Two Coaches, Same Fate?

"Bask in it while you can," he said Tuesday morning. "It can be fleeting. It's fun to have two teams in the top 20."

There are two ways that the WAC can grab one of the four at-large bids. One, have a team finish in the top 12 of the final BCS; or two, have a team finish 13th-16th, yet finish ahead of one of the six conference champions with guaranteed bids.

Benson believes the winner of the Hawaii-Boise State game on Nov. 23 (ESPN2, 9 ET) will be good enough to make the top 12. He thinks the other way to win the bid comes with an asterisk, anyway.

"I wouldn't want to see Hawaii or Boise State back in," Benson said, "especially from Hawaii's standpoint, being undefeated. Twelve is the number. The only chance of the 16 [standing] coming into play might be [an upset in] the ACC championship game. If they win out and they are 12-0, history has shown that is enough."

Benson is willing to believe in the system that sent undefeated Boise State to the Fiesta Bowl last season.

"The system was developed to recognize an undefeated team," Benson said. "I think we have to acknowledge that Hawaii's schedule to a large part is not their fault."

Therein lies Hawaii's problem. Its schedule hasn't gotten off the couch. The Warriors' struggle to find nonconference opponents in the age of the 12-game schedule is well-documented. The Warriors are unranked in the computer portion of the BCS formula. Hawaii has played two I-AA opponents, and its six I-A opponents have a combined record of 14-42.

"Those six opponents have a collective computer ranking of 103," Benson said. "The good news is that Hawaii's next four opponents (Fresno State, Nevada, Boise State, Washington) have a combined computer ranking of 57 and a won-lost record of 22-14. We're expecting that the computer will begin to recognize the last four opponents."

Offensive DiversityNo. 9 Arizona State leads the nation with an average of 34:30 minutes of possession per game -- an astounding number -- and has run 83 more plays than its opponents, an average of about nine per game. Makes sense, right? You hold the ball, you run more plays.

Chase Daniel and the Tigers average 79.4 plays per game. How about No. 6 Missouri? The Tigers average 28:13 in possession, 104th in the nation, yet they have 39 more plays than their opponents, or about four per game. How does that work?

It works like this: The Tigers are fourth in the nation in plays per game (79.4), behind Houston, Troy and Tulsa. All four teams spread the field and believe huddles are for emergencies. Missouri also is plus-seven in turnover margin. That translates to more plays, too.

"What we try to do is get up there and snap the ball before the play clock gets to :10, and most of the time, before it gets to :14 or :15," Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen said. "It's a quick-strike offense. Most of the drives throughout the season are less than two minutes. … One thing is, the more series we have, the more we're going to score."

That's where that plus-seven in turnover margin comes in so handy.

The one part of the offense that is holding the Tigers back is a problem they want to have. In the fourth quarter, Missouri begins to hang on to the ball to protect its lead. The Tigers kept the ball for 10 minutes in the fourth quarter of their 55-10 victory over Colorado last week. Christensen said the change in rhythm doesn't upset quarterback Chase Daniel and the offense.

"You would think that would be the case," Christensen said. "Last week, we just ran it and moved down the field and scored another touchdown."

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for Send your questions and comments to Ivan at

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