Tag:Missouri
Posted on: September 27, 2009 6:36 pm
 

Shocking news from Baylor

What a shame. Baylor just announced that quarterback Robert Griffin III is out for the season.

Griffin has what the school called "an isolated tear" of the ACL in his right knee. The injury occurred the first quarter of Saturday's win over Northwestern State. This has the potential to wreck Baylor's plans for a bowl.

The school with a 15-year bowless streak is now in danger of making it 16. The Bears gave one back on Sept. 19, losing at home to UConn. At 2-1, Baylor must now find four more victories in a schedule that includes Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Missouri, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.

Griffin was seen as the next big thing in the quarterback-laden Big 12. A big, big shame. No word on if the school is able to seek a redshirt season.


Posted on: September 14, 2009 4:34 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2009 9:54 am
 

Breaking down the polls and Heisman race

USC walks into the belly of the beast, slays Ohio State with a dramatic game-winning drive and picks up two first-place votes in the coaches’ poll. One in AP.

Obviously, Florida is still the overwhelming No. 1 in both polls but I’m already starting to wonder what it would take to pass the Gators if they keep winning. The two teams below them are from different conferences (Texas, USC) and don’t play each other. No. 4 Alabama doesn’t play Florida in the regular season.

At first glance, Florida looks safe. It has 56 of the 60 first-place votes in the AP poll and 56 of the 59 votes on the coaches’ poll. Those numbers didn't change after the Gators mopped The Swamp with Troy, 56-6. 

The other teams getting first-place votes are Texas (one in AP), USC (a combined four) and Alabama (two in AP).

The rest of the way Florida plays only two teams that are currently ranked (LSU and Georgia). Same for Alabama (Ole Miss, LSU). Texas faces five ranked teams (Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Kansas). USC plays one (Cal, Oregon State).

Alabama had a similar lead at No. 1 before it lost to Florida in last year’s SEC title game. The Tide had 58 of the 61 first-place votes going in. After Bama lost and Oklahoma and Florida won their championship games, the final regular-season coaches’ poll was the closest in the BCS era.

Oklahoma (31 first-place votes, 1,482 points) ended up one point ahead of Florida (26 first-place votes, 1,481 points). Third-place Texas had four and 1,408.

Just for grins, I figured up the top six final regular-season first-place vote getters since 2004:

1. USC, 90 1/3 points
2. Ohio State, 62
3.  Oklahoma, 49 1/3
4. Florida, 26
5. LSU, Texas, 11
6. Auburn, 9 1/3

 One of the better poll results Saturday was Florida State beating Jacksonville State. I know, I know, FSU has looked shaky and isn’t ranked.

But this is about BYU. The Cougs need FSU to win as often as possible, aside from this week when the Noles go to Provo. If FSU somehow gets back into the polls, BYU could make a more solid case for playing for the national championship. If it goes undefeated, it would have beaten four ranked teams (Oklahoma, Florida State, TCU and Utah). 

If you’re wondering where this going consider that total would be more than Florida, LSU or USC.

 If the BCS championship game were played today, it would be USC vs. Alabama according to our old friend Jerry Palm. Check out the most accurate BCS projections and collegebcs.com.

 Live by the pass, die by the pass: SMU’s nine interceptions lead the country but it has thrown four interceptions which ties for third-most nationally ... Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen has thrown the most passes this season without an interception, 76 ... Purdue is  home of the leading rusher (Ralph Bolden) and the quarterback who is tied for No. 1 in interceptions. Joey Elliott is tied Tennessee's Jonathan Crompton. Each have six.


The right-now, no-hype, no-b.s., not-what-they-did last year Heisman rankings for this week

Case Keenum, Houston: When he lost his coach (Art Briles who went to Baylor) everyone thought Keenum would go in the tank, or transfer. He bonded immediately with second-year coach Kevin Sumlin who might make him a Heisman finalist. Keenum threw for 366 yards against Oklahoma State as the Cougars beat a top-five team for the first time in 25 years.

Tim Tebow, Florida: Four passing touchdowns and one rushing in the rain against Troy add to the legend.

Colt McCoy, Texas: Three passing touchdowns against Wyoming in Texas’ 15th consecutive non-conference win. That ties a school record.

