7:30 p.m. Update - Ohio State and LSU were clear picks as #1 and #2 and will compete in the Allstate Bowl Championship Game in the Superdome in New Orleans on Monday, January 7. They were first and second in both human polls and second and third (to Virginia Tech) in the computer rankings.
1:00 p.m. Update - The Coaches' Poll has Ohio State and LSU in top two positions, followed by Oklahoma, Georgia, Va Tech, USC, Missouri, Kansas, West Virginia, Hawaii, Arizona St and Florida.
In Baton Rouge yesterday, the planets aligned; the traffic jam cleared; the drought broke; the lottery number hit--whichever of these or your own chosen metaphors fits--just a week and a day after a bitter 3-overtime loss to Arkansas, LSU's football team is back in the running for the 2007 National Championship. The Tigers did their part by beating the hard-hitting Tennessee Vols by 21-14 in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, on a day when Coach Les Miles had to announced his intent to continue as LSU's coach in 2008, in light of an ESPN.com published report that Michigan would announced Miles as their new head coach later this week.
For the Tigers to have any chance to play for the big prize, both #1 Missouri and #2 West Virginia had to lose on Saturday. Playing formidable #9 Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game, Missouri seemed the more likely victim, and sure enough, they were trounced, 38-17 by the Sooners. Playing at home against 4-7 Pitt in the annual "Backyard Brawl", West Virginia was favored by about four touchdowns and figured to romp to victory. Stunned Mountaineer fans sat speechless and motionless in the stands as Pitt players and fans celebrated a 13-9 upset win.
The outcomes will very likely push previously #3 Ohio State into the #1 spot. Upwards of ten teams will be considered by pollsters and computers today for the coveted #2 spot in the BCS Championship Game in New Orleans. Here's my take on the pros and cons for each team; my prediction destination for each team; and how I'd vote if I were a real sportswriter, coach, former player or computer.
Ohio State - pros - only 1-loss record among major conference champs; champs of Big 10; cons - no Big Ten tournament, last game now a week-old memory. Prediction - In BCS Championship Game as new #1. CORRECT, continue.
Missouri - pros - great record (11-2); strong schedule; Big 12 North champ; cons - lopsided last game loss to Oklahoma. Prediction - Fiesta or Cotton. Cotton or something else. Tough treatment for Missouri.
West Virginia - pros - several impressive wins over Big East opponents ; cons - last game loss at home to lightly-regarded Pitt. Prediction - Orange? Long trip to Fiesta.
Georgia - pros - #4 ranking in last week's poll; 10-2 record; playing very well at end of season; lopsided win over Florida; cons - not even champ of own SEC division. Prediction - almost any game possible (BCS, Sugar, Orange, Rose), I'll guess Sugar. CORRECT, continue.
Virginia Tech - pros - 11-2 record; ACC Champ; loss to BC avenged in ACC title game; finished strong; cons - early-season 41-point loss to co-contender LSU. Prediction - Orange. CORRECT, continue.
Kansas - pros - #5 ranking in last week's poll; 1-loss record; lots of high scoring wins; cons - lost critical game to Missouri and didn't look good doing it; strength of schedule poor. Prediction - Fiesta. Orange over Missouri, despite head-to-head loss.
LSU - pros - 11-2 record; SEC Champ with gritty win over Tennessee; big wins over Va Tech, Florida, Auburn, Miss St (all bowl teams); two losses both in 3 OT's; cons - #7 in BCS standings last week; recent loss to Arkansas. Prediction - BCS Championship Game. CORRECT; way to go voters.
Oklahoma - pros - 11-2 record; Big 12 champ with win over then-#1 Missouri; cons - #9 in last BCS standings; poor strength of schedule; recent ugly loss to Texas Tech. Prediction - Fiesta. CORRECT; continue.
Hawaii - pros - only undefeated team in country; win in last regular-season game played by anyone; cons - played in perceived-weak WAC; #12 in last BCS standings. Prediction - Sugar. CORRECT; three in a row.
USC - pros - Pac 10 Champ; cons - big fall from preseason #1; embarrassing loss to Stanford at home. Prediction - Rose. CORRECT. Playing non-BCS team Illinois (Big Ten tie-in)
My top eleven would be:
Team (Dave rank) BCS Rank
1) Ohio State yes
2) LSU yes
3) Oklahoma #4
4) Georgia #5
5) Virginia Tech #3
6) Missouri yes
7) USC yes
8) Florida #12
9) Kansas #8
10)West Virginia #9
11) Hawaii #10