Much fuss was made about Texas leapfrogging Southern California in this week's Bowl Championship Series ratings, but the issue is truly, in the words of BCS analyst Jerry Palm, a "non-event." In truth, Texas and USC will almost certainly meet in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4 for the national title unless one of them loses.
If four teams finish the regular season unbeaten -- Texas, USC, Virginia Tech and an SEC team -- no one should be able to catch the Trojans in the BCS standings for two reasons. First, USC's remaining schedule is far tougher than that of Texas, with games left against California, Fresno State and UCLA, three teams with a combined record of 18-3. Second, Virginia Tech, currently ranked third in the human polls, won't be able to make up ground on USC.
While it is conceivable that the Hokies could catch Texas for second in the BCS standings by Dec. 4, it is unlikely, according to those who study the nuances of the six computer polls used in the BCS formula. In short, Texas has too big of a lead. So while Virginia Tech will undoubtedly receive a boost in the computer polls because of a strong remaining schedule, it probably won't be enough unless the Longhorns struggle against inferior competition and lose significant ground in the human polls.
In any event, the bottom line is that for the second consecutive year, the SEC champ, even if it is undefeated, will be in major trouble and likely excluded from the national title hunt. The real intrigue, though, surrounds this scenario: What if UCLA finishes the regular season undefeated, having knocked off USC on Dec. 3? It's likely the Bruins would jump an undefeated SEC team in the BCS standings, but it's uncertain whether they would jump the Hokies.