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28 Nov 2011

One Foot Inbounds: Inevitable

by Robert Weintraub

Sadly, college football saved the worst for last. Must have been the tryptophan.

After the topsy-turvy action of the last couple of Saturdays, this weekend provided blowout after rout after demolition. The fact that it was Rivalry Day across America made it that much more frustrating for fans. Hard as it is to believe, my eight-hour drive north from a visit to the in-laws in holiday traffic with two screaming kids in the backseat was a treat in comparison.

Of the traditional in-state or cross-border classics, only Michigan-Ohio State gave any sort of thrills, and even it wasn’t that tantalizing. The Wolverines appeared to punch in the winning touchdown with two minutes left, but somehow, someway, it was overturned on replay, a decision that made the final margin six points instead of ten. That, of course, cost me a Lock of the Week, the third bad beat I’ve taken in that category this year.

(Bitter? Me? Must have been the lemon I put on all those turkey sandwiches)

It was a good win for Michigan’s new coach, Brady Hoke. In his debut season, he picks up the Maize and Blue’s first win over OSU since 2003. It was especially important as the specter of Urban Meyer hung over the game. Assuming he takes over in Columbus, the Buckeyes could begin another streak forthwith. But only if Meyer devises a way to slow Denard Robinson, who was sensational while running for two scores and throwing for three more.

Otherwise, it was one-sided. Alabama turned the Iron Bowl into a laugher, Florida State whipped limited Florida, Georgia pummeled the brainiacs of Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech told the pretenders at Virginia to shoo, USC showed how much of a joke the Pac-12 title game promises to be, and so on. The Egg Bowl, Palmetto Bowl, and Civil War were over early. Even Grambling rocked Southern in the Bayou Classic. The best rivalry game, by far, was Texas against Texas A&M, a game that won’t be happening anymore as the Aggies move to the SEC. The Horns bid their rival farewell with a final-play field goal and a 27-25 win.

The most important game happened as you were scarfing turkey leftovers on Friday afternoon. LSU-Arkansas is an underrated rivalry; the two meet for the Boot each season, and this version came with the teams comprising two of the top-three squads in the country. The Hogs seemed poised to make it a memorable one, taking a shocking 14-0 lead in the second quarter. To that point, Arkansas outplayed the No. 1 team in the land, running the ball effectively and getting Tigers quarterback Jordan Jefferson jittery with a solid pass rush.

But down by two scores, Jefferson, who might have been on the verge of giving way to Jarrett Lee, collected himself and commandeered a 14-play, 77-yard drive that settled an antsy Tiger Stadium. Then Tyrann Mathieu took over. His electrifying 92-yard punt return tied the game while conjuring images of Billy Cannon against Ole Miss. Only devout porcine believers thought the Hogs had a chance after that. Mathieu then forced a fumble that led to the third score of the quarter for LSU, and the Tigers never looked back. The final was 41-17: eerily similar to the 38-14 hurting Alabama put on Arkansas.

Trent Richardson ran all over Auburn in payback for last season’s gag job, putting up 203 yards on the ground. But it was Chris Smelley and the Tide tight ends that dominated the game, providing eight grabs for 98 yards and a touchdown. I listened to the Auburn radio broadcast and the announcers were increasingly despondent every time a Tide tight end caught a ball. "We just can’t stop that and it’s going to cost us the game," was a typical reaction. I love local radio broadcasts.

Richardson broke away for a late 57-yard run that had Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson desperate to anoint him with the Heisman, comparing it to Cam Newton’s sensational run past LSU and Patrick Peterson last year, conveniently overlooking the fact that a) the game was long decided, b) Auburn’s defense had broken long before, and c) Richardson was run down at the 16-yard line. Heisman "moments" don’t end with the player getting chased down from behind. Trent may well be deserving of the trophy -- his numbers are better than Mark Ingram’s were two years ago when he won the award, and Richardson is the better player. But let’s not overdramatize a single (irrelevant) moment, please.

Clearly LSU and Alabama are the two best teams, and I for one would love to see a rematch in the BCS title game. More to the point, unless Oklahoma State buries Oklahoma and Georgia does likewise to the Tigers, it’s hard to see anything but a rematch. And for for those whinging at the idea of another Saban-Miles encounter -- would you really prefer seeing one of the SEC teams rout the Cowboys by three touchdowns?


