College Football Rankings: Who Deserves Better Bowls Than They'll Get?

Adam LazarusSenior Analyst INovember 30, 2010

College Football Rankings: Who Deserves Better Bowls Than They’ll Get?

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    2010 Bowl projections are guaranteed to stir up anger in college football fans. Almost as much anger as there will be when the actual bowl selections are named.

    There are 35 bowl games this year which means 70 teams get bowl spots: that's better than half of the teams in the FBS.

    So for most of those schools, especially the 6-5 or 6-6 teams, it's hard to be unhappy about receiving any bowl invite.

    But there are a few teams out there that will be disrespected, even if it's just a bit.

    Here are some teams with a legitimate beef.

No.10: Miami Hurricanes

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Record: 7-5 (5-3)

    AP Rank: unranked

    BCS Rank: unranked

    Key Wins: Maryland, UNC, Pitt, at Clemson, at Georgia Tech

    Key Losses: #23 Florida State, #16 Virginia Tech, at #2 Ohio State

    Projected Bowl: Sun Bowl

    Where They Should Go: Champs Sports Bowl

    Despite firing Randy Shannon, there is a case to be made that the Hurricanes deserve the third best bowl spot amongst ACC teams; as it stands now, they will probably be slated as the number four team or lower.

    Two of their losses came to Virginia Tech and Florida State, the two teams playing in the ACC title game. And they will finish the season with a worse overall record than Maryland and NC State, whom have identical 5-3 conference records.

    But they did beat the Terps back in early November. And one of their non-conference games was at (then) second-ranked Ohio State, far tougher than any non-conference opponent for Maryland or NC State.

    And since the Fighting Irish are likely headed for the Champs Sports Bowl, is there a more classic, 1980s-style matchup than Notre Dame-Miami?

No. 9: Iowa Hawkeyes

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    David Purdy/Getty Images

    Record: 7-5

    AP Rank: unranked

    BCS Rank: unranked

    Key Wins: No. 22 Penn State, No. 5 Michigan State,

    Key Losses: No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 8 Ohio State, Northwestern, Minnesota

    Projected Bowl: Gator Bowl

    Where They Should Go: Outback Bowl

    In some ways, the Hawkeyes are lucky to be going to any bowl: they mailed it in against Minnesota last week, and have lost three straight games to close out the season.

    Furthermore, they were a far worse team away from Kinnick Stadium, going 2-3 with narrow wins over Indiana and Michigan.

    But they did play a brutal schedule this year: they played all three of the BCS-caliber teams in the Big Ten (Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State) as well as Arizona on the road.

    For that, they deserve a slight edge over the other contender for the Outback Bowl, Penn State, who they defeated in October.

No. 8: Texas A&M Aggies

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    Darren Carroll/Getty Images

    Record: 9-3 (6-2)

    AP Rank: 19th

    BCS Rank: 18th

    Key Wins: No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 8 Nebraska

    Key Losses: at No. 11 Arkansas, at No. 21 Missouri, Oklahoma State

    Projected Bowl: Holiday Bowl

    Where They Should Go: Insight Bowl

    The Aggies are going to finish the regular season with a worse overall record than three of their fellow Big 12 schools: Oklahoma State, Missouri and either Nebraska or Oklahoma.

    But no matter what happens next Saturday night, they will have beaten both the winner of the conference and the runner-up in the conference tittle game.

    And considering that their only three came to an out-of-conference BCS qualifier and two schools who won 10 games apiece (both of whom could have been BCS qualifiers), they deserve to be considered at least the fourth best team in the Big 12.

    According to the "rankings" after the Cotton Bowl, the Alamo and Insight bowls are the next prestigious ones for a Big 12 school.  The storied Holiday Bowl is somehow fifth-best.

No. 7: Missouri Tigers

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Record: 10-2 (6-2)

    AP Rank: 15th

    BCS Rank: 12th

    Key Wins: No. 1 Oklahoma, at No. 24 Kansas State

    Key Losses: at No. 14 Nebraska, at Texas Tech

    Projected Bowl: Insight Bowl

    Where They Should Go: Alamo Bowl

    The Alamo Bowl will be inviting the third ranked Big 12 team to play in San Antonio on December 29. And although Oklahoma State makes a nice claim to that spot, Missouri makes a better one. 

    The Cowboys' two losses may be to the two teams playing in the conference title game, but both were at home, and they allowed 98 points in those two games. Offense rules the Big 12, but there has to be SOME defense, right?

    Missouri has two losses as well, but both came on the road, and both were much more complete efforts.

    It's a toss up between Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas A&M as to who is "third best." But the Tigers are the only one of those teams to knock off a sitting number one team in the nation.

No. 6: South Carolina Gamecocks

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Record: 9-3 (5-3)*

    *SEC Title Game against Auburn this Saturday

    AP Rank: 18th

    BCS Rank: 19th

    Key Wins: No. 1 Alabama, at No. 22 Florida, No. 22 Georgia

    Key Losses: at No. 17 Auburn, No. 18 Arkansas

    Projected Bowl: Outback Bowl

    Where They Should Go: Cotton Bowl

    The Cotton Bowl is still prestigeous, even if it isn't what it was decades ago. And right now, Alabama and LSU are the two favorites to represent the SEC in the Capitol One Bowl, with the other one going to the Cotton Bowl.

