Sunday, October 15, 2006

CFB Hangover:
Enter the BCS!

The prophecy is fulfilled: In a mere 7 weeks (less than that, if you only count conference games), the SEC has managed to cannibalize its chances at competing for the national title.

As a Gators fan, what kills me most about Florida's loss is that, more than anything, they beat themselves: Safety in the end zone off an offensive penalty; misplayed punt that resulted in a TD; and, most soul-crushing, Chris Leak's controversial fumble (after many replays, I have no problem with the call) and his inexcusable interception late in the fourth quarter.

But the beauty – and brutality – of college football is that, among the title contenders, there is no room for explanations: With a loss, a team is simply eliminated from title competition (barring a single unbeaten with many one-loss teams... or zero unbeatens and many one-loss teams, but that looks unlikely this season).

It is harsh. It is, no matter what the BCS critics might say, as effective and efficient as system for determining a champion as exists in sports. One loss and you're out? Try taking the NCAA Tournament – survive and advance -- and making that your sport's regular season.

No other sport – no matter how much you hate the BCS – is so punishing as to essentially eliminate title contenders after a single loss.

So what are we left with, as the first official BCS ranking is set to be revealed later today? I think there's a very clear picture of who will be playing for the national title:

The winner of Ohio State-Michigan versus the winner of West Virginia-Louisville. Because those two teams will be the only unbeaten teams left in college football.

(The lone potential party-crasher, USC, which will likely be both No. 2 in every major poll and No. 2 in this initial BCS ranking, will never survive the rest of their season with the way they're playing. Either Cal or Oregon or, most likely, Notre Dame, will beat them.)

And that's what we're down to, a mere 7 games into the season: Four teams playing two virtual national semifinal games next month. For now, it seems incredibly clean. (And, if I had to make a prediction, it will be Ohio St vs. West Virginia. And WVA would give them a game; if OSU had trouble handling Vince Young a year ago, WVA QB Pat White poses similar problems.)

Meanwhile, I can already predict the huge controversy: What happens when we're left with only two unbeaten teams – the two I described above – and the WVA/L'ville winner ISN'T in the top 2 of the BCS, even though they're one of only two unbeaten teams remaining?

But that's for six weeks from now. For now, I just marvel at the cruel efficiency of the college football "regular-season playoff" system.

Meanwhile, here's my first crack at a new Top 25 for this week:

1. Ohio St.
2. West Virginia
3. Michigan
4. USC
5. Texas
6. Louisville
7. Florida
8. Notre Dame
9. Arkansas
10. Auburn
11. Tennessee
12. Cal
13. LSU
14. Clemson
15. Oregon
16. Georgia Tech
17. Boise St.
18. Rutgers
19. Wisconsin
20. Nebraska
21. Texas A&M
22. Missouri
23. B.C.
24. Wake Forest
25. Pitt

-- D.S.


john (east lansing, mi) said...

I would ask again, but you clearly aren't listening.

Fortunately, I know Louisville will take care of everything.

manninghamheisman said...

You've gotta be totally nuts. WEST VIRGINIA over my wolvs? Come on bro. We have the best defense in the nation. Our front 7 would slam WV's QB to the ground and then do the same to their 2nd stringer. But that's okay. I know we have great chances to beat OSU. We have been solid on the road and we have a clutch team. This is our year. Most of the national champs in the last 7 years have come off rock bottom seasons. We are so angry about last year and we have soo much leadership this is our year bro. You better believe the big blue

Matt T said...

I agree. I don't mind the BCS.

Without the BCS there wouldn't be a chance for some of the title game matchups we've seen due to the old Bowl tie-ins.

There is still a good potential for some controversy if there is only one undefeated and multiple 1 loss teams

Trayton Otto said...

Fellow Wolverines,

Remember how scrambling QBs have hurt UM in the past? Stanton and Young in 2004 are the top two to come to mind.

Our defense may be older, wiser, more experienced. Can we stop the mobile QB? I hope we don't have to see. (Besides, interceptions off of pocket passers like Quinn are more fun.)

Steve said...

Pretty solid poll this week Dan. I'd have Michigan 2 but it doesn't make any difference. If they beat Ohio St., they're the new #1 so no worries.

Scott N said...

