Fearless prediction: Utah’s 31-17 Sugar Bowl hammer job on Alabama will lead to a plus-one system to determine the national champion in D-1A college football when the ESPN contract kicks in after next season.

While the plus-one would have still been overloaded this year with five legitimate title qualifiers (Utah, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, USC), look for a new BCS formulation that would assure undefeated teams with respectable strength of schedule to make it to the final four. Under the new formulation, Utah’s SOS this season, which included wins over ranked teams like TCU, BYU, Oregon State and three other bowl-bound programs, would have been sufficient enough to land the Utes in a semifinal matchup.

Funny to see the love sportswriters like Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! are giving 13-0 Utah now, after the Utes surprised the masses with their Sugar Bowl victory.

Where were they all year long when the Utes and fellow Mountain West Conference teams were racking up a 6-1 record against Pac-10 opponents? Or when the conference’s last-place Wyoming knocked off the SEC’s Tennessee in Knoxville?

Wetzel does get it right when he points out how few, if any, pollsters even saw Utah play. For that, the Utes can thank Craig Thompson, commissioner of the MWC. Thompson oversaw the conference’s ill-advised defection from ESPN for a slightly weightier contract with now-defunct CSTV.

CSTV was acquired by CBS shortly after the MWC contract took effect, and rather than making the MWC the featured conference in their programming, the new powers at CBS Sports immediately partnered with Comcast to create a new channel called The Mtn. with the intention of showcasing all of the Mountain West Conference’s sports.

Trouble is, during the first two years existence of the station, only about 67,000 subscribers in the states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico were able to see any MWC football. It wasn’t until this past September that The Mtn. began appearing nationwide on DirecTV channel 616. Yep, a lot of the nation immediately began searching their dials for channel 616.

Ever since defecting from ESPN’s stable of conference affiliations prior to the 2006 football season, MWC teams have suffered dearly for a lack of nationally televised games, not to mention their inability to garner more than a few crumbs of attention on the important game day review programs like ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

Fellow Mountain West Conference member BYU is doing something about that lack of national TV exposure next year. The Cougars just signed on to play Oklahoma in the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 5. The game will be televised on either ABC or ESPN to a national audience. The following week, BYU will appear on ESPN when it returns to the region to take on Tulane in New Orleans at the Louisiana Superdome.

Prior to the MWC’s departure from ESPN, BYU football games were regularly available on ESPN either through regional coverage or ESPN GamePlan.

The Big Ten and the Rose Bowl Game…a lot of college football fans have been calling for an end to the Big Ten’s relationship with the Rose Bowl Game, thanks to its dismal record this decade in The Granddaddy of Them All. These fans all need to take a chill pill and let the current cycle run its course.

Last decade, the Big Ten ruled the Rose Bowl Game, winning seven of 10 from the Pac-10. In fact, the 1990s ended with Ohio State winning in ’97, Michigan in ’98 and Wisconsin in ’99 and 2000—the last game won by a Big Ten team. Michigan also won the 1993 Rose Bowl Game, Wisconsin won in 1994, and Penn State triumphed in 1995.

Less than nine years ago, nobody was complaining that the Pac-10 should be booted out of its longtime association with the Rose Bowl Game just because it was losing to its Big Ten opponents at a 70 percent rate.

Next year’s clash in Seattle between USC and the Washington Huskies is going to be a doozie. New head coach and former USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has been cherry-picking USC’s coaching staff something fierce.

The latest coaching morsel the Huskies have stolen from Troy is Trojans defensive coordinator Nick Holt–the sixth USC coach or administrative staff member hired by Sarkisian. Holt joins Dennis Slutak, director of football operations; Jared Blank, director of player personnel; strength coaches Charr Gahagan and Ivan Lewis, and former grad assistant Demetrice Martin, who will coach Huskies defensive backs.

No wonder nobody wants to play in the GMAC Bowl… located in Mobile, Ala., of all places, this contest serves as a consolation prize to the runner-up teams from the Mid-American Conference and C-USA. Mobile receives an average of 67 inches of rain per year and was voted the wettest community in the USA. So did you see the monsoon Ball State and Tulsa played in on Tuesday night? There might have been all of 500 fans in the stands for the game. Most of them looked like coaches’ wives and kids.

Wouldn’t you know, the contest was won by the Golden Hurricane.

BCS title game prediction. Note that I am not referring to this as a national championship game. Thanks to the Rose Bowl Game and the Sugar Bowl, the reason is obvious. I’m not changing my tune from my pre-bowl week column prediction: The Gators will win this in a high-scoring overtime shootout.