The road to Championship Saturday, 2010, has had more than its fair share of twists and turns:
• We've seen the defending national champion (Alabama) blow a 24-0 lead and lose at home to Auburn.
• After winning two national championships in three seasons, Florida has stumbled and looks like a poorly coached football team.
• We've seen the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy (Cameron Newton) declared ineligible Tuesday and reinstated Wednesday.
• Because of two missed field goals, we've seen Boise State drop from the BCS Championship Game or the Rose Bowl to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
• We have seen the president of THE Ohio State University talk BCS smack.
So I ask: Does this season have one more twist left in it?
Could we have a repeat of 2007 when No. 1 (Missouri) and No. 2 (West Virginia) both lost on Championship Saturday? That was the day Les Miles, who was NOT going to Michigan, told us to "Have a great day." A month later, Miles was holding the crystal football, symbolic of the BCS national championship. Could something like that happen?
We don't have a Top 10, but we do have five tasty morsels to close out the 2010 regular season:
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What if Oregon/Auburn both lose? Or just one loses? Then TCU looks golden and Armageddon is upon us. Read >>
1. Can the Head Ball Coach make history? Lost in the hubbub of Cameron Newton, who was ineligible for about 24 hours this week, and Auburn's pursuit of the SEC's fifth consecutive national championship, is a little ditty you might have missed. If South Carolina beats Auburn at 4 p.m. on Saturday on CBS, it would give coach Steve Spurrier his seventh SEC championship. That would move Spurrier into second place all-time behind Alabama's Bear Bryant, who won 14 conference titles. Spurrier is currently tied with Georgia's Vince Dooley and John Vaught of Ole Miss.
"I think this would be the sweetest one of all for Steve," said Dooley, whose 1966 Georgia team beat Florida and denied Spurrier a chance to win an SEC championship as a player. "For him to get South Carolina into this position is a remarkable achievement."
Remember that South Carolina has won only one championship (ACC, 1969) in its football history, which began in 1892.
2. Can the Ducks score the knockout punch? Oregon coach Chip Kelly preaches that a football season is like 12-round fight. Every week you prepare to survive and advance to the next round. Earlier this season, Kelly made his point when he showed the ninth round of a classic bout between "Irish" Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti. To boxing aficionados, it is considered one of the best single rounds in the history of the sport. Neither man would back down. When the film was over, Kelly made the point that toughness, above all else, wins out over the course of a long fight. Then he brought out Ward, a friend from Lowell, Mass. "Yeah, that got their attention," said Kelly. Oregon goes to Corvallis on Saturday to play the Civil War with Oregon State. A win puts the Ducks in the BCS Championship Game.
3. The Hokies won't look back: Frank Beamer is not going to think about what might have been. Picked in the preseason Top 10 by just about everybody, the Hokies lost to Boise State in the opener 33-30 when the Broncos scored a touchdown with 1:09 left. Just five days later, Virginia Tech was flat against James Madison and lost 26-21. Since then the Hokies have won 10 straight games and only one opponent (Georgia Tech 28-21) has fallen by less than double digits. Now Beamer's team can win its fourth championship in seven years as a member of the ACC by beating Florida State (9-3) on Saturday in Charlotte. "Yeah, we stubbed our toe getting out of the gate, but I'm proud of this team and the way it has fought back," said Beamer, who is completing his 24th season at Virginia Tech.
4. Will Nebraska leave the Big 12 with a trophy? It has not been the smoothest of final years as a member of the Big 12 for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers (10-2) were thinking national championship before losing at home to Texas 20-13 on Oct. 16. Then there was a devastating loss to Texas A&M (9-6) on Nov. 20 that had the conspiracy theorists out in full force. In that game, the Big 12 officiating crew called 16 penalties on Nebraska and two on Texas A&M. But as tough a year as it has been on the Cornhuskers, it could all end well if Nebraska beats Oklahoma (10-2) in the Big 12 Championship Game and commissioner Dan Beebe hands the trophy to athletics director Tom Osborne. It is kind of seems right that Nebraska would play Oklahoma in its last Big 12 game. For so long Nebraska-OU was THE game in the Big Eight. When the Big 12 was formed, the annual rivalry was lost. "It's just fitting that it's us two at the end," said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.
5. Is UConn ready for a Fiesta? The University of Connecticut has been a Division I-A program for less than a decade, but with a win at South Florida on Saturday the Huskies (7-4) will be headed to a BCS game, very likely the Fiesta Bowl. UConn started 0-2 in the Big East but arrives in Tampa as winners of four straight, including victories over West Virginia (16-13) and Pittsburgh (30-28). In order to get to the Fiesta Bowl, the Huskies will have to beat a USF team coached by Skip Holtz, who was the head coach at UConn from 1994-98. "We're not playing to spoil somebody else's year," Holtz told the Tampa Tribune. "We're playing to make ours." The Bulls (7-4) are coming off their biggest win under Holtz, 23-20 over Miami. A Connecticut loss combined with a win by West Virginia over Rutgers would give the Big East's BCS bid to the Mountaineers.
Watch The Tony Barnhart Show every Tuesday at 9 p.m. on the CBS College Sports Network.