Morris — Opening week trims title field

September 1, 2013 

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THE BEAUTY OF the soon-to-be-buried Bowl Championship Series is that every weekend of the college football season is another round of the playoffs, another elimination weekend in the quest to find the top two teams.

The BCS is why every game, every week is so important in the quest for two teams to square off for the national championship.

With that in mind, let’s examine more closely how that first round went over the weekend. As a primer, you should know that 17 teams were eliminated from the championship picture by virtue of opening-weekend losses and another five find themselves in football limbo.

There are 120 programs playing in the Football Championship Subdivision and every one of those is technically eligible for the national crown. We know better, though. We know, for instance, that New Mexico of the Mountain West Conference has no chance to win the championship. Even if the Lobos went undefeated, they do not play a difficult enough schedule to ever reach No. 1 or No. 2 in the BCS rankings.

So, let’s deal with reality, and that reality is 78 of those 125 programs have a chance to reach the title game. That number is derived from having 62 programs from the super five conferences — 14 from the ACC, 12 from the Big Ten, 10 from the Big 12, another dozen from the Pac-12 and 14 from the SEC — as well as 16 others that get a nod by having a high preseason RPI number.

The thinking for members of the super conferences is that if any one of those programs went undefeated it could play in the title game. It is a bit far-fetched, but even Duke and Wake Forest of the ACC have slim, slim chances of being in the title game if either wins all 12 of its regular-season games and captures the ACC championship. Do not fret, those long-shot teams will be eliminated from the championship hunt with their first loss.

The additional 16 programs from the non-super conferences include any team ranked in the preseason top 50 by RealTimeRPI. Granted, it might not be the best way to determine how teams should be considered contenders, but it nonetheless gives a chance — however remote — for Cincinnati (No. 26 in the RealTimeRPI) and Fresno State (No. 27). Again, do not fret, because those programs will be eliminated with their first loss.

Included among those 16 additional programs are Notre Dame (No. 2 in the RPI) and Louisville (No. 13), both of whom are considered legitimate national title contenders.

One other provision must be included in the 14-week tournament that is the BCS. Nearly every team from the SEC and a select few from other super power conferences — Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford and Texas, for instance — could survive one loss during the season and still remain in the championship hunt.

We will place those teams in limbo. From Week 1, that list includes Georgia, which lost to Clemson; Mississippi State, which lost to Oklahoma State; Vanderbilt, which lost to Mississippi; Virginia Tech, which lost to Alabama; and TCU, which lost to LSU.

Kentucky’s loss to Western Kentucky eliminated the Wildcats on principle. Other eliminated teams from the super conferences include North Carolina and Syracuse from the ACC, Iowa and Purdue from the Big Ten, Iowa State and Kansas State from the Big 12, and California, Oregon State and Washington State from the Pac-12. Seven of the 16 programs from the non-super conferences were eliminated: Boise State, Louisiana Tech, Ohio, Rutgers, San Diego State, Toledo and Tulsa.

So, in summary, 17 teams were eliminated on the first weekend, not including Monday night’s game. That leaves 61 teams that survived and advanced to the second round.

HEART WARMER: Utah kicker Andy Phillips booted three field goals, three extra-points and successfully executed an onside kick in the Utes’ 30-26 victory against Utah State on Thursday night.

Phillips, according to the Salt Lake City Desert News, had never before participated in an organized football game at any level. The 24-year-old freshman is a former U.S. ski team alpine racer, according to the newspaper.

HEART BREAKER: Johnny Manziel. Johnny Football. Johnny Punk. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner sat out the first half of Texas A&M’s victory against Rice because of a suspension. He returned to taunt Rice players and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Lou Holtz, speaking on ESPN Radio, said discipline on a team begins with its leader. It is past time for Texas A&M to render some serious discipline against its out-of-control star. Otherwise, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin runs the risk of losing his team.

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