  • One thing Richardson hasn’t done is score 34 touchdowns, which is where Montee Ball is after four more scores in the Badgers' beating of Penn State. Thanks to the advent of the Big Ten title game, Ball will get two more contests to score five times and match Barry Sanders’ single-season record of 39.
  • Stanford looked terrible in their new Nike-mandated attire, a deep red accented with a black matte helmet. It did Andrew Luck a terrible disservice -- no one wearing something like that can possibly win the Heisman. He threw four touchdowns in a workman-like dispatch of a horrendous Notre Dame team, who somehow conjured a way to have a quick-kick blocked, among other disasters. Brian Kelly’s look of dismay after that one was priceless -- hopefully someone captured it, framed it, and sent it to Tyrone Willingham’s house.
  • Another Heisman candidate who, like Ball and teammate Russell Wilson, won’t win because of forces outside his control (in this case his kicker’s inaccuracy), is Boise’s Kellen Moore. Moore won his 48th game as a starter, against just three defeats, as Boise’s defense snuffed out Wyoming and it’s sensational freshman quarterback Brett Smith by a 36-14 scoreline. The key moment came at the end of the first half, when Moore chucked a Hail Mary that was deflected and caught by Matt Miller, who happened to be sprawled on the goal line at the time. Talk about a Heisman moment!
  • When I think of massive comebacks, my mind goes immediately to Maryland and Frank Reich pulling off a November miracle in Miami back in 1984, bringing the Terps back from 31-0 down to win 42-40. Where was Reich on Saturday? His alma mater gave up a 41-14 lead in Raleigh, as NC State scored 35 fourth-quarter points to win going away, 56-41. Randy Edsall’s debut season in College Park finishes at 2-10, with a bitter taste lingering till spring practice. Somewhere, Ralph Freidgen is smiling -- and eating.
  • My Orange have tucked it in for the campaign, apparently, after getting Munchied by Cincinnati 30-13. The Bearcats are one of three teams still alive for the Big East title, along with Louisville and West Virginia. None of them are really worthy enough of a BCS berth to delineate their scenarios, but if you are interested, here they are.


1. LSU
2. Alabama
3. Oregon
4. Stanford
5. Boise State
6. Virginia Tech
7. Oklahoma State
8. Oklahoma
9. Arkansas
10. Houston
11. Michigan State
12. USC
13. Wisconsin
14. South Carolina
15. Kansas State
16. Georgia
17. Michigan
18. TCU
19. Baylor
20. Southern Miss
21. Nebraska
22. West Virginia
23. Florida State
24. Ohio
25. Penn State


1. Tyrann Mathieu, CB/S, LSU.
Honey Badger did what he did on the big stage while filling in at safety for the injured Eric Reid. Nice.

2. Justin Tucker, K, Texas. You boot the game-winning kick in the (for now) final version of a hated rivalry game, and you get checked here.

3. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford. Thomas is one of the main reasons the Cardinal defense has overcome the loss of leader Shayne Skov to injury, and he demolished the Irish blocking Saturday, with three tackles for loss -- two of them sacks -- a forced fumble, and five tackles.

4. Julien Miller, DE, West Virginia. The Mountaineers pulled off a big comeback win in the Backyard Brawl, edging Pitt 21-20. Miller’s school-record four sacks and 12 tackles were a big reason why.

5. Trevardo Williams, DE, Connecticut. Miller doesn’t lead the Big East in sacks, however -- Williams does. "T-Vard" has 12.5 after a four-sack afternoon against Rutgers.

Posted by: Robert Weintraub on 28 Nov 2011

57 comments, Last at 27 Mar 2013, 5:58am by pawello


by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 2:04pm

I don't think that "commandeered" is used that way (LSU-Arkansas game description), unless I'm missing something.

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 2:27pm

"Best" is always a tricky word to use during rivalry week. The two schools with which I have the strongest connections, Michigan and Purdue, each won by a single score; the former ended a seven*-game losing streak and the latter became bowl-eligible, reclaiming an old trophy in a rivalry that is older than all but a handful (and all but one in that conference people are so drawn to these days).

Perhaps others found different games best, and that's fine with me. The games I followed were the best games of the week for me. The Bucket is back where it belongs, Michigan's clock is back to 0, and that's all that matters.

*Ultimately, the NCAA will decide how long that streak is. I don't expect them to do more than slap OSU on the wrist, but you never know.

by Adam H (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 3:26pm

"And for for those whinging at the idea of another Saban-Miles encounter -- would you really prefer seeing one of the SEC teams rout the Cowboys by three touchdowns?"

