Panic in Year Zero.
That was a film in 1962 starring Ray Milland.Ray of course didn't know that the film title would become an accurate barometer for what's happening in college bowl team selection committee meetings across the country.
The bowl people (actually, that wouldn't be a bad title for a film - THE BOWL PEOPLE "See them battle each other in their neon-colored blazers for the right to devour their favorite team") have never been noted for their patience, but this year they're outdoing themselves. Let it be noted that they're receiving plenty of assistance in the panic department from conferences and schools.
The Pac-10 is out front in bowl deal making, already having placed five of its teams in bowls - Washington, Rose; USC, Hancock; Oregon, Freedom; Arizona, Aloha; and California, Copper.
The fact that bids aren't supposed to be made until Nov. 24 has about as much effect on bowls and schools as a postcard asking Iraq to leave Kuwait would have on Saddam Hussein.
There are teams now committed to bowls that have three games left - like USC and Michigan State.
This year's wacky developments might hasten some kind of a national championship format, believes Tim Brando, studio head for college football for ESPN.
Brando also thinks the championship format concept would be aided considerably if Houston, a school on probation, finished first in the Associated Press poll.
HOLIDAY BOWL UPDATE: The shell-shocked Holiday Bowl is scouting just three games this week - Texas vs. Houston, Ohio State at Iowa and Illinois at Michigan. The blockbuster deal made Monday by the Pac-10 knocked four prime teams out of Holiday Bowl contention - USC, Arizona, Oregon (a definite possibility if Wyoming were to beat BYU) and Michigan State (the Spartans have agreed to face USC in the John Hancock Bowl). At the top of the Holiday Bowl list now is Texas A&M. But the Aggies are still in the running for the Cotton Bowl. The Holiday Bowl may have a shot at the losers of the Iowa-Ohio State and Illinois-Michigan games.
A longshot: Virginia becoming available if it decides to snub the Fiesta Bowl over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday flap in Arizona.
HEISMAN MAKE OR BREAK DAY: Three of the frontrunners - Ty Detmer of BYU, Raghib Ismail of Notre Dame and David Klinger of Houston are either on national cable - ESPN - or national TV today. Detmer faces Wyoming at 2 p.m. in a WAC title showdown; Klingler and Houston are also on ESPN against 6-1 Texas at 5:30 p.m.; while Rocket Ismail leads the No. 1-ranked Irish against Tennessee on CBS at noon.
LOCAL FORECASTS: BYU is off to Laramie for a probable WAC title showdown and a chance to show whether it's better than the national championship squad of 1984; perplexing Utah visits New Mexico; surging Utah State is at Cal State Fullerton and rested Weber State is at Northern Arizona. Holding the Tupperware ball close to the light shows the following:
BYU 45, Wyoming 24
Since the Duck Disaster, the Cougars are playing as well as a BYU team has ever played. Thanks to the offensive line, Ty Detmer has been amazing. Neither Rams, Lobos, Falcons, wind or snow have been able to stop him. Cowboys shouldn't be able to either. One note of caution: In big games BYU has shown a tendency to turn the ball over - five times against Miami and five times against Oregon. But the way the team has jelled, BYU should still win unless there are more than five turnovers.
New Mexico 37, Utah 21
The Utes are in disarray. The Lobos are somewhat, too, but are at home. The home factor plus a high octane passing offense gives New Mexico enough of an edge to send Utah to its third straight loss.
Utah State 35, Cal-State Fullerton 17
The Aggies continue to roll as the team jells behind quarterback Ron Lopez. The defense has gotten defensive of late, throttling both UNLV and New Mexico State. Expect more of the same today.
Weber State 34, Northern Arizona 27
Though they're playing on the road, the Wildcats have shown that hasn't been an intimidating factor - ask Wyoming, which only beat Weber State 21-12. Quarterback Jamie Martin and the offense are due to bounce back from a so-so showing against Nevada.