The basic idea of my computer ratings is to be a better version of the BCS standings, where the focus is on the top teams and having the correct top 2.
For the first few years, my top 2 agreed with the BCS top 2 with the BCS Champion finishing #1 in my final rankings. That changed last year when I had Oklahoma St. #2 going into the bowls and then LSU stayed #1 despite the loss to Alabama.
Once again this season, my top 2 was different from the BCS top 2. I had Notre Dame #1 going in, but Alabama was down at #4, below Florida and Ohio St.
Some might scoff at Florida, which didnít even win its division, but neither did last yearís pre-bowl #3. Florida also managed to beat both LSU and Texas A&M, which Alabama could not do, and the Tide didnít even face one of the top 3 teams of the other division until the SEC Championship game.
As for Ohio St., letís face it: If they werenít on probation, they would have been in the title game against Notre Dame.
Since Iím about to paste my top 25 below anyway, Iíll give it away. Alabama did finish as #1 in the final rankings this year, the second year in a row my (completely subjective) preseason #1 ended #1. And if we were to look at the top 2 now, what happens? Rematch! Alabama should have to beat them again. It would be even better if they had to beat Georgia again though. In addition, Alabama should also have to travel back in time and beat Texas a second time in 2009.
Iíll be really annoyed if Alabama has a November loss next year and ends up in the title game again anyway, especially being that their SEC East opponents in the regular season will be Tennessee and Kentucky while LSU, for instance, will play Florida and Georgia.
There are many more reminders of why this system needs to be put out of its misery than there are positives in the bowl match-ups, but there are four games Iím looking forward to.
Bowls To Watch
The only BCS game Iím even somewhat excited about is Kansas St. vs. Oregon (though the runaway offenses will probably become tiresome). Neither Texas/Texas A&M nor the Backyard Brawl worked out as bowl games. Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M should be a good substitute for the former though. That gets top billing in my mind for best non-BCS contest. The second and third choices are probably Georgia-Nebraska (CapitalOne [which you might remember as the Florida Citrus Bowl]) and LSU-Clemson (Chik-fil-A, aka Peach). But Iím still going to complain about LSUís treatment shortly.
A brief aside about the Cotton. Maybe itís because Iím not Texan, but I really donít understand why someone was going to veto Texas/Texas A&M. I get that Texas had its schedule set, and the non-conference schedule is also curtailed by the fact that the Big XII schedule is now 9 games, and they werenít going to bend over backwards to accommodate a rival who decided to go to the SEC instead. But how is any of that a reason not to play that rival in a bowl game, especially one with such historic ties to both programs? Just for spite someone had to put a stop to it?
I know the non-BCS bowls I mention all involve SEC teams, but the SEC has the best non-BCS teams. Clemson and Nebraska are two of the best non-champions. Nebraska would have easily been regular-season champions of a combined Big Ten (but got creamed by a Wisconsin team that didnít even really belong in the title game), and Clemson tied in the ACC Atlantic (the one with the only ACC teams worth a whole lot) with Florida St. but lost the head-to-head tie-breaker. Oklahoma actually tied for the Big XII championship but didnít get the Fiesta invite for losing head-to-head (not to mention out of conference to Notre Dame).
Iím still annoyed that Northern Illinois was forced into a BCS game, but they still may be better than Louisville. I have never understood why they made it top 16 rather than top 12. Any undefeated team is almost guaranteed to be in the top 12, as will many strong one-loss non-major-conference teams. But Northern Illinois has played probably the easiest schedule in FBS. Theyíre in 2007 Hawaii vicinity with how bad it was, and we all remember how that turned out. And that was an undefeated Hawaii team. As mentioned, at least there is some solace in the fact that this system will be replaced.
Not that NIU is sure to be embarrassed. If North Carolina St. can beat Florida St., why not the Huskies? Iíve already mentioned Wisconsin by winning a game it didnít belong in (and actually doing the embarrassing in the process).
And Wisconsin is still an example of why you donít put the wrong team in a match-up, they can always win. Iím not saying the Big Ten had a choice here (I understand the probations of both Ohio St. and Penn St.), but it just didnít work out well for neutral fans here.
Full blog, including reactions to Louisiana teams' placements (or lack thereof).
Iím going to switch it up and put my top 25 last, since thatís old news at this point. But you can always look up my new ratings early Sunday morning and all week long via that link.
Saban vs. Muschamp and SEC notes
Also, I donít think we really learned anything new last week. Iím not saying I predicted every game to happen as it did, but there was nothing earth-shattering. I do think the SEC should have quieted a bit of the talk about it being some kind of fraud illusion. Iíll get back to that after mentioning the Muschamp/Saban dispute, both of whom I remember well as LSU coaches of course.
