The Tide rolls out?

* Turns out Alabama isn’t invincible and capable, in fact, of looking very average, as the Tide did Saturday during it’s 35-21 loss at South Carolina. Give the Gamecocks credit; they were outstanding and overcame a start-of-the-second-half near meltdown.

So now what?

Ohio State will almost certainly become the nation’s top-ranked team in the next rankings. Oregon likely will go to No. 2. And both Boise State and TCU now have a clearer path to get into the top two.

Alabama isn’t out of the national championship picture. In fact, if Ohio State and Oregon both lose a game the rest of the way (Ohio State is more likely to lose than Oregon, I think), a one-loss Tide and SEC champion will be in the hunt.

There are so many interesting and frustrating scenarios in college football’s chase for a national championship. We’ll start the real countdown next week, when the first BCS rankings are published.

What about Auburn? The Tigers, who play at Kentucky later tonight, are unbeaten and have a win over South Carolina. They get a shot at rival Alabama later.

What about Nebraska? The Huskers have a great shot at an unbeaten regular season, it appears, which would set up a potential showdown with Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game. Nebraska and quarterback Taylor Martinez have to be taken seriously as a national-championship contender.

What about Oklahoma? The Sooners haven’t lit it up yet, but are ranked No. 6 and poised to make a move.

What about Arizona? The Wildcats look to be for real in a tough Pac-10 and get to play Oregon at home.

What about Utah? The Utes are lingering in the Top 10, play in the credible Mountain West and their stunning win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl two seasons ago still resonates.

What about South Carolina? The Gamecocks are sure to vault up the rankings, such is the juice gained from a win over the top-ranked team in the country.

What about Michigan State? Don’t completely write off Michigan State, which handily beat rival Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday. The Spartans are in this thing.

And, of course, there are the aforementioned Boise State and TCU. I love the Horned Frogs, who blanked Wyoming on Saturday. I know neither teams plays as tough a schedule as some of the other national-championship contenders. But they long ago proved themselves to be for real.

There’s a lot of football to be played, but it’s obvious how crazy this thing could be.

* “Sporting News” is one of my favorite magazines, not anything like the baseball-dominated publication it used to be. It’s annual “Best Sports City” list came out in the most recent edition, and the nod for No. 1 goes to Chicago.

Wichita? We’re No. 145. How exciting.

There’s a formula for producing this list, which consists of 402 American cities. Yakima, Wash., by the way, is No. 402.

Wichita is surrounded in the SN rankings by Springfield, Mo., which is No. 143, and Huntsville, Texas, at No. 145. Some of the cities ahead of Wichita include: Murray, Ky. (139); Monroe, La., (132); Moscow, Idaho, (111); Troy, Ala., (107); and Logan, Utah (99).

I don’t get too wrapped up in a list like this, which drips with subjectivity despite the formula. But it’s a little bothersome to think that Wichita is ranked 18 spots behind Cedar Falls, Iowa, and 30 spots behind Las Cruces, N.M., both cities that received a big boost from their university’s (Northern Iowa and New Mexico State) college basketball programs.

Next week on the blog, I’ll write about why Wichita is ranked where it is by “Sporting News” and what can be done to improve our city’s standing. Your ideas, as always, are welcome.

* Some of my NFL picks forĀ  tomorrow and Monday night:

Baltimore 24, Denver 17

Houston 30, New York Giants 27

Green Bay 28, Washington 20

New Orleans 27, Arizona 14

Dallas 21, Tennessee 20

What about the Chiefs, who play at Indianapolis on Sunday at noon? I think it’ll be a game. I think the Chiefs have a confident football team and the Colts don’t defend the run well at all. Kansas City will put the game into the hands of its running backs, which for now is a safer place than asking quarterback Matt Cassel, who is still trying to find himself with KC, but making some progress. The big question for the Chiefs in this match-up is finding a way to slow down the Colts’ passing game. It doesn’t help that Indy is coming off a difficult road loss at Jacksonville and will be hopping mad. Yes, hopping mad. Which is mad on a higher level. So, I predict a 31-24 Colts win.

My Facebook friend

Christine Costin-Sheldon

Chris was a high school friend back in – well, a while back. She lived on a farm outside of Derby and was in my geometry

Chris

Chris

class my junior year, when she was a sophomore. We’ve re-connected through Facebook, although we weren’t all that close in high school. Not that I would have objected . . . did I just say that? No, Debbie (my fiance), I did not.

Anyway, I saw Chris at a high-school reunion last month along with her surgeon husband. They live in the San Francisco area and she’s a big Raiders fan. Here’s what Chris, a former Wichita Wind cheerleader, had to say about herself and our Facebook connection:

I am a 54-year-old retired critical care nurse. I am married and have three children. I grew up on a farm just outside Derby and have been living in the San Francisco Bay area since 1983. My friends out here don’t believe me when I tell them I milked cows, worked in the fields and started driving trucks to the Mulvane co-op at age 13! Bob was one of my first former classmates to friend me on Facebook. I always enjoy reading his comments, they are funny, witty and sometimes bewildering. It was really fun seeing Bob this Sept. at our high school reunion. He still has that great smile, and most importantly, he didn’t give me a bad time about being a Raiders fan!