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    On College Football

    SEC is head and shoulders above all others

    In the latest BCS rankings released last night, LSU was No. 1, followed by Alabama and Arkansas.
    AP/Oxford Eagle, Bruce Newman
    In the latest BCS rankings released last night, LSU was No. 1, followed by Alabama and Arkansas.

    It began before noon Saturday when ESPN’s Lee Corso uttered an obscenity on “College GameDay,’’ which drew shock from his colleagues and a taped apology from Corso.

    It didn’t end until nearly 2 yesterday morning with California’s failed onside kick attempt in its 31-28 loss to rival Stanford in the Big Game.

    In between?


    Plenty. No. 2 Oklahoma State had set the table with its 37-31 double-overtime loss to Iowa State Friday night. That was followed by: No. 4 Oregon’s 38-35 loss to Southern California; No. 5 Oklahoma’s 45-38 loss to Baylor, and No. 7 Clemson’s 37-13 loss to North Carolina State.

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    Amid the chaos, form held in the Southeastern Conference. The SEC, which has won the last five BCS championships, is on course again. In the latest BCS rankings released last night, LSU was No. 1, followed by Alabama and Arkansas.

    Those three schools are also the leaders of the SEC West.

    How good is the SEC? Consider this scenario. It’s possible that LSU, which already has beaten Alabama, could win its regular-season finale with Arkansas this week, lose to Georgia in the SEC championship game in Atlanta, and still maintain its No. 1 spot in the BCS standings.

    No. 2 in the SEC and No. 1 in the BCS? Makes sense.


    Almost nothing does, going into Thanksgiving week, when one looks at the conference races around the country.

    Look at the Big East, where five (of the eight) teams still have a chance to win the BCS bid (most likely the Orange Bowl). The most improbable outcome is if Rutgers, which was picked to finish last in the preseason, emerges.

    Yet, if Louisville loses to South Florida and West Virginia loses to Pittsburgh on Friday, a Rutgers win over UConn on Saturday will give coach Greg Schiano’s team the title.

    Look at the Big Ten. Michigan State clinched the Legends Division and will play in the first Big Ten title game in Indianapolis next week. The Leaders Division will be decided this week in Madison, Wis., where Penn State and Wisconsin play a winner-take-all game.

    Penn State didn’t figure to be there, with all the turmoil surrounding the sexual molestation charges against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, which led to an avalanche of change at Penn State, including the firing of legendary coach Joe Paterno.


    Yet in another stranger-than-fiction scenario on Saturday, Penn State, minus Paterno, played at Ohio State, minus Jim Tressel, who was ousted in scandal last spring.

    Penn State prevailed, 20-14, and remains a contender. It was the first time that the Nittany Lions had won a game without Paterno as their coach since 1965.

    In the Big 12, Oklahoma State stumbled Friday night, then Oklahoma followed with its misstep against Baylor. Both teams are now out of the BCS title game talk.

    In the Pac-12, Oregon’s loss still leaves the Ducks running the show as far as the first Pac-12 championship game is concerned. If Oregon beats Oregon State next week, Oregon will play in the championship game as the Northern champion.

    But the Southern Division is a mess. UCLA can claim the title if it beats USC this weekend. If the Bruins lose, Utah, which was the bottom-feeder in the Pac-12 South for the first month, could emerge.

    In the ACC, Clemson clinched a spot as the Atlantic Division winner, then went belly up to North Carolina State, which was coming off a dreadful performance in a loss last week to Boston College.

    The win kept the Wolfpack’s hopes of making it into the postseason. A win at home against Maryland will do it for Tom O’Brien’s squad.

    Virginia Tech could have clinched the Coastal Division, but Virginia didn’t cooperate. The Cavaliers upset Florida State Saturday, so now the winner of this weekend’s game between Virginia Tech and Virginia will play Clemson in the ACC title game.

    Certainly a wild weekend.

    And there promises to be more to come in the next few weeks.

    Mark Blaudschun can be reached at