Florida is a solid #3 now in my top 25. If Alabama beats Georgia, I would honestly rather see the Gators in the title game to Notre Dame. At least the Tide would have a greater chance of losing. But a certain head coach doesnít even think Florida deserves the Sugar.
ďYou play your way into the (SEC) championship game, which means youíre the best team in your division. ÖĒ
Does it always mean that? Really? We wouldnít to give a one-loss team that didnít win its division the benefit of the doubt in some cases, right?
And Florida actually tied for its division, kind of like Alabama would have done with Texas A&M (which would have been followed by Alabama watching from home and hoping for a Sugar invite) had Florida not beaten Texas A&M. I hardly think it a coincidence that the two of the top-6 SEC teams who are playing for the championship had the weakest interdivisional competition (Alabama played Tennessee and Missouri, while Georgia played Auburn and Ole Miss).
So letís look at top wins and losses by either potential loser against Florida. I list all the wins over teams .500 or better in BCS-conference competition. And donít forget that youíre adding a second loss to either Georgia or Alabama.
(you'll have to go here to check out the table I made)
How do you NOT pick Florida?
Muschamp offered to play in the game in lieu of Alabama, and implicitly would have let the Tide have the Sugar Bowl. Iíd probably rather see that game, actually.
Of course, I indicated above two of the SECís wins over the ACC over the weekend. Also, South Carolina beat Clemson and Vandy beat Wake Forest. The fact that Vandy not only won but was expected to win and won easily shows how far theyíve come. Being in the middle of this league (#7 based on wins and losses in conference) is hard to do. Vandy did lose to Northwestern earlier in the year though. No other such losses by the SEC top 8 though.
Normally I wait until I publish my top 25 to go into detail about the previous week, but I think an exception is in order here.
If you want to see my rankings of all 124 teams, go here.
Before I go into that, a few things about LSU. I wanted to mention that Iíve updated and revised my LSU/Ole Miss ďGo to HellĒ rivalry entry or go here for the summary of most-recent games (at the bottom).
This link compares Beckhamís punt return to Cannonís and also shows part of the Les Miles press conference. Unfortunately, the beginning of Danielsonís comments was cut off. But he pointed out the end (I believe Jalen Collins) routed the outside members of the kicking team toward the middle and then directed Beckham to go around his left side and back toward the middle of the field.
If you havenít seen it yet, Les Miles was on a particularly hilarious emotional rollercoaster after the game. A two-minute clip is included in the link above, but here is the whole thing (link may require scrolling to the Ole Miss game).
BCS Title Race
Some might be shocked by Oregonís and Kansas St.ís losses, but Iím not really. I told people they didnít need to cheer for Alabama against LSU in order to keep an SEC team in the mix, and they just wouldnít listen.
Oregon seems to run into a wall on offense at least once or twice a season. In 2009, they struggled against Boise St., UCLA (whose offense was so bad they couldnít capitalize), and Ohio St., scoring 8, 24, and 17, respectively. In 2010, they struggled against Cal and Auburn, scoring 15 (in a win) and 19, respectively. Then last year, they only really struggled against LSU, scoring a respectable 27 points; but 14 of those points were scored in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Although theyíre not completely out of it, it would require a few strange results to get them into the BCS championship game. First of all, I donít see any way they make it without being conference champion, so this would mean that in addition to beating the Beavers, Oregon would need Stanford to lose to UCLA. UCLA has had its ups and downs and I would anticipate it wonít have the same intensity this coming week as it had Saturday in winning a sloppy game over USC.
Also, they would need the eventual SEC champion or Notre Dame to lose. That might be possible in some years, but I donít see any way Alabama loses to Auburn or Georgia loses to Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech has some chance (but then Georgia would have to beat Alabama afterward), but Auburn is just too consistently bad lately to pull that one out. I give USC a fair chance to beat Notre Dame. Barkley may be out, but Iím sure USC has a QB or two to take his place. And itís not as if you have to be a good team to test Notre Dame. USC is clearly better than BYU, Pitt, or Purdue, all of whom were within a field goal of the Irish. And those three teams were on the road.
Even if one of those two lose, itís still not guaranteed. Voters could pick Florida instead. I mentioned the Gatorsí qualifications already. Florida St. is #5 in the AP poll, so that may be more impressive than even a combination of Oregon St. and UCLA (who has clinched the Pac-12 South). Maybe if Oregon beat UCLA impressively enough, they would pass up the idle Gators, but donít forget that Florida is #2 in the computers right now, so even if voting is close, Florida would probably still prevail.
I think itís over for Kansas St. barring some 2007-like scenario. Itís one thing to lose by a lot or to lose to a team that isnít very good, but to do both in the same game in mid-November is too much.