Yes yes yes a thousand times yes!

If Alabama beat LSU, I would not even say then that Bama is the better team. LSU played a much harder schedule. And beat Bama in an away game.

by So what if my name belongs to a registered user (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 1:05pm

I agree. Rematches between good teams don't have a good history. The team that lost the first one is highly motivated while the team that won the first one is not. As a result, the first time loser usually wins easily. And why should Alabama be the national champion if they split with LSU? Assuming Alabama does win, I hope the AP votes LSU number one.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 4:03pm

"Clearly LSU and Alabama are the two best teams"

Is that so clear? Not withstanding the SEC's surprisingly creamy filling this year (the bottom half can thank the Sun Belt for their bowl eligibility), Oklahoma State has played better teams than Alabama has. And while they lost to a inferior one, they've got more quality wins than Alabama has (how good does that Penn State win look today?). Alabama's biggest boost is that they lost to LSU, but they've only got a win over Arkansas to hang their hat on. And while Arkansas is good, they feel like an inferior version of Oklahoma State, whereas Alabama just feels like an inferior version of LSU.

And besides the fact that Alabama deserves no rematch after choking away a ripe opportunity in Tuscaloosa, it was bad enough when Oklahoma went after losing to K-State -- but Oklahoma at least won the B12 South. Alabama didn't even win their division.

by Alexander :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 4:22pm

I feel like we have seen this play before. Actually we have seen it many times in many ways.

It looks like the Florida-Oklahoma matchup and the Florida-Ohio State matchup. The more recent one would indicate we should want a rematch, the older one that we should not.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 5:43pm

The Alabama-Oklahoma State comparison is very similar to the Michigan-Florida comparison in 2006.

U-M had a home win over 10-1 #6 Wisconsin, a road win over then-#2 ND (#11 in final poll), and a road loss at #1 OSU. Florida had a two-score loss to #21 Auburn, and 5 wins over ranked teams. This should sound familiar.

Florida was #4 in the 11/26 poll, with U-M at #3. #2 USC lost to an over-matched UCLA team. Florida beat a #8 Arkansas team and jumped U-M in the final poll. And as far as the argument about SEC West supremacy goes, the 2006 Big 10 had one undefeated and two one-loss teams (and all losses to each other), which is better than the SEC West's one undefeated, one one-loss, and one two-loss claim.

Why everything thinks #3 OSU can't make a similar jump of Alabama (who is at home because they finished second in the SEC West) if it beats #13 Oklahoma is beyond me.

by sjt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 12:32am

Amen, exactly what I have been thinking. We have seen teams jump ahead before in just this situation. Hell, we have seen teams get passed by other teams which they had previously defeated despite the fact that they kept winning (I am thinking of 2008 Texas-OK in this case, but I'm sure there are others).

OSU has a golden oppourtunity this weekend to win a big game on national TV. If (a big if, of course) they can manage to do so I'm thinking it will sway enough human voters to change their ballots, and they'll also jump up in the computers by beating a highly ranked team.

by graywh :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 11:53am

If the two one-loss teams had played each other, one of them would have had 2 losses. That's not a valid argument. I also think Arkansas has been overrated for several weeks now.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 4:12pm

Even if they had played, 2006 would still be an example lesson. The Big 10 did not get two teams into the NC game, despite three teams with valid claims. The teams that finished #2 and #3 had to play in other bowls.

by Kal :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 4:49pm

Clearly Michigan and Ohio State are the two best...oh wait.

Isn't that what was stated back in 2006 when the SEC rallied to get into the NCG?

I do think that LSU is unquestionably deserving of getting into the title game. They had a very hard conference schedule (unlike Georgia) and had a very competitive OOC schedule where they (gasp) actually traveled to other sites. LSU is as respectable as they come.

Alabama, on the other hand, beat Penn State. Not well, either. Their biggest claim to fame is losing close to LSU, similar to how Notre Dame's best 'win' was their close loss to USC in 2005. Alabama doesn't deserve jack in my mind. Beating Arkansas doesn't guarantee you anything.

by ChaosOnion :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 5:20pm

Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and Michigan State can all end the season as conference champions with one loss. The idea of AQ conferences is complete nonsense if a one loss team who did not win their conference goes to the title game. Alabama had a chance at home to play its way into the BCS title game. If every game counts, and AQ conferences truly mean something, Alabama cannot go to the BCS title game in the face of a one loss AQ conference champion. If they do go, not only did the game versus LSU mean nothing but every game played by any other one loss AQ team means nothing.

