BCS bowl projections halfway through the season:
BCS championship: Oregon* vs. Alabama*
Rose: Boise* vs. Iowa*
Fiesta: Nebraska* vs. West Virginia*
Orange: Florida State* vs. Ohio State
Sugar: Auburn vs. Oklahoma
Notes: Oregon and Alabama win out to advance to the championship game. Alabama beats both LSU and Auburn assuring that there will be no undefeated teams in the SEC. It then beats the SEC East champion to advance. Despite one loss, it vaults over undefeated Boise, the TCU/Utah winner and perhaps even Oregon. It doesn't matter for the Ducks who stay in the top two because undefeated Boise, Utah/TCU can't catch it in the BCS standings. Meanwhile, other current undefeateds Auburn, LSU, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Missouri also lose locking in Oregon. Alabama would be playing for the first back-to-back national championship since Nebraska in the 1990s. Oregon would be playing for its first.
--The Fiesta Bowl would gladly welcome Nebraska which it hasn't had since 2000. West Virginia would be making a second trip to the Valley of the Sun in four years.
--The Orange Bowl gets one of its more intriguing matchups as Florida State returns to the big time returning to a BCS bowl for the first time since 2005. Ohio State has to settle for an at-large berth after failing to win a sixth consecutive Big Ten title. The Buckeyes return to the Orange for the first time since 1977.
--The Sugar is filled with two at-large participants. Oklahoma returns to New Orleans for the first time since the 2004 (2003 season) national championship game loss to LSU.
Ranking the remaining MICs
11. Urban Meyer, Florida: Let's not forget that 20 years ago, Florida football didn't matter. Post-Zooker, Meyer made it a bigger national power than it was under Spurrier.
12. Joe Paterno, Penn State: No matter how his career ends, JoePa will leave the program in great shape.
13. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: An example of having patience with a good coach. Beamer started out terribly but the administration allowed him stay. Now he's one of the best in the country.
14. Al Golden, Temple: The nation's hottest young coach has got it back to the point where the Big East should consider inviting back the Owls.
15. June Jones, SMU: The first and only coach to lead the Ponies to a bowl game since the death penalty. That's good enough for me.
16. Mike Riley, Oregon State: Beavers win eight or nine each year and are always a factor in the Pac-10 race. Don't forget the Civil War is in Corvallis this year.
17. Larry Blakeney, Troy: In the same category as Snyder and Paterno on a smaller scale. Would Troy even exist without Blakeney?
18. Pat Hill, Fresno: Never won a WAC title but kept the Bulldogs relevant to the point that they're jumping to the Mountain West.
19. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State: It's early but all the signs are good that FSU will soon be back on the national scene.
20. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU: Like Meyer, Bronco is allowed a down year.
21. Bo Pelini, Nebraska: If the NFL doesn't come calling, Nebraska will begin winning championships again under Bo.
22. Bret Bielema, Wisconsin: Saturday's win allowed BB to make this list. Ohio State was his second win over a ranked Big Ten team. Barry Alvarez' hand-picked guy is trending upward.
23. Greg Schiano, Rutgers: The momentum has slowed since 2006 but Rutgers is back among the living under Schiano to the point that the Big Ten is sniffing around.
24. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern: Operating with a low budget against Big Ten giants, the Wildcats are more than competitive with Fitz.
Oregon set the school season scoring record Thursday in the season's seventh game. The Ducks have 386 points and are averaging more than 55 points per game ... Strange how two Big Ten programs defined themselves by invoking Vince Lombardi this week. First Minnesota AD Joel Maturi said, "It's not like he would be replacing Vince Lombardi," of the new coach after firing Tim Brewster. Then Rich Rodriguez said this about his struggling defense: "Listen, Vince Lombardi could come too and [it's] not going to fix some of the problems we have on defense." ... Ohio State (at Minnesota) hasn't lost consecutive games since 2004 ... TCU has lost one fumble this season ... Texas A&M has lost 12 consecutive televised games dating back to 2008. The Aggies play at Kansas Saturday on Fox Sports Net ...
In this Week of the Head Shot in the NFL, it's interesting to note that Arkansas' Ryan Mallett was knocked out of Saturday's game with a concussion. He practiced Tuesday and will play Saturday against Mississippi ... The last six Auburn-LSU games have been decided by six points or less ... Mississippi State is ranked for the first time in nine years ... Until BYU kicked a field goal in Saturday's 31-3 loss, TCU had not allowed a point in almost three games -- 175 minutes, 10 seconds. A third straight complete shutout would have marked the first time in college football since Boston College in 1992.