Max Hall, BYU: A week after beating Oklahoma, Hall gets a rocking-chair game against Tulane. Led the Cougars to scores in seven of eight possessions.

Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh: A workhorse freshman who is averaging 7.4 yards per carry.

 

 

Posted on: September 8, 2009 4:22 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2009 4:32 pm
 

Analyzing the polls

Thoughts on the first regular-season polls of the season:

If the BCS bowls started today (based on compilation of the polls and Jerry Palm’s collegebcs.com)

BCS title game: Alabama vs. USC
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Cal
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. BYU
Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Oklahoma State
Orange Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech

Top 10 in the BCS (Only a few of the computers are available so this is very preliminary but still interesting. These are Palm's standings from collegebcs.com.)

1. USC
2. Alabama
3. Florida
4. Texas
5. Oklahoma State
6. Ohio State
7. BYU
8. Boise State
9. Penn State
10.  LSU


Strange

Florida lost two first-place votes in the AP poll (from 58 to 56) and gained three votes in the coaches poll (53 to 56).


Biggest gainers, most slippage

Brigham Young, up 12 spots in coaches (from No. 24 to No. 12)
Oklahoma down 11 spots in coaches (from No. 3 to No. 14)


Game of the week

No. 3 USC and No. 8/7 Ohio State remains a top 10 game. Ohio State has lost its last five against top five teams. That’s the second-longest streak in school history.


The penalty for playing Charleston Southern

Florida’s first-place margin shrank in both polls  -- from 74 points to 69 in AP and from 80 to 65 points in coaches.


Barely Out

Oregon State No. 26 in AP. Michigan State No. 26 in coaches

New to the AP: Missouri, Cincinnati, Miami. New to coaches: Kansas, Cincinnati, Miami.



Another take

SI's Andy Staples weighs in

Posted on: September 7, 2009 10:01 am
Edited on: September 7, 2009 10:02 am
 

Updating Coaches On The Hot Seat ...

Or at least get new seat cushions, especially for Dan Hawkins, Ron Zook and Al Groh. Those three are the main targets of columnists, fans and message boards after the first week of play. (Note: This is before Miami-Florida State so this post may appear dated by Monday night.)

This ain't intramurals, brother, but it sure looked like it Sunday night in Boulder. Colorado, a 10 1/2-point favorite, was manhandled by in-state rival Colorado State 23-17. And, yes, the score was as misleading as Byron Hout's "internal discipline" at Boise State.

They're all over coach Dan Hawkins for a) sticking with his son Cody at quarterback the entire game and b) leaving one-time program building block Darnell mostly on the bench. Hawkins completed 24 of 40 for 222 yards but still looks like he's too short to see over the line when the rush comes. His dad picked him in a tight battle with Tyler Hansen to be the starter so, if nothing else, you can't doubt a dad's love.

That was one problem. The bigger one was that the Buffs weren't ready to play. Colorado State scooted off to a 17-0 lead in front of stunned Folsom Field fans. CU AD Mike Bohn had said privately that is was very unlikely that Hawkins was even in trouble going into the season. Scratch that. CU can't afford a rebuilding effort that includes a flat offense, an intimidated defense and an unprepared squad.

Zook has to be on the hot seat (again) after his team's performance against Missouri. Sure, he lost preseason All-American receiver Arrellious Benn early on but quarterback Juice Williams looked flat in a 37-9 loss to Missouri. Yes, Missouri's defense surrendered single-digit points to a BCS conference school for only the fourth time since October 2004. (Ironically, two of those performances have been against Colorado.)

Williams did not look comfortable against a defense he had skewered for 42 points in last year's meeting. On the other side, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert is a national player of the week candidate after throwing for 319 yards in his first start. Gabbert averaged 9.7 yards per attempt. Chase Daniel surpassed that average only nine times in his 41 games as a Tiger.

Speaking of national players of the week, please don't overlook William & Mary's B.W. Webb. Bill and Mary's redshirt freshman picked off three passes, returning one for a touchdown, in his team's shocking 26-14 win over Virginia. The immediate reaction in the Georgia Dome press box was whether Groh would last the week.

You can catch all the action here. William & Mary's SID department immediately threw up on an online video of the game. Don't miss the seven -- yes, seven -- Virginia turnovers.

