McMurphy's Law: History says LSU or 'Bama will make title game

by | CBSSports.com College Football Insider
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Les Miles will greet Nick Saban on less friendly turf on Nov. 5, when LSU visits 'Bama. (Getty Images)  
Les Miles will greet Nick Saban on less friendly turf on Nov. 5, when LSU visits 'Bama. (Getty Images)  

Congratulations, LSU and Alabama, for being the top two teams in the initial Bowl Championship Series standings.

The good news for the Tigers and Crimson Tide: either the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the initial BCS standings has played in the BCS title game in 11 of 13 years. So chances are very good LSU or Alabama will make it to the BCS title game.

The bad news: only once in 13 years (2005) has both the No. 1 and No. 2 team in the initial BCS standings reached the BCS title game. So the odds are against a rematch of their Nov. 5 regular game between the Tigers and Crimson Tide.

With LSU and Alabama ranked atop the BCS poll, it marked the fourth time in the 14-year BCS history the top two teams in the initial rankings were from the same conference. The other occurrences were the SEC's Florida and Alabama (2009) and the Big 12's Oklahoma and Nebraska (2000 and 2001).

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Trying to predict who will end up in New Orleans for this season's BCS title? Just take a look at the top five teams in the BCS: LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State.

Since 1998, only four of the 26 teams that played in the BCS title game were not ranked in the top five in the initial BCS poll. Those were: Florida (No. 10 in the initial poll, 2008), Florida (No. 6, 2006), LSU (No. 12, 2003) and Ohio State (No. 6, 2002). Does a top-five ranking in the initial BCS poll basically guarantee a BCS bowl berth? Most of the time, yes. Only once since 1998 have fewer than three of the top five teams in the initial BCS poll not received a BCS bowl berth.

In 2008 and 2009 each of the top five teams in the BCS initial standings all finished the year playing in BCS bowls. In the past three years, Boise State is the only team ranked among the top five in the initial BCS standings, which did not reach a BCS bowl. The Broncos, No. 3 in the 2010 initial standings, lost their second-to-last regular season game and ended up in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Since 1998 only one team that was in the top five of the BCS initial ranking failed to play in a bowl game.

The UCLA Bruins hold that distinction. UCLA started the season 6-0, but then lost its next four games and finished 7-4. Since UCLA had played itself out of all the Pac-10 affiliated bowl games, the Bruins did not go to a bowl game that year.

Following are the top five rankings of each year's initial BCS standings with bowl game in parenthesis:

2010

Initial BCS Top 5: 1. Oklahoma (Fiesta), 2. Oregon (BCS title game), 3. Boise State (Las Vegas), 4. Auburn (BCS title game), No. 5 TCU (Rose)

2009

Initial BCS Top 5: 1. Florida (Sugar), 2. Alabama (BCS title game), 3. Texas (BCS title game), 4. Boise State (Fiesta), 5. Cincinnati (Sugar)

2008

Initial BCS Top 5: 1. Texas (Fiesta), 2. Alabama (Sugar), 3. Penn State (Rose), 4. Oklahoma (BCS title game), 5. USC (Rose), 10. Florida (BCS title game)

2007

Initial BCS Top 5: 1. Ohio State (BCS title game), 2. South Florida (Sun), 3. Boston College (Champs Sports), 4. LSU (BCS title game), 5. Oklahoma (Fiesta)

2006

Initial BCS Top 5: 1. Ohio State (BCS title game), 2. USC (Rose), 3. Michigan (Rose), 4. Auburn (Cotton), 5. West Virginia (Gator), 6. Florida (BCS title game)

2005

Initial BCS Top 5: 1. USC (BCS title game), 2. Texas (BCS title game), 3. Virginia Tech (Gator), 4. Georgia (Sugar), 5. Alabama (Cotton)

2004

Initial BCS Top 5: 1. USC (BCS title game), 2. Miami (Peach), 3. Oklahoma (BCS title game), 4. Auburn (Sugar), 5. Florida State (Gator)

2003

Initial BCS Top 5: 1. Oklahoma (BCS title game), 2. Miami (Orange), 3. Virginia Tech (Insight), 4. Georgia (Capital One), 5. Florida State (Orange), 12. LSU (BCS title game)

2002

Initial BCS Top 5: 1. Oklahoma (Rose), 2. Miami (BCS title game), 3. Notre Dame (Gator), 4. Virginia Tech (San Francisco), 5. Georgia (Sugar), 6. Ohio State (BCS title game)

