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.

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.

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?

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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.

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.

Christian Thoma said...

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

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.

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.