West Virginia has played no-one yet and really they play no one other than Louisville.
West Virginia has beet the following teams
Marshall (1-5) (there win was against Hofstra a 1-AA Team)
Eastern Washington (a 2-5 1-AA Team)
Maryland (4-2) (With a win over a 1-AA Team)
East Carolina (2-4)
Miss State (2-5) (With a win over a 1-AA Team)
Syracuse (3-4)
The combined record of WVU’s opponents is 14-25.

At the end of the season an undefeated team like WVU in a weak Big East that has played nobody out of conference is far less impressive than a team finishing SEC play with only one loss. If WVU misses out on the BCS title game and they are undefeated they have no one to blame but themselves for their out of conference schedule.

P.S. I am from West Virginia so no bias here.

The heroin sheik said...

I really miss the good ole days of the traditional bowl matchups. I miss knowing we would be wintering in new orleans if we won the SEC. Sure there was much less chance of a true national championship 1 v 2 game but I liked the familiarity. I guess im waxing nostalgic.

7)Auburn (If we hadn't basically given them the game they would have been 6)

Deathwatch Conundrum said...

So let's get this straight. Arkansas loses to USC, but beats Auburn, who in turn beats Florida and some how Florida is ranked above both Arkansas and Auburn?

I know you're a self confirmed Florida homer, but you've got to be kidding right?

Cody said...

I can't believe (well actually I can) the BCS will have USC at #2. Another squeek by win against an unranked opponent, and ASU gave them the win by punting the ball. I still can't figure the logic behind this one.

1.(1) Ohio State - They still keep winning
2.(2) Michigan - Without Manningham they looked beatable for the first time this year, and it was against a terrible PSU team.
3.(4) USC - by default, see above
4.(5) Texas - Hangover from Oklahoma? Down 10-0 against Baylor before they decided to take the field. McCoy sets school record with 6 TD passes
5.(6) WVU - same comment as always, still haven't played anyone.
6.(7) Louisville - Looked shakey in win against Cinci. Is Rutgers the best team in the Big East???
7.(-) Auburn - Redeemed themselves from bad loss. Another OU/OU controversy.
8.(2) Flordia - Where will they rank against one loss teams since it came later than Texas, ND, Tenn.? And the before mentioned teams losses were aginst higher ranked opponents.
9.(8) Tennessee - Drop a spot in the bye week. I couldn't rank them ahead of Fla.
10.(9) ND - Cupcakes until USC

Geoff-Detroit said...

Well the AP sees Michigan as the #2 team. Good enough for me.

Anonymous said...

first off I don't give a fuck about anyones rankings. ONly the ones that count matter.

And maybe, just maybe, the SEC is overrated.

Anonymous said...

ND over Ark, Auburn, Tenn, & Cal??? You kidding me?

Anonymous said...
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Trey (formerly TF) said...

SEC overrated?

Listen I am not on eof those walking around preaching SEC supremacy to those around me. However, the SEC has the best out of conference winning percentage in the country and look what teams like Cal and Arizona have faired against SEC opponents.

There is no question the SEC is the best conference top to bottom in the country.

Joe (Dayton)

Anonymous said...

gotta agree if you are going to put ARK at 9 then there's no way that FLA should be ahead of AUB, since AUB beat FLA and lost only to your #9 team.

xcdannon said...

what's your take on missouri falling completely out of the coaches poll despite a loss on the road against a (now) ranked team? seems a little unfair to me. i still have them at 14.
I agree that WVU and Michigan are almost interchangeable at 2/3. It won't matter in the end, either way, because at least one of the top 3 will lose. USC at 2 (in the coaches poll) is a little rediculous though.

My top 10
1. Ohio State
2. Michigan
3. WVU
4. USC
5. Louisville
6. Texas
7. TN (only loss by 1 pt, to a good Florida team that was definitely good enough to win at Auburn but flukey enough to give away the game)
8. Cal (really has gotten it together, bet TN is glad they played them the first week. can't wait for them to blowout USC in the way no one has in a loooong time)
9. Notre Dame (dunno if they really deserve this)
10. Auburn (can't move up higher, that loss was by too much at home. a nat'l champ can't lose focus like that)

(Florida is 11, since I know you're wondering)

Christian Thoma said...

Here's a question: what if Rutgers finishes undefeated? Are they too far down in the rankings to make it to the #2 BCS slot?

Wake Forest is in the AP Poll! WOOHOO!