Until the ACC actually starts winning football games the league office ought to institute a media blackout. The ACC was 4-6 in the opening week against non-conference opponents. There's no truth to the rumor that BCS honchos are considering replacing the ACC with the Colonial Athletic Association.

The CAA took two ACC scalps (Richmond beat Duke) and is considered the Big Ten (roughly) of I-AA. William & Mary is ranked No. 14 and Richmond is a former I-AA national champion.

Posted on: September 5, 2009 6:19 pm
 

6 p.m. ET update on the day's action

Big day for the Big 12. Baylor and Missouri have double-digit leads. Oklahoma State leads Georgia 17-10. All three are playing BCS conference opponents. Stayed tuned.

 You got enough Tennessee? Nice debut by Lane Kiffin, even though it was a body-bag game against Western Kentucky.

 As inspiring as Navy’s effort was against Ohio State, that was a horrible call on the two-point conversion. Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs took a three-step drop and threw into three Buckeyes. The ball was picked off and returned for a two-pointer.

At that point, Dobbs was the star of the game because of his arm and his feet. Navy’s electric qb should have been allowed to roll out and have a run/pass option.

 Ohio State showed absolutely nothing scheme-wise in getting ready for USC. Nor should it. Obviously, the playbook is being saved for the Trojans.

 Jim Tressel almost blew it by not going for the field goal on fourth-and-2 from Navy’s 15 with 6:30 left. in Navy territory. The Middies held. On the next play, Dobbs, my new favorite quarterback, threw an 85-yard touchdown pass.

Yes you read that right: A Navy receiver beat two Ohio State defenders down the middle for 85 yards.

This was almost a disaster for Tressel who was trying to vanilla his way into next week. 

 Someone will have to explain to me why, when you’re developing Terrelle Pryor, that backup Joe Bauserman gets a series. I know Bauserman is a hard worker, good athlete and former walk-on who earned a scholarship but those are valuable snaps, especially during the two-minute drill, that Pryor could use.

Can you condemn a guy for his eye black? It looked like Pryor was wearing those stickers below his eyes that read “Mike” and “Vick”.
Posted on: August 12, 2009 1:00 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2009 1:01 pm
 

Five risers and five fallers for 2009

Five risers

Baylor – (See stories on the site) Fifteen seasons without a bowl are about to come to an end if everything breaks right.

Houston – Ten victories for the Cougars are possible in wide-open Conference USA. Case Keenum (5,000 yards passing) is a Heisman candidate. There, I said it. Oklahoma State and Texas Tech had better watch out in September. The Cougars would take a split and have the talent to sweep.

Kansas – The Jayhawks have finished at the top of the standings once since 1968. Forty-one years ago they shared the Big Eight title and went to the Orange Bowl. In 2007, they went 12-1 and shared the Big 12 North title with Missouri. (The Tigers won the division based on its head-to-head victory over the Jayhawks.) No one is expecting KU to go 12-1 again, but it has the stuff to win its first outright title in anything (even a modest division title) since 1930. Nebraska has the easier conference schedule but the Huskers have to play in Lawrence.

Michigan State –  After Ohio State and Penn State, the Spartans might be the pick in the Big Ten. Third-year coach Mark Dantonio has the program trending upward after winning nine games in ’08. Even with the loss of quarterback Brian Hoyer and leading rusher Javon Ringer, there are expectations that Sparty will compete in the Big Ten. Michigan State doesn’t play Ohio State and gets Penn State at home. Linebacker Greg Jones might be the conference’s best defensive player.

Nevada – At last check, the Wolf Pack were the only team in the country to run the Pistol offense. That’s not a good matchup with still-emotionally fragile Notre Dame opening up at home against Nevada. Coach Chris Ault will pull everything out of the bag. Give me quarterback Colin Kaepernick (one of only five players ever to pass for 2,000 and rush for 1,000) and tailback Vai Taua (1,521 yards rushing) and I’ll take my chances.


Five fallers

Auburn – Gene Chizik recruited well and God knows he knows how to roll in a limo. But I’m having a hard time figuring out how new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn makes chicken salad out of chicken spit. The offensive talent isn’t there, just like it wasn’t for Tony Franklin last season. Chizik might do great things. They won’t happen in 2009, though. Look for a repeat of 5-7.

