Blame Schedule if LSU Gets Swamped in BCS

OK, everyone outside of Britney Spears' stomping ground agrees Oklahoma and USC should meet for the national title in the Jan. 4 Sugar Bowl ... but what about poor Louisiana State?

If the top three schools win out, LSU gets the short end of the baton rouge in a bowl championship series tug-of-war between two one-loss schools.

And while it's safe to say USC will return to the No. 2 position in the BCS standings today with a comfortable lead over No. 3 LSU, the final standings may be very close as LSU closes the strength-of-schedule gap.

Will LSU fans have a right to say they were robbed?

Absolutely. This is America. That's what we do; in fact, it's what USC fans said last week when Ohio State jumped the Trojans in the BCS.

LSU may be better than USC, who knows?

USC has the better offense, ranking at No. 5 nationally in scoring while LSU is No. 22, but LSU boasts the nation's No. 3 defense; USC's is 24th.

Common opponents?

LSU defeated Arizona by 46 points; USC beat the Wildcats by 45.

USC beat Auburn by 23 points; LSU defeated the Tigers by 24.

Sometimes, though, a match-up is right, well, just because it is. Oklahoma vs. USC is the game the people and the television networks want to see, a pairing of powerful offenses and marquee programs.

Oklahoma vs. LSU is less than that.

There's actually an argument brewing that says LSU belongs over USC because, in the final shake-out, it would have won a tougher conference, the Southeastern.

No argument the SEC is tougher than the Pacific 10.

If LSU falls short, though, it will be because of a nonconference schedule of Louisiana-Monroe, Western Illinois, Arizona and Louisiana Tech -- not exactly a walk over hot coals.

Western Illinois is a Division I-AA school while Louisiana-Monroe is one of the worst schools in Division I-A, its only victory coming against another "hyphen" program, Louisiana-Lafayette.

In fact, LSU's win over Louisiana-Monroe may end up costing the Tigers a shot at the Sugar Bowl.

USC's schedule, upon reflection, was nothing to shake a red stick at, but at least the Trojans tried to play people. In August, USC's trek looked tougher than a boot-camp gauntlet: at Auburn, Brigham Young, Hawaii, at Notre Dame and also the Pac-10 schedule?

Shoot, the Sporting News tabbed Auburn to win the national title, and Notre Dame was ranked and coming off a 10-3 season. Hawaii was a borderline top-25 team and BYU has been a traditionally solid program.

You can't blame USC because its seemingly tough nonconference schedule turned Twinkie, with four opponents sitting here today with a cumulative 22-23 record.

You can blame LSU for playing three heels and a hyphen.

Bottom line, fair or not, Oklahoma vs. USC is the right game for the right reasons.


Weekend Wrap

What did Washington State's Apple Cup defeat cost USC?

The Trojans will lose the BCS "quality win" deduction they had for defeating Washington State.

With Texas Christian's loss Thursday, Washington State figured to move to at least No. 9 in today's BCS, and that would have earned USC a .20 deduction.

Keep this in mind should LSU start nuzzling up to USC in the BCS standings.

LSU's best chance of passing USC appears to be taking advantage of the Washington State loss and winning the SEC title while holding its "quality win" deduction for beating Georgia. That would require Georgia's finishing 10-2 but not winning the SEC East division tiebreaker against Florida and Tennessee.

Keeping hope alive: The TCU and Washington State losses has made one of two BCS at-large berths available.

Texas will be guaranteed one slot if it finishes No. 3 or No. 4 in the BCS.

The other berth may now end up going to 10-2 Ohio State, which appeared destined for the Capital One Bowl on Saturday until Washington State coughed up the Rose Bowl bid.

If we had to guess on the BCS bowl lineup today:

Sugar: Oklahoma vs. USC.

Rose: Texas vs. Michigan.

Fiesta: LSU vs. Florida State.

Orange: Miami vs. Ohio State.

Far-fetched but intriguing BCS doomsday scenario:

What if Oklahoma lost to Kansas State but fell to only No. 2 in the BCS, while LSU jumped USC and ended up in the spot?

USC would be ranked No. 1 in both polls, yet Oklahoma would play LSU in the BCS title game. In what would be deemed "the miracle that dropped in our lap," the Rose Bowl would then pit No. 1 USC vs. Michigan. A victory would likely earn the Trojans the Associated Press national title, while the voting coaches would be contractually bound to award their trophy to the Sugar Bowl winner.

My Heisman Trophy top five if ballots were due today:

1: Jason White (Oklahoma quarterback). Why is there even debate about this? The guy has thrown 40 touchdown passes with only six interceptions.

2: Larry Fitzgerald (Pittsburgh receiver). ESPN campaign headquarters will be pleased to hear he moves to the No. 2 slot vacated by Eli Manning.

3: Chris Perry (Michigan tailback). His 154-yard yard effort on a bum leg against Ohio State on national television earns him a Heisman ticket to New York.

4: Matt Leinart (USC quarterback). The guy is putting up Carson Palmer-like numbers for the nation's No. 2 team, but no way two quarterbacks from USC win in consecutive years.

5: Manning (Ole Miss quarterback). He literally stumbled in his chance for Heisman glory in Saturday's home loss to LSU.

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