For the past few weeks I've been resigned to the fact that an LSU-Alabama rematch was probably the "lesser-evil" option for the national title game. It would pit two teams from the same conference that met in an unwatchable snoozefest in the regular season and include a non-conference champion, but none of the other one-loss teams were that attractive.
However...is there any sort of serious case to be made against Oklahoma State?
The main case against Oklahoma State seems to be that they lost to an Iowa State team that's barely bowl-eligible. That's it. I'm pretty sure teams have made the national title game with worse single losses. Forget about conference champions: Oklahoma State might have a better resume than Alabama, even discounting the championship question.
I suspect the real reason people dismiss Oklahoma State for the national title game is because they're not one of the bigger-name teams.
People don't quite believe that the "little brother" in the Bedlam rivalry is really a national title contender; I didn't think anyone did even when they were undefeated and third in the BCS.
Suppose we took Oklahoma State's resume and applied it to Oklahoma, or even took Oklahoma's resume and removed losses to Baylor and Oklahoma State, meaning their one loss would be even worse—to non-bowl-eligible Texas Tech. Would anyone seriously think Oklahoma wouldn't make the national title game over Alabama?
It's becoming more and more apparent that the BCS isn't even about handing out the plum picks to the top five or six conferences, but about protecting the standing of the most prestigious schools.
If Alabama makes the national title game, it will prove that the BCS discriminates even against teams with moderately big names, let alone the small non-BCS schools, to protect a small cadre of name teams.
It will tell you everything you need to know about both why there has been so much realignment chaos the past two years, and why all of it is ultimately beside the point. At that point, perhaps it's time to just admit it, and put the most prestigous schools together in the top level of a promotion-relegation system.
As it turns out, in a year that threatened to emulate every single BCS controversy from years past, the most similar case to this year would probably be 2006. People that year were gearing up for a national championship game between an undefeated team and a team from the same conference the undefeated team beat in the regular season.
Then in the last week, a champion of a different conference was moved ahead of the non-champion despite the non-champion not playing. The difference between Ohio State-Michigan and LSU-Alabama? In 2006, Florida was a big-name team. Oklahoma State is not.
Is it possible it really is that simple?