Right now it’s all but certain that LSU is playing Alabama in the national title game, and really the only thing that can redeem this season is utter the bureaucratic chaos that the BCS embodies. I don’t want to speculate on how that will come about because there are so many scenarios, most of which are highly unlikely to actually come to fruition. But in a year mired in scandal, if there’s anything that can deter the memory of this season from tattoos (really, amazingly trivial tattoos, but still) and sex crimes and disgraced legacies and probationary periods, it would be a BCS blunder that results in more people complaining about the Title match-up than celebrating it. This might be an incredibly cynical perspective to behold, but I need some white noise from potentially Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge, Fayetteville, Stillwater, Palo Alto & Boise to distract me from the many, many ills currently plaguing the sport I’ve loved since middle school.
Onto the rankings.
A lot of people have them pegged to lose on Friday for a couple of reasons. One of which is earned. 1) Les Miles, even with more talent than the rest of the country, always manages to lose a couple games he has no business losing. Even in 2007, when they were inarguably the best team in the country, they managed to lose two games (one of which was, yes, you guessed it, to Arkansas). And 2) Since everyone else has lost, it seems that LSU is on borrowed time. The latter is just silly, and this Arkansas team is extremely vulnerable (the team is worse than their current record). LSU always struggles with the Razorbacks (maybe it’s the short week?), and while we want an LSU loss on Friday as much as we’ve ever wanted anything, I’m picking LSU to finish the regular season undefeated.
It’s been said a million times already this morning, but Alabama is actually in a better position to make the national title game than LSU, simply because they won’t have to play in the SEC title game. Is it worth missing out on the national title game for a chance to win your conference? These are the questions you have to ask yourself with a bowl system.
It’s kind of embarrassing that the SEC now has the top three teams in the country, and this is regarded as a “down” year for the conference, but Arkansas really backed into the spot. Right now their best win is against a Marcus Lattimore-less South Carolina. They’ll earn the 3-seed if they win on Friday, with “earn” being the operative word, as they probably won’t move up in the rankings assuming Alabama beats Auburn.
To give you an idea of how this season has gone, I have a better impression of this Stanford team now than I did before the Oregon loss.
5) Boise State
The resume is too weak and with the loss to a (comparatively speaking to years past, weak) TCU team, I can’t assume they’d be amongst the elite in a BCS conference. They have to be kicking themselves right now, as this was obviously their year to sneak into a national title game.
Of all the losses these past two weekends, none is more disappointing than Oregon’s. For one, it was against USC, and it’s always disappointing when USC experiences even a moment of happiness. Secondly, it was at home at the vaunted Autzen Field, generally regarded as one of the more intimidating venues in the country. And third, I spent a good chunk of time, both on this website and in my various social circles, claiming Oregon as the unquestionably the third best team in the country. For the record I still think they would beat Boise, Stanford and Arkansas in a best of seven, but football isn’t basketball, and in a one game scenario I’m a little more skeptical.
7) Oklahoma State
Finally, my suspicions were confirmed. What an enjoyable Friday to decide to stay in. That night, we were all Cyclones.
Not a lot of impressive wins on the resume, but hey, only one loss. We can only ask for so much from bottom-half of top ten teams this season.
Look who’s backing up into the polls. Apparently OSU looked at their game with the Badgers as their Superbowl and Wisconsin looked at OSU as a sure thing, because both teams have gone in the exact opposite directions since playing that game, and not in the way the result would lead you to believe.
I guess they had to lose to Baylor at some point. While it’s on a shortlist of dream jobs for myself, it’s pending match-ups like there’s with Oklahoma State that make me thankful I’m not a Vegas odds maker. That game, and every single game the Baltimore Ravens play this season.
11) South Carolina
Is there a sound reason why the SEC plays these late-season non-conference games, or is it just an aesthetic preference? Anyway, congrats on the big win over the Citadel in week twelve, Gamecocks. It’s not anticlimactic at all.
It isn’t the Citadel and a divisional opponent so I can’t give them shit for playing Kentucky at any point in the season. But I can give them shit for only beating them by nine points. Come on, Georgia, we need everyone but Houston to have a loss this year.
13) Michigan State
They should have four losses instead of two, as they were relatively lucky to beat Wisconsin and Ohio State, but they’ve won convincingly over Iowa and Indiana these past two weeks since narrowly beating Minnesota, and while that might not sound terribly impressive, just look at the landscape. Anyway, we’re all looking forward to their pending rematch with Wisconsin, barring they can get by an inconsistent but dangerous Northwestern team.
If there were ever a team that could lose to NC State by twenty-four points one week, then beat a top-15 team and win its conference the following two weeks, it would be Clemson. Remember, they housed Virginia Tech in Blacksburg back in October. That game feels like it was played five years ago, but no; it was just last month.
I’ll just go on record right now in saying that Robert Griffin would be my Heisman trophy recipient if, you know, I had any say whatsoever in who receives it. Luck would be second, but I don’t think Baylor has ever lost a game because of Griffin, after the loss to Oregon I can’t say the same about Luck.
It’s entirely possible that Michigan State loses to Northwestern, and if that happens Nebraska would move win the division and be sent off to the Big Ten title game. So they have plenty to play for, but like every team in the conference this year, Nebraska has been exceptionally flaky, so it isn’t going to surprise me or anyone else if they lose to Iowa so, no worries. Expectations aren’t very high for you or anyone else in the Big Ten.
I should probably have them higher but parity amongst the BCS teams is so overwhelming, yet still so superior to their mid-major counterparts, that it’s an unavoidable point against them that they don’t play in one. It’s almost, like there are too many teams in the country for us to accurately compare most of them, and the sport in most need of a playoff is the only league without one.
18) Kansas State
They beat Texas, so this season has to be regarded as a success. If they beat Iowa State next week and Oklahoma manages to lose to Oklahoma State, they could find themselves in a BCS bowl, something I don’t think anyone was counting on.
Another team that could end up in the BCS with their rather stunning route of Nebraska. As an Ohio State fan, I’m legitimately worried we’re going to be waxed by Michigan on Saturday in Ann Arbor, giving the Buckeyes their first loss to the Wolverines since 2003. While the concern is palpable, it’s also the most I’ve looked forward to the Michigan game since 2004 & 2006, funny how that works.
20) Penn State
I think the road win against Ohio State says more about Ohio State than it does about Penn State. Still, I’m sure if was a nice distraction from a scandal that is completely of their own doing.
21) Georgia Tech
Just so we can continue to feign “the SEC is on a down year” arguments, I’m really hoping they beat Georgia this week. But they only managed to beat Duke by seven, so my confidence is a little shaken.
See what I said about TCU? Multiply that times about a million, and the same is true for Houston. While going undefeated is always impressive, they haven’t beaten anyone good enough for me to legitmately think they could hang with any 2-loss or better team in the country. It isn’t necessarily their fault they play in Conference USA, but they do, and there isn’t really anything me or them can do about it.
23) Notre Dame
They only have three losses, two of which were the first two weeks of the season, plus a win against a team set to play in the conference championship game. Considering this is Notre Dame, if they had beaten Michigan or South Florida, they all but certainly be in the top ten.
24) West Virginia
This seems like an appropriate year for teams to ascend in various rankings during bye-weeks. Also, this might be the first year that the Big East is actually as bad as everyone claims it to be.
Surprisingly, they only have three losses this season, plus two wins against ranked opponents (Florida State, whom they knocked out of the rankings, and Georgia Tech). A win against Virginia Tech next week will simultaneously increase and decrease the ACC’s credibility, in what has been a banner year for the conference.