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Archive for Thursday, November 3, 2005

Power conferences should fill all BCS slots

November 3, 2005

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Because there will be no BCS buster rising out of the mid-major conferences this season the way Utah did in 2004, the power leagues have a chance to fill the two at-large bids to the four big-money bowls.

The champions from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern Conference receive automatic bids to the Bowl Championship Series. The Rose Bowl will host the top two teams in the final BCS standings in the national-title game on Jan. 4.

The Sugar, Fiesta and Orange bowls get to fill the other spots with the remaining conference champions and two other teams that won at least nine games and finished in the top 12 of the BCS standings.

The SEC has sent both the winner and loser of its championship game to the BCS in the past, and could be in a position to do it again with Alabama, LSU and Georgia all in the BCS top 12.

Unbeaten Alabama, which still has designs on a national championship, travels Saturday to Mississippi State.

The ACC's best bet to put two teams in the BCS would be a title game between an unbeaten Virginia Tech and a one-loss Florida State on Dec. 3 in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Hokies look to make a case for a spot in the Rose Bowl on Saturday in Blacksburg against fifth-ranked Miami.

With both Southern California and UCLA unbeaten in the Pac-10, if they can stay that way, the loser of the crosstown rivalry game Dec. 3 would have a great shot at landing a BCS bid.

It will be tough for the Big Ten to get two teams in the BCS this season because only the winner of Saturday's Wisconsin-Penn State game can finish the season with fewer than two losses.

The Big East and Big 12 Conferences are in the same situation.

And, of course, Notre Dame still is in the mix.

The Fighting Irish (5-2), who play host to struggling Tennessee, need to win out and move up at least two more spots in the BCS standings to be eligible for selection.

The picks:

Today

Pittsburgh (plus 20) at No. 24 Louisville

Cards' Brian Brohm leads nation in passing efficiency ... LOUISVILLE 44-20.

Saturday

Stanford (plus 33) at No. 1 Southern California

Stanford is last team to beat USC at home ... USC 48-14.

No. 2 Texas (minus 28 1â2) at Baylor

Longhorns have won seven straight against Bears and 12 straight road games ... TEXAS 47-13.

No. 5 Miami (plus 6 1â2) at No. 3 Virginia Tech

Hokies need convincing win ... VIRGINIA TECH 22-13.

No. 4 Alabama (minus 17) at Mississippi State

Tide has won four straight vs. Bulldogs ... ALABAMA 28-13.

Appalachian State (no line) at No. 6 LSU

Another blowout on tap for Tiger Stadium ... LSU 55-10.

No. 7 UCLA (minus 9) at Arizona

Bruins have won last four trips to Tucson ... UCLA 38-24.

Tennessee (plus 9) at No. 8 Notre Dame

It's Phillip Fulmer's offense now ... NOTRE DAME 28-21.

N.C. State (plus 13 1â2) at No. 9 Florida State

Teams have split last four meetings ... FLORIDA STATE 30-20.

No. 14 Wisconsin (plus 10 1â2) at No. 10 Penn State

Badgers have won two straight in Happy Valley ... PENN STATE 34-21.

Illinois (plus 34) at No. 12 Ohio State

Buckeyes keep the big plays coming against hapless Illini ... OHIO STATE 50-13.

Vanderbilt (plus 19) at No. 13 Florida

Grind-it-out Gators still have SEC title hopes ... FLORIDA 30-10.

No. 23 California (plus 1 1â2) at No. 15 Oregon

Cal snapped seven-game losing streak to Ducks last season ... OREGON 36-30.

Texas A&M (plus 16) at No. 16 Texas Tech

Banged-up Aggies trying to turnaround disappointing season ... TEXAS TECH 44-24.

No. 17 Auburn (minus 22 1â2) at Kentucky

Tigers have won 14 straight against Wildcats ... AUBURN 38-14.

No. 19 Boston College (minus 4 1â2) at North Carolina

Eagles beat Heels in Continental Tire Bowl last year ... BOSTON COLLEGE 24-14.

Colorado State (plus 7) at No. 20 TCU

Horned Frogs can clinch Mountain West ... COLORADO STATE 32-28.

San Jose State (plus 34) at No. 21 Fresno State

Bulldogs tune up for WAC showdown against Boise State ... FRESNO STATE 55-17.

Missouri (plus 11 1â2) at No. 25 Colorado

Buffs could end North Division race ... COLORADO 34-24.

Last week: 15-3 (straight); 8-10 (vs. points).

Season: 129-35 (straight); 87-66-4 (vs. points).

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