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BCS shuffle is far from over

Dufresne is a Times staff writer.

Nov. 8 by the numbers:

No. 1 Alabama remained undefeated, narrowly, but is now locked into a game against Florida on Dec. 7.

No. 2 Texas Tech remained unbeaten, not narrowly, but still has to play at Oklahoma on Nov. 22.

No. 3 Penn State did not stay unbeaten, losing on a “say good night” field goal at Iowa.

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What happens now?

Well, actually, any number of things.

The question today is not which teams are going to be the top two in today’s Bowl Championship Series standings.

Those two teams are going to be Alabama and Texas Tech.

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Based on Alabama’s overtime win at Louisiana State and Texas Tech’s 56-20 wipeout of No. 8 Oklahoma State, the team from Lubbock clearly deserves the top spot.

But why quibble?

The big question is which two teams will be No. 1 and No. 2 a month from now.

There is now the prospect that seven one-loss contenders could be left standing when final BCS standings are released Dec. 7 -- and two top-10 and unbeaten schools from non-BCS conferences, Utah and Boise State, being told their applications were considered but the company decided to go in another direction.

The season could be careening toward more chaos and mass confusion. If USC Coach Pete Carroll thought the BCS was smelly last week. . . .

Despite the Trojans’ 17-3 win over California, USC keeps spinning its BCS wheels. The Trojans are not likely to move up more than one position, to No. 6, in the BCS behind five teams that are really in the race: Alabama, Texas Tech, Florida, Texas and Oklahoma.

Penn State’s loss only settled the national title issue for Penn State. That is, the Nittany Lions are not likely going to play for it. Coach Joe Paterno’s hopes for a sixth undefeated season died in Iowa City.

“We still can have a heck of a year,” he said. “We can’t start moaning about this one. . . . Their balloon still isn’t busted. If we win the next two we’ll have an opportunity to go to a big bowl.”

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If Penn State wins its last two home games, against Indiana and Michigan State, that big bowl will be the Rose.

If Oregon State loses once, the matchup will likely be USC and Penn State -- not bad.

If Oregon State wins out, the matchup could be Oregon State vs. Penn State -- not good.

The teams already played this year in State College. Well, one team played, the other was nicknamed “Beavers.”

The national-title picture remains clear as cafe mocha.

It’s a safe bet now, though, the BCS championship game will involve schools from the Big 12 and the Southeastern conferences.

The SEC champion is going to be Alabama or Florida, that issue being decided Saturday when those schools clinched the West and East titles. The Big 12 champion could be Texas Tech, or Texas, or Oklahoma, or Missouri in the North.

If Alabama and Texas Tech each finish 13-0, well, there’s your title game.

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But will that happen?

Alabama ran its record to 10-0 as it continued to raise legitimacy questions. Five of the Crimson Tide’s wins this year have been by 14 points or less -- but those persnickety BCS computers don’t care about margin of victory anymore.

Will all of Alabama come crashing down against Florida?

The Crimson Tide needed overtime to beat Louisiana State on Saturday. A few weeks ago, what Louisiana State needed after giving up 51 points to Florida was oxygen.

Florida is only No. 5 in the BCS but hotter than summer asphalt. The Gators scorched Vanderbilt, 42-14, Saturday and now are assured a chance to scorch Alabama in the SEC title game.

The Big 12 South will eventually, we think, spit out a BCS participant.

If Texas Tech wins out, it’s Leach’s peaches.

If Oklahoma and Texas win out you could end up with Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma all bunched at 11-1, with the BCS standings deciding the division champion.

Oklahoma kept the pressure on with a 66-28 win against Texas A&M; (let’s see the BCS drop the Sooners two spots this week!).

Texas shook off its tough loss to Texas Tech by battering Baylor, 45-21.

But what if the eventual South champion is handed a second loss by the Big 12 North?

That could leave two 11-1 schools that did not win their division still vying for a national-title spot.

And get this: both teams could make legitimate cases for being taken ahead of, say, USC.

In 2001, there was outrage when Nebraska advanced to the BCS finale without winning its own division of the Big 12.

Many smart people demanded BCS commissioners to insert a rule requiring title-game participants to have won their conference.

Maybe this year is the reason why they didn’t do it.

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com


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