ESPN’s Mark Schlabach at Little Rock Touchdown Club (Part 1)

Tyler Wilson

Earlier I wrote about where I think Arkansas could win a national championship with just two more wins.

Below is a portion of an article by Jim Harris of the website Arkansas 360:

What kind of college football polling world do we live in now that a No. 3 Arkansas could win Friday at No. 1 LSU and still find itself looking up at both LSU and No. 2 Alabama when the next BCS poll came out? Mark Schlabach, author and ESPN.com columnist, agreed Monday that it doesn’t make sense in the way we once viewed college football rankings, but we’re in a new day. His fellow ESPN college football writer, Brad Edwards, said as much Sunday that Arkansas could be left out of the BCS mix.

Maybe a lot of the national pundits have possessed the same thought Schlabach admitted he felt a couple of weeks back when he said, “When did Arkansas become a BCS contender? When did I miss the memo?”

Well, guess what, guys? This isn’t a No. 8 or 9 Arkansas going into Baton Rouge on Friday, or a 7-4 Arkansas like in 2007 that beat the No. 1 Tigers in triple overtime. Schlabach, who spoke Monday to the Little Rock Touchdown Club (and still has the Razorbacks projected for the Cotton Bowl online), admitted that everything about the BCS could be mixed next week even more than it’s been after this past week’s upsets. He’s not ruling out the Razorbacks shaking it all up.

Arkansas became a contender when Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Oregon all lost over the weekend. Schlabach was in Ames, Iowa, to see Oklahoma State go down to Iowa State in two overtimes. And still, the Cowboys are rated No. 2 in four of the six computer polls used in the BCS calculations. “If Oklahoma State is No. 2, then Georgia is No. 4,” Schlabach said.

LSU has a perfect 1.0 rating a top the BCS, leading in every poll — both the voting polls by the media and the coaches, as well as the computer rankings. The question now is just how much LSU would drop in all those calculations if it were by No. 3 Arkansas upset at home on Friday. In 2007, LSU still made the SEC Championship Game and won, and found its way back into the BCS title game picture, and won it all over Ohio State.

Georgia, which didn’t win the SEC East that year because it had lost early in the season to Tennessee, but may have been the SEC’s best overall team at season’s end, played Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl and finished the year No. 3.

Before computers became part of determining the national champion, it would be cut and dried that Arkansas would move up at least to No. 2, LSU would fall, and perhaps Alabama would move to No. 1. If you’re name was Notre Dame, you could beat the No. 1 and jump several spots to No. 1, as the Irish have done in their history.

Schlabach, who still forecasts LSU to play Alabama in the championship game poses this scenario: Arkansas beats LSU, Alabama plays Georgia in the SEC Championship Game and loses, and LSU and Alabama still play for the national championship and Georgia goes to the Sugar Bowl as the SEC’s champion and automatic qualifier for a BCS bowl. He doesn’t expect that to happen, he only speculated what might happen.

Arkansas, still ranked No. 3, goes to the Capital One Bowl?

Or how about at Arkansas at No. 3 being left out of the BCS bowls while No. 15 Michigan, perhaps at at-large team from the Big Ten, gets a spot in the Sugar Bowl against Houston, perhaps?

It’s a head-scratcher that Schlabach, who grew up outside South Bend, Ind., and attended Georgia before starting his journalism career at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, finds troubling about the system now.

“They’re likely to make some changes to the BCS next summer,” he said.

That may not be in time for Arkansas this year.

None of this matters if Arkansas doesn’t go into Baton Rouge and pulled the upset of the season, of course. Maybe we should all worry about the fallout after this weekend.

Incidentally, a betting line that started at 14 points for LSU has dropped to 12.5 already, we’re told. Apparently a lot of people have already thought two touchdowns between the two might be a bit much. Alabama, meanwhile, is a 21-point favorite to win the Iron Bowl in Auburn. “This Auburn team might be the worst one they’ve had in 10 years,” said Schlabach, who covered the SEC out of Atlanta before moving to ESPN.com. He still resides in Georgia, but is on the road throughout the season. He’ll get this weekend off, however, he said, and watch what all transpires in TV.

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