Weekend Review: All-SEC BCS title game is all but a certainty now

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Nov. 19 was supposed to be that uneventful weekend when we could catch our breath and get ready for the final two weeks of the regular season.

Oops.

When the history of this season is written, we will look back on a 24-hour period where three of the top five and four of the top seven got beat, turning the BCS into the SEC West Invitational.

So, in the immortal words of Slim Pickens in Blazing Saddles: What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on here?

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Here is what we learned:

1. An All-SEC BCS championship game is no longer just possible. It is probable: For the first time in the BCS era (1998 to the present), one conference holds the top three positions in the latest standings. No. 1 LSU hosts No. 3 Arkansas on Friday. If LSU (11-0) beats the Razorbacks, the Tigers go to the SEC Championship Game to play Georgia (9-2). If Arkansas beats LSU and Alabama loses to Auburn, then Arkansas goes to Atlanta.

But if Arkansas beats LSU and Alabama beats Auburn, there will be a three-way tie for the SEC West title. The seventh and last tiebreaker will have to be used, and that's the BCS standings.

I won't go through all the possible combinations, but know this: when the BCS standings come out next Sunday, the lowest ranked of the three teams is eliminated. Then the winner of the head-to-head matchup in the regular season gets the trip to Atlanta.

Thus, it is possible for Arkansas to be No. 1 in the BCS and not go to the SEC title game if Alabama (which beat Arkansas 38-14) is No. 2. Yes, that's true. I double checked it with the SEC office.

Bottom line: with the top three teams in the BCS from the SEC and with doubts about No. 4 Oklahoma State and No. 5 Stanford (who struggled to beat Cal), I believe it is now likely two of those SEC teams will meet for the BCS championship in New Orleans on Jan. 9.

2. Penn State's kids are showing a lot of guts: Chances are Penn State won't win at Wisconsin on Saturday to capture the Legends Division and a berth in the first Big Ten Championship Game. Wisconsin, which lost to Michigan State and Ohio State on two Hail Marys, seems to have found its sea legs again and should win at home. But the Penn State players, given everything they have been through, showed me a lot by going to Ohio State and winning on Saturday. There was debate last week on whether Penn State should even go to a bowl. I say these kids didn't do anything wrong and have been thrown into an impossible situation created by the adults. Honor the victims at every opportunity and make the trip with great sensitivity. But the Penn State players deserve to go to a bowl.

3. Will somebody just wake me up when the Big East crowns a champion? There are two weeks left in the regular season and five -- count 'em, five -- Big East teams are tied in the loss column with two. Rutgers, Cincinnati and West Virginia have the fewest overall losses in the conference with three. It seems more than likely that for the second straight year the Big East is going to send a team with four losses to a BCS bowl while Boise State, at 11-1, is headed to the Nobody Goes There in December Bowl. The rank-and-file fans do not understand this. They want to know why the best teams don't go to the best bowls. I can explain it but, quite frankly, the explanation is getting tired and people are getting tired of this system. Bowl attendance and viewership will reflect that.

4. Kudos to Yale's Patrick Whitt: In an age when all of us are so self-centered, when it's "all about us," Yale quarterback Patrick Whitt made a most unselfish decision last Saturday. Whitt had a choice. He could go to Atlanta to interview for the Rhodes Scholarship and potentially fulfill one of his academic goals. Or he could play in Saturday's Harvard-Yale game. But he couldn't do both. The Rhodes Scholarship folks apparently aren't flexible and would not reschedule the interview. Apparently there was no way to get Whitt to Atlanta and back in time for the game, which is something other scholar football players, like Florida State's Myron Rolle, have been able to do. Rolle did his Rhodes interview in Birmingham and was able to make it for the start of the second quarter of a game against Maryland in College Park. That game, however, was at night. Whitt decided to keep his commitment to his teammates. Yale lost 45-7 and Whitt did not have a good day (three interceptions). But that's not the point. He'll never forget playing that game and I'll bet his teammates will never forget the sacrifice he made to be with them.

5. RGIII has got to get a trip to New York: Through the sheer force of his talent and will, Robert Griffin III led Baylor to the school's first-ever win over Oklahoma in 21 tries. Griffin threw for 479 yards and four touchdowns, including a 34-yarder to Terrance Williams with eight seconds left to win the game. Hopefully enough Heisman voters saw it to net Griffin a trip to New York because he certainly deserves it.

Watch The Tony Barnhart Show on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on the CBS Sports Network.


Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to CBSSports.com. He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.
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