With one week left in the college football regular season there are innumerable stories that have been told and are still unfolding.
There will be, naturally, a good deal of focus on Notre Dame’s undefeated season and the fact that the Irish will play for the national championship for the first time since the 1988 season. There also is a good deal of discussion about who will win the Heisman Trophy. It will almost certainly be Texas A&M’s (redshirt) freshman sensation Johnny Manziel or Manti Te’o, the heart and soul of Notre Dame’s remarkable defense.
There also will be debate about whether voters in the Associated Press poll should pick Ohio State, which is banned from the postseason, if No. 1 Notre Dame loses (to either Alabama or Georgia) in the national title game and the Buckeyes are left as the only undefeated team in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Let us also not forget the continuing humiliation of the ACC. On Saturday, three ACC schools — including the league’s two best teams — got shots to play archrivals, two of them playing at home. Here were the outcomes: Georgia 42, Georgia Tech 10; Florida 37, Florida State 26 (in Tallahassee, the Seminoles scoring a meaningless touchdown on the last play to make it that close); South Carolina 27, Clemson 17 (at Clemson, with the Gamecocks playing a second-string quarterback and a third-string — freshman — running back most of the night).
There are only three conferences that deserve to have teams play in the five-game Bowl Championship Series: The Southeastern Conference should get six bids: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M. The Pacific-12 should get two: Stanford and Oregon. The Big 12 should get one: Kansas State. And Notre Dame should get one.
But because money rules the college world (as fans of new Big Ten member Maryland can certainly tell you), this is how the bids will break down: Notre Dame will get one bid; the SEC will get two bids (the Alabama-Georgia winner and either Florida or the loser; remember, Georgia beat Florida); the Pac-12 will get two: Stanford and Oregon; the Big 12 will get two: Kansas State and Oklahoma.
Then there are three conferences whose teams barely deserve to play in any bowl games at all that might each get one bid: the Florida State-Georgia Tech winner out of the ACC; the Nebraska-Wisconsin Big Ten championship game winner will go to the Rose Bowl (you can bet the Pasadena folks are praying Nebraska wins so they aren’t faced with a five-loss Wisconsin team showing up out there New Year’s Day) and, finally, someone from the Big East — either Rutgers, Louisville or Syracuse — will get a bid. Seriously, if there were any justice at all the winner of the Mid-American Conference title game between Kent State and Northern Illinois would get a bid over the Big East winner. Both those teams would have won the Big East in a walk this season.
But college football isn’t about justice — which brings us to the best story of this season: Pennsylvania State University.