Buffalo – In the frat party that followed the Bulls’ MAC championship, a lot of folks forgot that Buffalo lost six games. It didn’t exactly roll over people. Seven of its 14 games were decided by six points or less. It was outgained in conference play. Point is, 2009 could go either way. This year, MAC rivals will not take the Bulls lightly.

Clemson – The Tigers will find a way to slip off the edge of the cliff, even coming off a 7-5 season. Start with a rookie head coach (in his first full season) Dabo Swinney. A life-size poster of C.J. Spiller is nice but where’s the beef? Baylor (see above) has more all-time draft picks. Tommy was never good enough. The Tigers are favored by some to win the ACC. When they don’t we’ll hear more chants of “1991, 1991 …” the last year Clemson won the league.

Miami – Just when the Canes seemed ready to turn the corner, here comes the schedule from hell. Miami could be a better team than ’08 and still come out of the first four 1-3. And how did AD Kirby Hocutt get roped into having to play Central Florida and South Florida on the road in the same season?

South Florida – There’s nothing wrong, exactly, with the Bulls. I’m just wondering when they’re going to quit teasing. In a wide-open Big East, South Florida could win it, or finish fifth. The program seems to have peaked after winning nine in both ’06 and ’07. Jim Leavitt has the league’s best offensive player (Matt Grothe) and best defensive player (George Selvie) this season. We’re waiting, coach.

Posted on: June 29, 2009 3:01 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2009 12:09 pm
 

Picking the Big 12


The Big 12 South Division race, the Big 12 title game, the Heisman race and the national championship hinged on the conference's three-way tiebreaker. We found out about the 11-year-old rule when Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech each tied at 7-1 in the South Division.

Oklahoma "won" the tiebreaker because it finished the regular season as the highest-ranked team in the division  -- by .0128 of a point in the BCS standings. Instead of reliving the Austin angst, let's just say that one Longhorn suggested that if the tiebreaker rule wasn't changed in the offseason his school ought to pull out of the Big 12.

What's changed? Not much. The rule wasn't changed and Texas is still in the league. At the spring meetings, the Big 12 ADs accepted the coaches' vote that the tiebreaker remain the same. Why?

 One theory is that Texas probably doesn't get much sympathy from the other coaches because ... it's Texas. The school is perceived to have the best of everything so it didn't get much sympathy from schools that don't. Yeah, jealousy sucks.

 There is nothing to be gained for schools like Missouri, Iowa State, Colorado, Baylor, etc., so why change? Hey, the league got two teams in the BCS. To the other schools it doesn't matter who plays in those games as long as the money keeps rolling in.

 The tiebreaker makes sense. Why wouldn't you want your highest rated BCS team to win the tiebreaker? There was some feeling that the SEC tiebreaker is fairer.

In a three-way tie, the SEC drops the lowest-ranked team and decides things head-to-head. But since you're chasing a BCS title, the SEC tiebreaker potentially keeps the highest-ranked team out of a title shot.

The tiebreaker would have been a footnote on the national scene had not Texas and Oklahoma been involved. The rivalry was bitter enough without having to explain why the Horns lost out when they beat the Sooners on the field. Yeah, Oklahoma's fortune might cause a bit of consternation in Austin.

"They got a huge break," Texas' Colt McCoy said.

Like I said, nothing has changed. Texas and OU still hate each other. There is a good chance we could have another tiebreaker train wreck at the end of this season. Only the teams will change.


Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State could all start the season in the top 10. The Red River Shootout on Oct. 17 shapes up as one of the most intense in the history of the rivalry. Just for controversy's sake let's assume the Horns win in Dallas, they still have to play in Stillwater on Halloween. If the Cowboys win they could win out until a Nov. 28 date in Norman. If the Sooners win that one, we're looking at another three-way 7-1 finish.

Who wins it in the BCS tiebreaker? In that scenario, you'd have to like Oklahoma again. The Texas loss would be six weeks old by then and beating Oklahoma State impressively would be the emphatic final statement for the computers the pollsters. That same thing happened last year when OU blew out Texas Tech.

