Early Line: Oregon tops Boise St., OU 

October, 20, 2010

You may have noticed that the BCS standings were released this past week and, well, shocker, there is some debate over who should be atop the rankings. And by debate I mean, Oklahoma? Really?

Most mock BCS polls heading into the real one's debut had Boise firmly entrenched at No. 1. Handicappers agreed. In fact, when I spoke with Sal Selvaggio from madduxsports.com for my podcast a few weeks ago, he said that he would take Boise State at pick against anyone in the country right now.

That same day, ESPN college football whiz Joe Schad tweeted that Boise State would be an underdog vs. Oregon (-2.5), Ohio St (-4.5) and Alabama (-6), according to the MGM Resorts Sports Book. And that prompted an idea for this blog. Not from me, of course, but from Insider's Chris Sprow. You may know the name and the handsome mug from his frequent and informative hits on the ESPN-branded networks talking about rumors -- as he is our resident Rumor Central expert. He's also something of an idea savant. Has been that way for years -- way back when he was running a weekly rag about Chicago sports and constantly sending me e-mail pitches. They were good then, they're good now. And his idea was this: What if we did a hypothetical line for potential BCS matchups -- and other likely big-name games, as well.

"Brilliant," I said. And this is how conceits are born. Over cupcakes late at night while we are closing the magazine.

I liked the idea so much I dedicated a whole podcast with Bob Scucci, bookmaker at The Orleans, to it. We talked about what the lines would have been for classic matchups we wish we had seen, including 1998's two best NFL teams, the Broncos-Vikings (the Vikes were 15-1 but were upset by Atlanta in the NFC title game), the 1975 Steelers vs. 1985 Bears, undefeateds Nebraska and Penn State from 1994 (Nebraska was awarded the title), LSU-USC in 2004 (they split the AP and BCS titles), undefeated Utah vs. one-loss Florida in 2008 and, to round out the circle, undefeateds Bama-Boise last year.

For the rest of the football season at least, we are replacing our regularly scheduled System of the Week with The Early Line -- our take on what the lines should be in the games we really want to see. Scooch will give me his bookmaker's breakdown. And Sal will give me his handicapper's breakdown. To round out our game, the fine folks from AccuScore will simulate the matchups and give us a final score, along with their analysis. Hopefully, we'll eventually get to really see who was right.