With a Steve Slaton 18 yard TD romp extending West Virginia’s lead over Marshall to 40-23 with 4 minutes remaining, I suspect Rich Rodriguez is off the hook in the race to see who will be this Saturday’s Lloyd Carr. But there’s still a bit of intrigue for those with short attention spans, as Wake Forest have a 3rd quarter lead of 17-13 over no. 16 Nebraska (surely not the way Bill Callahan envisioned celebrating his 3 year contract extension), and Ohio State have only managed a 3-2 halftime advantage over Akron. Plenty of people in Ann Arbor hoping to purchase Zips merchandise later in the week, I suspect.

While admitting “a playoff system would be much better and that even in the current format, there’s no reason for the likes of the Mountain West Conference or the Western Athletic Conference to not have its champion automatically qualify for a BCS game,” the Salt Lake Tribune’s Kurt Kragthrope surveys today’s games and concludes, “the BCS is wonderful”.

For the second Saturday in September, this is awfully good stuff: BYU at UCLA, Texas Christian at Texas, Boise State at Washington. They are games that, as BSU coach Chris Petersen said, will “start to answer a lot of questions.”

But they’re bigger than that, really. These are not just interesting matchups, they’re playoff games for the visiting teams.

For BYU, TCU and BSU, losing today would be costly. It’s risk-reward, which is a great thing in sports. If these three teams were merely playing for rankings and playoff seedings, today’s games would not be nearly as significant. Having them play for their big-bowl futures in early September is a lot more fun.

It is a myth that teams at this level need to schedule ambitiously for BCS purposes. Just one Texas or UCLA or Washington on the road is sufficiently challenging, because, as BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said, “If you lose a game early, you’re out.”

That may not be entirely true, however. If BYU had lost to either Arizona or Boston College but not both last season, the Cougars very well could have qualified via a top-12 finish in the BCS standings – except for the fact that Boise State would have been ahead of them, and taken the one designated “non-BCS” bid.

A one-loss BYU or TCU team could do the same thing this season, especially if Texas or UCLA goes on to do big things. Just the same, fans of the Cougars and Horned Frogs probably need to cheer against Boise State today, because they’re all competing for one BCS spot, realistically.