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Conference races to impact BCS lineup, even awful Big East

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The teams at the top of the BCS standings probably won't get much of a test this week, but there are some conference implications in this week's schedule.

Auburn, which has seen the off-field elusiveness of its quarterback tested this week, will face Georgia on the field with a chance to clinch a spot in the SEC title game. The Cam Newton story has been fast-moving this week. In the time it took me to write this column, there were probably three more "developments" in the story, at least two of which were false. This should not have any impact on Auburn in the BCS unless Newton gets suspended and the Tigers get beat.

The other side of the SEC title game will be decided for sure when South Carolina travels to the Swamp to face Florida. USC-East can erase a lot of "nevers" in this one, including that the Gamecocks have never won in the Swamp and have never played for the SEC title.

Unless QB Cam Newton is suspended or Auburn loses, the Tigers' BCS standing likely won't be hurt. (Getty Images)  
Unless QB Cam Newton is suspended or Auburn loses, the Tigers' BCS standing likely won't be hurt. (Getty Images)  
Virginia Tech could clinch the ACC Coastal with both a win over North Carolina and a Miami loss at Georgia Tech.

Oregon is on the road at Cal this week. One thing we know about the Bears is they like blowouts. Seven of their games have been decided by at least 21 points, and they are 4-3 in those games. That will probably be 4-4 after this week.

TCU continues its battle with Boise State for the No. 3 spot when it hosts San Diego State in its final test of the season. After this week, the Frogs go into hiding, with only a game against 1-8 New Mexico left.

Boise will have the floor to itself then to make an impression on voters. I'm not sure they can move the needle much Friday when they face in-state rival Idaho for the last time in the foreseeable future.

The Big East is a train wreck. Pitt's loss to Connecticut on Thursday means the Panthers, at 3-1 in conference play, have only a one-game lead in the conference -- over all seven of the other teams. Everyone else has just two league losses.

No Big East team is ranked in the polls this week, with only a few even receiving votes. The league still does not have a bowl-eligible team, although one will emerge from the South Florida-Louisville game. Despite that, it is still possible all eight teams could become bowl-eligible.

This year for the Big East is by far the worst ever for a major conference. The average computer ranking in the BCS computers is 66.25, slightly below both the Mountain West and the WAC. That has everyone punching their favorite bag again, calling for the league's automatic bid to go away. In fact, many have reported that it is, in fact, in jeopardy.

Not true. There is no provision or process in place to take away an automatic bid from a league that has one. The Big East will have an automatic spot for the next four years. Besides, this is the first bad year for the Big East since 2005. The league suffers from a perception problem, but the reality is, it's the Big 12 that's performed the worst over the past four years among the majors -- not the Big East. And the four-year cycle is how the BCS measures conference performance.

There is a process for a conference without an automatic bid to get one. The earliest that could happen is the 2012 season, based on play from 2008-11. The Mountain West is closest to meeting those standards, but the departure of Utah and BYU pretty much ends any realistic hope of that happening.

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