After this weekend's college football action, I want to personally extend my thanks, on behalf of a grateful nation, to Illinois for knocking off the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Not only did Illinois prevent a repeat of last year's national title game, where a vastly overrated Ohio State team was destroyed by a far superior, one-loss team (Florida), but we've finally reached the state of total chaos that BCS boosters have dreaded.
Think other years have been controversial and left some people happy. By the time this shakes out, past seasons will look like walks in the park.
First, let's dispel the notion that Oregon was a big winner this week, by moving up to the No. 2 spot (and a temporary place in the BCS title game) despite not playing thanks to Ohio State's loss. Yes, it was helpful to have one less team to jump. However, what the results on Saturday really set up is a bitter disappointment for Duck fans at the end of the regular season.
Why? Take a look at this week's BCS rankings. While the Ducks sit at No. 2, teams No. 3-5 are breathing down their necks. Undefeated Kansas plays one-loss Missouri in a few weeks, with the winner likely taking on one-loss Oklahoma in the Big XII title game. And that's bad, bad news for Oregon. Any number of scenarios exist where Oregon wins out but doesn't make it to the BCS Championship Game:
- (No. 3 BCS Rated) Kansas wins out, including beating Missouri (No. 5) and (No. 4) Oklahoma in the process. Because of their relatively light Strength of Schedule (SOS), Kansas is behind Oklahoma in both the Coaches and Harris polls (which together make up 2/3 of the BCS rating, along with the combined computer polls). Oregon is No. 2 in both "human" polls, meaning that while Kansas would almost certainly gain at least one spot (and jump to No. 3 in both coaches polls) by staying undefeated and beating Oklahoma. That alone plus the bump in the computer polls might well be enough to leap-frog Oregon. And a lot of humans might be tempted to move Kansas ahead of Oregon for the sake of making sure an undefeated team with wins against (then) top 6 teams in their last two games gets to play in the BCS Title game.
- If Missouri wins out, they are going to jump to at least No. 3 in the human polls, and jump up quite a bit in the computer polls as well (right now they are No. 6 in both human polls and No. 5 in the computer polls). I don't know if it would be enough, but they would be the "hotter" team, having just beaten two Top Five teams in a row.
- Right now, the thing that is killing Oklahoma is their relatively low computer ranking (No. 7). Beating Kansas would be a big boost to that. Since they've already beaten Missouri this year, the gain they would get from humans and computers in winning a rematch is not as big. Losses by either Ohio State or Arizona St. before the end of the season would be a big help, since those two teams are ahead of Oklahoma in the computer rankings.
Of course, I'm not going to try to get into how you explain to West Virginia that they don't deserve to go with one loss. Or tell Ohio State why losing to Illinois (a dangerous team all season) is worse than losing to a suddenly exposed Cal team (Oregon) or Kentucky (LSU). The only thing people seem to be sure about at this point is that LSU is a mortal lock to make it to the BCS Title game. Which given this season, means you can pencil them in for a crushing loss to Georgia in the SEC Championship game.
BCS Armageddon - it's fan-freakin-tastic.