BYU still technically alive in BCS

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By DOUG ALDEN AP Sports Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- All Brigham Young coach Bronco Mendenhall can do at this point is keep the No. 21 Cougars concentrating on San Diego State.

Anything the Aztecs have planned for BYU on Saturday has to be less complicated than figuring out the equation that could land the Cougars in the Bowl Championship Series.

"We're not completely ruled out at this point, although I still consider it a long shot," Mendenhall said Tuesday in a conference call.

A long shot? It's about as farfetched as the Cougars converting on fourth-and-18 from their own 12-yard line with about a minute left against rival Utah. Then again, BYU pulled that one off and rallied to win 17-10 on Saturday.

So BYU (9-2, 7-0) is in bowl limbo. All the Cougars, who haven't lost a conference game in two years, can do is worry about San Diego State and then see what happens elsewhere.

"They knew that they were close to achieving that a year ago with two losses and their aspirations and hopes were to compete in one of those games this year," Mendenhall said. "Whether that plays out or not, we'll see."

The most likely scenario for BYU is a third straight trip to the Las Vegas Bowl.

The Cougars have already clinched a second straight Mountain West outright title, but the league is not guaranteed a spot in one of the BCS games. Only two teams from a non-BCS conference have ever done it -- Utah in 2004 and Boise State last year -- and both had to go unbeaten to get there.

No. 11 Hawaii can become the third with a win over Washington on Saturday. That would keep BYU out because only one team from the non-BCS conferences, including the Western Athletic and the Mountain West, can make it.

If Washington pulls an upset, then there could be an at-large spot open Sunday.

BYU is ranked No. 19 in the BCS standings and has one last chance to impress poll voters before the final votes are tallied and the BCS computers decide who stands where. The Cougars could get an at-large BCS berth if the right combination of teams ahead of them tumble this weekend before the bowl selections are announced Sunday.

BCS outsiders ranked in the top 12 get an automatic bid. But getting into the top 12 would be next to impossible, considering several teams right in front of BYU are done for the season and aren't likely to be jumped by the Cougars no matter what they do against San Diego State on Saturday.

But teams from the unaffiliated conferences are also eligible if they are in the BCS top 16 and the champion from one of the guaranteed conferences is ranked lower. The winners of the championship games in the ACC, Big 12 and SEC will all be ranked higher than BYU, leaving the Pac-10 as the only possibility.

And it's a remote possibility. UCLA would have to beat No. 8 Southern California and Arizona beat No. 13 Arizona State to create a four-way tie for the championship, which would go to the Bruins on tiebreakers, according to the Pac-10.

"It's playing out where 10-2, if indeed that's what we're capable of, might be enough," Mendenhall said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-11-27-07 1607MST

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