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07 Dec 2009

One Foot Inbounds: Championships Past and Heisman Futures

by Robert Weintraub

Isn't that just like sports to confound us all this way? We spend months waiting with bated breath for the SEC Championship game between undefeated No. 1 Florida and undefeated Alabama, and it turns out to be the only bad game of the day.

For me, first play from each team crystallized Alabama's 32-13 whipping of the Gators. Alabama took the ball after winning the toss (in itself unusual, as Nick Saban is a deferment guy), and came out in a spread formation. It was a wrinkle put in especially for this game, as Florida would have probably believed Bear Bryant would come out of the tunnel before the Tide went into the spread. Quarterback Greg McElroy hit Julio Jones for a 18-yard gain, and a pattern had begun -- Florida's normally attacking defense was made to look slow because they were kept off balance by the Tide's offensive maneuvering.

As for Florida, its first play was Urban Meyer's bread and butter -- spread shovel to tight end Aaron Hernandez. But Alabama had inserted a fourth down lineman specifically to take the tight end, and he stuffed the play. And another trend was established -- Florida never finding a rhythm or much room to operate on offense.

Way back in early September, after beating Virginia Tech in the same venue, the Georgia Dome, you'll recall I wrote that McElroy already was an upgrade over the previous Tide passer, John Parker Wilson (who coincidentally spends much time in the Dome as an Atlanta Falcon). McElroy hasn't been called upon to throw much this season, but he's a graduate of the OxBridge School for Spread Quarterbacks, Southlake Carroll High School outside of Dallas (other matriculates include Chase Daniel and Riley Dodge). McElroy showed he can carry a pass-heavy game plan and make defenses pay for keying on Mark Ingram.

That bell you hear at the mention of Mr. Ingram's name means it's time for my Heisman Trophy ballot. I've avoided getting caught in the stiff-arm hype all season, as the award is really won in the final weeks, and also, I find it rather boring. But it's my duty as your college commentator to give my thoughts on the nation's best player. And I think Ingram deserves it after Saturday's performance -- 189 total yards and three touchdowns against the nation's (previously) top defense.

My major criterion when splitting hairs at the top of the ballot is how a player performs in his team's biggest games. Ingram was dominant in the opener (185 total yards and two scores) and finale in Atlanta and had monster games at Ole Miss and against LSU as well.

The second place finisher played in the Big 12 title game -- and it sure as hell ain't Colt McCoy. Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has tossed double teams aside like dandelions all season, and, Saturday night in JerryWorld, he simply shattered Texas' blocking. Suh had twelve tackles and 4.5 sacks, including one where he hurled McCoy down like King Kong Bundy. It was an exceptional display, one that could have -- should have -- upset the BCS apple cart.

Forget the Heisman -- McCoy is lucky he wasn't hunted down by a posse of Texas Rangers and strung up by his Buster Browns. His harebrained execution of the final seconds came thisclose to becoming one of sports' all-time gaffes. McCoy took a casual Friday approach as the clock wound down, and his heave out of bounds with the Longhorns in winning field goal position made landfall about .0000005 milliseconds before the clock struck zero. Only replay saved Colt's bacon. Then, as if Texas fans hadn't suffered enough, Hunter Lawrence slotted in the BCS Championship-saving field goal by mere inches for the 13-12 win. If you owned a defibrillator in Austin, you were a busy boy Saturday night.

(It was karmic payola for Texas fans, after missing out on last season's BCS title game by one second -- when Texas Tech and Michael Crabtree zinged the Longhorns with a single digit left. This time, the one tick works in their favor. Sports!)

So leave Colt out of my Heisman Five -- he was awful in Texas's two biggies, the conference championship and the Red River Shootout vs. Oklahoma (combined stats -- 41-of-75 for 311, with one touchdown and four picks, and one rushing TD). My ballot reads:

1. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
2. Ndamukong Suh, DT Nebraska
3. C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
4. Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford
5. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State.

McCoy and Tim Tebow barely crack the next five, with Tebow getting docked points for his weepy post-game interview on CBS. Give me the less heralded but ferocious Alabama linebacker, Rolando McClain, over those two hype machines. McClain's run-down-and-rattle of Tebow Saturday afternoon may be a microcosm of Tim's pro hopes -- he won't be running nearly as easily when the linebackers are all bigger and faster than he.