Now if Ok.State, VaTech and MSU cannot close the deal, then maybe a one loss, non-conference champion team should be considered. I am sure Stanford would accept the invitation.

by Kal :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 5:31pm

I don't agree with that.

A 1-loss conference champion is not defacto worthy of playing in the title game over a 1-loss conference non-champion. You have to look at who they played, where they played and how they played.

My gripe with Alabama is that outside of the SEC they only had one notable game, and they didn't exactly dominate the Penn State game.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 5:41pm

In the context of a year in which the Big 12 had a more difficult schedule and more success than the very top-heavy SEC, it's hard to argue that the 1-loss SEC West #2 is more deserving of a shot than the 1-loss Big 12 champ (assuming OK State wins).

The same argument would have held true had MSU/Wisconsin and Oregon not have had two losses. Stanford and Boise are screwed by the same problems Alabama has.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 5:35pm

Michigan State has two losses (Notre Dame, Nebraska)

by Tom W (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 11:33pm

And they were dominated in both games, which is a big reason why MSU is ranked behind Wisconsin in both FEI and Sagarin. But, that argument will be settled on the field on Saturday, as it should be. But, I'd rather bypass the conference title games and see both of them get their shot in a 16-team playoff. You know, it's really kind of funny to see the minute details of each team's season analyzed over and over. Last year, the Packers were 10-6; they didn't even win their division, but nobody argues that they didn't "deserve" to be champions, because they beat all comers in the playoffs. College football's national champion, on the other hand, is still mythical, regardless of the BCS.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 12:11am

I understand your sentiment, but I'm enough of a traditionalist to prefer a format which says that a season which does not include a conference championship cannot be considered successful. Then again, given that the regional orientation of the conferences is about to be completely obliterated, perhaps the primacy of conference championships is nothing but nostalgia.

by Tom W (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 1:57am

I consider myself somewhat of a traditionalist, as well, but I think the trend toward two-division mega-conferences has already swept tradition out the door. To stick with the Big Ten, I'm excited about the first conference championship game, but is it really fair that the loser will be relegated to a 2nd-tier bowl game after a 10-2 regular season? Should Georgia have a chance (however remote) to win the SEC? That said, I'd prefer your suggestion, in another post, to the system now in place.

by ChaosOnion :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 3:41pm

Yes, I missed that. Thank you for the correction.

by miqewalsh :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 6:07pm

I hate this matchup as much as I hated the 2001 Miami-Nebraska "championship" game. The SEC-gasm we're getting this year feels as fresh as a WWE script.

It would be nice if the "championship" participants were selected from among the 11 teams who actually managed to be their conference's champion. (Okay, Notre Dame, too, if we must.) Why do we have to admit a team that couldn't win their own conference, especially one who lost to the team they would be playing? Oregon might end up as Pac-12 champ, Oklahoma State might end up as Big-12 champ, and Virginia Tech as ACC champ. Each of those teams won their conference, and played in a conference championship game to do so, something Alabama gets excused from even though their most impressive achievement was a victory was at Penn State in September!

by Alexander :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 7:06pm

I think people don't want to see the Alabama-LSU rematch and are tying to justify picking another team. OK St. is contender number 1, assuming they beat OK. People can rationalize that pretty easily considering OK St.'s ridiculous SOS. But Virginia Tech? Oregon (Who LSU already beat also)? Stanford? Houston? No, those teams just aren't going to do it, and honestly they don't deserve it either.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 7:26pm

The only point in VT's favor would be more ranked teams beaten than Alabama.

That none of them were actually good is another thing. Still, I think VT could have gone 11-1 against Alabama's schedule.

by Alexander :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 9:53pm

The fact is that the ACC has been what it has been. Honestly, 1-Loss Boise has more street cred than 1-loss VT (also F+ has them at #3, so its not like I am imagining things here). Its unlikely that VT could do what Alabama has done, they are at 15 in the F+ rankings, at 17 in defensive rankings that puts them way behind Penn State (3 in defense) who Alabama put 27 on. Could VT score 27 on Bama? I doubt it, I could see Boise scoring 27 on Alabama (they have the 5th ranked defense in F+, so that's a decent number to assume they would need to score), and pulling an upset.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 11:35am

You missed my point.

