Before the Oregon Ducks' conference game started against hapless Colorado, most experts predicted it would get ugly. To their credit, those experts were correct.
Oregon scored early and often, flexing their offensive muscles en route to a 56-0 halftime lead. Oregon, like they do most weeks, rested their starters in the second half and cruised to a 70-14 victory.
Is this "nice" attitude by coach Chip Kelly hurting the Ducks in the polls? Would it matter if Oregon hung 100 on teams like Colorado?
They certainly could.
One problem is the apparent risk of injury. Just look at the Chicago Bulls and superstar point guard Derrick Rose. He was left in during a game that was seemingly in hand, and the Bulls were set back two seasons.
Yesterday was an interesting day, mainly due to the plethora of upsets. The ESPN crew at College GameDay called the upsets for the most part, correctly predicting an Oregon State scare at Washington (Corso could not quite pull the trigger and predict the upset), and surprisingly predicting an Arizona win over USC. No one really saw Notre Dame beating Oklahoma by 17, but that score is a bit of a misnomer as they game was tied midway through the fourth quarter.
What does all this mean?
Well, for starters, it appears Alabama and Kansas State, not Oregon, are on a crash course for the BCS Championship. It is pretty sad too, because all three teams are worthy of title consideration at this point.
Kansas State is obliterating teams in the Big 12, while Oregon and Bama are doing the same within their respective conferences.
Losses by USC and Oregon State, the top-ranked teams remaining on Oregon's schedule, severely hurt Oregon's computer ranking.
Despite their lofty and deserved ranking in the human polls, Oregon needed a Trojan victory and a Beaver victory for selfish reasons. Now, when Oregon travels to USC, the Trojans will likely be ranked in the high teens. Likewise, when the Ducks travel to Corvalis for the Civil War, the Beavers will be ranked similar to USC.
What is amazing is the scores between common opponents. USC lost to Arizona, for example, yet Oregon beat Arizona 49-0. Oregon State lost to Washington, but Oregon beat Washington so bad, half the Autzen crowd left at halftime.
A small detail to point out, though, is how Oregon got both Arizona and Washington at home, while Oregon State and USC both lost yesterday on the road. Nonetheless, the score differential is astounding.
Surely this means Oregon is head-and-shoulders above USC and Oregon State, right? Somehow I think the Ducks will find themselves in a dog fight next week at the Coliseum, but they will win a closer-than-expected game.
Let's assume Oregon runs the table, defeats USC in a rematch in the Pac-12 championship, and Alabama does the same in its conference.
Kansas State benefits from the Big 12 not having a conference championship this year; so, we will have a very sticky dilemma at the No. 2 and 3 spots.
Kansas State will have victories over the following ranked teams: Oklahoma (not looking quite as impressive), Texas Tech (similar), West Virginia (completely fallen off) and Texas (who BARELY beat KANSAS). I'm sorry, but looking back now at these victories, they look so unimpressive. When the final polls come out, it is entirely possible Oklahoma will be the only ranked team of the group.
For the Kansas State apologists, K-State has the same problem Oregon has: a weak conference.
Oregon's ranked victories will be (hypothetically) against Stanford, USC, Oregon State and (maybe) Arizona. Again, it is entirely possible all of these teams will be unranked except for Oregon State by the end of the season.
Some of you may be saying, what about Notre Dame?
Well, I believe they do not deserve to even sniff the BCS Championship if four teams are undefeated. The Irish have how many victories over Top 25 programs? Officially, three (if we can assume Michigan drops out), with Oklahoma being the signature win. Michigan lost to Nebraska yesterday and will likely exit the rankings.
USC may not even be ranked when they play Notre Dame; so, clearly Notre Dame has the weakest case for the title game. Some may say Notre Dame's wins against Stanford and Michigan State are solid, but...really? Last night, Stanford HELD OFF Washington State at the end of the game to barely beat a 2-6 team. Michigan State, who lost to Iowa...IOWA!!
Notre Dame beat Stanford, IN South Bend, by seven in overtime. What will the score be when Oregon and Stanford play? Oregon will surely open as a double-digit favorite in betting circles, and this, I believe, is the proof that Oregon deserves a realistic shot at the title.
Sometimes, the BCS works itself out.
This year, however, barring a crazy upset, it seems like we may actually get four undefeated teams.
Many will criticize Oregon's early season schedule, but don't be too critical, as Kansas State scheduled some cupcakes like Missouri State and North Texas. At first glance, Notre Dame's schedule looks stout, but don't be fooled. It is a bunch of below-average to average teams across the board.
At the end of the day, we all hope [the objective fans of course] the best two teams get a crack at the title. No one can argue Alabama does not deserve that spot if they stay undefeated. But the way Oregon has dismantled opponents, and rested their starters so much, what if Oregon played their starters every quarter of every game?
How many times would they have hit 100-plus points?
Hopefully, the polls do the Ducks justice at the end of the season, because if they do stay undefeated, they are surely deserving of another shot at that elusive national championship.