It was an extraordinary day of football, one that exceeded the previous 13 Saturdays combined in terms of breathless action and finishes. The best was in the Steel City, where Cincinnati preserved its unbeaten season with a 45-44 thrill-a-thon over Pittsburgh in the snow (as I've mentioned before, imagine a playoff game played in the north or Midwest in such inclement conditions -- it would multiply the greatness of a classic like this tenfold). Pitt led 31-10, and I was calling on Brian Kelly to yank quarterback Tony Pike in favor of sturdy backup Zach Collaros. But soon-to-be Notre Dame head coaches know best, I guess. Pike stayed in and threw three touchdown passes, including the game winner with 33 seconds left. Wide receiver Mardy Gilyard was the star, with several big catches and kick returns. His late second-half touchdown return made it 31-17 and kept the Bearcats in it.

Of course, the real difference maker was Pitt holder Andrew Janocko, whose bobbled hold on an extra point with 96 ticks remaining left the door ajar for Pike and Cincy to walk through. I guess Pittsburgh just can't beat Cincinnati at any level this season.

The ACC title game was another great duel between Georgia Tech and Clemson. The first contest in Atlanta was decided with a late field goal by the Yellow Jackets. This time, it was a late touchdown run by Jonathan Dwyer that propelled Tech past the textile boys, 39-34. Tech got the win and the Orange Bowl berth (against Iowa), but it was Spiller who stole the show. He had four touchdowns, each more scintillating than the last. I pray he can stay healthy in the pros, because he has a shot of having a Chris Johnson-like impact.

So while Alabama and Texas will hold the uber-program battle for the crystal trophy, Boise State, Cincy, and TCU are left with their noses pressed against the window. The Horned Frogs and Broncos will meet up in the Fiesta Bowl. It's a rematch of last season's classic in the Poinsettia Bowl (check that -- the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl). TCU pulled out a 17-16 victory, thanks to a pre-game pep talk from LaDainian Tomlinson. The Bearcats will try to beat up on the shrugging Gators, a la Utah taking SEC runner-up Alabama out back for a beating a year ago.

I'll let you guys carry the anti-BCS, no-playoff rant in the comments -- you know my stance, and I just can't work up any vitriol at the moment. It stinks, but it's Chinatown, Jake. Having a playoff seems impossible at this point, but then we all thought Florida-Alabama was going to be a classic, too.

Toedrags

  • It feels like ages ago now, but let's give a shout out to Oregon for wearing down Civil war-rival Oregon State and winning the trip to the Rose Bowl. Chip Kelly gets my Coach of the Year nod for the way he rallied his Ducks after the Boise State disaster in the opener and won the second-toughest conference in the land. On the subject of Boise, LeGarrette Blount, he of the blind-side knuckle sandwich after the game, was back on the field -- and in the end zone. Good to see Blount get it back together, even if LaMichael James ensured that Oregon scarcely missed Blount.
  • Houston's poor tackling caught up with them in the Conference USA title tilt, dropping a 38-32 decision to East Carolina. The Pirates simply ran through defenders all game. I will say that Cougars quarterback Case Keenum had an exceptional throw in the second quarter, hitting Tyrone Carrier between defenders. An absolute laser beam.
  • Running back Dion Lewis of Pitt made a valiant attempt at the Curse of 370 in a single game. The freshman hauled the mail 47 (!) times against Cincy for 194 yards and three scores. Beware -- the last back with that many totes was Chris Perry with 51, and look what happened to him. Lewis should be on early Heisman lists for 2010, anyway.
  • Verne Lundquist is usually solid, but he was almost as bad as Florida on Saturday. He and Gary Danielson somehow didn't know that an extra point that hits the upright is a dead ball. C'mon, fellas.
  • As for Matt Millen, who called the Cincy-Pitt game, I'd vote for a 20-year extension of the BCS system if only he promised never to speak into a microphone again.
  • As for extra points, they were missed all over the nation. Let's just all go for two from now on.
  • West Virginia held off a Rutgers comeback thanks to a key first-down run by quarterback Jarrett Brown, who planted an immense stiff arm on defensive end George Johnson to get past the sticks.
  • Shouldn't someone coming off a nasty concussion, as is Tim Tebow, refrain from headbutting his own teammates repeatedly?
  • Both Florida and Alabama defensive coordinators may be wearing polo shirts with different logos next season. Charlie Strong is almost certain to take the head gig at Louisville, while Kirby Smart may be money whipped over to Georgia, Florida State, or get a head coaching job himself.
  • Best shot of the day was Ingram dropping from a cramp attack moments after the final gun sounded. Good thing the announcers prefaced the replay by saying it was a cramp -- he screamed and fell like he was shot.
  • Suh got most of the attention, but Nebraska's secondary was phenomenal too, blanketing Texas receiver Jordan Shipley and providing tough run support.
  • (Nebraska kicker) Adi Kunalic -- a kickoff out of bounds in that situation? Seriously??
  • Who is the genius who scheduled a December night game in Connecticut? That must have been a fun one to sit through.
  • Final Syracuse update of the season -- that's five straight seasons without a bowl appearance (and the ‘Cuse lost that one 51-14). Even Temple is bowling this year. On the other hand, Wesley Johnson! (Look him up)
  • I'll be checking in with bowl and BCS stuff as demanded, but this is the final regular season "One Foot Inbounds" of the season. It's been a privilege and an honor to write for you.
  • The OFI Top 25

