Saturday, September 2, 2006

15 minutes to Midnight

Not every season is packaged as nicely as last year. Controversy is usually an indelible part of a sport that continues to crown its champion without a playoff system.

Over the course of the season, the BCS Doomsday Clock will attempt to gauge how close the college football world is from an unmitigated Bowl Championship Series apocalypse. Each Saturday, the time will change based on results nationwide. The closer the minute hand is to midnight, the closer college football is to the Armageddon we witnessed in 2004.

That year, the clock in a sense struck midnight at the close of the regular season when five schools -- Southern California, Oklahoma, Auburn, Boise State and Utah -- finished unbeaten. Only two, USC and Oklahoma, could play for the national title, which left others, namely Auburn, screaming about being unfairly excluded.

Our clock is based on the Doomsday Clock that the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has maintained since 1947, which measures how close the country is to nuclear war. We are not placing college football's championship race on a par with national security; as real fans know, it's much more important than that.

Three clock-moving scenarios

· Ohio State beats Texas but loses three weeks later at Iowa. Who's ranked higher, Texas or Ohio State?

Probability: 49%

· West Virginia finishes 12-0 and Louisville finishes 11-1. Does the Big East get two BCS berths?

Probability: 42%

· Texas Christian is the nation's only team to run the table. Will the Horned Frogs be denied a slot in the national title game?

Probability: 44%

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