SUGAR AND SPICE
Miami's 31-7 loss at Virginia Tech made a mess of the BCS picture
(chart, left), which almost always seems to be good news for
Florida State. The Seminoles have a history of emerging from BCS
chaos to play for the national championship.
In 1998 they had one loss but got the Fiesta Bowl invitation over
another one-loss team, Kansas State. In 2000 the Seminoles went
to the Orange Bowl even though they had the same record as Miami,
a team that had beaten them earlier in the season.
It's not hard to imagine the same scenario occurring this year.
The Seminoles' win over Notre Dame, coupled with Miami's loss,
moved Florida State behind USC and just ahead of Miami in the BCS
ratings. If the Seminoles win their three remaining games,
they'll most likely pass the Trojans and stay ahead of the
Hurricanes (Miami beat Florida State 22-14 on Oct. 11) because of
their tougher schedule. If that happens, the BCS will have failed
again, but don't expect any tears in Tallahassee.
A year ago, Notre Dame fans thought of coach Tyrone Willingham in
relation to former coaches Bob Davie and Gerry Faust the same way
someone who's found the perfect spouse reflects on a previous
marriage that had gone sour. But lately the Fighting Irish have
looked no better than the mediocre teams from those dark times.
After his first 21 games under the Golden Dome, Willingham is
12-9, the latest loss coming as the Irish were booed at home
while they were routed 37-0 by Florida State to fall to 2-6. By
comparison, Faust was 11-9-1 and Davie was 14-7 at the same
It's unfair to pass final judgment on Willingham until he's had a
chance to stock the team with his own recruits. However, it's
worth noting that Willingham's Stanford career had a similar
pattern, with early success followed by a pair of down years
before the Cardinal became a solid Pac-10 team. Another of
Willingham's predecessors, Lou Holtz, was only 13-8 after 21
games at Notre Dame. He lost two more in a row before winning 41
of his next 46. Eventually Willingham will have to produce a
Florida's 16-13 win over Georgia left the Gators, Bulldogs and
Tennessee with two conference losses each in the SEC East and set
up a potentially fascinating resolution to the division race. If
there is a three-way tie (each team is 1-1 against the other
two), the champ could be determined by the final tiebreaker--a
vote of the conference athletic directors.
Imagine the possibilities. There could be more alliances and
vengeful tactics than on an entire season of Survivor. (The ADs
at the three schools involved won't vote.) Would the heated
rivalry between Tennessee and Alabama influence Crimson Tide AD
Mal Moore's vote? There's no telling what would happen with a
secret ballot. That's why logic says the better alternative would
be to award the title to the team with the highest BCS ranking.
But it would be much more entertaining to let the ADs hash it
N.C. State sophomore tailback T.A. McLendon vomited before
Saturday's game with Virginia, which his teammates knew was a
good sign. "We win every time he throws up," says wideout
Jerricho Cotchery. McLendon had 216 total yards and the Wolfpack
won 51-37.... LSU may be the most overlooked one-loss team in the
country, but not in the mind of Louisiana Tech coach Jack
Bicknell, whose team lost to the Tigers 49-10. Says Bicknell, "We
played Miami, and I promise you, they are better than Miami."
COLOR PHOTO: MICHAEL CONROY/AP (SAM) Florida State's P.K. Sam
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER (WILLINGHAM) Willingham
COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES (ZOOK) Florida coach Ron Zook