The latest Bowl Championship Series rankings came out on Monday.
Let me make it abundantly clear that I am anti-BCS. I am a pro-playoff person. Out of all of the other sports that the NCAA has attached their name and brand to, Division 1-A (or Football Bowl Subdivision) is the only one–the only one!–that does not have a proper playoff in place.
The argument about student athletes at these football factory type schools needing the time off for academic pursuits is laughable. If March Madness can take place during midterms, and if the College World Series can take place during finals week for spring semester, then why are we coddling college football players? If it’s about the money, then just say it’s about the money. Just don’t lie to me.
(Full disclosure: My day job is as an academic advisor. I’ve worked in higher education at a variety of schools for about eight years now – including three years at a “football factory” school.)
But let me get back on track about the BCS. The major thing that we have to be cognizant about is the fact that these were the first BCS rankings. The projected order is based only on if the season were to have ended on Sunday.
We still have seven weeks for this to play out.
Notice I don’t say sort itself out. If we look at recent history, a simple resolution is not in the cards.
Let’s look back at the BCS era right now and see, when the regular season was over, which teams were still standing without a loss:
1998: Two teams: Tennessee and Tulane
1999: Three teams: Florida State, Virginia Tech, Marshall
2000: One team: Oklahoma
2001: One team: Miami-FL
2002: Two teams: Miami-FL and Ohio State
2003: Zero teams
2004: Four teams: Southern California, Auburn, Oklahoma and Utah
2005: Two teams: Southern California and Texas
2006: Two teams: Boise State and Ohio State
2007: One team: Hawaii
So, in the past ten seasons, there have been four years where there were only two undefeated teams. In two of those years (1998 and 2006), only one of the undefeated teams got to play for the BCS National Championship. Heck, in one of those years, only one of the teams got to even go to a BCS bowl game.
We could be in for a repeat of last season, with a twist: What if it turns out that Boise State and Utah are the last undefeated teams when the last 2008 regular season game is played on December 6? Since they are in two different conferences, and considering the damage that the SEC and Big 12 could do to each other, it is a plausible outcome.
However, all of this speculation could wind up being a moot point: Texas and Alabama could win out from here, and everyone else that is undefeated could lose at least once, rendering all of this early season hand wringing irrelevant.
Is that likely? Probably not.
But I’m willing to wait and see before deciding if the system worked this year or not– especially because there really isn’t any other choice.
Now, it is on to this week’s picks. Last week, I went 3-1. Michigan State got thoroughly demolished by Ohio State early and never came back. For the season, I am 14-9 (.608), which would probably allow me to be a job secure coach in either the Sun Belt or MAC. If I coached a top tier BCS school, I’d probably be on the hot seat.
There are several intriguing games coming up this weekend. As I do on weeks where the game count is heavy, I give brief rationales for the predictions. As always, I strive to pick winners and guess the final scores; even though I live in Las Vegas, I do not bother checking the lines.
West Virginia 21, Auburn 17: Both of these teams are big disappointments. Even with the extra time to prepare, I don’t see the Auburn offensive situation getting better. This team has lost its identity and I fear that complete chaos might be coming to the Plains the rest of this season.
Boise State 27, San Jose State 20: San Jose State has a good defense and will provide a bit of a challenge for the Broncos. The last game in San Jose was close, and I don’t think this one will be a blowout, either.
Texas Tech 45, Kansas 35:KU has started to find a running game and will be able to hang with Texas Tech. But unlike years past, this Red Raider squad might be for real, and will make enough big plays to give themselves a cushion for victory. However, keep an eye on the Red Raider’s placekicking situation; if they lose, that will be the reason why.
Texas 35, Oklahoma State 31: So I underestimated the Cowboys a couple of weeks ago before they absolutely throttled Missouri at home. But considering the beat down that the Longhorns laid on the Tigers last week, I’ll pick the team that had the greater margin of victory. Oklahoma State, though, is an excellent football team.
LSU 24, Georgia 21:LSU was embarrassed on the road by Florida. Were they exposed? Maybe a little bit. But I just don’t see the Tigers losing this game at home. While I don’t think that Georgia will get caught peeking ahead to the game against Florida next week, I think LSU is going to take out some frustration this week. This one will be a slug fest.
Missouri 38, Colorado 17: Speaking of taking out frustrations, after getting yelled at for two straight days for no-showing in Austin, expect a battered and nationally ridiculed Missouri defense to come out angry and pummel both Colorado quarterbacks on Homecoming.
Tennessee 17, Alabama 16: The Third Saturday in October (this year being played on the fourth Saturday) is usually when Phil Fulmer brings his “A” game (11-4 vs. Alabama*). Both defenses are stout, and while Alabama is a great first half team, they don’t finish games well. I just have a feeling that Tennessee is going to stun some folks on Saturday.
USC 35, Arizona 20: Arizona is flying high after steamrolling Cal in the second half last week. But USC has been on a mission since they lost to Oregon State. Granted, they were playing an injury riddled Oregon team, a collapsing Arizona State and an abysmal Washington State program. This one will be close for most of the game, and USC scores a late touchdown to widen the margin of victory. But it will be a closer game than it looks on the scoreboard.
Penn State 24, Ohio State 17:Ohio Stadium has been a house of horrors for Penn State since they joined the Big Ten, as the Nittany Lions have not won there since 1978. But if this Penn State squad just has that look of the 2005 team; they appear to be in line for a magical season. And I can see the Penn State defense frustrating Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor. An interception returned for a touchdown by Penn State will be the difference in this game.
Tulsa 62, UCF 17: Yes, I know Tulsa doesn’t play any defense. But UCF doesn’t really produce much offense, so unless they somehow manage to play keep away, this is going to be a crushing. Watch out, though, for a potential trap in this game. Tulsa plays at Arkansas on Saturday, November 1. The Golden Hurricane need to remain focused on the Knights.
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