Hey folks, to take our minds off of the recent unpleasantness I thought I would summarize the national picture and highlight what to watch for in the home stretch of games.
It's wild, just like last year. Georgia Tech (which is a very quiet 10-1 with eight straight wins) has clinched the coastal division, thank God. Clemson and BC play next weekend for the other division's berth in the championship game. GT has already beaten Clemson this year, in an early-season nail-biter and has won all four of its games decided by a TD or less. Honorable mention in the ACC this year goes to Duke, which was still in the conference race as of Saturday morning.
Texas has Kansas and Texas A&M to go, neither of which could be reasonably expected to beat UT. Nebraska (which has an excellent defense) plays K-State (under once-and-future coach Bill Snyder) for the North division and the right to play Texas for all the marbles. The Big XII was sort of exposed in last year's bowl season but that hasn't stopped pollsters from riding Texas high, even after lackluster efforts against Wyoming and a beat-up Oklahoma team.
Cincy didn't make the big statement they needed against West Virginia, but they have Illinois and Pitt on the last day of the season to polish their resume. Dave Wannstedt's gameday coaching is what it is, but he has built a very capable program at Pitt, which can still win an outright Big East title.
Ohio State. Again. 'Nuff said with every team having at least two losses. F%@!.
I don't know if USC's dynasty is "over," but this was the year where all the questions caught up to the Trojans and the magic ran out. In the words of Keith Jackson, the Pac-10 race makes you want to eat your pencil. Short answer: Oregon controls its destiny, if they lose to Arizona or Oregon State it is a free-for-all! UO, OSU, Arizona and Stanford are still alive for the Rose Bowl and it might not be decided until the last day of the regular season. Stanford is the hottest team as of yesterday's 55-21 blowout win at USC in which Jim Harbaugh went for two after their seventh (!) touchdown.
Florida and Alabama will play for the SEC title in three weeks. Both are vulnerable against FSU/Auburn next weekend but it is possible that even with a loss to a rival, a win over the other will boost them back enough to play for the national championship.
*cue evil laughter*
TCU's resume is much more impressive than Boise State's, meaning if both win out BSU's hopes are all but shot. Even with all the noise in the system it's unlikely they'd give two mid-majors bids.
Each season's controversies call out for a different, specific type of limited playoff; this year the two-round Final Four would be a slam dunk, pitting Texas, Cincy, TCU and the SEC champ. We don't have an elastic system so we will simply have to pick two teams and go with it. We are playing the Ladder Algorithm here, whoever falls off bumps the lower members up a slot:
1. Florida/Bama winner
One lame situation would be Florida/Bama losing their rivalry game, then winning the SEC and hopping over the rest to go to the big one and telling possibly two unbeatens thanks for playing.
There are ten bids. Six will go to conference champions, a seventh likely to TCU or Boise State, an eighth to the Florida/Bama loser (or possibly LSU), and then it is slim (T Boone) pickin's for a slam-dunk at large team. If Texas loses the Big XII title game they will probably get a bid, also Stanford/Arizona might be attractive, Pitt, or Iowa in a pinch. It really falls off from the top.
OP OPINION/IF WISHES WERE FISHES
-I think Texas is overrated and if they both win out I don't know what they will have done that Cincinnati hasn't done (Cincy has to beat Pitt which would add to the star).
-I am tired of SEC praise but I do think Florida and Alabama are quality teams. I do NOT think LSU is as good as advertised (see LA Tech giving them a ride)so I downgrade UF and UA's "quality" wins over the Tigers. This leads into the next point...
-We will probably see both UF and UA get BCS bids after the SEC championship, and probably Texas as well if they lose to Nebraska/Kansas State, which doesn't make sense for two reasons:
a. I fail to see the logic in giving a big bowl bid against a top team to a team that just got beat by a good team.
b. (example of a) Last year Alabama went to the Sugar Bowl after losing to Florida, and got pantsed by Utah.
-Few people view the ACC as a top-quality conference, and I think the decision to expand to 12 teams has added a lot of noise to the system and hurt its reputation. This is a problem with a two-division system where you play part of the other division - there are so many games that at the end of the season turn out to not matter, parity and tiebreakers make for a complex, confusing set of possibilities, and the chance of a conference championship rematch is very high.
-It's hard for Boise State to claim the win over Oregon as anything more than beating a less-experienced team with a rookie head coach in an extremely favorable environment. It's sophistry to pretend that Oregon squad was the same juggernaut that has mowed through the Pac-10. Also Boise State looks more like Hawai'i '07 than any of the other BCS-buster teams and would probably line up for a butt-kicking, so I can't really justify them going to the BCS unless TCU were to lose.
-I think TCU will win out including a bowl game, and I think the BCS' next course-correction will be to admit the Mountain West to permanent BCS membership.
-Failing that, I believe the BCS should institute a play-in game between its two weakest conferences each season (weak as measured by BCS bow performance, head-to-head conference records or whatever), or its weakest conference's champion and an at-large team if the BCs-buster doesn't meet the automatic qualifications. Today we have affirmative action for crappy BCs conferences and it stinks. Years ago it was the Big East; now it's the ACC and Big Ten.
COACHES OF THE YEAR
I nominate the guys at the following schools for either conference or national award:
-Cincy (lots of holes to patch entering this season, lost his QB for a few games)
-Pitt (just a good, sound football team)
-TCU (Gary Patterson is a great coach every year)
-SMU (if they become bowl eligible, would be first winning season after the 1980's Death Penalty)
-Duke (if they become bowl eligible, two games to go)
-Georgia Tech (damn good season)
-Temple (8-2, WTF?)
-Temple is 8-2! WTF?!?
-This is a classic year for the old "best players on the best teams" Heisman race, but Stanford's Toby Gerhart will (or at least should) climb into the Heisman finalist pack. He has about 1400 yards with two games to go and is the most dangerous football player west of the Rockies.
-Today's sports announcers just suck; from Musberger's gushing to former players who can't speak English on the air to Versus and FSN to the Pammies, it's never been a worse time to try to learn from the TV what's going on in the ballgame. It's frickin' pathetic.