Closer to the field, for the second consecutive year the Large Dozen remains the conference of quarterbacks. It sports a Heisman winner (Sam Bradford), a runner-up (Colt McCoy) and well as 2009 Heisman candidate Todd Reesing of Kansas. You can add Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson, Baylor's Robert Griffin and Texas Tech quarterback du jour Taylor Potts as difference makers.

Just giving you a fair warning, Texas fans. Grow your hair out now. You might be pulling it out in December.

Picking the Big 12 ...


North Division

1. Kansas -- If this were Miami, Dezmon Briscoe, Kerry Meier and Reesing would be on the cover of every preseason mag in the country. Meier is the leading returning receiver in catches per game (10.8). Briscoe is second in receiving yards per game (108.2). Reesing already has led the Jayhawks to an Orange Bowl and is in line to become the school's best quarterback ever. Mark Mangino already has proven he can coach. If a new set of starting linebackers can tackle and if KU can beat either Oklahoma, Texas or Texas Tech (he is a combined 0-9 against the three) this could be a special season. The Jayhawks get the slight edge in the North because the Nebraska game is at home.

2. Nebraska -- Bo Pelini is slowly building Huskerville back to its usual standards. Slowly is the key word because defense is Pelini's thing and the D showed astounding lapses last year. Slowly, because Nebraska has not had a first-team All-American on the defensive line in 12 years. Tackle Ndamukong Suh could break the streak. Some draft boards already have him in the top five. There is little room for error where Pelini is a turned ankle away from having real problems at quarterback. Zac Lee is the guy after Patrick Witt, who was being counted on, left before the spring. A lot of folks think Nebraska has the advantage in the North because of its schedule. I see road trips to Missouri, Baylor, Kansas and Colorado, plus a home game against Oklahoma. Please tell me how that is favorable?

3. Missouri -- The Tigers will take a dip after back-to-back Big 12 North titles. Missouri knows it. The fans know it. The league knows it. The key is trying to make an 8-4 season seem like a success. Six-foot-five Blaine Gabbert takes over for Chase Daniel, only the greatest qb in Missouri history. He would be wise to spread the ball out to 1,000-yard rusher Derrick Washington and receivers Danario Alexander and Jared Perry. The Tigers will score, just not as often. If the defense is shored up at all this team could be on the fringes of contending in the North. At times, the secondary looked like a fire drill. Linebacker All-American linebacker candidate Sean Weatherspoon passed up the draft and will chase the school's career tackles record as a senior.

4. Colorado -- Has Hawk Love turned into Hawk Doubt? Entering his fourth season in Boulder, Dan Hawkins has won only 13 games. The pressure is on to produce (hint: Big 12 North contention and a bowl game). Hawkins isn't backing down, saying this at the senior banquet: "Ten wins, no excuses." The quarterback situation is unsettled with son Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen maybe sharing the job again. Freshman tailback sensation Darrell Scott was upstaged by fellow freshman Rodney Stewart who led the team in rushing. Here's the scary thing: In a league with unrelenting offenses, CU has lost six of its top 10 tacklers.

5. Kansas State -- This isn't the old Big Eight for Bill Snyder. Back in 1989, he was taking over Kansas State from a zero position. This time he is chasing his own legacy. Not to diminish what Snyder accomplished, but back in the early 1990s, Missouri and Kansas were jokes and Oklahoma was sliding. There was no Texas to play two out of every four years. The Big 12 has more depth and strength than the Big Eight as Snyder tries for Miracle In Manhattan II. Snyder got K-State from dregs to the brink of a national championship game in nine years. Will the 69-year-old have that much time this time around?

6. Iowa State -- Iowa State swapped coaches with Auburn. Gene Chizik went. Paul Rhoads came. Rhoads, from nearby Ankeny, seems like he wants to stay awhile. He'll be looking up at the rest of the Big 12 North for a while. Ripping Wally Burham from South Florida to be his defensive coordinator was a huge get for Rhoads. The offense will have a chance with dual-threat Austen Arnaud at quarterback


South Division

1. Texas -- Mack Brown smiled when I told I had his pregame speech ready for the OU game. "We beat the Sooners last year, boys. Now let's go out and get some revenge!" Yeah, it's about that and a lot of things for Brown and the Horns. Except for perhaps some suspect running backs, Texas is loaded. Brown has his best team since the 2005 national championship crew. Hybrid defensive end/linebacker Sergio Kindle should be this season's Brian Orakpo. McCoy is driven not only by the tiebreaker but also his second-place finish in the Heisman. Still, it all boils down to Oct. 17 in Dallas.

