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National Columnist

Removing Oregon from schedule could be double-edged sword for Kansas State

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Oregon fans are frustrated and angry, and they're right.

The Ducks were passed in the BCS standings this week by Kansas State because the BCS computers hate the Ducks' schedule. And the computers are right, too: Oregon's nonconference schedule is awful, with games against Arkansas State, Fresno State and Tennessee Tech.

Presumably, Savannah State could't play Oregon.

Definitely, Kansas State couldn't.

That's where the 2012 BCS story goes sideways. It's an outlandish plot twist that reads like fiction -- a comedy, but a dark one -- but it's 100 percent true: Kansas State passed Oregon in the BCS standings because Oregon's nonconference schedule lacks a marquee opponent; Oregon's nonconference schedule lacks a marquee opponent because Kansas State canceled a visit this season to Autzen Stadium.

Kansas State and Oregon are the two leading candidates to play Alabama (or Florida) in the national championship game.

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The Kansas State-or-Oregon debate could be decided in December by the BCS computers. They were supposed to play this season in Part II of a home-and-home series that would have started last year in Manhattan, Kan., but the series was called off in 2010. It was canceled "by mutual agreement," according to Kansas State.

And technically that's true. There was mutual agreement: Oregon had the chance last season to open the season against LSU, and asked Kansas State to move that 2011 game. Kansas State, though, had an issue of its own: With the Big 12 adding a ninth game to its conference schedule in 2011, Kansas State asked Oregon to simply cancel the series. Oregon agreed, just as Oregon agreed when Georgia asked (for other reasons) to cancel a two-game series with the Ducks in 2015-16. Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said in 2010 there was "mutual agreement" to cancel the series, but that's another technicality. Georgia wanted out and Oregon allowed it to happen, even allowed Georgia to save face by calling the decision "mutual."

Same thing with Kansas State. The games were canceled. And it was mutual.

But the trigger was pulled, ultimately, by Kansas State.

Put down your pitchforks, Kansas State. I've got nothing but love for you, and for your coach, and for your quarterback, and for your whole damn team. I was there Saturday when Kansas State destroyed West Virginia, and I loved my first in-person look at Kansas State football. Bill Snyder is a classy man, one of those rare times when you can honestly mean it when you say, "He's as impressive off the field as he is on it." And on the field Bill Snyder is a Hall of Famer, or will be, for building Kansas State into a national powerhouse in the 1990s and then coming out of retirement to rebuild Kansas State into a national powerhouse now.

Ripping Kansas State or Bill Snyder? Not me. But facts are facts, and the fact is, Kansas State and Oregon didn't play this season because Kansas State asked out. I'm not saying it was cowardly. I'm just saying, it happened. Oregon had that LSU issue, and Snyder has his scheduling philosophy, and this is what happened. But there were unintended consequences.

At the moment Oregon looks like a victim, but only at the moment. Oregon fans are nervously hoping it will all work out, and it probably will. In two months the computers will be more smitten with the Ducks, whose schedule gets tougher. Kansas State's schedule, meanwhile, has peaked. Regardless of what the BCS standings say this week, undefeated Oregon probably would be ahead of undefeated Kansas State at the end of the regular season.

Given that, who really got screwed by Kansas State's decision not to play Oregon?

Kansas State.

Kansas State didn't have to play Oregon, true, but there's another angle to consider -- Oregon didn't have to play Kansas State. I'm not at all convinced Oregon would have beaten the Wildcats, especially not in September in one of the first career starts for Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota. You saw what Kansas State did to Geno Smith and West Virginia, right? On the road, at West Virginia? Clearly the Mountaineers are flawed and Smith was anointed the Heisman frontrunner way too soon, but Kansas State is ferocious, smart, tough, fearless, physical.

Kansas State could well have beaten Oregon, but we'll never know. The computers are telling us now which team is better, and the computers have chosen Kansas State, but they'll revisit the issue every week -- and they'll spit out another answer in a couple of months, is my guess.

In the meantime we wait. And we wonder who would've won if Kansas State had played Oregon -- and which school will be sorry that we'll never know.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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