    Every week, Robert votes in the BlogPoll, hosted by mgoblog, and available on CBS Sportsline.

    Rank Team Delta
    1 Alabama 1
    2 Texas 1
    3 TCU 1
    4 Cincinnati 1
    5 Boise State 1
    6 Florida 5
    7 Oregon 1
    8 Ohio State 1
    9 Virginia Tech
    10 Stanford 1
    11 Iowa 1
    12 Miami (Florida) 1
    13 Oregon State 3
    14 Georgia Tech 1
    15 Penn State 1
    16 Pittsburgh 2
    17 LSU 2
    18 Nebraska 3
    19 Central Michigan 3
    20 West Virginia 3
    21 East Carolina
    22 Brigham Young
    23 Wisconsin 1
    24 Arizona
    25 Navy
    Last week's ballot



    Dropped Out: Southern Cal (#17), California (#18), Houston (#20), Ohio (#25).


    Note: I seriously considered dropping Texas. But in the end, I give them credit for finding a way to win under enormous pressure, despite being severely tested. So Hook ‘Em.

    Posted by: Robert Weintraub on 07 Dec 2009

    48 comments, Last at 29 Nov 2011, 11:25pm by huangkai

Comments

1
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 3:41pm

Ingram is a terrific player, but, if we are to assume that the Heisman Trophy is actually supposed to go to the nation's most outstanding college football player, then it is almost silly to say that Ingram deserves the award over Suh. I can think of several running backs in the last 10 years who are Ingram's equal. I have to go back several decades to name a defensive linemen as dominant as Suh. There isn't a single college coach in America, I suspect, who, if their life depended on building a roster, draft stayle, to win one game, would choose Ingram first, instead of Suh. Suh is simply a better and more valuable football player, and it isn't very close.

2
by standstill :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 4:07pm

+1

4
by witless chum :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 4:41pm

Exactly.

Suh dominated that game like I've never seen a defensive player dominate a game. If that's not a Heisman winner, I've never seen one. (Oh, if only the Lions can draft him)

39
by Todd S. :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 1:28pm

I know he didn't do that well in the pros, but I thought Steve Emtman's senior year at Washington was quite good.

EDIT: Oops. Someone already beat me to this down-thread.

45
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:51pm

I thought there were already many examples from the past that demonstrate the award does not go to the most outstanding player except by accident ... isn't it really an award for either a) a well-hyped player on a familiar team or b) a player with stats in the right categories? (think RBI for baseball's MVP)

3
by AnonymousCats (not verified) :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 4:38pm

If Suh isn't the first pick in the draft then Tampa, Cleveland or St Louis are nuts.

5
by Salvi's Headband (not verified) :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 4:48pm

Navy? Come on...