Anonymous said...

for rutgers to do that they'd have to take out LOU and WVU...don't see that happening.

Ingrid and Jim said...

Don't underestimate the Knights! Louisville almost lost to Cinci... Rutgers should handle them fine.

Now, WVU is another story, but I believe in miracles!

Anonymous said...

wow. BCS. wow.

Auburn at 4, ahead of WVU.

Texas at 9, one spot behind ND.

love it.

Cody said...

I doubt Rutgers will gain enough steam to reach #2 from thier present rank of #19 Mainly because Rutgers plays both Louisville and WVU AFTER Louisville and WVU play each other, thus not giving Rutgers the chance to knock both teams down from the ranks of undefeated. The loser will probably drop out of the top 10 (depending on how other teams in the top 10 fair). It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Christian Thoma said...

If WVU or Louisville could be in the championship game, why not Rutgers? It's not like Rutgers has a weaker schedule than those two. The only reason would be because they didn't start off ranked.

Cody said...

BCS favors USC and ND as usual.

ND ahead of Texas? The AP has UT 5 spots ahead and the Coach's poll has UT 3 spots ahead of ND. I guess the computers like MSU handing ND a victory.

Auburn at 4 who lost to 13 Arkansas?

Michigan gets jumped by USC?

I'm routing for a log jam at #2 and the computer blows up.

Christian Thoma said...

Are the computers drunk? USC and UM over OSU? Rutgers over WVA and Louisville? Guh?

Cody said...

Yes because Rutgers didn't start off ranked, but also becaue WVU gets a chance and an unbeaten Louisville and an unbeaten Rutgers. Likewise Louisville gets a chance at an unbeaten WVU and unbeaten Rutgers. Rutgers does not get that same chance. I'm not saying they won't be there or that I don't want them to be there. (I think it would be great)I just don't think the computer will put them there.

BLUE said...

The West Virginia story sets up an interesting scenario. Lets just say that they win out an finish undefeated. Currently their strength of schedule in the saragin rankings is lower then 1-AA montana. That will improve with wins over Louisville and Rutgers. But this sets up a scenario that nobody has talked about....what if they get into the BCS championship game, and an unbeaten Boise State team, has a tougher strength of schedule. Then the only reason they'd be there is because of the wonderful pre-season rankings. Blow the BCS up.

Dan Shanoff said...

I could be swayed by your arguments about Michigan being No. 2, but -- of any team out there -- Michigan has the most unique chance to prove its worthiness to be in the BCS title game:

Beat Ohio St.

If they do that (and run the table otherwise), they won't have to worry about arguments about BCS-worthiness. They'll be in, guaranteed.

I think USC will lose one of its three huge games left. And, having seen the new BCS rankings, I'm quite sure that the unbeaten winner of the WVA-Louisville game (which I think will be WVA) is going to get screwed.

But I shed no tears for Michigan being No. 3 in my poll: They get the unique chance to earn it on the field with a single win.

Anonymous said...

still waiting for your defense on this, in "your poll" ...

ARK at 9 then there's no way that FLA should be ahead of AUB, since AUB beat FLA and lost only to your #9 team.

jhawkjjm said...

Mizzou has to drop out of the top 25. Their "prove it" win against Texas Tech looks like crap after COLORADO beat TT.

Arizona Bay said...

You complain that Florida "beat themselves" with the litany of mistakes they made. How do you think they ended up beating LSU? One week they're the beneficiary, the next they're the victims. I'm calling it even.

Arizona Bay said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dan Shanoff said...

I appreciate the questions about Florida vs. Auburn vs. Arkansas.

It's a huge clusterf***.

Here's my feeling, and don't blame me for any inconsistencies with previous statements:

Florida vs. Auburn on a neutral field: Florida wins.

Auburn vs. Arkansas: Well, we already know that Arkansas won AT Auburn, let alone a neutral field, so that carries enough weight to put ARK ahead of AUB.

Now: Why Florida over Arkansas? Well, that's the Great Unknowable, for now.

If things go as they are supposed to, in the SEC Champ. Game, we'll see Florida vs. either Auburn (on a neutral field) or Arkansas (pole position in SEC West).

Like I said: A classic clusterfudge.

Justin said...

Dan, by your own logic, wouldn't Tennessee beat Florida on a neutral field?

Your lack of any real excuse for being on the WVU bandwagon is troubling.