2. Oklahoma -- Sam Bradford won the Heisman, became the first quarterback to win back-to-back Big 12 titles and got the Sooners to the national championship game. What is there left to accomplish? Plenty for Bradford who listened to family and advisors and put off the NFL. His body can fill out a bit and it doesn't look like there will be a Matthew Stafford to compete with in the draft this year. Oklahoma's questions are at offensive line and receiver. If this were anywhere else but the Big 12 South, the Sooners would be prohibitive favorites to repeat. With a break here or there, they still might end back up in the national championship game.

3. Oklahoma State -- With apologies to Texas and Oklahoma, this could be the best offense in the Big 12, if not the country. Returning are a 1,500-yard rusher (Kendall Hunter), an All-American receiver (Dez Bryant), and a 65 percent passer with 25 touchdowns (Robinson). The problem remains defense. New defensive coordinator Bill Young is the Cadillac of his profession. Okie State will be better just because of his presence. Perrish Cox is developing into an NFL talent at corner and is one of the nation's best returners.

4. Texas Tech -- The Red Raiders slip back to the 8-4 level this season. You know the drill: Potts will throw for eight million yards. There will be a 1,000-yard receiver or two. Mike Leach will be his usual quote-machine self. However, last season was a once-in-10-year event. There is payback waiting at Texas, at Oklahoma State and at Nebraska.

5. Baylor -- Does any Big 12 school have more upside? Joe Pawelek is an All-Big 12 linebacker. Center J.D. Walton anchors the offensive line now that Jason Smith is gone. But let's be honest, the moment quarterback Robert Griffin followed coach Art Briles to Baylor (from his commitment to Houston), things took off. A sprinter with Olympic aspirations, Griffin gave up the Big 12 track season to concentrate on what should be his breakout season in Waco. If there is a one-man team in the league, this is it. Griffin also was the team's No. 2 rusher. With more weight and more knowledge, Griffin should become the most elusive dual-threat in the Big 12 since Vince Young. At stake is a 14-year bowl drought. That ties for the longest active streak among BCS schools.

6. Texas A&M -- One former Big Eight coach said it during the offseason: This is A&M. It should be able to go over to the Houston high schools and scrounge up a couple of defensive linemen. In Mike Sherman's second season, d-line is a good place to start. The one-time Wrecking Crew was Charmin soft as one of the worst defensive units in the country. After the non-conference games, the Aggies gave up less than 35 once. Once! Nineteen players had surgery in the offseason. The Aggies better get fat early. The season ends with Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas.
 

Posted on: June 4, 2009 1:05 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2009 1:36 pm
 

Picking the Mountain West

The Mountain West needs to focus, look closer. Capitol Hill's favorite conference spent the offseason pitching its case to Congress and challenging the BCS.  

But let's be clear. It was the coaches poll -- the prove-it-on-the-field guys -- that hit Utah with a lead pipe with its final regular-season poll.

The Utes finished No. 7. Seventh, for what turned out to be the nation's only undefeated major-college team. Utah's chances were dead before it got that Sugar Bowl bid. Great result and all that in New Orleans but let's analyze why the Utes couldn't play for it all.

There's a bias, all right. It comes from the coaches. The Harris poll also voted Utah seventh before the bowls but it almost gets a pass. The Harris voters aren't in the business, lining their pockets with bowl money, at the same time denying two major-college teams (Boise was undefeated in the regular season too) a better bowl fate.

The coaches, dear Mountain West, are the ones who have drawn the line -- and it clearly doesn't include teams from below the BCS level. Is that about to change? We'll see with the Mountain West sporting three possible BCS busters again this season (Utah, BYU, TCU). 

Only the top two teams in the BCS play in the national championship. The winner gets the coaches poll automatic No. 1 vote (or is supposed to). 

Heck, Utah was only able to make it up to No. 4 in the coaches after beating Alabama by two touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl.

