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Iowa vs Cincinnati in the 2010 BCS Championship Game

By Paul Grossinger
Guest College Football Columnist

What? I am sure that is what everyone reading this article is thinking. As everyone watching college football knows, the BCS National Championship will feature some combination of Florida, Alabama, and Texas. That's it, no questions asked. Maybe if two of those teams lose and the BCS decides to get inventive, USC can wiggle its way in. But the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Cincinnati Bearcats"¦that's simply ridiculous.

Is it though? Now I realize that my "National Champion: Auburn" discussion from early October, written when the Tigers were 5-0, went down in flames pretty quickly. However, that doesn't deter me from opening the envelope on more long-shot but NOT crazy National Championship concoctions. Still, how is a Hawkeyes-Bearcats national championship matchup anything short of insane?

Here's why: it's a combination of these two teams' schedules, the BCS computer system, and the exhaustion of the main contenders. First, an examination of these two teams' remaining opponents is very interesting: between them they face three ranked opponents over the rest of the season. The Hawkeyes, who are a confident 8-0 despite needing last minute heroics to beat Michigan State in Lansing, face Indiana, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Minnesota. Of those, only a dogfight against Ohio State in the Horseshoe shows any likelihood of derailing an undefeated season. Furthermore, even that seems like a stretch because the Buckeyes have hardly looked their best and will be coming off an exhausting trip to face Penn State the week before. So, doing the math, if Iowa has an undefeated season featuring a Big 10 Championship and road wins against Penn State and Ohio State, wouldn't it be difficult to deny them a BCS championship berth?

The BCS computers certainly think so. Unlike the AP and USA Today Polls, which rank the Hawkeyes eighth, the BCS has them in fourth, nipping right on the heels of the Big Three. And, judging by Florida's tight wins over Arkansas and Mississippi and Alabama's nail biter against Tennessee last week, the big three are certainly quite vulnerable. This is to be expected, the SEC is exhausting and, despite remaining undefeated through this point in the season, each still faces at least one ranked opponent on the road. Furthermore, it is more than likely that these two will face one another in the SEC championship in a rematch from last year so, in all likelihood, one or both of these teams will suffer a loss this season. As for Texas, the Longhorns face Oklahoma State across the Red River this weekend, have three of their last four games of the season on the road, and will face a tough opponent for the Big 12 championship; making their prospects of an undefeated season less than rosy as well.

What about the Bearcats? Cincinnati is, as of this writing, undefeated at 7-0. Their schedule has featured road wins at South Florida and Oregon State with enough trash games to keep them rested, and their remaining games feature nothing too frightening. Despite their status as ranked teams, Big East rivals West Virginia and Pittsburg are light-years behind the Bearcats and only Pitt has had the luck to face them at home. As a result, there is no compelling reason that the Bearcats couldn't also finish the season undefeated.

What happens then? Despite being panned on occasion, the Big East and Big 10 are still major conferences with automatic BCS berths. An undefeated season by one of these teams could not be treated in the same way as the BCS handled mid-major Utah last year. Ultimately, if all or even two of the current top three teams remain undefeated or either the Hawkeyes or Bearcats suffer a defeat then this whole scenario is moot. However, if, as is very possible, these two defeat their weaker opponents while watching the top three succumb, one or both of these teams would have a solid case for appearing in the BCS championship . Ultimately, we'll have to wait and see. For now, I maintain it could well be Iowa vs Cincinnati in College Football's Janauary 2010 BCS Championship Game.

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Big Ten vs Big East in BCS Championship Would Be Travesty! Not rated yet
Paul, great article. But Scary. The idea that Cincinnati and Iowa would go to the BCS Championship game ahead of the SEC football champ; Big 12 Champ; …

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You can read other BCS stories by Paul Grossinger at BCS vs College Football Playoff.

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