Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Realistic Approach to the BCS Title Race

It's getting close to that time of year when experts and fans alike start to think about who is going to be playing in the BCS title game.

The BCS champion has evolved (in my opinion) to be very little more than a ceremonial title. While I am still against a playoff for tradition sake, I can no longer say "yes, the team that wins that game is clearly the best team". While many people might say my view was skewed when Texas was excluded from the BCS title game last year (or the exclusion from the Big XII Championship game on BCS points, a game in which they beat the two participants by an average of 17.5 points). But really, when LSU won the BCS title despite having two losses, including one on Thanksgiving weekend, it became apparent that we're to the point that the human votes, which means the SEC, are going to drive this thing. Human votes mean SEC powers, USC, OU, and even a side of Texas, will get the bias. But in that order, hence the OU debacle last year.

So what does this mean for this year? Don't start to run down the schedule and just assume everyone wins out. It's not going to happen. I think the SEC champ will have one loss, it's possible the SEC runner up will also have one loss. Texas realistically has the best shot of any team in IA (besides Boise) of running the table, based upon their cream puff schedule, including the benefit of not having to face Gresham, Broyles, maybe Bradford, Griffin III, Dez Bryant, and having beat Tech at home, having Kansas at home, and a nice schedule break with UCF in November.

We know OU is done. I predict 5 total losses for OU. Three straight losses away from Norman at this point, with Tech, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas all not in Norman. Note those teams were IN Norman last year which set up well for them (sans Texas, the loss).

USC is far from done. The beauty of their losses are the are usually to such crappy teams, it doesn't cost them the Pac 10 title. They might drop one more and still win the Pac 10. But they are right there.

Boise. Wow. What to do. They are positioned really well. No real challenge left. They beat Oregon and that's their ticket to the title game. Or is it? This is where the human polls get hairy. More in a minute.

TCU will lose, they always do. I also note they beat Boise in one of the best minor bowls last year...the Poinsettia.

Cincinnati really looks good. Against really bad competition. There is enough depth in the Big East, they will lose as well.

Iowa will lose, the Big 10 is mediocre, but still deep enough. I think Iowa loses this week, actually.

The ACC consistently produces conference champs with 3 losses or more. Virginia Tech and Miami are clearly the best of the bunch. But Tech barely beat Nebraska, really should have lost if not for a defensive meltdown by the Huskers. The Huskers. Somewhere between the 4th and 7th best Big XII team. Miami has the best shot here to make a run, loss was early and on the road, and having played their four toughest games early (only Wake and UNC left on the road in conference) they've got a shot.

No Big 10 or Big East team makes it with one loss (assuming no complete meltdown by top contenders).

So it boils down to this field.

SEC winner, SEC runner up, USC, Texas, Miami, and Boise.

Book it, two of those teams are in.

SEC runner up get your attention? What if Florida beats LSU, goes undefeated to the title game, Alabama loses to Ole Miss and LSU, but beats Florida by 1 point? And Texas drops one in Stillwater. No doubt, Florida plays someone. The polls will dictate.

I think the current pecking order is as follows. The second time you see a teams name is where they pop back up after a loss:

Florida
Texas
Alabama
LSU
Florida
USC
Alabama
LSU
Miami
Boise

So that means, Florida gets in with one loss if two of the Alabama/LSU/Texas lose one game. Boise gets in if all the SEC teams have two losses, and two of the USC, Miami, or Texas lose. Texas doesn't get the same respect, not with their schedule.

Maybe an Ohio State or Penn State or Virginia Tech or Cincinnati can sneak in there, I'm dismissing their chances above, they will lose. It's like going with a scenario in which Missouri wins out, just not going to happen.

Somebody bookmark this and let's see where we stand.

3 comments:

  1. Outstanding guest post. Your analysis is pretty spot on, IMO.

    Regarding the bowl traditions though, that is just so old school. Many/most of the true (ESPN Classic style) bowl traditions are gone. Case in point, look no further than the rise of the Alamo and Houston bowls. It's more about money and sponsorships than it is about parades and regions anymore. How about the Fiesta Bowl? Where did that come from? It has built it's "tradition" on good games in recent years (or OU losses). A playoff system using some bowl venues (and leaving the 2nd tier bowls in tact for those left out of the playoffs) would create the kind of traditions that future generations of college fans will embrace... I'm sure of it, but that is just my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Is anyone else surprised about how far LSU fell in the rankings after a respectable loss to #1 Florida? A look at the new polls has me annoyed that USC, Ohio St., Cinncinatti, and Miami/TCU have slid up in front of LSU. USC is the biggest shock, given that they actually have a common opponent that USC lost to.

    I'm honestly not surprised about Texas falling a spot, given the lackluster offensive performance. But I guess we have to hope Greg Davis has been "saving" all of his wizardry for the OU game.

    -Justin

    ReplyDelete
  3. LSU's fall in the polls only points to the problems with the system. I won't say we need to scrap the polls or scrap the bowls, but I think a lot of people would agree that NCAA basketball has got it right. Fans should realize the system they are being fed is power driven and not fan driven. There may be more money to be made with a change, but the shift of that money (power) is the real problem.

    Justin, you may be interested in a poll comprised of real experts, which apparently is old white guys (http://www.legendschannel.com/legends-poll). LSU fell from 4 to 8. USC is 4 now though.

    ReplyDelete