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Give us one more game
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Forsyth County News
The Fastest Four Months in Sports ended last Thursday with Alabama’s 37-21 win over Texas in the Mythical College Football Championship Game.

Mythical indeed. For those of you abhorring the BCS, you’ve got more ammunition. For those of you wanting a true national champion, you got another fiasco. For those of you who champion the Broncos of Boise State, you got jobbed.

The season ended with two undefeated, untied teams. Obviously, determining a true national champion isn’t the point of the regular season, the bowl season, or the BCS.

Now, none of this will prevent Alabama from celebrating another championship. It won’t keep Nick Saban from being enshrined in statuary beside the likenesses of Gene Stallings, Paul Bryant, Frank Thomas and Wallace Wade.

And, as any true Tide fan will assure you, Bama would have destroyed Boise State. Even if the Broncos got to play their starting quarterback for the entire game. After all, Bama beat mighty Florida to win the SEC, the finest football conference in the free world. The only conference in history to ring up four straight national titles, mythical or not.

Still, one wonders. Boise knocked off a TCU team that won the Mountain West. In case you missed it, the Mountain West just fashioned the best bowl record of any conference: 4-1. The only MWC member to lose its bowl game was TCU. The SEC turned in a 6-4 bowl mark.

Among the other MWC schools, Utah beat Cal (Pac-10) to win its ninth straight bowl game. Number eight came a year ago. Against Alabama.
BYU trashed another Pac-10 team, Oregon State, 44-20. The Beavers came within a touchdown of hosting the Rose Bowl. Air Force drubbed Houston, 47-20, and Wyoming beat Fresno State, 35-28, in a double overtime thriller.

The Fiesta Bowl wasn’t a thriller, unless you like stout defense. But who expected Boise to hold TCU to 10 measly points? The same TCU that scored over 40 points per game this season? That averaged over 47 for its last seven games?

Boise did toss in its usual flourish, a fake punt from its own 39-yard-line ignited the offense for the winning score.

Before running into the fine TCU defense, Boise had averaged 44 points a game itself. Wonder how the Broncos might have fared against the unyielding Alabama defense?

We’ll have to keep wondering, and that’s the point. We’re left with two undefeated teams who’ll never get the chance to prove whose best beyond a shadow of a doubt.

That’s why I now favor a Plus One playoff system. Why not play one more game to delete the “mythical” from national champion? Once you’ve journeyed through the bowl season, usually two teams have emerged as the cream of the crop. You simply start the bowls a week earlier, or condense them slightly, have the bowls end on New Year’s Day in the traditional manner, and play the Plus One game about the same time the final game is now played.

Now, this system won’t be foolproof, either. But it would clearly be an improvement. This year, five teams entered the bowls undefeated. Two emerged unscathed. Perfect scenario for the Plus One system.

Under the Plus One, Auburn gets its shot at Southern Cal five years ago. Georgia gets a shot at LSU three years ago, or at Ohio State after the 2002 season.

Best of all, this system has at least an outside chance of adoption, because it leaves the bowl system in place. And, as we’ve all seen, it will take an act of Congress to abolish the bowls.

Though, I must admit, I love bowl season. Thirty-four games over three weeks; what a bonanza! A game every night, almost every one with an intriguing angle or story line. And the games almost always produce exciting, rollicking action. Unless South Carolina’s involved.

Bear in mind, these words are written by someone who has long advocated a straight playoff system. But I’m not afraid to change my mind, to admit the error of my ways. I’ve grown to embrace the idea of 34 winners instead of one.

Without the bowl system, we’d have missed Idaho beating Bowling Green, 43-42. The Vandals final touchdown drive went 66 yards. In 28 seconds. Then coach Robb Akey went for two-and the win.

That all came after the Falcons fabulous Freddie Barnes, maybe the best receiver in America, scored the apparent winning touchdown in the final minute, part of a frenzy of 22 points scored in the game’s final four minutes. Great stuff.

We’d have missed Central Michigan’s dual-threat quarterback, Dan LeFevour, leading the Chippewas back from a late, two-score deficit to beat Troy, 44-41. In double overtime. The pundits who criticized the scheduling of this game during the final week were right. This was a far better game than the Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl or BCS finale.

We’d have missed Navy, still operating Paul Johnson’s offense, running for 385 yards, and holding the ball for 41 minutes, against Missouri’s 12th-ranked rushing defense.

We’d have missed Bobby Bowden winning his final game. The New Year’s Day wire jobs between the Big Ten and SEC.

And we’d have missed East Carolina’s valiant effort against Arkansas. The Pirates thwarted Bobby Petrino’s offensive genius at every turn-the Razorbacks were a perfect 0-for-13 on third downs.

Yet the Pirates lost, 20-17, in overtime, when kicker Ben Hartman missed two field goals in the final minute, and another in overtime. Oh, the agony.

I’m convinced. Keep the bowls. Plus One.