College Football Recap- Heading into the Final Weeks

Well, it certainly feels like I say this every year, but the controversy that the BCS faces now after Oklahoma absolutely thrashed the Texas Tech Red Raiders is without precedent. All indications point to a three way tie in the Big 12 South that seems impossible to break, so this problem will of course be solved by none other than the pollsters and the computers. Most agree that in the event of the three-way tie, Texas Tech is out of luck by virtue of such a devastating loss and an uninspired defensive performance that failed to force a punt the entire game. And as far as that goes, suffice to say, wow.

So we’ll first assume that the dreaded three-way tie scenario occurs and that Texas Tech is not in the conversation, eliminated by the fact that their loss is by far the worst of the three teams. That leaves Texas and Oklahoma, which on the surface, seems pretty simple: Texas beat Oklahoma on a neutral field. End of story. Right? That’s how I was leaning, but then Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops made a statement in his press conference so simple, true and logical that I was amazed I hadn’t been thinking the same thing. Maybe Stoops is just a good salesman, but here is what he said:

“If you can’t move us in front of Texas because they beat us, then you have to keep Texas Tech in front of Texas. If it’s logical for one, then it’s logical for the other.”

ncf_u_bstoops_200

Uh huh. Yes, that actually makes boatloads of sense to me. The obvious point of the statement is that since all three teams lost to each other once, there is no order you can put them in that doesn’t have one team ahead of a team that they lost to. Following? Given that logic, you can only use head to head competition as a factor in this debate insofar as it relates to the overall body of work. Keeping in mind we’re assuming an Oklahoma win over Oklahoma State for this scenario, which is certainly not a done deal.

WINS (in order of impressiveness)

Texas: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Rice, Kansas, Nevada, Arkansas

Oklahoma: Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU, Cincinnati

Edge: Probably Texas at this point by virtue of having played that game against Missouri and winning impressively. And, their biggest win, over the Sooners on a neutral field, seems better than Oklahoma’s biggest win, which has to be the slaughter at home on Saturday. Still, OU has an argument here, as wins over TCU and Cincinnati look better every day, but they played two Division 1AA schools in the preseason and also beat winless Washington, while Texas has not played anyone but Division 1A.

LOSSES:

Texas: They lost a nail-biter in a difficult environment on the road against Texas Tech that could have gone either way.

Oklahoma: They lost a high-scoring battle on a neutral field.

Edge: Texas, most definitely, even overlooking the head-to-head factor.

So, unless Oklahoma really puts a hurting on Oklahoma State next weekend, I think Texas has a strong argument that they’ve had the better body of work over the course of this season. However, if the Sooners win by another impressive margin (this time on the road at night), then that would certainly change things, considering what a tough time Texas had with Oklahoma State at home. A big win on the road would mean that Oklahoma manhandled teams in their last two games that Texas struggled mightily with, and that might be enough for me (and the more important decision-makers) to vault Oklahoma past Texas. Stay tuned.

Of course, there is an even crazier scenario: Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma, setting up a two-way tie at the top of the Big 12 South, which then is won by Texas Tech, because when only two teams are tied at the top, head-to-head is the first tiebreaker. This is when things really get interesting. If Texas Tech beats Missouri in the Big 12 Championship, is it possible that they would fail to pass Texas in the BCS Standings? The way it sets up currently this looks like a strong possibility. How can anyone possibly justify putting Texas in the championship over Texas Tech in this scenario? That would be utter madness, the likes of which the always controversial BCS has never seen. I for one certainly hope it doesn’t come to that, and actually don’t think a team should ever have a claim to play in the championship if it doesn’t win its own conference–Oklahoma proved my point a few years back.

The forgotten team in all of this has to be USC. Their only loss, at Oregon State on a Thursday night, is looking better every day. They’ve suffered from a weaker Pac-10 this season, but do still have that dominating win over Ohio State. Home wins over Oregon and California appear to be the next best on the resume, and games against UCLA and Notre Dame don’t really give the Trojans much hope to vault over anyone in the Big 12. However, they’re still two spots ahead of Texas Tech in the BCS, and it isn’t inconceivable that they could hold ground even if the Red Raiders when the Big 12, or even more so, if they lose to Missouri. The most difficult obstacle in that scenario appears to be leapfrogging Texas, who might actually benefit from not playing in the conference championship if the Big 12 South representative loses to Missouri, which is not a far fetched scenario in the least.

So, to summarize:

– If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State by more than 20 points, expect to see the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship playing for a national championship spot. If they lose to Missouri, it appears Texas will get the bid, but USC has to be in the conversation.

– If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State by less than 20 points, expect to see Texas in the Big 12 Championship playing for a national championship spot. If they lose, it gets trickier, but basically comes down to Oklahoma and USC.

– If Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma, all bets are off. Texas Tech wins the Big 12 South without controversy, but could win the conference and still not pass Texas in the BCS standings. In the event that they lose, Texas looks to be in the best position, but USC certainly has an argument, since neither Texas or Oklahoma would have won their conference.

My Predictions:

BCS Championship: Florida vs. Texas

Fiesta Bowl: USC vs. Oklahoma

Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. Oregon State

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Utah

Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Cincinnati (ewww….)

TOP 25 OF THE MATTY

  1. Alabama (11-0)
  2. Florida (11-1)
  3. Texas (10-1)
  4. Oklahoma (10-1)
  5. USC (9-1)
  6. Texas Tech (10-1)
  7. Utah (12-0)
  8. Penn State (11-1)
  9. Boise State (11-0)
  10. Ohio State (10-2)
  11. Georgia (9-2)
  12. Oklahoma State (9-2)
  13. Missouri (9-2)
  14. Ball State (11-0)
  15. TCU (10-2)
  16. Cincinnati (10-2)
  17. Oregon State (8-3)
  18. Oregon (8-3)
  19. Boston College (8-3)
  20. BYU (9-3)
  21. Michigan State (9-3)
  22. Georgia Tech (8-3)
  23. Florida State (8-3)
  24. Iowa (8-4)
  25. Ole Miss (7-4)

HEISMAN WATCH:

  1. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
  2. Colt McCoy, Texas
  3. Tim Tebow, Florida
  4. Graham Harrell, Texas Tech
  5. Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech

GAMES TO WATCH THIS WEEK:

#11 Georgia at #22 Georgia Tech, 11:00 CST, CBS: Not too many people would have expected this to be as good a matchup as it is when the season began, but while the Bulldogs have underachieved, the Yellow Jackets have been a big surprise.

Auburn at #1 Alabama, 2:30 PM CST, CBS: This looks like a no-brainer, but it’s still the Iron Bowl, and Alabama hasn’t had much luck recently in this one. Nothing better could happen to salvage Auburn’s disappointing season than an upset win here.

#2 Florida at #23 Florida State, TBA: This is a major trap game for the Gators, who’d be well advised not to look past an improving Seminole team. Florida has been a different team since losing at home to Ole Miss, and should be fine here, but if the Rebels can beat them on the road, you’d better believe the Noles could beat them at home.

#4 Oklahoma at #12 Oklahoma State, TBA, ABC: See above, the outcome of this game determines the landscape of the national championship picture. I expect Oklahoma to have a lot more trouble here than they did Saturday night.

#18 Oregon at #17 Oregon State, 6:00 CST, ESPN: It’s simple, if the Beavers can win this installment of the Civil War at home, they’re headed to Pasadena. You have to be without a soul not to be pulling for Oregon State in this one. Plus, the Beaver mascot is adorable.

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