    But that hardly seems fair. The Gamecocks will most likely lose the SEC Title Game to Auburn. But even if they get walloped, should the winner of the SEC East really be relegated to fifth best in the conference?
    The East was down in 2010; not that down.

    Auburn and Arkansas will be playing in BCS games. And maybe LSU and/or Alabama is a better team than Coach Spurrier's bunch. But didn't they earn at least the fourth SEC slot?

No. 5: LSU Tigers

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Record: 10-2 (6-2)

    AP Rank: 11th

    BCS Rank: 10th

    Key Wins: No. 6 Alabama, at No. 14 Florida, No. 22 West Virginia, No. 18 UNC

    Key Losses: at No. 4 Auburn, at No. 12 Arkansas

    Projected Bowl: Cotton Bowl

    Where They Should Go: Capitol One Bowl

    The loss at Arkansas ruined the Tigers hopes for a BCS game, but they can still earn a spot in, arguably, the best non-BCS bowl: the SEC vs. Big Ten Capitol One Bowl.

    But because of their very recent slip up, there is a good chance that Alabama will take that spot.

    It reality, either Alabama or LSU should be happy with either a Capitol One or Cotton Bowl bid. But technically, the "better" SEC school goes to Tampa, while the next best team goes to Dallas.

    LSU finishing below Alabama, a team they beat less than a month ago, doesn't quite seem fair, especially since the Tigers will have a better overall and conference record.

No. 4: Stanford Cardinal

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Record: 11-1 (8-1)

    AP Rank: 5th

    BCS Rank: 4th

    Key Wins: USC, Arizona, at Cal

    Key Losses: No. 4 Oregon

    Projected Bowl: Orange Bowl

    Where They Should Go: Fiesta Bowl

    For one, the Cardinal faithful will have a much easier trip to Arizona than they would South Florida.

    But that isn't the only reason the Cardinal should want to play the Fiesta Bowl rather than the Orange Bowl.

    The winner of the Big 12 is going to be a more prestigious opponent than whoever comes out of the ACC or the Big East. If that winner (Oklahoma or Nebraska) plays in the Fiesta Bowl, then Stanford would rather play them than UCONN or West Virginia or Virginia Tech or Florida State.

    Traveling across the country to see Stanford play 9-3 West Virginia or 9-3 Florida State doesn't seem worth the trip.

No. 3: Boise State Broncos

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    Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

    Record: 10-1 (6-1)*

    *Hosts Utah State on December 4th

    AP Rank: 9th

    BCS Rank: 11th

    Key Wins: No. 10 Virginia Tech, No. 24 Oregon State

    Key Losses: No. 19 Nevada

    Projected Bowl: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

    Where They Should Go: Anywhere Else

    Boise State probably didn't deserve a shot at the BCS Title Game had they gone undefeated. But they also don't deserve to be put in Bowl limbo because of one late season, three-point road loss to a one-loss ranked school.

    They don't deserve a BCS bowl or even something as semi-prestigious as the Capitol One or Cotton Bowl.

    But with their resume and a top 10 ranking in the AP, they should at least be playing close to New Years, instead of the day before the BCS Title game when everyone will be (likely) focusing on Auburn and Oregon.

No. 2: Michigan State Spartans

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    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    Record: 11-1 (7-1)

    AP Rank: 7th

    BCS Rank: 8th

    Key Wins: No. 11 Wisconsin, at No. 18 Michigan

    Key Losses: at No. 18 Iowa

    Projected Bowl: Capitol One Bowl

    Where They Should Go: Sugar Bowl

    The Big Ten clearly needed the pending expansion and conference title game to mitigate a situation like this.

    Ohio State and Wisconsin are probably better teams, and probably better picks for the Rose Bowl and the other BCS at large bid.

    But if you play transitive property of equality here then because the Spartans beat Wisconsin and Wisconsin beat the Buckeyes, they shouldn't be leap frogged in bowl positioning...of course the counter is true too: because they lost to Iowa, who lost to both Wisconsin and Ohio State, etc.

    Either way, the Spartans have a good complaint about getting shut out of a BCS Game, especially since they are a relatively new face with a great story at the head coaching spot.

No. 1: TCU Horned Frogs

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    Record: 12-0 (8-0)

    AP Rank: 3rd

    BCS Rank: 3rd

    Key Wins: No. 24 Oregon State, at No. 5 Utah

    Key Losses: none

    Projected Bowl: Rose Bowl

    Where They Should Go: BCS Title Game

    Assuming Oregon and Auburn win this week, it's probably not right to say that TCU "deserves" a spot in the title game more than the Tigers or Ducks. An undefeated Pac-10 team and an undefeated SEC team should always get the nod over a Mountain West team.

    But that doesn't mean the Horned Frogs are being treated fairly.

    They've won every game, they have tremendous statistical rankings on both sides of the ball, have plenty of NFL ready talent and a potential Heisman Trophy finalist at quarterback.

    A trip to Pasadena will be a great thing for the program. But a trip to Glendale a week later would be better.