What is the rationale for ranking TCU over Cincy? I'm not a Cincy mark, just curious...looking at the schedules I don't see the rationale. Cincy has wins over #16, #17, #18 in the final BCS standings. TCU's best win is either #23 Utah or a 4 point win over unranked Clemson.

8
by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 5:10pm

actually, they beat @ #14 BYU, by 31 points. Their single best win was by a margin of more than 2x the margin of Cincy's 3 best wins (14 points net margin) .

Besides TCU, can you name how many non-conference opponents have won in DeathValley in the last 4-5 years, btw? It's not very many, regardless of how top-25 mediocre Clemson continues to be ...

additionally, they finished the (reg) season with the NCAA lead in net TD differential, net Total Yards differential, net Yards per play differential, IIRC.

I'm not saying Cincy sucks, but your post is really misleading.

24
by beargoggles :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 7:46pm

I'd honestly like to see TCU vs. Alabama. Texas we know is gonna get killed, and they should be punished for that clock management. TCU certainly may be better than Texas, at any rate we'll never find out. I really wish the BCS could find a way to match the BCS busters (TCU/BSU) vs. BCS teams (Florida) rather than against each other, so we can have more data points to evaluate them. Then again, this system almost never comes up with compelling match-ups outside the title game. I'm watchin' championship game and Rose, maybe Fiesta if I've got nothing else going on.

Big East title game was wildly entertaining, but neither team seemed especially good. Pike was horrible in the first half, Pitt lost with vanilla game plan abusing running back--senior decorated QB anyone?--and Pike coming to his senses down the stretch.

33
by t.d. :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 11:37pm

with such foreknowledge, surely you should drop everything and bet your mortgage on this game.

46
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40
by Tim Gerheim :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 1:32pm

I'll restrain myself on the Texas-bashing, but if I can indulge in a bit of BCS conspiracy theorizing: it should come as no surprise that the BCS isn't particularly motivated to match BCS and non-BCS conference teams in their bowls. Leaving aside the conference tie-in aspect, the BCS has exactly zero incentive to further the idea that the non-BCS conferences are on par, at least when it comes to their top teams, with the big boys. That would erode the legitimacy of the BCS as the best of the best and increase the clamor for some of the conferences to lose their automatic berths.

I'm not sure whether the Fiesta Bowl, who could have picked Cincinnati to play TCU, leaving Boise State to play Florida in the Sugar Bowl (if I'm reading/remembering the selection order correctly), has a dog in that BCS fight. (Can we still say that in the post-Vick era?)

44
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:47pm

Before the last few years, I'd have said it was in their best interest to do so: if they don't play, non-BCS conferences can always claim they'd be able to run with the big dogs. If they do, the BCS conferences could demonstrate that the non-BCS schools aren't their peers.

Of course, when it turns out non-BCS schools are right, then yeah, the BCS doesn't want any more of that.

You are remembering the selection order correctly. This year it was Orange, Fiesta, Sugar (after the replacement picks for the Sugar and Fiesta).

26
by Salvi's Headband (not verified) :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 8:01pm

If you put a lot of stock in margin of victory, that hurts Cincy's case. But if you're giving TCU that much credit for a road win at top-40 caliber Clemson, you have to do the same for Cincy's blowout wins at Rutgers and USF (both ranked teams at points during the year).

Do you think Utah and BYU are as good as WVU, Pitt, and Oregon State? Maybe, I guess we just don't know. I'm a little skeptical, because even in the weak-ish Big East, the schedule is still tougher.

I don't know. I would give the nod to Cincy though your case is a good one.

34
by beargoggles :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 1:50am

These are also fair points. Cincy's schedule must rate harder overall because of more teams of say Rutgers caliber.

However, they were a bit lucky with the timing. Rutgers was pretty bad early, and Oregon State early is never nearly as good as OSU late. They play a lot of JC guys so frequently have high turnover, for example this year they were breaking in like a whole defensive line. One reason I'm always bummed when Cal gets them in late October/November.

What's impressive about TCU is the sheer dominance. OTOH, they never had to play multiple good teams in a row IIRC, which matters. And why it's hard for me to believe that any of these teams could make it through the ACC or Pac-10 undefeated, let alone the SEC. Which is why I think Texas' season is so cheap (and they can actually control who they schedule, unlike Boise State).

