Postseason Bans Spawn Bias Against Braxton Miller, Ohio State and Big Ten
It seems as if the post-season bans have spawned a bias against Braxton Miller in the Heisman race, as well as a bias against Ohio State and the Big Ten conference.
There's nothing the fans can do about it. Penn State and Ohio State made their beds. Now they have to sleep in them. So much for winning solves everything. Those teams are a combined 16-3.
Two weeks ago, a one-loss LSU team was ahead of an undefeated Buckeye team in the polls. This week a one-loss Georgia squad is tied with OSU in the AP Poll. Obviously, the voters didn't watch the South Carolina game. Nor did they watch Michigan State against Georgia in January's Bowl game. Both teams had a similar number of returning starters(MSU 14, Ga 15). Michigan State is in the cellar of the BigTen Legends Division. Penn State is out of the polls altogether while a couple of traditionally less successful three-loss teams remain.
I can't really say that OSU should be in front of Notre Dame, KSU, or Oregon. Those teams are not only undefeated, but they also they played stiffer competition. I agree with the Top 4. That said, I think OSU could play with all those teams. After the LSU/Alabama game, I'm not so sure that OSU couldn't hang with Alabama.
For the record, I believe Alabama is the best team in the country, and that the SEC is the best conference in terms of talent. However, the SEC conference is getting a little bit TOO much respect. This will be a hard stance to take later in the bowl season when the Big Ten leftovers are laying goose eggs in the Capital One, Rose and Gator bowls.
The postseason bans won't do anything to help this argument, but it's not like the Big Ten has been drawing easy match-ups in past bowls.
Just the fact that Indiana is in a Division race tells you about the state of the Big Ten, but that state has more to do with the postseason bans of two of it's most powerful teams and a lot less to do with the conference on the whole. I still don't think Indiana is a Top 8 team in the conference.
The Big Ten is down...or is it?
Let's take a closer look at Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Northwestern, Nebraska, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. Why? Those teams went a combined 24-9 out-of-conference. No big deal right? It's when you consider that seven of those nine losses came against Alabama (9-0), Notre Dame (9-0/x3), Oregon State (7-1/x2) and Ohio University (8-1).
Most of those also came on the road.
Don't even get me started on that. Have you seen what happens to SEC teams when they travel out west? But I digress. The SEC rarely travels anywhere outside of their comfort zone. That goes for out-of-conference or Bowl season.
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Penn State's first two losses spun the conference in the wrong direction. Fact is, to this point, Penn State hasn't lost much in terms of talent. The offseason woes triggered the departure of Silas Redd and the Nittany Lions starting kicker, but Penn State still had a lot of talent in place.
PSU's only loss in the last eight weeks was to Ohio State. Their sanctions will have a bigger effect in the years to come, but this year a solid football team has been painted as another weak team in a weak conference. Neither is true.
There are two teams in the AP top-25 that have 3 losses, but 6-3 Penn State isn't ranked. Two of Penn State's losses came against two teams that are a combined 18-1. The other came by 1 point.
Indiana is vastly improved. They're no longer the cellar dweller in the Big Ten. They've swapped that dubious honor with the Illini. Indiana's coaching staff—along with their speed on the outside—has them looking towards brighter days ahead. I'll be the first to call it. Indiana will be in another close race with Wisconsin next season for second place honors in the Leaders Division. Indiana may be a basketball state, but their football programs are on the mend.
Purdue played to the wire against Notre Dame, and Northwestern dispatched a similar mid-to-lower tier conference team in the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Wisconsin has improved as the season has went on, and Michigan's loss to Alabama is starting to look curiously similar to every SEC team's fate, save LSU. How much should we take away from another tight LSU/Alabama game anyway? I seem to remember two other close games that LSU had this year. One, a 12-10 nail-biter against 2-7 Auburn. Another close game against 5-4 FCS Towson State who trailed LSU 17-9 at the midway point of the third quarter!
The polls love the SEC. It's pretty convenient the SEC gets these high preseason rankings, and then schedules a bunch of FCS teams in the out-of-conference. I guess this allows them to quickly default to their conference reputation in the polls (in a Dana Carvey voice,"How Conveeeeenient").
I don't have a problem with that when people are comparing them to BCS busters or non-BCS conference flashes-in-the-pan, but I do have a problem with it when these SEC teams leap frog other BCS conference teams with better records. That's just not right. The system is still flawed, and the preseason polls need to go.
When you refer to OSU in the current polls, you have to be talking about the AP Poll. OSU doesn't appear in the Harris Poll, the BCS standings, or the USAToday Coaches Poll. It feels more like a regular season ban than a postseason ban.
It's also curious how ESPN now posts their bottom line scoreboard in order of BCS ranking. That means if you're waiting for the OSU score, you might be waiting a while. There's a slim chance you might see the 13-second highlight tape at the end of Sportscenter. Then again, you may not. OSU, much like its star quarterback, seems to be out of sight and out of mind.
Two weeks ago ESPN was touting Braxton as a Top 3 Heisman candidate. Kenjon Barner wasn't even listed in the Top 5. Last Saturday, Reece, Lou, and Mark May held their little debate as to whether or not the Heisman race had become a two-man race between Klein and Barner.
First, the Heisman started weeding out defensive players, then it moved onto receivers and has now decided to count out candidates from teams with postseason bans. Now, it seems as if the Heisman has become a race for quarterbacks and running backs from bowl-qualifying, Top-20 BCS conference teams. Sure, Manti Te'o got a little love over the past few weeks because of his looks and his gold helmet, but we all know that his chances of winning the Heisman are between poor and impossible.
I suggest you look at something a bit more subjective in terms of Heisman evaluation...it's called game film. I don't need to be Mel Kiper to get you to believe that Braxton is more exciting than Collin Klein or A.J. McCarron.
You can see it for yourself. What Braxton has accomplished with a new center, two new tackles, and a receiving corps that came into the season with 17 career receptions is nothing short of amazing. It's not all about numbers either. If that were the case, the Texas Tech quarterback would win every year.
The award is supposed to go to college football's most "outstanding" player. That player is Braxton Miller.
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