2001

Initial BCS Top 5: 1. Oklahoma (Cotton), 2. Nebraska (BCS title game), 3. UCLA (did not play in bowl), 4. Miami (BCS title game), 5. Virginia Tech (Gator)

2000

Initial BCS Top 5: 1. Nebraska (Alamo), 2. Oklahoma (BCS title game), 3. Virginia Tech (Gator), 4. Miami (Sugar), 5. Florida State (BCS title game)

1999

Initial BCS Top 5: 1. Florida State (BCS title game), 2. Penn State (Alamo), 3. Virginia Tech (BCS title game), 4. Tennessee (Fiesta), 5. Kansas State (Holiday)

1998

Initial BCS Top 5: 1. UCLA (Rose), 2. Ohio State (Sugar), 3. Tennessee (BCS title game), 4. Kansas State (Alamo), 5. Florida State (BCS title game)

BCS Bowl Projections

BCS Title: LSU vs. Oklahoma. The song -- and my BCS title pick -- remains the same. Although this game very easily could be Alabama vs. Oklahoma State.

Fiesta: Oklahoma State vs. Boise State. A one-loss Big 12 runner-up will head to the Arizona desert. Undefeated Boise State, with a top-five ranking, would provide a nice opponent.

Rose: Stanford vs. Wisconsin. How thrilled/furious will Larry Scott and Jim Delany be if the Cardinal and Badgers reach Pasadena with perfect 13-0 records -- and no shot at winning the BCS national title.

Sugar: Alabama vs. Notre Dame. The SEC runner-up lands in New Orleans. Notre Dame still has Stanford on the schedule, so the Fighting Irish need to defeat USC on Saturday to keep their BCS bowl hopes alive.

Orange: Clemson vs. West Virginia. I hope this is the matchup between ACC and Big East champions because while it might be one of the most underrated bowls, I also think it would be one of the most entertaining and high-scoring games featuring Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Geno Smith.

Heisman Forecast

How my Heisman Trophy ballot would look if it was due today:

1. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin. Wilson added a touchdown reception to his Heisman resume on Saturday. Wilson leads the nation in pass efficiency, completing 74 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and one interception while directing the Badgers to a national-best 50.1 points per game. Saturday's game at Michigan State could have a big impact on Wilson's Heisman chances.

2. Andrew Luck, Stanford. For the first time in his career, Luck had back-to-back games with at least 300 yards passing. Luck, who threw for 334 at Washington State, now has at least 300 yards in three of his last four games, after having only four 300-yard games in his previous two seasons. Luck ranks third in passing efficiency with 18 touchdowns and three interceptions.

3. Trent Richardson, Alabama. After having only 37 yards in the season opener against Kent State, Richardson has climbed all the way to No. 4 on the nation's rushing charts. He's now the SEC's leader rusher after six consecutive games with more than 100 yards. In that span, he's averaging 145.8 yards per game.

Tweets of the Week

Some of the best college football-related tweets in the past week pulled from Twitter.

"I'm honestly furious about losing. I ******* hate it." -- Maryland junior defensive lineman AJ Francis Maryland after the Terps blew a 14-point third quarter lead in their 56-45 loss to Clemson.

"We number 1! #LSU." -- LSU freshman linebacker D.J. Welter on Tigers' ranking in first BCS poll.

"Good morning haters." -- Florida sophomore QB Trey Burton two days after the Gators lost their third consecutive game.

"So excited that TEXAS A&M is coming to the SEC its going to make the conference so much better in all sports." -- LSU junior WR Russell Shepard

"blah blah blah blah blah, thats what it sounds like when my amer gov teacher talks." -- South Florida junior DL Anthony Hill.

"Because of twitter I no longer take naps between classes." -- Texas A&M senior DL Eddie Brown.

"Best part about this offense is that we haven't even scratched the surface and we're hungry. The best has yet to come." -- West Virginia junior QB Geno Smith.

"I really liked mike stoops when I visited UofA, great coach with great expectations. He was the best fit for their program. They're trippin." -- Oklahoma sophomore DB Tony Jefferson on the firing of Bob Stoops' brother at Arizona.

"This might be the ugliest shirt of all time but I gotta wear it for a day... Damn @thisisOG http://pic.twitter.com/rkw2nrhC." -- San Diego Chargers OL Stephen Schilling, a Michigan graduate, who has to wear a Michigan State shirt after the Spartans beat the Wolverines.

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