SUGAR AND SPICE
Miami's 31-7 loss at Virginia Tech made a mess of the BCS picture (chart, left), which almost always seems to be good news for Florida State. The Seminoles have a history of emerging from BCS chaos to play for the national championship.
In 1998 they had one loss but got the Fiesta Bowl invitation over another one-loss team, Kansas State. In 2000 the Seminoles went to the Orange Bowl even though they had the same record as Miami, a team that had beaten them earlier in the season.
It's not hard to imagine the same scenario occurring this year. The Seminoles' win over Notre Dame, coupled with Miami's loss, moved Florida State behind USC and just ahead of Miami in the BCS ratings. If the Seminoles win their three remaining games, they'll most likely pass the Trojans and stay ahead of the Hurricanes ( Miami beat Florida State 22-14 on Oct. 11) because of their tougher schedule. If that happens, the BCS will have failed again, but don't expect any tears in Tallahassee.
A year ago, Notre Dame fans thought of coach Tyrone Willingham in relation to former coaches Bob Davie and Gerry Faust the same way someone who's found the perfect spouse reflects on a previous marriage that had gone sour. But lately the Fighting Irish have looked no better than the mediocre teams from those dark times.
After his first 21 games under the Golden Dome, Willingham is 12-9, the latest loss coming as the Irish were booed at home while they were routed 37-0 by Florida State to fall to 2-6. By comparison, Faust was 11-9-1 and Davie was 14-7 at the same juncture.
It's unfair to pass final judgment on Willingham until he's had a chance to stock the team with his own recruits. However, it's worth noting that Willingham's Stanford career had a similar pattern, with early success followed by a pair of down years before the Cardinal became a solid Pac-10 team. Another of Willingham's predecessors, Lou Holtz, was only 13-8 after 21 games at Notre Dame. He lost two more in a row before winning 41 of his next 46. Eventually Willingham will have to produce a similar run.