LSU has a ticket to the title game. Everyone else has a pretty good gripe.
The latest chapter in this crazy, unpredictable college football season was written yesterday when LSU won the sport's version of the lottery, being picked to play Ohio State for the championship and leaving about a half-dozen other candidates with plenty to complain about.
The Tigers (11-2), ranked second in the latest Associated Press poll, will be the first team to play in the Bowl Championship Series title game with two losses. The BCS began in the 1998 season.
No. 1 Ohio State goes into the game, Jan. 7 at the Superdome in New Orleans, at 11-1.
"We always talk to our guys about the fact you better win all your games," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "We didn't do that, but we still have an opportunity in a crazy football season."
Missouri and West Virginia, the teams that came into the weekend ranked 1 and 2, lost Saturday to blow their title chances and were left out of the BCS altogether.
LSU, which was seventh in the BCS standings heading into the final weekend, makes the jump to No. 2 and into the big game, while Oklahoma, Southern California, Georgia and a number of others were left behind.
"I don't think in this year being such a different kind of year, so many teams with one or two losses, I don't think it's so much the system as it is the year," SEC commissioner and BCS coordinator Mike Slive said during a conference call last night.
There's also the argument coach Les Miles and athletic director Skip Bertman offered up Saturday night: The Tigers went undefeated in regulation this season - their two losses both coming in triple overtime.
Paper-thin as that line of reasoning may sound, it's as good as any in this topsy-turvy season during which the top-ranked team lost four times, the second-ranked team lost six times since October, and Nos. 1 and 2 lost on the same week three times in the last two months.
"The brass ring was there for a lot of different teams to grab it," Slive said. "Sometimes they did and sometimes they didn't, and when they didn't it allowed two teams that were seen as two of the better teams in the country early in the year to find their way back."
In the Sugar Bowl, Georgia will play Hawaii. The Bulldogs (10-2) were fourth and idle coming into the final weekend - behind Missouri, West Virginia and Ohio State - but didn't automatically rise two spots the way coach Mark Richt thought they should. Richt felt even though the BCS rules state a team doesn't have to win its conference to play in the national title game, the fact that the Bulldogs didn't play for the SEC championship was held against them by poll voters and pundits in the media.
"At least we shouldn't have gotten disqualified before we got started," he said.
Hawaii (12-0) is the nation's only undefeated team, but is penalized for playing a weak schedule in the Western Athletic Conference. The Warriors qualified automatically by finishing 10th in the final BCS standings. They needed to be in the top 12.
The Fiesta Bowl will pit West Virginia (10-2) against Oklahoma (11-2). The Sooners beat top-ranked Missouri twice this season, including by 38-17 on Saturday in the Big Twelve title game.
The Rose Bowl is stuck with its traditional Big Ten-vs.-Pac-10 matchup, going with Southern California (10-2) against Illinois (9-3).