Looking over the BCS returns, Penn State looks to be a lock for Pasadena. Well, that is if the minor event of either USC or Texas losing on Saturday happens. But in the secondary race for the right to step into the breach, the Lions look to have eliminated any possibility of being caught by LSU.
Chico Harlan, the Lion beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, drawing an array of sources tells us that LSU's close win over Arkansas eliminated the possibility of the Tigers winning the human polls by the landslide margin they will need to overcome PSU's substantial computer poll edge. Harlan reports ESPN's BCS expert Brad Edwards as saying it is very unlikely a USC loss would enable them to hang on to #2 over the Nittany Lions. So Penn State fans need not crunch any numbers this weekend. They can plop down on the couch and just root for UCLA or Colorado to pull an upset.
In my view, I think LSU is getting a raw deal. The Tigers have played amidst the fallout of Hurricane Katrina, and unlike the Lions, they have to play a conference championship game on Saturday. They have beaten Auburn, Alabama and Florida. While the Big Ten has good depth, the conference did not play well in showcase non-league games this year. From that it stands to reason the league champ should not be getting the benefit of the doubt in any controversial call.
But Penn State still deserves its due--they did have to play teams that were at least bowl-caliber more often then LSU did. And any student of history knows that if Joe Paterno is getting a sympathy vote this time, the man has also been on the wrong side of many disputed votes as well. Most prominently was 1994 when his unbeaten team was denied a share of the national title with Nebraska, even after having played a tougher schedule then the Huskers that year. If Joe Pa gets a Christmas gift from the voters this year, only a Scrooge could say he hasn't earned it.
If Penn State gets to Pasadena they have an excellent chance. Any fan who has watched USC this year knows their defense is soft. Texas showed major vulnerability on defense against both Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. The Lion defense, on the other hand, is stout and with Michael Robinson's improvement they would have at least an even shot at winning Paterno's third national title. Now it's just a question of seeing if they get a shot.