Auburn has enjoyed a few favorable plot twists in its rise to No. 3 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings.
Last Saturday, Chris Davis submitted one of the most memorable endings in college football history, returning a missed field goal more than 100 yards for the winning points on the final play in a 34-28 victory over rival and then-No. 1 Alabama.
In the Tigers’ previous game, two weeks before that, it was a deflected 73-yard touchdown pass from Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis in the final minute (“The Immaculate Deflection”) that gave Auburn a 43-38 win over Georgia.
When a team gets those types of extraordinary breaks — or even when it improves to 11-1 after a 3-9 season — it must start feeling that it’s their year. But according to ESPN’s Brad Edwards, the network’s resident BCS guru, Auburn needs one more twist to go its way should the top two teams — No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Ohio State — win their conference championship games this weekend. And it may be the most improbable of all.
“From everything I’ve learned from watching these computers operate over the last several years, I don’t think that Auburn is going to gain much more, if any, ground on Ohio State computer-wise,” Edwards said, “and because of that, there’s a ton of ground they would have to make up in the polls to finish ahead of them.”
As the third-ranked team in all three components of the BCS formula — the USA Today/Coaches’ Poll, the Harris Poll, and the computer rankings — it’s going to be extremely difficult for Auburn to jump the Buckeyes if Ohio State beats Michigan State in the Big Ten championship, Edwards said. And that’s presuming Auburn beats No. 5 Missouri in the SEC title game.
“Auburn, if you do the math, is going to need approximately 75 percent of voters to have them ahead of Ohio State on their final ballots for them to finish ahead of them in the BCS,” Edwards said. “It’s still a significant amount that would have to change.”
This much we do know: It will be a fascinating Saturday of football.
Nomar Garciaparra to LA
It might have been lost a little among all of the transactions that rattled the baseball world this week, but the Dodgers acquired another former Red Sox star.
Nomar Garciaparra, who spent the past four years as a baseball analyst at ESPN, left the network to join SportsNet LA, the Dodgers’ new regional sports network backed by Time Warner Cable.
Garciaparra, who proved an engaging analyst on ESPN despite an often contentious relationship with the media during his 14-year playing career, will serve as a commentator on the pregame and postgame programs as well as filling a still-undefined role on Dodgers radio and television broadcasts.
Garciaparra’s departure from ESPN, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times, might seem surprising on the surface, if only because a prominent role on a network with such a national platform is so coveted. But Garciaparra, who played three years for the Dodgers, is a native of Whittier, Calif., and the Dodgers and their new regional sports network are apparently sparing no expense.
The Times also reported that SportsNet LA was pursuing former Dodgers ace Orel Hershiser, who is currently a superb analyst on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcasts. If Hershiser does leave, it would not be a surprise to see Curt Schilling slide into that role.
Talking a good game
New Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s reputation as a favorite in those annual “baseball’s most hated player’’ polls precedes him, but it’s apparent that he has a promising career in the electronic media ahead of him should he pursue one.
He was a standout guest analyst on Fox’s baseball coverage this past postseason, and came across as affable, self-aware, and forthcoming in an interview on WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan” (and Minihane) program Wednesday morning. (He will probably regret revealing that he doesn’t mind being asked for autographs when he’s out to dinner.)
Pierzynski, who was heard regularly on WEEI years ago as a regular on Todd Wright’s overnight “Up All Night” program, would be a smart addition as a weekly guest on any program.
Pulling the switch
A couple of readers have checked in recently to express confusion about Fox 25’s listings for its Sunday NFL game (or games, if it has a doubleheader). Three weeks ago, Fox 25 listed Packers-Giants as its 4:25 game on its website (and relayed the same information to the Globe), only to show the 49ers-Saints game.
Earlier this week, the Giants-Chargers matchup was listed, though it was later switched to the matchup that actually will be shown, the marquee 49ers-Seahawks game.
Here’s what two sources at Fox 25 told me about how the process works: regional game assignments and decisions to switch to more competitive games come from Fox Sports national, with the local affiliate having no say in which game it will ultimately show. (That isn’t the case at all networks; CBS affiliates have had a say in which games they show.)
Fox Sports has been known to make late switches with a game, particularly if it has sudden appeal in a specific market. When that happens, viewers can be left confused if the listings aren’t updated.
Fox 25 said it will be diligent in making sure its listings are updated.
A school day
As has been recent tradition, Comcast SportsNet New England will broadcast all six MIAA Super Bowl matchups Saturday from Gillette Stadium. CSNNE resident baritone Gary Tanguay will handle the play-by-play — approximately 15 hours of it — while 98.5 The Sports Hub midday cohost Andy Gresh will provide color. The games are produced by Kraft Sports Productions. Coverage begins at 9 a.m., with the final game kicking off at 8 p.m. Between each game and during each halftime break, CSNNE’s Dalen Cuff and The Sports Hub’s Mike Flynn will provide analysis.