The BCS might be unfair to the great unwashed non-BCS school but it is unfair mostly because the voting coaches -- by and large -- don't take those schools seriously. (Remember, Utah finished second in the Associated Press media poll. It was fifth among the computers.)

Guess who had the majority of the coaches votes last season? Thirty-seven of the 61 voting coaches came from BCS conferences (61 percent). The power conference schools make up only 55 percent of Division I-A. 

The Mountain West voters were New Mexico's Rocky Long (Utah, No. 7 before the bowls); TCU's Gary Patterson (No. 7) and Utah's Kyle Whittingham (No. 5). Whittingham voted his Utes No. 1 after the Sugar Bowl.

The Mountain West has done its best to make all of this clear.  Unfortunately, it will be another five seasons, at least, before any kind of playoff can be staged.

Until then, there is a hope. Short of a playoff, we learned in January that the Mountain West could gain automatic BCS access by 2012
The noble fight goes on in 2009 with Utah expected to repeat as conference champions. Don't tell TCU and BYU, though.

Picking the Mountain West ... 

1. Utah -- Give Whittingham credit. He didn't mope around after getting shafted. He didn't skip town for a bright, shiny new job. He stuck to the task. Losing quarterback Brian Johnson, kicker/punter Louie Sakoda and defensive end Paul Kruger won't be hard with 24 redshirt freshmen returning, not including three players back from missions. Remember the name Corbin Louks at quarterback. 

2. BYU -- Along the Wasatch Range they're talking about the Cougars the way the rest of the nation is talking about Utah. Coach Bronco Mendenhall has won 32 games the past three seasons while winning two Mountain West titles. This year's team is loaded and gets the Utes at home to finish the regular season. Best sign? The last four times BYU has had a senior quarterback, it has won the league. Senior Max Hall is the Mountain West's best at his position. Defensive end Jan Jorgensen is the league's career sack leader.

3. TCU -- Coach Gary Patterson specializes in taking high school running backs and turning them into defensive terrors. Get ready, then, for All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes to cause more damage. Hughes was handed a defensive number when he got to Fort Worth and went to work. Last year he led the nation with 15 sacks. TCU's unit as a whole led the nation giving up only 47 rushing yards. If the Frogs are going to jump over Utah, they can't get bogged down offensively. Last year's 13-10 loss in Salt Lake City was a killer.

4. Air Force -- It has been a seamless transition from Fisher DeBerry to Troy Calhoun who has won 17 games in his first two seasons in Colorado Springs. The option offense continues to be the great equalizer. The Falcons should win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. Beyond that, we're wondering if Air Force is the team that started 8-2 in '08 or the one that lost its last three.

5. UNLV -- Mike Sanford likely saved his job by winning five games last season. Bowl eligibility is a definite possibility this season. That's saying a lot for a program that has had one winning season in the last 14. Ryan Wolfe is the leading returning receiver in the league (88 catches, six touchdowns).

6. New Mexico -- First-time, first-year coach Mike Locksley has made his share of waves since arriving in the high desert. He injected some energy in what had become a lazy program. He used his recruiting prowess to snatch a few players from the Washington, D.C. area. Above all else, Locksley, the former Illinois OC, needs a Juice Williams-like presence at quarterback. Recruit Emmanuel Yeager left school recently to go back to D.C. That might have set the position back considering incumbent Donovan Porterie was recruited by Rocky Long to run the option. 

7. Colorado State -- Steve Fairchild took the Rams from 3-9 to 7-6 (and a bowl win) in his first season. That tied for the most wins since 2002. The defense must get better after giving up 30 points per game. A veteran offensive line could spring junior tailback John Mosure for a big year.

8. Wyoming -- Dave Christensen, his Hog and his spread offense blew into Laramie from Missouri promising  more appealing football. Christensen was the OC at Missouri for Chase Daniel and the Tigers' record-setting offense. Last season Wyoming's offense averaged less than 13 points per game. There's no one on the roster close to resembling Daniel. Let's hope that Christensen's motorcycle isn't the program's most entertaining feature.

9. San Diego State -- Still trying to figure out why Brady Hoke made this lateral move from Ball State to take this job. Sure, Ball State wouldn't bump up salaries for Hoke's assistants. Is that a reason to go to the worst program in the Mountain West? Brady, your career is at risk here. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com