6
by Salvi's Headband (not verified) :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 4:50pm

And lest we forget, that 4 point win over Clemson was a week before Clemson went on to lose by 3 to might Maryland.

9
by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 5:10pm

Since you want to keep harping on this, did you actually watch the game? It was in a torrential storm that turned it into a conservative game on both sides.

7
by goPats (not verified) :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 5:09pm

Ingram seems like a very good back, but here are a few reasons for Gerhart:

FEI has Stanford with the #1 offense in the country.

If your criteria is playing best in the most important games, then what are you to make of Ingram's performance against Auburn in the Iron Bowl?

McElroy was the most important Alabama offensive player against Florida, and the backup running backs ran for more yards on fewer carries than Ingram (backups 18 carries 137 yards, Ingram 28 carries, 113 yards). He had 3 touchdowns and the long reception, but I wasn't sure he was their most effective runner.

Gerhart was at his best in the biggest games (Cal-4 TDs, USC, Oregon, ND) and had no off games all year.

Gerhart led in yards per game and touchdowns.

Gerhart led Stanford from years of losing to an 8-4 record including a victory over Oregon and the most points ever scored against USC (55).

The Pac-10 and the SEC were the two best conferences in the country, and both had good defenses (read Ted Miller on ESPN if you want this argument).

So, Ingram has definitely shown a lot, but Weintraub's criteria don't point to him over Gerhart. Suh is great of course as well, but it isn't easy to compare the impact of RBs and DLs.

10
by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 5:17pm

given the teams likely picking in the top 10, is Suh best suited to play *well* immediately as a 4-3 DT or a 3-4 DE ?

12
by Joseph :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 5:37pm

I haven't seen Suh play, but based on what I've read, I'm guessing "it doesn't matter." However, I am guessing that as a 3-4 end he would not be able to dominate like he does. Doesn't Nebraska play a 4-3?

14
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 5:49pm

Yeah, Nebraska plays a 4-3, and Suh would be most valuable in a 4-3 system, which isn't to say he could be better version of Richard Seymour in a 3-4, which ain't nuthin'.

11
by Mike Y :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 5:35pm

I'm sure TCU and Boise St. are satisfied with their separate, but equal, BCS bowl.

13
by myteam.gt.yourteam (not verified) :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 5:40pm

This made me snort cola out of my nose. At work, no less.

17
by opticallog :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 6:12pm

Heh, wouldn't want to throw a BCS conference also ran to either of those dogs, to watch them get shredded like Alabama last year. It might make the BCS conferences look bad.

25
by beargoggles :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 7:51pm

That would be pretty fun, actually, which I know is what you're saying

15
by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 5:49pm

Although I'm a Bama man, I don't care if Ingram wins the Heisman. Ok, I care, but not a lot. It's not a real significant award, just a real hyped one. I hope Bama never gets all excited about it, as it's usually been more about the team and not the player there.

That being said, don't short-sell Ingram. I know this is just an internet post board and who cares what I think, but he's not a typical player. When I first started watching him, I didn't think a lot of him either. But keep watching him and you'll start to understand what he's about. Not only does he do everything well, but he has field vision better than anyone I've ever seen (except maybe for Sean Alexander) play at Alabama. He never takes a direct hit. He always falls forward. He uses the field like a general.

Take his long catch and run on Saturday. His WR was blocking, but there seemed to be no room after about 20 yards. He did this littlefake inside to draw the defender inside, then bolted outside and outran the defender before he was able to adjust. A little move which turned a 20 yard play into a 60 yard one. The kind of thing you just don't see every young player make, it was a pro move. It was actually an all-pro move.

If I were to compare him to any one player I've ever seen, I'd probably say Emmit Smith. Small, fast, does everything well, and his skills were heightened by a great football IQ. I'd be very suprised if Ingram doesn't turn out to be an All-Pro in the NFL. I'm a believer in this guy.

16
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 5:54pm

Oh, like I said, Ingram is terrific. Suh is historically great, and there likely isn't a coach in the country who would, if building a roster from scratch, take Ingram over Suh.

