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Alphabet Soup: The BCS Gets An A

It's that time of year where we put the BCS under the microscope and figure out what went right and what went wrong. It doesn't always work out this way, but at least for one year, the system gets an `A.'

The only team with a real gripe here is Oregon, but even they don't have much complaining ground to walk on. They would if Notre Dame had gotten in the BCS under Rule 11.4.2 (a): the (in)famous "We Heart Notre Dame & Bow To Their Fan Base" rule. But Notre Dame's qualification was legit under the rules that all the teams, including Oregon, agreed to. Remember, if a team from a non-major BCS conference finishes in the top 6 of the BCS rankings, they automatically qualify. Notre Dame, like Utah last year, finished at #6 and gets the automatic bid. It's fair, and this year, it comes at Oregon's expense. Oregon (#5 BCS), as it turns out, finds itself in Cal's shoes from last year. Last year Cal was sandwiched between #4 Texas (teams in the top 4 of the BCS automatically qualify) and #6 Utah (non-major BCS conference in the top 6 get automatic bids). After incessant bitching about their rightful place ahead of Texas, they got pummeled by Texas Tech. Advice to Oregon: knock out Oklahoma. People will remember next time there's a close call and you're involved.

With the introduction out of the way, let's take a quick sneak peek at the upcoming BCS games.

Rose Bowl
(1) USC vs (2) Texas

Sometimes, it all works out. The national media wanted this game. Many, many fans wanted this game. God knows Burnt Orange Nation wanted this game. And believe us, it's hard to cheer for USC; but cheer we did. Well, we got it. We now get the month of hype, the ridiculous anticipation, the endless trash talking. It's what sports are all about. And we love it. This is the dream game, and we're honored to be a part of it.
Grade: A+

Sugar Bowl
(7) Georgia vs (11) West Virginia

The only other BCS game featuring two teams with 10 wins. It's fun to knock the Big East, but the Mouintaneers are getting unfairly lumped in with a bunch of bums. They're not a bad football team by any means and provide a worthy test for the SEC champs. For Georgia, it's fitting that they're in this game. They were the best team in the SEC this year, and only a D.J. Shockley injury kept them from making a run at being "This Year's Auburn."
Grade: A-

Fiesta Bowl
(6) Notre Dame vs (4) Ohio State

Oh come on--you know you're intrigued by this game. We'll get to find out, finally, which of these squads is overrated--Notre Dame's offense or Ohio State's defense. Or, ideally, maybe neither is. We could be all set up for a truly classic battle here, where both teams play well in every aspect of the game. The game features two premier coaches, an elite defense (OSU), an elite offense (ND), and a whole lot of tradition. I wish this were the late game on January 3rd.
Grade: A

Orange Bowl
(3) Penn State vs (22) Florida State

You can start your Gerriatric Bowl jokes now, but if you're like me, you were impressed with Florida State on Saturday night. Not just for knocking the obnoxious Hokies out of the BCS, but for playing with that old Florida State swagger. And Bobby Bowden? Christ, I haven't seen him that animated since the early 1990s. And if you can't be happy for ole Joe Paterno getting to the BCS, you're probably going to get a lump of coal in your stocking on Christmas morning. This should be a fun game between two solid teams, with a good storyline and a feel good ending. And don't forget: no Hokies. That's great.
Grade: A

All in all, it's going to be a delightful New Year. Thank you, BCS.