Alabama has played 4 decent teams -- LSU, Arkansas, Auburn, and Penn State. The other 8 were pretty soft.

LSU would have beaten VT, probably fairly handily.
VT matches up much better with Arkansas and Auburn. Power running teams give them trouble, but they deal with air raid and spread teams fairly well (the defense was designed to stop the Rodriguez WVUs of the world).
Penn State, for all their defense, has no offense to speak of, can't stop the run, and lucked into playing on the weaker half of the Big 10 this year.

I think VT beats PSU and Auburn, and has a puncher's chance against Arkansas. I don't think going 11-1 against Alabama's schedule is out of the question.

by Kal :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 11:58pm

There's no reason to believe that Auburn is a decent team. They've got 5 losses and barely beat Utah State. Their high ranking has been a baffling thing for a long, long time.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 7:37pm
by sjt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 12:27am

No, those teams just aren't going to do it, and honestly they don't deserve it either.

Says who? A bunch of computers programmed within an inch of their digital lives? A collection of sportswriters and former players with views skewed by geographical bias, team loyalties, faulty assumptions and overall human laziness? That classic oxymoron, "common sense"?

Football is played on the field. If Houston has won all their games, why are they any less worthy of a shot? If VA tech wins their conference, which is supposedly good enough for the BCS to grant it automatic qualifier status, why should they be shoved aside without a second thought?

by Alexander :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 1:56am

Because those teams are objectively (via computers) and subjectively (polls) worse, and honestly when it comes to VT and Houston, objectively it isn't even close.

by sjt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 12:09pm

So then this is a beauty pagent, not a sport.

Predictions of this kind are wrong all the time, that's why sports books are profitable. Ohio State was "subjectively" and "objectively" better than Florida... right up to the point that they played. Similarly, Miami was "better" than OSU... which I'm sure makes them feel better for losing the national championship that year.

And on an on.

by miqewalsh :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 6:54pm

It's not even a beauty pageant.

College football in today's terms depends on the votes of self-appointed experts with well-known biases to select a winner based on subjective results that often violently contradicts the concrete evidence on the field and the common sense judgment of most viewers.

In other words: figure skating.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 11/30/2011 - 10:16am

And ESPN is the East German judge.

by Alexander :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 2:00am

If OK St loses to OK this weekend I would honestly rather see Boise than either VT or Houston. I think it is likely that any team that plays LSU will lose to them, but when I say likely I think the chance that said team will beat them is about this:
Alabama: 45%
Ok St. : 35%
Boise: 30%
VT: 15%
Houston: 10%

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 7:13pm

ChaosOnion's point in post number 7 hits the right note. We hear all this drivel about "every game counts," but it's nonsense.

I don't pay that much attention to college basketball, but already this season, I've been aware of numerous matchups between the most highly regarded teams. In football, we get an annual "Game of the Century," some reasonably decent rivalry games, a number of conference championship games (which may or may not mean all that much), and a few top teams from power conferences beating up on the weak sisters from said conferences in between playing Division 1-AA/FCS/whatever they are calling them now teams. Gee, I wonder why Duke and Kansas are willing to risk a basketball matchup early in the season...what could possibly be different between college basketball and college football?

by miqewalsh :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 7:28pm

Duke-Kansas works in college basketball because:

  • The 68 best teams get invited to tournament, which covers teams from power conferences down to about the 12-loss level, while the BCS only considers two teams eligible for the title.
  • A game against a highly-ranked opponent helps your RPI and SOS, and the difference between a win and a loss in that game may mean at most two spots in your eventual seed. If you're an elite team, you can win the tournament as a 3-seed almost as easily as a 1-seed.
  • A college BB season is 35 games, rather than 12 or 13. To make an equivalent argument, you'd have a CBB team scheduling three away games against top 10 competition to be equal to, say, Alabama scheduling an away game at a Stanford or Boise State.

    Don't get me wrong. CBB teams schedule cupcake opponents, too, but they'll leaven it with some good competition so the committee can include them in the tournament.

  • 25
    by DEW (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 12:17am

    ...we have a sarcasm detection failure, methinks. ^_^

    by TomTom (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 8:57pm

    The big difference between Oklahoma St. schedule and Alabama's is the amount of offense that happens, and what that implies. Other than Arkansas, LSU, and Alabama there aren't any notable offenses in the SEC (I'm looking at S&P+).