20
by Will :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 6:23pm

Agreed - running backs are relatively easy to replace, especially compared to defensive tackles. Suh is the best defensive tackle since Steve Emtman - perhaps even longer. Ingram isn't the best running back in the country right now.

Will

19
by Will :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 6:17pm

Here's why, as a 'Bama fan, you DON'T want him winning.

2008 - Sam Bradford, L (BCS Champ)
2007 - Tim Tebow, L (Capital One)
2006 - Troy Smith, L (BCS Champ)
2005 - Reggie Bush, L (Rose)
2004 - Matt Leinart, W (Orange)
2003 - Jason White, L (Sugar)
2002 - Carson Palmer, W (Orange)
2001 - Eric Crouch, L (Rose)
2000 - Chris Weinke, L (Orange)

So unless you are a USC quarterback, you are doomed to lose the Bowl game if you win the Heisman.

Will

18
by M :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 6:14pm

Not too observant of college football, but has Suh been this dominant all year? I get very suspicious of college players whose reputation seems to turn on a single game.

21
by DSMok1 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 6:29pm

Yes, Suh has been this dominant. I will vouch for that as an OU fan!

41
by TRav (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 5:18pm

Yes, Suh has been this dominant. I will vouch for that as a Mizzou fan.

22
by Dave2008 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 6:56pm

Suh has been by far the most dominant player. Most outstanding should go to the player who had the best season. If it wants to make a separate award for the best player on one of the very best teams than go ahead. Either way they should rename the award, I get that the best player between a few teams doesn't sound very impressive, though it would be accurate.

23
by schroederlaw :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 7:41pm

Ranking Stanford 10th in the blogpoll is absolutely absurd. They have 4 losses! Including to 5-7 Wake Forest! And you rank them ahead of 10-2 Iowa who beat Arizona (another Pac 10 team with 3 conference losses and a win over Stanford).

30
by schroederlaw :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 8:48pm

And you have Ga Tech as the third highest ranked ACC team, despite the fact that they won the conference, and have the best record in the conference beat 3-loss Va Tech who you ranked 9th, etc....my head hurts.

27
by Salvi's Headband (not verified) :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 8:10pm

Just mulling over in my imagination the BCS games we might have gotten had that last second ticked off.

NCG
Alabama vs. Cincy

Sugar
Florida vs. Boise State

Fiesta
TCU vs. Texas

Rose
Oregon vs. Ohio State

Orange
Georgia Tech vs. Nebraska

Now THAT's a bowl lineup...intriguing matchups all around...with the possible exception of the Orange bowl (though Nebraska fans seem to make any bowl they're in fun).

28
by Key19 :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 8:28pm

The only thing that keeps me from 100% wanting that is that I want Alabama to lose.

29
by Will :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 8:40pm

But that's not realistic because the B12 champ goes to the Fiesta Bowl. The realistic one would have been.

BCS Championship - Alabama (auto) v. Cincy (auto)
Orange Bowl - Georgia Tech (auto) v. Texas (#2)
Rose Bowl - Ohio State (auto) v. Oregon (auto)
Fiesta Bowl - Nebraska (auto) v. TCU (#3)
Sugar Bowl - Florida (#1) vs. Iowa (#4)

At Large Pick Order:
1. Sugar Bowl - Florida
2. Orange Bowl - Texas
3. Fiesta Bowl - Texas Christian
4. Sugar Bowl - Iowa

Maybe flipping Iowa and TCU.

Will

35
by beargoggles :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 1:54am

That's a lot less attractive line-up than the other hypothetical.

32
by ChrisH :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 11:35pm

I also feel compelled to point out that TCU, not Cincy, probably would have made the title game. Yes, Cincy is ahead in the final standings now, but had Nebraska won, two main things change:

- TCU moves up in the computer rankings from #5 to #4. Cincy is already #2 behind Alabama so they can't move up, so TCU gains far more points than they are currently behind.

- Both TCU and Cincy move up 1 spot on most ballots. I know there are some ballots out there that will have an order like TCU, Texas, Cincy where Cincy will gain points, but not that many I'm guessing.