The only other team I can see making a case is Florida St., which can beat Florida and win the ACC to finish with only a single one-point loss (to N.C. St. on October 6). Some SEC fans and tough-schedule enthusiasts may say that a two-loss SEC team (of which there will almost certainly be at least one) or maybe Kansas St. should go ahead in that instance, but LSU, Texas A&M, and South Carolina all lost to Florida while Oklahoma, Kansas Stís best win, has lost in its only games against top teams. We donít know if Georgia Tech is in the ACC title game, but either way if the Wreck beat Georgia, thatís going to make the ACC champion look better. Alabama canít have two losses in the last few weeks of the season. But you have to scratch out so many teams to even get to this point, itís far-fetched to even talk about.
Iíll talk about teams lower on the list and out of BCS-championship contention later in the week.
That's right Rick Reilly, you fucking asshole! You stupid fucking cocksucker! What was that you said about Notre Dame being irrelevant? You stupid fuck-stain...11-0...About to be ranked #1...And getting ready to take on a scuffling #18 USC team, lead by one of the most grossly overrated coaches ever....Lane Kiffin with a team full of talent...taking their 4th loss of the season Saturday, getting worked 38-28 by #17 UCLA...
And how did this happen for #3 Notre Dame...Well Saturday they did what they needed to do...They blasted Wake Forest in South Bend, on Senior Day, 38-0...And Brian Kelly seemed to like opening up the playbook a bit more against the Demon Deacons...
But then Saturday night the other pieces started falling into place...#1 Kansas State went to Baylor, and looked like they had their heads up their asses...Rare, and stupid penalties...Sloppy play...And Baylor's defense did something unusual...They showed up and played tough D...Collin Klein and company struggled all night and his 3 INT's and this loss, most likely killed his chance at the Heisman...And if you guys have paid attention to my college football posts this season, you know I've been all in with K-State and Klein...So while Baylor laid their 52-24 beating on the Wildcats, was great for my Irish, I was slightly bummed...
But wait...It got better...All night, up in #2 Oregon, #13 Stanford's defense was holding the Ducks offense in check...Late in the game, Oregon is up 14-7...But the Cardinal D kept the team in it...And the offense drove down field and tied the game at 14 with just over a minute and a half left...The game went to OT...Stanford held the Ducks to a field goal attempt...Missed! After a few plays, Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson punched a 37 yard field goal through the uprights....Game over! Bye bye Ducks!
My only problem with the events of Saturday, is now this will allow the arrogant SEC fans to talk about their conference champ playing for the BCS title....#4 Alabama fans are already getting wood, thinking their team is going to roll over Notre Dame...It must be easy to talk tough after you blast Western Carolina 49-0...Nice scheduling! Yes they think their Tide is the cat's ass when blasting cupcakes, and they just try to blackout those struggles against good teams...
But 'Bama wasn't the only big bad SEC team to play cupcakes Saturday...#6 Florida played Jacksonville State...#5 Georgia played Georgia Southern....#9 South Carolina played Wofford...#8 Texas A&M played Sam Houston State...What the hell is that? Even worse, A&M gave up 28 points...Yes, they won 47-28...But 28 points to SHSU...At least #7 LSU stayed in conference, struggling to beat Ole Miss 41-35...Yeah SEC fans, please keep telling us all how tough your teams are!
-This week's shootout once again comes from the Big-12...#12 Oklahoma went to West Virginia...Hey how do they celebrate Halloween in West Virginia? They Pump kin!
The Sooners put up 662 total yards, 554 of that through the air...WV put up 458 on the ground and and 320 through the air...In a back and forth battle the Sooners scored last, with 24 seconds left, to win 50-49...
-You know, I mentioned the top teams...But there is another undefeated team...Yes, after beating Wisconsin 21-14, the Ohio State Buckeyes are sitting around with a perfect record, and wondering why they decided to take their Bowl Ban this year, instead of last year...
-There was another big Saturday...Maybe not on a national scale...But it is known as "The Game." Yale at Harvard...Sure, Yale is a 2-8 team and Harvard is a 8-2 team...But this is Harvard vs. Yale...Just like all big rivalry games...None of the other stuff matters...Both teams are bringing everything they have and laying it all on the line...While it was only on the NBC Sports channel, I was glad to see some one showing it...These Ivy League kids deserve to get some pub. too!
Harvard was up 27-24 late, and looking to run out the clock, but when senior running back Trevor Scales broke free on a 3rd and 13 run, there was no stopping him from getting into the end zone 63 yards later, as the Crimson went on to win 34-24...Scales finished the day with 177 yards and that TD...Harvard QB Colton Chapple rushed for 128 yards and a TD himself, while also passing for 209 yards and 2 more TD's...
-Lets close this out with this week's Notre Dame highlights....