NCAA Football: Oregon and Kansas State Losses Make Need for Playoff Stronger
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Well, it's time to let the worst part of college football really begin: The conjecture. Once again, we have a beauty pageant instead of an actual competition on the field that will settle the national championship.
No matter how these next couple of weeks play out, there will be at least one team that will have a gripe at being left out of the Bowl Championship Series title game in Miami come January.
Why? Because right now, there is one eligible team left that is undefeated—Notre Dame—and no fewer than four one-loss teams that could make a case (albeit slim to none for one...but I digress) to be the second team. We won't have that argument settled on the field. Instead, it will be settled by a computer. Again.
As it stands right now, the immediate fallout of Stanford's upset of Oregon and Baylor's destruction of Kansas State appears to be simple: Notre Dame and Alabama are the two newest teams on the championship game of musical chairs. If the Fighting Irish can beat USC in Los Angeles next Saturday night, they will play for the first national title since January 1989.
Alabama gets a chance to back in to the championship game with a seemingly easy walkover against a putrid Auburn team and then a win in the SEC Championship game. Oh, but that's where this all gets so interesting.
Waiting for Alabama in that game will be Georgia, which also can stake a claim to a spot in the BCS title game itself. The Bulldogs beat Florida, and assuming they get past Georgia Tech, will be playing for one of the spots in the national title game themselves.
So that means there are three teams that have the chance to control their destiny. Seems quite decent, right? Well, only if you only had one chance. Alabama and Georgia both lost. Alabama fell at home (the same as Oregon), and Georgia was destroyed by South Carolina in Columbia by a 35-7 margin. A four touchdown mulligan doesn't exactly seem fair, right?
If Notre Dame loses at USC, which two teams should be in line for the BCS title?
My problem with the can't-be-phased-out-soon-enough BCS is the arbitrary nature of not losing, but when you lose. Alabama and Georgia benefited from losing early and subsequently not dropping very far. Georgia lost by 28 points and slipped nine spots. Seems steep until you realize Florida State lost the same amount of distance being upset by NC State on the road by a point in the last seconds. It's not about performance; it's about perception in those moments.
Speaking of which, why is it to be assumed that Oregon should even have to have this steep fall in the standings? The Ducks lost in overtime to the 13th-ranked team in the country. Didn't Alabama just do the same exact thing last week? Oh wait, Texas A&M was 15th. And when it was all said and done, the Tide seemingly went right back to first in line after the teams they weren't allowed to jump (Oregon, Kansas State, and Notre Dame).
That is maddening and confirms that this fallacy that the regular season works as a playoff is lunacy. No playoff system weighs wins and losses for certain teams and at certain times. If Florida State dropped nine spots for losing by one on the road, shouldn't the Tide have done something similar as well? They should, but they didn't.
So now there is a very real chance that a team that lost by 28 points could play for the national championship. Meanwhile, another one-loss team that lost by 28 points won't have a St. Jude miracle of playing for the title itself. Why? There is very little rhyme or reason right now. If the BCS "gets it right," it's not because of anything the system does. It is in spite of it!
In other words: Oregon, so long. You're a one-and-done because you weren't perceived to be good enough. Notre Dame, you better win, lest the real madness truly begins. Because as I mused back in October, there's a very good chance the only undefeated team in the Football Bowl Subdivision might not even be eligible to play in the postseason.
Suddenly, that doesn't seem very funny at all. And even more suddenly, we're still two years away from getting real closure in college football.
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