Wednesday, November 14, 2012
What Alabama’s Loss Means For BCS
On Saturday morning, a four-team playoff in college football (not scheduled to begin until the 2014 season) seemed like it would have made a lot of sense for 2012. Four top programs were undefeated and on schedule to win their conferences (if they had one). In many people's minds, there seemed to be a clear No. 1 (Alabama) and a decently clear No. 4 (Notre Dame) with 2 and 3 (Kansas State and Oregon) being a little bit fuzzier.
College football fans were worried a choice between Kansas State and Oregon for the right to battle Alabama for the national championship would be close to impossible to make and then the unthinkable happened: Alabama lost.
Perhaps it wasn't unthinkable, but I don't think very many people called Alabama losing at home to anybody this season. If Alabama was going to lose in 2012, it would have been at LSU two Saturdays ago, or maybe, possibly in the SEC championship game to Florida, Georgia, or South Carolina. But in the end, Texas A&M made a huge statement in their first year of SEC play by knocking off the Crimson Tide. They had played tough against Florida and LSU earlier in the year, but two conferences losses, at home, didn't inspire any confidence in me that Texas A&M could go on the road and knock off the best team in the country. But they did.
Now we are faced with three undefeated teams who all think they deserve to play in the National Championship Game.
But as fans, the first question we must ask is: will they all win out?
Let's start with the BCS's new No. 1, Kansas State
Their next game is at Baylor, who in the post-RGIII world are pretty terrible — recording only one conference win this season so far over Kansas, who has one win all season and that was over South Dakota State. Kansas State should have no probably taking care of business with Baylor.
Their final regular season game however is at home against current No. 15, the Texas Longhorns. Of course, the Longhorns could upset the Wildcats, but I don't see it happening. Collin Klein appeared healthy on Saturday, which was not a given considering he left in the third quarter the previous week against Oklahoma State.
I just don't see how Texas can stop the machine that is the Kansas State offense. Texas has allowed 50 points twice this season already. I don't think they'll be able to hold Kansas State under 40 and Kansas State hasn't allowed more than 30 points in any game all season and I don't see that changing, either.
The real test for the Wildcats would be in a hypothetical Big 12 Championship Game in which they'd face Oklahoma for a second time, but that will not happen in 2012 as the continual conference shakeups leave the Big 12 two teams short of the 12 team minimum required to have a conference championship game.
So for Kansas State, it's only Baylor and Texas standing between them and the National Championship Game. I like their chances of winning out: 90% chance to win out.
And on to the BCS's new No. 2, Oregon
Oregon quite obviously has the toughest road to the National Championship Game from here on in. Next week it's at home versus No. 13 Stanford. The following week it is at No. 16 Oregon State, and after that it's on to the Pac-12 Championship Game, most likely against No. 17 UCLA.
The Ducks were tested by USC two Saturdays ago and have otherwise proven their dominance quite emphatically, but three straight weeks against top 25 teams could be a truly difficult run. If this were one game against any of these three teams, I'd say they got it, but three in a row is just not easy to do against solid competition.
I'll give them the benefit of the doubt to win out, but not by much: 55% chance to win out.
And finally, BCS's new No. 3, Notre Dame
Notre Dame has baffled me this season. They beat Stanford in overtime, a good win for them. Then they destroy Oklahoma at Oklahoma, a win that made many people actually take the Fighting Irish seriously. Then, in the very next week, they need three overtimes to beat Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh! They were only 4-4 at the time and are now 4-6, unlikely to even make a bowl game and here is a team that might be in the National Championship Game, who needed three overtimes to beat Pittsburgh!
Notre Dame's road to the national championship is no cake walk. And even if they do win out, they'll need Oregon or Kansas State to lose to get them in. Next week, the Irish are at home versus Wake Forest, which should be an easy win. But the following week they have to win at USC in their final game of the season.
Notre Dame can win this game, anybody who beats Oklahoma 30-13 can probably beat anybody if they play well, but anybody who needs three overtimes to beat Pittsburgh is not going to win at USC. It all depends which Notre Dame team shows up.
I don't think they'll do it. I think USC shows them up: 40% chance to win out.
I don't think we'll be met with three undefeated teams before the National Championship Game participants are chosen. Between Oregon's tough schedule and Notre Dame's one tough game, I think one of those two will lose one game. But if all three do win out, I think Kansas State vs. Oregon won't bother too many people outside of Notre Dame fans.
If one of the three remaining undefeated teams loses, obviously, the two remaining undefeated teams will play each other and nobody will complain other than Alabama fans.
So the next question becomes: what if two of the remaining undefeated teams lose?
Well, the answer there is pretty simple as well: whoever wins the SEC will play the current undefeated team that doesn't lose.
Alabama has to beat Western Carolina and Auburn before they represent the SEC West in the SEC Championship. Not a problem. Georgia is the current frontrunner in the SEC East and they have to beat Georgia South and Georgia Tech. Probably not a problem.
If by some fluke Georgia loses to Georgia Tech, Florida would represent the SEC East so long as they don't lose to Florida State in their final regular season game.
Whatever the case may be, whether Georgia, Alabama, or Florida, whoever wins the SEC Championship game would play the one remaining undefeated team.
The real kick in the teeth is going to be: what if all three remaining undefeated teams lose once in their final games?
This would be disaster. Seriously, a disaster. Take a look at the BCS standings right now. No. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are all SEC teams. One of those teams would be a natural representative for a National Championship Game — probably Alabama, Georgia, or Florida as previously mentioned.
But who do you pair them with? Notre Dame and Kansas State would be attractive one-loss opponents, but their one hypothetical loss would (in all likelihood) have come in their final game, which would not bode well for them.
Florida State would be another natural selection, but their final game is against Florida and who knows who will win that rivalry this year. Clemson has one loss, but they won't be the champions of the ACC (FSU has them beat in the Atlantic Division), not to mention they still have to play South Carolina.
Oregon is a possibility, but that depends on which game they hypothetically lose. If they lose in the Pac-12 Championship, they won't be chosen. If they lose to Stanford, Stanford would represent the Pac-12 North, not Oregon, in the Pac-12 Championship Game, so again, not Oregon.
All in all, college football fans had best hope that all three current undefeated teams do not lose, because that would be the biggest mess the BCS has ever seen.
Imagine this unlikely, but not unbelievable scenario: Kansas State loses to Texas. Notre Dame loses to USC. Oregon loses to UCLA. Florida State loses to Florida. Clemson loses to South Carolina. Georgia loses to Alabama in the SEC Championship.
If all that happens, the most likely National Championship Game would be Alabama vs. Florida. How terrible would that be for the Georgia Bulldogs? They get to lose to Alabama in the SEC title game instead of the National Championship game! Let us hope it does not come down to that.
I feel bad for the SEC. They have six of the current top nine teams in the country and only two are able to be in BCS bowl games. I have a feeling we might have four rather lopsided non-BCS bowl games when the time comes.
In the end, it is obvious that the last few weeks of the college football season are going to be amazing. There are so many games between rivals ranked in the top 25. Anything could happen. Let's hope at least one of the undefeated teams keeps it together.