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College Football: BCS Mess Has Us Right Back Where We Started

Posted on November 20, 2011 by Dean Hybl

After three crazy college football weeks LSU and Alabama are back on top, but can they stay there?

After three crazy weeks of college football upsets, looks like we are right back where we started the month when trying to determine which college football teams will play for the national title in January.

We began the month excitedly waiting for the matchup of the year between top-ranked LSU and second-ranked Alabama. The general consensus at the time was that they were unquestionably the two best teams in college football.

While the game did need overtime before LSU emerged victorious, few were willing to call the 9-6 defensive struggle a thriller. Granted, both teams had great defenses, but Alabama missed four field goals and neither team played with the offensive confidence you generally expect from a top-ranked team.

Except for a few folks from the SEC, most across the country were not interested in a potential rematch and glad that there were several undefeated teams, including Oklahoma State, Stanford and even Boise State still in-line to serve as LSU’s opponent in a national title game.

However, two of those teams took a tumble the very next week as Stanford was rocked by a suddenly resurgent Oregon (which had been unimpressive in an opening loss to LSU, but had quietly started playing like a national title contender again) and Boise State had its dream of finally making it to the title game snatched away by TCU.

This weekend was expected to be more like a place-holder weekend as most BCS contenders were prohibitive favorites and biding time for big games over the final two weeks of the season.

Instead, it suddenly became the weekend of the big upset. It started on Friday night when Iowa State shocked Oklahoma State in overtime to hand the Cowboys their first loss of the season. Then, just as quickly as they returned to the national conversation, Oregon was gone again as USC (anyone remember them) jumped out early and held on for a 38-35 victory.

How Should College Football Determine Its National Champion?

  • Playoff System (77%, 37 Votes)
  • Current BCS System (10%, 5 Votes)
  • Polls Pick Champion (8%, 4 Votes)
  • "And One" System (4%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 48

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Oklahoma looked to be a big beneficiary from the upsets, but they couldn’t avoid an upset of their own losing to Baylor. In addition, dark-horse contender Clemson suffered a horrible loss at N.C. State to knock them out of the mix.

Brandon Weeden and Oklahoma State missed a huge chance by losing at Iowa State.

Now, after all that, we are back where we started the month with LSU ranked first and Alabama likely to regain the number two position. On the surface, this would seem to be pointing toward a likely rematch in the title game, but there still is much to happen in the coming weeks that could change things once again.

Ironically, it is possible that Alabama has a firmer grip on a spot in the BCS title game than LSU. Barring a combination of strange circumstances next weekend that would put them in the SEC title game, Alabama will finish the season against Auburn in the Iron Bowl and while it is certainly possible for them to lose, it seems unlikely.

LSU, on the other hand, will face an Arkansas squad that will likely be ranked third this week and after losing to Alabama early in the season has looked dominant in recent weeks. Then, if they are able to survive, they still must defeat Georgia in the SEC title game.

How ironic is it that the SEC West has the three top teams in college football, yet only one will play in the SEC title game while Georgia (which didn’t play any of those teams and lost to SEC East rival South Carolina) will be playing for the conference title?

We may be getting a little ahead of ourselves, but imagine what could happen if Georgia wins the SEC Championship Game, regardless of which team they play for the title.

Say Arkansas upsets LSU next week. Then it comes down to a tie-breaker as to which team would win the division and face Georgia. That team would absolutely have to defeat Georgia to get into the BCS title game. Yet, the team (or perhaps teams) sitting home with one loss could still end up playing for the national title without even making it into the conference title game.

For the sake of this discussion, say Arkansas ended up playing in the title game against Georgia and is upset. You would then have Alabama and LSU both with one loss.

Aaron Murray and the Georgia Bulldogs could throw the BCS into a free-for-all if they won the SEC title.

Can you imagine the national outrage if a pair of SEC teams that didn’t even make the conference championship game ended up playing for the national title?

Of course that scenario is dependent on Arkansas defeating LSU. If LSU is able to remain undefeated heading into the SEC title game, they would certainly get into the BCS game with a win. But, what if they were to lose that game to Georgia?

In that case, Alabama sitting at home securely ranked second in the BCS would likely be enough to guarantee them a trip to the title game. Then it would probably be close as to whether LSU would still get a title shot or a one-loss team from another league (maybe Stanford, Oklahoma State, Boise State or Virginia Tech)? And what about Houston? Aren’t they undefeated.

As you can see, the more you analyze it, the uglier it gets. Such is life in the BCS. Instead of helping determine the best team in college football, it has become a glorified version of survivor (or some might say, Russian Roulette).

But, I guess you could argue the same could happen with a playoff system.

Maybe we should just go back to the days when the polls decided the national champion. Strangely, that system doesn’t seem quite so bad today.

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