CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Notre Dame loss could throw BCS system into chaos again

The unbeaten Irish are No. 1 in the BCS, followed by a number of one-loss teams. Should USC beat Notre Dame this week, the BCS would be left with a scenario that even the upcoming playoff system couldn't solve.



Things have taken a bombshell Baylor turn since we last convened, but don't worry, this is nothing the eight-team playoff in 2014 won't solve.

What … it's only a four-team playoff?

In that case, the selection committee replacing the BCS should form now, retreat to a hotel room with a copy of Sunday's Bowl Championship Series standings, and emerge with its clear-cut, no-debate test results.

Show us how the new system beats "Death to the BCS."

It is terrific for television executives and scrapbook collectors that Notre Dame and Alabama have supplanted Kansas State and Oregon as the front-runners for this year's BCS title.

It's like trading in two Chevy Vegas for a Rolls-Royce and a Bentley.

Notre Dame is BCS No. 1 for the first time in history and hopes to stay that way at least through Thanksgiving.

"It doesn't mean much if you're No. 1 for just three or four days," Irish Coach Brian Kelly said Sunday.

Alabama is second, the BCS equivalent of Gehrig following Ruth in the order.

Kansas State was the worst program of the 20th century and has the wrong Manhattan as its television base. The top market in Eugene, if I'm not mistaken, is Fresh & Easy.

Don't be fooled by this week's brassy BCS hood ornaments, however, because the world is one USC victory over Notre Dame from seven or eight one-loss schools playing rugby for two national title berths.

And the refrain "Don't worry, it will be better in two years" could ring more hollow than Colorado's defense.

It's even funny today that one-loss Alabama has been auto-forwarded to play undefeated Notre Dame just because, well, just because.

Alabama's last game against a major-college opponent was a home defeat to two-loss Texas A&M.

When Kansas State and Oregon lost this weekend, Alabama immediately spiked six spots in Jeff Sagarin's BCS ratings and rode that general wave to No. 2 in the BCS.

Alabama moved from No. 5 to No. 3 in the BCS computers with a win over Western Carolina, a Football Championship Subdivision team now 1-10, with its lone win coming against Division II Mars Hill.

Florida State, with as many losses as Alabama, defeated Maryland on Saturday and still hasn't cracked the top 25 in Massey's BCS index.

The Seminoles are gear-grinding at No. 10 in the BCS and No. 17 in the computer index.

Mars, Maryland, they have so much in common … M-a-r.

Don't try to make any sense of this — just drink it all in and then do a spit take.

Oregon dropped to No. 5 behind one-loss Alabama, one-loss Georgia and one-loss Florida and presumably is out of the race (for now) because the Ducks lost a close game at home to two-loss Stanford.

Timing, along with playing in the SEC, is everything in college football.

Even if you heartily accept Notre Dame and Alabama as the best two teams this season, several remaining one-loss teams could offer great cases in the future, four-team format.

Potential upheaval in the next two weeks, in fact, could undercut 2014 before the New Year's Eve playoff party.

Notre Dame's losing to USC would only increase havoc in a traditional BCS chaos context. The system will burp out top two one-loss teams as it leaves others protesting — hey, what's new?

But what if this were 2014 and a selection committee was left to the decision making?

Tell us, esteemed panel of associate assistant athletic directors, how you'd pick a Final Four among a one-loss field that might include Alabama (or Georgia), Oregon, Notre Dame, Kansas State, Florida State (or Florida), Clemson, Rutgers, Kent State and Northern Illinois.

The first easy cut is lopping off every team from the Big East-level down. OK, but then what?

The next two weeks may actually provide an excellent template for some of the things college football can never solve.

There is a slice of this ridiculous pie that is simply delicious. UCLA may have to play Stanford twice in six days in a scenario in which the Bruins' best path to the Rose Bowl may be losing to Stanford the first time and winning the rematch.

Florida, which needed a blocked punt to stave off Louisiana Lafayette in Gainesville, is two results from playing the SEC champion in the BCS championship.

Rutgers could win its first Big East title this year and celebrate by defecting to the Big Ten. There are reports the Big Ten might add Maryland to give it 14 teams in 2014.

And the Big Ten would still call itself the Big Ten?

It is almost breathtaking how fast scenarios that seemed so dialed in on Saturday morning, such as Notre Dame's playing in the Rose Bowl, are suddenly in the dust bowl.

Instead of Notre Dame playing in the game for the first time since 1925, the Rose could now be looking at a multi-loss Pac-12 champion vs. five-loss Wisconsin.

The game could also feature UCLA and Nebraska meeting on the Rose Bowl turf for the first time since way back on Sept. 8.

Things might yet be settled without a major fistfight. Seriously, the chances of a battered USC team defeating Notre Dame without injured Matt Barkley seem roughly the odds of Oregon's offense being held to 14 points.

Or, on a given Saturday night in Waco, top-ranked Kansas State losing to a Baylor squad ranked No. 120 (out of 120) on defense.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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