A proponent of a playoff system to determine the NCAA Division I-A football champion, Penn State Coach Joe Paterno usually doesn't concern himself with the polls.

He has consistently refused to vote in the UPI Top 25 coaches' poll and has also refused to discuss rankings during the season, saying none of that matters until the year is completed.With all the upsets and controversy that have marked college football this season, however, Paterno has some opinions on how the voting for No. 1 should go.

Not surprisingly, they include an argument on behalf of his eighth-ranked Nittany Lions, 9-2, who will face No. 5 Florida State, 9-2, in the inaugural Blockbuster Bowl on Dec. 28.

Top-ranked Colorado, 10-1-1, trails No. 2 Georgia Tech, 10-0-1, and No. 3 Texas, 10-1, in Paterno's view.

"If Georgia Tech wins (its bowl game against No. 13 Nebraska), they have every right to be No. 1," Paterno said Friday. "They won all their games and while some have criticized their schedule, they played all their games, won most of them and only tied one and will have beaten a pretty good Nebraska team.

"If Texas beats (No. 4) Miami and Georgia Tech doesn't beat Nebraska, I think Texas should be No. 1. If Georgia Tech and Texas both lose, it's anybody's guess and the winner of the Penn State-Florida State game has as much right to consider itself the best in the country as anyone else."

While Paterno would not directly criticize Colorado for its controversial fifth-down victory over Missouri, he made it clear he subtracts one win and adds another loss to Colorado's record.

"When the dust settles, if Colorado finishes with one loss and one tie, it's anybody guess (who should be No. 1)," Paterno said. "I don't think Colorado should get it. You have to evaluate the schedules (of all the contenders) and it would be a real horse race.

"I'm sure the Colorado people would disagree but you'd expect them to disagree."

Paterno's team opened the season with losses to both Texas and Southern California but then reeled off nine straight victories, including a upset of then top-ranked Notre Dame.

While he thinks his Nittany Lions could figure in the national championship equation, he does not think this team is as good as his 1986 squad, which beat Miami in the Fiesta Bowl to earn the No. 1 ranking.