BCS National Championship: Why Oklahoma State Deserves Their Shot at LSU
Three days ago, I slightly favored the Alabama Crimson Tide in the debate over which college football team should get a shot at Louisiana State University for the BCS National Championship.
After some reconsideration, stat-gathering, thought-processing and a 44-10 demolition given to Oklahoma by their Big-12 rival Oklahoma State, I have changed my mind.
Despite the fact that Alabama is likely the better team, I believe that Oklahoma State deserves a title shot against the LSU Tigers.
Here are five reasons to support the Pokes' case before the selection this evening.
The Stats That Matter
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There has been plenty of discussion over the fact that Alabama has the better defense and, for the most part, the better all-around team. To that point, I agree. The Crimson Tide have the better statistics.
Now let's look at the statistics that truly matter—wins and losses.
Start with the wins. Look at the current Top 25. How many teams on this list has Alabama faced this season?
Two. The Crimson Tide have two wins against current Top 25 opponents.
How many teams on this list has Oklahoma State faced?
Five. The Pokes have five wins against current Top 25 opponents.
Against bowl-bound teams, Oklahoma State has won seven games. Alabama has won three.
Conference Championships Need to Matter
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Look. Sometimes the two best teams can't play for the title. That's the way it is. In sports, there is rarely one big pool of teams from which the two best are selected.
Look at the 2006-07 NFL season. Does anyone argue that the Colts and Patriots were the two best teams in the league? After that thrilling AFC Championship game, everyone and their mother knew the AFC representative would pound the Chicago Bears into the ground.
But the Patriots didn't get another shot at Indianapolis. They had their shot, and they lost.
Alabama had their shot at LSU. They lost, and the Tigers won the SEC title. An undefeated LSU squad has already proven that they are better than the Crimson Tide.
By putting Alabama back into the title game, college football is nullifying the set of conference championship games. Why doesn't winning the conference title mean more than it does, especially for an Oklahoma State team that plays in the second-best conference in all of college football?
A Loss Is a Loss
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Many fans and analysts have pointed to these teams' losses and deemed Alabama the more qualified team in light of those losses.
The Crimson Tide's only loss came at home against LSU—a 9-6 overtime loss to the Tigers.
Oklahoma State's only loss came on the road against Iowa State—a 37-31 overtime loss to the Cyclones.
Is Oklahoma State's loss to a severe underdog in Iowa State the more embarrassing blemish? Unquestionably. In the end, though, I would argue that a loss is a loss. These teams should be evaluated based on their wins.
Still, if you wish to evaluate the losses, it may not be as bad as you think.
Was the Loss Really That Much Worse?
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If you insist, we will evaluate each team's loss in greater detail. We all know the obvious fact—LSU is a much tougher opponent than Iowa State. Check for Alabama.
Still, the Crimson Tide squared off with the Tigers on their home field—in front of 101,821 fans, most of which dressed in crimson and white—in a primetime, ESPN-televised game. To boot, they arguably saw LSU in their worst offensive night of the season, seeing the Tigers change quarterbacks mid-game, throw multiple interceptions, and fail to score a single touchdown.
Nonetheless, the Crimson Tide lost the game. They had every chance to win it, and they weren't able to come through.
Now consider Oklahoma State, who lost a game—taking two overtimes as opposed to Alabama's one—on the road in a hostile environment. I'm not saying Iowa State's fans are the wildest in the nation, but any stadium is going to be rocking with the chance to take down the #2 team in the nation. It's a tough environment to win a football game in.
Oklahoma State would never use it as an excuse, but there is another huge factor to consider about that loss. The evening before that game against Iowa State, the OSU community lost two important members of its athletic program in a plane crash.
The deaths of women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and his assistant Miranda Serna left the entire Pokes' community at a loss of words. Say what you want, but I will not be convinced if you claim that their minds were fully devoted to that football game at Iowa State.
They won't make those excuses, but the human element of that factor is something a computer would never account for.
An Alabama Win Leads to Title Controversy
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In the end, I believe that an Alabama victory over LSU in the BCS National Championship game would leave much doubt as to who the true National Champion should be.
Many believe that LSU has already earned a share of the title. They are a perfect 13-0, and their resumé is downright astonishing. That resumé includes beating Alabama in their own full house.
So if the Crimson Tide come back and beat the Tigers in a neutral stadium, does that make them the champion? The series would be 1-1, with the Crimson Tide being the only ones to lose on their home field.
I think it would be a different story if LSU was a one-loss team, but they are not. They are running the table with a perfect sheet. That sheet already has a win over Alabama, and there is no real reason why the Tigers should have to prove that they are better than the Crimson Tide once again.
They haven't had their chance to prove they are better than Oklahoma State. The Pokes are the final piece in the slate of perfection for LSU.
Plain and simply, an Alabama win over LSU in the National Championship game would not convince me that Alabama is the champion. In a sport where we place an incredible amount of importance on the regular season, why hasn't Alabama's November 5th loss to LSU put them on the back burner between these two teams?
We'll see what happens in the selection show, but I believe that Oklahoma State—especially after dominating yet another Top 25 opponent this weekend—deserves to represent the Big-12 in a test against the SEC representative from Louisiana State.
Be sure to follow Derek Robinson on Twitter. @DRobMachine