Politics and sports don’t mix? Take a look at the BCS poll

Jeff Stell

With one of the closest presidential elections in history raging, let’s stay in the spirit of hotly-contested battles and take a look at the race for the top two spots in the Bowl Championship Series.

While there are two main candidates going for the Oval Office, five teams have a realistic shot at playing for the national championship. Each of these five teams is busy doing its own method of campaigning — simply winning football games.

The teams involved in this Race to Miami are Oklahoma, Nebraska, Florida, Florida State and Miami.

Florida is the state that is going to be the deciding factor in the election, and the Sunshine State will also play a major role in the BCS as the title game will be played in Miami at the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3.

On a first look, the BCS appears to be about as easy to figure out as calculus, but I’ll break it down so you have a better idea what will decide who plays for the national title in January.

The BCS rankings involve four factors: the two polls (AP and ESPN coaches); eight computer rankings; strength of schedule and number of games lost.

The four components are added, and the average number decides the team’s ranking — the lower, the better. Oklahoma is No. 1 in the newest BCS poll with a ranking of 2.67, while Florida State is second at 6.42.

Is this the solution? Well, last year FSU and Virginia Tech ran the table and provided college football fans with one of the best title games in recent memory, and Peter Warrick and Michael Vick showed why they were the two best players in college football.

Before any of the teams start looking ahead to Miami, all five must win critical games and some may need some help.

The college football season is entering the stretch run, and here’s a profile of the five teams hoping to hoist the large crystal Sears Trophy on January 3.

1. Oklahoma (8-0) — the Sooners are the lone unbeaten team in college football and only need to keep winning to find themselves in the Orange Bowl.

The Sooners’ sizable point margin over the Seminoles in the BCS poll can be attributed to blowout victories over Texas, Kansas State and Nebraska.

It won’t be easy for the Sooners to stay unbeaten, as a trip to Texas A&M, and a possible rematch with either Kansas State or Nebraska in the Big 12 title game, remains on the schedule.

The major reason behind the Sooners’ resurgence is the arm of quarterback Josh Heupel. The senior has thrown for 2,507 yards and 15 touchdowns.

2. Florida State (9-1) — the defending national champion Seminoles are ranked ahead of Miami in the BCS, despite the fact that the Hurricanes won their annual showdown. The Seminoles hold the No. 2 spot over Miami by a slim 6.42 to 6.81 advantage.

The Seminoles own victories over Georgia Tech, North Carolina State and Clemson, but their biggest victory could be yet to come. The Seminoles play Florida, ranked fifth in the BCS, next weekend, and a victory would solidify the ‘Noles as the No. 2 team in the BCS

Averaging 558.9 yards of total offense per game, the Seminoles brag the best offense in the nation. Leading the attack is 28-year-old quarterback Chris Weinke, who leads the nation with 3,490 yards passing and also has 25 touchdown passes and a quarterback rating of 165.7.

3. Miami (7-1) — the Hurricanes are ranked ahead of FSU in both the AP and ESPN polls, but not in the BCS, a fact that many college football fans feel is asinine.

One factor hurting the ‘Canes is that they started the season with a victory over McNeese State. Playing a Division I-AA school is a no-no in the eyes of the BCS and the ‘Canes could pay the price in the long run.

The Hurricanes will need to win their last three games, home games with Pitt and Boston College and a road game with Syracuse. They may wind up needing help because the two teams ahead of them play tougher competition, hurting the ‘Canes’ chances to move up the BCS ladder.

The two big victories the ‘Canes have in their possession are home wins over Virginia Tech and FSU with their loss coming at Washington.

The ‘Canes are as close to FSU as Bush and Gore are, but may need some Ralph Nader type help to play in their home city for the big prize.

4. Nebraska (8-1) — the Huskers could decide their own fate in the next month. The Huskers face Kansas State Saturday with a spot in the Big 12 championship game on the line, where they could get a possible rematch with Oklahoma.

The Huskers are just under three points behind Miami for the third spot but could move past the ‘Canes with victories over both the Wildcats and Sooners.

Last weekend, the Huskers bounced back from a 31-14 loss to Oklahoma with a 56-17 thrashing of Kansas. The Huskers have been led on the season by quarterback Eric Crouch, who is dangerous in all areas.

5. Florida (8-1) — the Gators suffered an early season loss at Mississippi State but have quietly crept back into contention with four straight wins and still have life in the title hunt with a BCS rating of 11.18.

The Gators host South Carolina Saturday before traveling to Tallahassee to take on FSU next weekend. The Gators still have a date in the SEC Championship Game against an opponent yet to be determined.

If the Gators take care of business and Oklahoma falls, you just might see Steve Spurrier throwing his visor around the sidelines in the Orange Bowl.

There is a group of teams that still has one loss that has a real slim chance. Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Virginia Tech compose the foursome of longshots.

Now, we as Americans don’t have a say in this race, like we do in the presidential election, but I guarantee this will be a lot more fun to watch unfold.