Three-plus games with BCS implications

By and

Much like U.S. politics, college football runs on an invisible money machine that decides who’s allowed to appear on the biggest stages.

Because the major conferences are the major contributors to this machine, Utah could finish the season undefeated and still not appear in a BCS bowl.

A number of one-loss teams could still jump the Utes in the BCS standings (as evidenced by Cal’s move last week) because of the human pollster’s reluctance to give the Utes due credit. That’s why the Utes need all BCS teams with one or fewer losses to lose in the coming weeks to ensure themselves a spot in one of the coveted BCS bowls.

This week, there are a few games that could have a significant impact on the Utes’ BCS hopes. I’ve listed them below using a borderline-ingenious framing device.

1st and 10:

Oklahoma at Texas A&M

If Oklahoma is going to lose at some point during the regular season, then it’s going to be this Saturday in College Station. The Sooners rely on their running game to create opportunities in their passing game, and the Aggies’ run defense is one of the country’s best. If they can keep the Sooners to their season average of 3.1 yards allowed per carry, then they have a very good chance of winning.

Oklahoma has a Heisman winner at quarterback in Jason White.

He still has an incredible offensive line, so he is still a threat to beat the Aggies over the top.

When the Aggies have the ball, they will have to take advantage of Oklahoma’s aggressive linemen and linebackers with an efficient use of their triple-option offense. If quarterback Reggie McNeal has a big game for the Aggies-and his receivers make some catches for him-the Aggies could end Oklahoma’s title hopes.

More than their dangerous offensive weapons, and their solid run defense, the Aggies’ greatest chance to win will reside solely in their motivation. Last season the Aggies traveled to Norman where the Sooners dealt them their worst defeat in school history, a 77-0 drubbing. It’s safe to say nobody in College Station has forgotten, and the Kyle Field capacity crowd will take every opportunity to remind Oklahoma that it won’t happen again.

An Aggie win would be HUGE for the Utes because it would make the Utes victory over the Aggies look even better, and it would drop another team from the ranks of the unbeaten.

2nd and 7:

Minnesota at

Wisconsin

To the untrained eye, this might look like a blowout game. An undefeated No. 5 Wisconsin hosting an unranked Minnesota does sound like a no-brainer, but Wisconsin is easily the most overrated team in the country. Their defense is good, but their offense is weak. I know I’ve said this before, but this is the same Wisconsin team that struggled with UNLV at home. The same UNLV team that lost to Utah State. No. 5? Really?

Still, the Golden Gophers aren’t exactly stout against the run, which is the only part of Wisconsin’s offense that actually works. They have a 230-pound defensive end, and a 270-pound defensive tackle that will face off against two 310-pound offensive linemen all day, so expect Wisconsin to have some success in that area of the game.

On the other side of the ball, Minnesota has a fantastic running game, but a quarterback who only completes 47 percent of his passes. They, too, will look to run the ball all day, but might have trouble against what might be the best defensive-front four in the college game.

I guess even to the trained eye, this looks like a blowout, but there is an X factor: Paul Bunyan’s Axe. This is the oldest rivalry in Division 1-A football, and the trophy is Bunyan’s tree chopper. Minnesota currently possesses the mighty axe and just might be reluctant to give it up. You never know.

Third and 7:

Notre Dame at Tennessee

After Notre Dame lost to BC last week, the Utes could rest easy knowing that a two-loss Notre Dame team wouldn’t oust them from a BCS bowl. Now the Utes would love to see the Irish bounce back and beat the Vols, who are still capable Ute ball- busters with one loss.

Tennessee might be without star left tackle Michael Munoz, and backup tailback Gerald Riggs Jr. This would only help Notre Dame and the 12th- ranked run defense stop the Vols’ running game. However, if the Irish can’t get their own running attack going, then they have no chance.

Fourth and inches: I’m going for it with Oregon at Cal

The Ducks started out their season slowly, but have come on strong of late. They have a decent chance to beat Cal, but only if the Golden Bears come out sluggish and turn the ball over. Still, a Cal loss would remove them from BCS contention, and therefore vacate a spot for the Utes. Will it happen?

Turnover on Downs

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