    I would argue impressive offensive performances produce upsets more than impressive defensive performances when the underdog is significantly outmatched. Defenses also get the advantage when there is time off before the game (Bye weeks for Alabama and LSU resulting in 9-6 OT game is exemplar example).

    So, BCS system loves SEC. Strong defenses but weak offenses results in less upsets, less parity, and more likely a team goes undefeated. FCS scrimmage games and bye weeks in middle of season help defenses too (not to mention inflate records). Finally, a month before BCS game helps the defense-heavy team, which is typically the SEC team. Add in that voters have noticed the pattern of SEC success, and vote biased towards SEC, and we have a weighted system.

    Compare it to the Big 10, where everyone has a respectable win except Kansas, and the league is heavy oriented to offense. Pac-10 also has had same problem, where going undefeated has been extremely difficult in the BCS, barring cheating era USC, and a very fortunate Oregon.

    So, let Oklahoma St. play LSU. They might get crushed, because LSU will figure out how to guard Blackmon given a month, but they deserve it.

    by Kal :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 9:31pm

    To be fair the SEC has shown for the last 5 years that they're assuredly worthy of getting the title. It's not like they are particularly bad; just (mostly) particularly cowardly and defensive. That being said, Florida wasn't a defensive juggernaut, and Auburn last year certainly wasn't.

    So yeah, I don't think this quite flies.

    I think people just think that because Alabama lost such a close game to LSU and LSU is clearly such a good team (with a truly hard schedule to prove it) that Alabama is as good as anyone else's shot. At least they'd have a chance, right?

    I do agree that Stanford and VTech aren't as worthy as Alabama. I don't agree about OKST though; I think they've got a decent shot at it. That's realistically about it though.

    by Will Allen :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 9:40pm

    No, it isn't clear which are the two best teams, unless "clear" is reduced to a meaningless concept. Hell, in the NFL, where there is far more connectivity, it is hardly ever "clear" as to who the best two teams are. Yes, models have been created which very roughly approximate the real world, which indicate which two teams are best. No, that doesn't render anything "clear".

    This isn't an eternal Struggle For Truth. It's entertainment. Call me crazy, but I think it would be more entertaining to see three conference champs play at three other conference champs a week from Saturday, with an at-large playing at another conference champ on the same day.

    by Tom W (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 11:02pm

    People bitch and moan incessantly about the computer rankings, which, in their defense, are not allowed to consider point differential, by NCAA mandate, but what about the human polls? How in hell does Wisconsin stay at #15 in the AP poll after beating a ranked team by 38 pts.??? In the same poll, Conference USA (yes, it still exists) champ Houston is #7, even though their best win was arguably over a UCLA team that just got hammered to the tune of 50-0 by USC. I know AP isn't in the BSCS mix, but the coach's poll and the Harris poll aren't much better. Incidentally, FEI has UW 4th, the undiluted Sagarin ratings have them 6th, and College Football News, whose rankings are subjective, but, at least, informed, has them 5th. Still, the loser of the Big Ten Championship Game, likely goes to the Outback Bowl, while Houston is a virtual lock for a BCS game. I know ranting about the BCS is a waste of perfectly good words, but, I guess my point is that it's not just one component of the rankings that need tweaking - ALL of the components are equally nonsensical. If we're not going to get a playoff, and we're not, is it too much to ask that the BCS revamp its rankings to reflect reality at a time when advanced metrics are gaining more and more acceptance outside of the fringe? Sadly, that question is rhetorical.

    by sjt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 12:40am

    I think the most infuriating thing about this year's version of the BCS farce was Herbstreit claiming on national TV that even if LSU loses to Georgia (fat chance, I know) it would still be a rematch of LSU and Bama. So his claim is that not only could one non-champion get it, but 2 could. And the worst part is he may damn well be right, looking at the current rankings.

    There are other infuriating thing, such as the fact that Bama gets a pass because they happen to be in the same division as LSU. If they were in different divisions they would likely be meeting in the SECCG this weekend, and no one would question that the winner should advance while the loser should be eliminated from the conversation. We saw this in both the recent Bama-Florida title games, where the winner moved on to the big prize and the loser got an at large BCS bowl but no title bid.

    by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 11:43am


    I might be wrong, but I believe if Houston wins and Boise stays where they are, an LSU-Bama NC rematch is impossible if Georgia wins. There are too many auto-qualifiers for Alabama to sneak in as a conference's 3rd selection, and I think the NC game qualifier exclusion keeps them out.

    by sjt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 11:57am

    I hope you are right about that.

    by Eddo :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 12:23pm

    I'm interpreting that link differently. It looks like the top priority is to put #1 vs. #2 in the BCS Championship.

