This is where the same team that you wondered about after the opening slumber against Jacksonville State, the near collapse against Clemson and the full collapse at Miami may start to dream.
Paul Johnson doesn’t want to hear this, or read this. “Let’s beat Virginia next week,” he would tell you, and that’s probably a good place to start since the Jackets haven’t won in Charlottesville since 1990 (0-8 since).
But Tech fans tore down goal posts Saturday night after upsetting Virginia Tech. (See the photo above and the video below.) The win enabled the Yellow Jackets to take a huge leap in the polls Sunday. They also opened at 12th in the first BCS rankings of the season — rarefied air for a program in only its second season under Johnson, who runs that minor-league offense of his. (That was a joke.)
So why not imagine the unimaginable: Tech in the BCS title game.
OK. Hang with me for a minute.
First here are the top 15 teams in the BCS standings, so you have something to look at:
1. Florida (6-0) 2. Alabama (7-0) 3. Texas (6-0) 4. Boise State (6-0) 5. Cincinnati (6-0) 6. Iowa (7-0) 7. USC (5-1) 8. TCU (6-0) 9. LSU (5-1) 10. Miami (5-1) 11. Oregon (5-1) 12. Georgia Tech (6-1) 13. Penn State (6-1) 14. Virginia Tech (5-2) 15. Oklahoma State (5-1)
This is not a prediction. It’s a checklist. But it’s hardly a completely outrageous checklist. These are the 12 things that probably have to happen for the Jackets to land in the BCS championship in Pasadena Jan. 7. So click your heels together three times and here we go . . .
♦1.) Win out. This qualifies as a “duh.” A two-loss team is not making it. So this means Tech, which already has lost to Miami, needs to beat Virginia (which would give it a tiebreaker edge over the Cavaliers in the ACC Coastal Division), then beat Georgia again, then win the conference title game. The rest of the schedule: Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Duke.
♦ 2.) Miami, which holds a ACC Coastal tiebreaker edge over the Jackets, needs to lose once in the conference. The best chance of that happening on the Hurricanes’ remaining schedule is next week against Clemson or in four weeks at North Carolina. Other games: at Wake Forest, Virginia, Duke, South Florida.
♦ 3.) Win the ACC championship over the Atlantic Division team, and that’s a weak lot right now (every school has at least two losses).
♦ 4.) This is just a safe assumption: The winner of SEC title game will be ranked No. 1 by the BCS. The loser will not be No. 2 because voters will not want a repeat game for the BCS title. So this shouldn’t be an issue for Tech.
♦ 5.) Texas needs to lose once. The Longhorns were unimpressive in a 16-13 win over Oklahoma, which was missing quarterback Sam Bradford for most of the game. They still have to play at Oklahoma State, home against Kansas, and, if make it there, the Big 12 title game (probably against Kansas or Nebraska)
♦ 6.) Boise State has to lose. This may be the biggest long shot of all. The Broncos opened the season with a win over their toughest opponent (Oregon). They finish with a dessert tray: Hawaii (2-4), San Jose State (1-5), Louisiana Tech (3-3), Idaho (6-1), Utah State (1-5), Nevada (3-3), New Mexico State (3-4). The toughest foe there obviously is Idaho.
♦ 7.) Cincinnati has to lose. The Bearcats still have two difficult games left on their schedule: West Virginia and the season finale at Pittsburgh.
♦ 8.) Iowa has to lose. But come on — it’s a Big Ten team! The Hawkeyes’ most likely faceplant is at Ohio State Nov. 14. (The Buckeyes already have two losses, so its doubtful they would leapfrog Tech.)
♦ 9.) USC has to lose. Not a problem. The Trojans play at Oregon in two weeks, then at Arizona State, still have a rivalry game against UCLA — which filled the spoiler role well a few years ago, to the benefit of Florida — and then finish against Arizona.
♦ 10.) TCU has to lose. Like Boise State in the WAC, this is another potential BCS buster from the Mountain West Conference. But TCU still has two ranked teams left on its schedule — BYU (next week) and Utah (Nov. 19).
♦11.) LSU may not be an issue. Here’s why: The only way the Tigers stay ahead of Tech is if they win out. That means beating Alabama and getting into SEC title game. But then I refer you to No. 4 on the checklist.
♦12.) Oregon is only percentage points ahead of the Jackets. But they may need to lose again, depending on how the whole strength-of-schedule thing weighs out. The Ducks still have some difficult games left on the schedule: at Washington, home against USC, at Arizona.
So there it is. What do you think? Is this a completely crazy scenario?
Meanwhile, here’s the YouTube video floating around the internet of the goal posts at Bobby Dodd Stadium being torn down. Students carried the goal posts out of the stadium and toward university president George P. “Bud” Peterson’s house.