So you want to play in the BCS Championship Game? Very well. Come in and have a seat. We have a few worthy candidates and you'll get your turn to state your case.
In a contentious BCS atmosphere, every end of season acts as a beauty contest. A battle not fought on the field but in the forum of public opinion. It's not a meritocracy or even a democracy. It's Politburo-style, like in the old Soviet Union: 175 unelected representatives (61 coaches and 114 Harris voters) will decide the fate of our college football nation.
You still think the I love the BCS? Sure, it's good for business. But like a vegetarian meat packer - just because you sell it doesn't mean you have to eat it.
It's a lousy job, but somebody has to do it. We have to try to decipher which are the two best teams that should be pitted in the mythical national championship game. Right now, we have seven contestants. And they're ranked 1 through 7 in the current BCS standings. But as usual, there's more to it than meets the eye.
Is Alabama really the best team? Does Utah have a chance? Which conference is tougher, the SEC or Big 12? And what about USC?
The best thing to do, then, is to evaluate each team's resume and put them next to each other. So here they are:
As you can see, aside from being undefeated, Alabama may have the weakest resume of the group, yet it is ranked No. 1. And every other team has some strong arguments and some holes in its presentation as well. Let's review them one by one:
|Loss To||Best Win|| |
vs Top 14
|Alabama||66||6-11||None||#10 Georgia (8-2)||1-0 (1)|
|Texas Tech||29||10-8||None||#3 Texas (9-1)||2-0 (1)|
|Texas||5||9-10||Texas Tech #2 (10-0)||#5 Oklahoma (9-1)||3-1|
|Florida||14||11-5||Ole Miss UR (5-4)||#10 Georgia||1-0 (1)|
|Oklahoma||27||15-2||Texas #3 (9-1)||#18 TCU (9-2)||0-1 (2)|
|USC||39||13-15||Oregon State #28 (6-3)||#11 Ohio State (8-2)||1-0|
|Key: SOS = Strength of schedule average of NCAA, Sagarin and Massey|
|RS* = Records of opponents remaining on schedule, excluding I-AA teams|
No. 1 Alabama - The Tide played the softest schedule of the group. One of its two best wins - over then-No. 9 Clemson - has been thoroughly discredited as the Tigers are 4-5 and just fired their coach. Basically, Alabama is living off its one great half against Georgia. If the Tide go on and finish the season 13-0, with a win over Florida in the SEC championship game, fine, send them to the BCS title game. But one loss anywhere should immediately eliminate 'Bama from this discussion.
No. 2 Texas Tech - The Red Raiders are definitely the hottest team and with a win at Oklahoma in two weeks, there should be no argument about their legitimacy. Unlike Alabama, another loss - to Oklahoma, specifically - shouldn't be automatically disqualifying, but the timing would probably do the trick.
No. 3 Texas - The Longhorns were one second away from a perfect record and probably an unanimous No. 1 ranking. Texas has played by far the toughest schedule of anyone and has beaten three teams in the top 14 - all in consecutive weeks. And its only loss is to the second-ranked team, on the road, in the last second. By all means, should either of the two unbeaten BCS teams slip up, Texas should get right back into the title picture. But the reality is that it might not even get into the Big 12 championship game.
No. 4 Florida - The Gators probably have the two most impressive wins - over Georgia and LSU by a combined score of 100-31 - but they also have the worst loss of the teams in the group. Florida's only loss was at home to an unranked Ole Miss team that's not yet bowl eligible. But the Gators have a chance to burnish their resume down the stretch with games against two teams currently ranked in the top 25, and then top-ranked Alabama in the SEC championship game. If they run the table, there should be no denying the Gators.
No. 5 Oklahoma - The Sooners won two games against good non-conference opponents (TCU and Cincinnati) but have yet to beat a quality Big 12 team. But OU has a chance to state its case because its two remaining opponents have a combined overall record of 18-2 (15-2 against I-A teams). And winning those games just might be enough to propel Oklahoma into the Big 12 championship game and open a path to the BCS title game.
No. 6 USC - The Trojans' one bad half against Oregon State not only is keeping them at arm's length of the BCS title game, but might also prevent them from earning a Rose Bowl berth. In retrospect, the loss to the Beavers was not as bad as originally thought - on the road against an OSU team that's now 6-3 and controls its own destiny for the Pac-10 title. And USC has no chance to impress the voters with games against Stanford, Notre Dame and UCLA remaining. Despite the fact that USC's defense, which has surrendered an ungodly 6.7 points per game, may finish as the best unit of all time, the Pac-10's weakness this season is not helping the Trojans' cause.
No. 7 Utah - Can the Utes get into the BCS title game? Yes. The possibility exists. If every team ahead of them loses at least one more game - and Alabama loses twice - then Utah conceivably may end up in the championship game. Short of that, Utah will have to be content with a BCS bowl berth, which will be a lock if it beats San Diego State and BYU to finish the season.
As a bonus, here's the latest BCS bowl projections -
* BCS Championship - Florida vs. Texas Tech
* Rose Bowl - USC vs. Penn State
* Fiesta Bowl - Texas vs. Ohio State
* Sugar Bowl - Alabama vs. Utah
* Orange Bowl - ACC champion vs. Big East champion