    After that, all the conference champions get in (including Georgia, under the a-third-can-get-in-if-two-non-champs-are-1-and-2 exception).

    Then, the other auto-bids (Houston, in this scenario, but not Boise State ("No more than one such team from Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, and the Western Athletic Conference shall earn an automatic berth in any year")) get in.

    If LSU and Alabama are ranked first and second, there will be a rematch, regardless of which other teams are set to auto-qualify.

    by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 4:34pm

    See, I read that part as those conferences cannot get more than 1 each.

    And there is explicit clarification.

    "No more than two teams from a conference may be selected, regardless of whether they are automatic qualifiers or at-large selections, unless two non-champions from the same conference are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the final BCS Standings."

    Still, I wonder if Alabama could survive an LSU loss and an OK State win and remain #2. The computers have the two as a deadlock, and an LSU loss weakens Alabama's profile and a win over Oklahoma helps OK State's. Also, OK State easily moves up to #3 in the polls over idle Stanford and a VT that split w/ Clemson. That might be enough to leap Alabama.

    That, or a couple of voters who put Alabama 9th to make sure they don't make the NC game like losing non-winners Nebraska (2001) and Oklahoma (2003) did. Putting two losers in the NC game would be a really odd precedent. Might as well go back to AP/UPI.

    by Eddo :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 5:16pm

    Right, I think the explicit clarification you cite means that all three could get in ("no more than two ... unless two non-champions ... are ranked no. 1 and no. 2").

    Though, in practice, I suspect you'll be correct if LSU loses and Oklahoma State wins. Alabama's single-best qualification (a loss to the lone undefeated major-conference team) is substantially weakened, while Oklahoma State's already-strong case will be strengthened by beating Oklahoma.

    by Lance :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 2:25am

    The problem with the BCS is that it is effectively a two-team, one-game play-off the participants of which are chosen based on a combination of polls and computer rankings. There may be some merit to this, and the BCS loves to talk about how it always gets the "right" match-up in its final game, but there is obviously quite a bit of disagreement.

    Part of this disagreement probably comes from how Americans are used to determining a champion. In most sports-- professional or college-- a reasonable segment of teams qualify for a postseason tournament. The best teams (by virtue of record, or record and other barometers (e.g. "power rankings", etc.)) square off against worse teams, and the winners advance until one team remains.

    In D-1A college football (I know they call it something else; I'll use the older conventions for now), there are ca. 120 teams, and yet the BCS picks two of them. That's the same number of teams that play for the PAC-12 championship, yet the PAC-12 has 10% of the number of teams are in D-1A.

    If college basketball were to follow a BCS format, "March Madness" would go from 68 teams to six (two teams of 120 is 1.67%; 1.67% of 347 NCAA basketball schools is 5.79). While a lot of experts (and fans) could say that those are the six "best" teams and be confident that the winner of a small 6-team tournament would produce the true "best" team, I think that if the NCAA tried to do this in lieu of the current tournament format, there would be rioting in the streets.

    Of course, I wouldn't say that football should allow almost 20% of its teams to participate in a playoff (as NCAA basketball does). But clearly, some expanded format-- say, 12 teams (the first 4 getting a bye week)-- would be something most fans would like. And it would eliminate any discussion of "worthy" teams being left out.

    I have no illusions that there will ever be a true NCAA football championship, but I also remain unconvinced that the current system is superior in any way to what basketball (or any other sport) does. It's easy to say that OSU would get killed by LSU, and so an LSU-Alabama game is the "best" game, or that that winner is the "best". I grant that seeing an NCAA final involving a "mid-major" like Butler might leave a bad taste in the mouth of some-- and some sports radio guys (Colin Cowherd comes to mind) loathe the idea of non-traditional powers ever playing for a championship. But I feel like in the long run, fan interest and viewership grows when more people have an attachment to an event-- i.e. they believe that there's a chance that their team can do something great.

