If Klein is seriously hurt, Kansas State’s chances to play for the national title go to about zero. He is the Wildcats’ leader, catalyst and, quite simply, their best player. Winning at TCU without him next week would be difficult. So would upcoming games against Baylor and Texas.
If Klein is okay, the four-way race to the championship game is very much on. Right now, Alabama — which plays a good Texas A&M team Saturday — remains the clear No. 1. The No. 2 spot is a toss-up between Oregon and Kansas State, though the lean right now is toward Oregon because of the extraordinary numbers it put up in the hallowed Coliseum. The Ducks still have to play Stanford and Oregon State — the latter on the road — and the Pacific-12 championship game.
The easiest remaining road belongs to Notre Dame. The Irish play a truly terrible Boston College team and a mediocre Wake Forest team before closing at USC. The Trojans will have little to play for in that game — pride hasn’t been a great motivator for them — and, if the game is close, someone will miss a field goal or Rudy will make a tackle.
Here’s what should happen if all four teams remain unbeaten: The Bowl Championship Series should declare that an agreement has been reached to send the four to play one another in two of the BCS bowl games. Let the bowls bid extra dollars to be selected as hosts to the four unbeatens that matter. Tell the two second-rate at-large teams that will likely come from the ACC (Clemson) or the Big 12 (Oklahoma) that they don’t get to play in a BCS bowl but their conference will get their BCS bucks. Then have the two winners in the Bowls of the Unbeaten (has a ring, no?) play in the BCS championship game. Think ESPN, which has the BCS TV rights, would object?
Of course, that won’t happen, because the BCS simply can’t do the right thing. On Sunday, executive director Bill Hancock had three reasons why it would be impossible: No one knows what will happen between now and Dec. 2 (true, but irrelevant); the logistics of changing existing contracts would be too difficult (only if those involved don’t want to change them); and there are only six days between Jan. 1 and the national title game (easy, move the game back 24 hours).
Instead, two of the top three teams will lose and Notre Dame will play in the title game. Or, everyone will win out and Notre Dame will play in the title game anyway. Maybe all the players from Oregon and Kansas State will put their uniforms on Hancock’s desk and say, “This is for Rudy,” so the gutty Irish can play in the big game.
Fiction? Sure. But so was the movie.
For more by the author, visit his blog at feinsteinonthebrink.com. To read his previous columns for The Washington Post, go to washingtonpost.com/feinstein.