there a BCS rule that no more than two teams from an automatic-qualifying conference can play in the BCS? Yes – but there’s also the clause that stipulates “unless two non-champions from the same conference are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the final BCS standings.” So if LSU loses, you’d probably have ‘Bama and LSU ranked Nos. 1-2, going to the BCS title game, and neither would be the SEC champion. That berth would go to Georgia, and we’d be swimming more than usual among SEC teams.
Big 12: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys (BCS No. 3) have to hope for an LSU loss and a big victory over Oklahoma to make it to the title game (and even that might not be enough).
Big Ten: Michigan State and Wisconsin. Ought to be an evenly match head-banger for the right to play Oregon in the Rose Bowl. I think an Oregon-Wisconsin game in the Rose would be kind of catchy – Ducks’ speed against Badgers’ power.
ACC: Clemson and Virginia Tech. I suppose there’s some tortured scenario whereby Va Tech (No. 5 BCS) could make the title game, but I don’t think anybody wants that, given the ACC’s record in BCS games.