    The biggest argument you hear in favor of the BCS is that it makes the regular season "relevant" and "every game counts". None of this sways me at all. Obviously that's not the case-- you CAN lose and make the one-game championship playoff. It just matters who you lose to and, often, when you lose. While every game may count, most have said now that if LSU loses a close game in the SEC championship, they'll STILL make the BCS. Imagine if the NFL worked that way: "Well, we all know that Green Bay is the best team in the league, so even if they lose in week 13, we'll just put them in the Super Bowl against the Pats or the Steelers-- whoever comes out on top in the ESPN Power Ranksins." Sounds awesome!

    by Alternator :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 2:54am

    Honest question here, tangentially related to anything:

    Has Houston made any noise about trying to improve it's OOC schedule? Boise started scheduling at least one should-be good game every year when they felt (accurately, as the bowl results showed) that they should be taken seriously, and Houston seems to be the next nobody team to try and make it big. Have they taken that same next step?

    by Lance :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 3:34am

    Looks like their future schedule doesn't include any real powerhouse games. Their UCLA series ends next year, and they add a home and home with BYU for 2013 and 2014 (along with keeping Louisiana Tech).

    by Mood_Indigo (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 2:35pm

    It's ironical that Tyrone Willingham's own house used to be Stanford Stadium, albeit the old, cavernous stadium...

    by tsmonk (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 4:33pm

    If it were 1993 again and Notre Dame found itself back in the #2 slot after losing to BC (i.e. no Nebraska in the picture), I would have been all for a rematch against FSU. What is the big deal with a rematch?

    by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 4:44pm

    Or West Virginia. ND was #4 in the final poll.

    The problem is that 1-loss ND would have gone over unbeaten Nebraska and unbeaten West Virginia. West Virginia's profile was just as good as ND's, and they beat BC.

    Florida was a potential rematch as well. They lost to FSU at home, and didn't win the SEC outright. (Auburn actually won, but was ineligible for the post-season. Auburn also beat Florida.)

    by tsmonk (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 4:57pm

    That's why I added the caveat of assuming there were no undefeated teams in between them and FSU (as it is this year b/w LSU and UA). ND fans complain today that they beat the #1 team and by definition should never be beneath them. I think that's absurd, but assuming those two were a fairly clear 1-2 (and you could make a sound argument that they were), I'd have been all in favor of a rematch.

    by Bill Caldwell (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 6:01pm

    While this is pre-BCS, Steve Spurrier's 1996 mythical National Title team at Florida won the honor not only in a rematch of a regular season game, but a rematch of their LAST regular season game (Florida lost their last regular season game 24-21 at Florida State, then, after defeating Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, landed a rematch with the undefeated and #1 ranked Seminoles in the Jan,1997 Sugar Bowl----- which Florida won 52-20).

    So rematches of regular season games with a National Title on the line aren't unprecedented (although the fact that Alabama and LSU are both SEC teams add an element not present in 1996, it's hard to see how that makes a difference). And an Oklahoma victory over OSU, which is very possible, pretty well wraps up the debate on who the "top 2" are.

    Bill Caldwell

    by Lance :: Tue, 11/29/2011 - 6:58pm

    "And an Oklahoma victory over OSU, which is very possible, pretty well wraps up the debate on who the 'top 2' are."

    As an Oklahoma State fan, I assure you that an OU victory not only isn't "very possible" it's virtually assured. In fact, we can be sure that they will thump OSU in a humiliating fashion. While this will ruin the entire season for OSU fans everywhere (mostly Stillwater, OK and small patches in Dallas, TX), it should right the massive imbalance that the universe has seen in the last few weeks-- people who have fallen strangely ill should expect to recover in miraculous fashion, people who have inexplicably lost their jobs should happen into a great new employment opportunity, Saturday Night Live should become funny again, network TV should begin producing quality dramas and genuinely funny sitcoms, and all will be right in America.

    by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 11/30/2011 - 10:46am

    Have you considered wearing Texas Tech or Kansas State uniforms? Oklahoma seems to play them with at least one hand wrapped firmly around their necks.

    by Lance :: Thu, 12/01/2011 - 4:33am

    I hope yanhuaz dies.

    by pawello (not verified) :: Wed, 03/27/2013 - 5:58am

    The biggest argument you hear in favor of the BCS is that it makes the regular season "relevant" and "every game counts". None of this sways me at all. Obviously that's not the case-- you CAN lose and e-papierosy make the one-game championship playoff. It just matters who you lose to and, often, e-papierosy when you lose. While every game may count, most have said now that if LSU loses a close game in the SEC championship, they'll STIL