Looking at last week’s AP Top 25 poll, I think we can now identify 17 of the Top 25 teams that are no longer relevant in the hunt for the BCS national championship game. They all have 2 or more losses. Is it so:

Oregon, Oklahoma, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Southern California, Texas, Florida, Clemson, Virginia, Boston College, Tennessee, Illinois, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Connecticut.

So my message to you is: get over it and move on.

The latest casualties in a season of surprises and attrition were the Oregon Ducks, number 2 in the ranking, and the Oklahoma Sooners, number 3 in the ranking.

The Ducks not only suffered their second loss in Arizona, 34-24, but also lost Heisman Trophy candidate and superstar quarterback Dennis Dixon in the first quarter to a torn ACL in his left knee. Dixon was Oregon’s offense and without him it showed.

The Sooners picked up their second loss at Texas Tech, 34-27, putting them out watching the BCS title game. Like Oregon, the Sooners lost quarterback Sam Bradford in the first quarter with an apparent concussion.

Eight teams now become harder to ignore. They are the state of Louisiana, Kansas, West Virginia, Missouri, the state of Ohio, the state of Arizona, Hawaii, and the state of Boise. All have only 1 loss except for Kansas and Hawaii who remain undefeated.

They all remain in the hunt because they either continue to win as the season winds down or were inactive this week, like No. 9-ranked Arizona State (9-1).

No. 1-ranked Louisiana State (10-1) used a 98-yard kickoff return and forced two turnovers during goal-line stops to hold off Mississippi 41-24. Mississippi is now 0-7 in the SEC.

No. 4-ranked Kansas (11-0) hosted Iowa State and made the Cyclones look like a breeze by winning 45-7.

No. 5- West Virginia (9-1) traveled to No. 21-ranked Cincinnati and handed the Bearcats their third loss, 28-23, setting up a matchup this week with No. 25-ranked Connecticut (9 -2) for the Big East title and a berth in the BCS bowling game.

Connecticut gets my nomination as the 9-2 team with the least press and notice this season. The Huskies have quietly and efficiently beaten South Florida, Rutgers and Cincinnati, all of whom have been ranked and received much more attention. At one point in the season, South Florida was ranked second, Rugters 10th, and Cincinnati 15th.

Missouri (10-1), ranked No. 6, traveled to Kansas State and beat the Wildcats 49-32. Missouri freshman Jeremy Maclin (has speed) set an NCAA single-season freshman record in the game with 252 all-purpose yards, returning a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and catching 2 TD passes, giving him a record 2,201 all-purpose yards so far

This week, No. 6 Missouri travels to No. 4 Kansas for a Big 12 matchup of horrendous proportions. Kansas is 7-0 and Missouri is 6-1 in the Big 12 North Division.

No. 7-ranked Ohio State (11-1) followed up its upset loss to Illinois last week with a 14-3 win over No. 23-ranked Michigan to capture the Big 10 championship. Ohio State is done; the Buckeyes will sit back and wait and see what their fate is in the BCS chase. Look for them at the Rose Bowl in the worst case.

Jim Tressel became the first Ohio State coach to beat Michigan 6 times in 7 years. His Buckeyes captured their first consecutive Big 10 titles in 50 years.

Hawaii (10-0), ranked No. 13, traveled to Nevada and was lucky to come out alive with a 28-26 win. The Warriors led at the half 19-10 but were outscored by the Wolfpack 16-9 in the second half.

Hawaii beat San Jose State 42-35 in overtime and Fresno State 37-30 earlier this year. The high-scoring (45-plus) Warriors have their first real test of the season this week when they host No. 17-ranked Boise State. A win by Hawaii or Boise State could land them in a BCS bowl game, especially if any team in front of them loses again.

Boise State set up for Hawaii by destroying Idaho 58-14. The Broncos’ win wasn’t much of a big deal either, as Idaho is 1-10 on the season and beyond anemia.

So there you have it, the mighty 6-LSU, Kansas, West Virginia, Missouri, Ohio State and Arizona State-and the not-so-mighty 2-Hawaii and Boise State.

The new AP poll on Sunday night (11-18-07) showed LSU first, Kansas second, Missouri third, West Virginia fourth, Ohio State fifth, Arizona State seventh place, Hawaii in 14th place and Boise State in 17th place.

The new BCS rankings on Monday (11-19-07) showed LSU in first place, Kansas in second place, West Virginia in third place, Missouri in fourth place, Ohio State in fifth place, Arizona State in sixth place, Hawaii in 15th place and Boise State in 19th place.

There is a guaranteed lock that 2 of the 8 teams involved in the BCS title hunt will lose this week when Kansas and Missouri meet in one matchup and Hawaii and Boise State in another. That should help dissipate the fog the next morning.

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

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