LAST WEEK: 6-1
Southern Miss (10-2) at Houston (12-0); Saturday, 11 a.m., ABC
The Bowl Championship Series killed Cinderella. She was on life support when it comes to college football long before the 1998 season, when the first BCS title game was held. But the BCS killed her. Think about the last time a college football team "came out of nowhere" to win a championship. Right . . . it's never happened. Because fans are spoon-fed a championship game with the two best teams based on criteria beyond a scoreboard.
The undefeated Houston Cougars don't belong in the conversation when it comes to this year's BCS championship. But if we had as many as eight teams in a playoff, I'd argue the Cougars might don a glass slipper. It would at least be fun to watch record-smashing quarterback Case Keenum (4,726 yards this season and 43 touchdowns) take a shot at one of the BCS fat cats. But it won't happen. (Memphis fans will likely get cheated out of watching Keenum's college send-off. Instead of taking the automatic berth in the Liberty Bowl that normally goes to the C-USA champion, Houston — if still undefeated after this Saturday — could well get a slot in one of the four non-championship BCS bowl games.)
All of this presumes, of course, that the Cougars get by Southern Miss. This is a rematch of the 2006 C-USA title game, won by Houston. (Keenum's team lost to East Carolina two years ago.) The contest features the top two offenses in C-USA, the Golden Eagles averaging 469.8 yards per game and the Cougars a silly 613.2. On the defensive side, Southern Miss ranked second in the league (338.4 yards per game) while Houston was fifth (377.7). Each team gave up just over 20 points per game.
I tend to stand by the "good defense beats a good offense" rule of thumb, but only in games that don't feature a team that scored at least 56 points . . . six times. And I just can't go with a team that lost to UAB (as the Eagles did on November 17th).
Houston 34, Southern Miss 24