This would put TCU in the final over Cincy. I just have gotten tired of blog posts over the past day saying that TCU can't complain since they wouldn't have made it anyway, making the assumption that nothing else in the BCS rankings would change if Texas lost other than Texas moving down.

37
by Muldrake (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 3:44am

Maybe. Of course, Florida did lose and is still ranked ahead of TCU in every one of the computer polls and while Cincy was ranked #2 overall by computers it still had percentage points to pick up from a Texas loss. It is possible that the computers may still have placed Texas above TCU, but according to my math Cincy would have still been ranked above TCU in the overall poll. In the real poll Cincy finished with a .930 to .840 edge while if we assume that the computers would have moved both teams up one with a Texas loss the edge would be .960 to .880, and that alone would not seem to be enough.

It's tough to really say though because we don't know how the human poll percentages would have changed with a Texas loss. With the loss of both Florida and Texas that's a lot of #2 and 3 votes that would have to be reallocated amongst Cincy and TCU, and since the BCS calculates by percentage of total votes available rather than straight ranking it's basically impossible to say whether TCU would have increased their percentage lead over Cincy in the human polls enough as a Texas loss would not have made enough difference in the computers to put TCU in the title game. My sense is that most of the human votes would have gone to TCU and put them in the title game but it's not at all certain that is what would have happened, especially since Cincy played in an exciting game against a ranked team.

43
by MJ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:30pm

This is what it would have come down to with the BCS computers if Texas had lost. TCU would have gained ground on Cincy in Andersen and Massey as Texas was between the two teams, and would have definitely dropped below TCU. TCU would have lost ground in Colley, as Texas would have started above Cincy, but only dropped in between Cincy and TCU. Sagarin doesn't matter, as Texas was already below both teams. The only question marks are Billingsley and Wolfe. The only way Cincy beats out TCU is if both computer polls worked favorably for the Bearcats. Based on how much Florida dropped in raw score (not overall ranking) in Wolfe after the loss to Bama, I believe Texas would have dropped below TCU. If Texas didn't drop below TCU in Wolfe, then it would come down to Billingsley. Texas would have had to lose at least 18 points off its raw score in Billingsley to drop below TCU. Florida dropped nearly 22 points after its loss to Bama. My guess is that Texas would have lost more than 18 and dropped below TCU.

Best guess is that a Texas loss would have bumped Cincy only from .93 to .94 in the computers, but TCU from .84 to .88. Gaining a net of .03 in the computer portion. Based on the voting polls not changing significantly, TCU needed to gain .02 in the computers to pass Cincy.

31
by Rover (not verified) :: Mon, 12/07/2009 - 9:39pm

My major criterion when splitting hairs at the top of the ballot is how a player performs in his team's biggest games

That's a good approach. McCoy & Tebow collected too many TDs against tomato cans in exhibition games. No stats should be considered from games in which the opponent was paid to show up-- like the RPI rankings for NCAA Basketball refuse to count D2 games. Let’s extend that to BCS rankings too.

Suh is an absolute beast-- I haven't seen that many OLs rag-dolled since Steve Emtman (I second Will on that).

38
by Legend of The Bear (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 12:56pm

Down here in Alabama, we don't care that much about the stiff-arm trophy, as much as we care about an actual stiff-arm. We do enjoy, however, humiliating Heisman winners (Hello, Pat Sullivan and Gina Toretta!). I believe, as Saban does, that this game will be very competitive and should hinge on turnovers, special teams (Tx=bad special teams coverage), and fourth quarter conditioning. The Tide is ready to make this season way more special than any individual award could make it. Roll Tide!

42
by BAMAFAN4LIFE (not verified) :: Tue, 12/08/2009 - 9:54pm

Thank you so much Legend for posting the best blog on the board. Go ahead and give the Heisman to whomever you like, Bama and Ingram will bring back the crystal football instead. And those of you who think Sue is the best defensive player in college football hasn't watched Rolando McClain. He is the "real deal"! He lead the Tide to an undefeated season in the toughest conference in America, hands down. It's defense that wins National Championships, not Heismans. Oh, and "Key", just keep "hating" on Bama. We feed off of people like you!!

ROLL TIDE FOREVER!!

47
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