Monday, January 7, 2008

Are Two "Best" Teams in BCS Title Game?

By Adam Russell

I'm sorry, but as much as a college football fan as I am, I really can't get too excited about tonight's BCS National Championship Game between Ohio State and LSU. It's not that I don't care about either of these teams — I grew up rooting for Ohio State back in the Woody Hayes era — but I really don't believe the two "best" teams in the nation are playing in the game. And that's why I'm jumping back on my bandwagon calling for a playoff system of some sort.

If you'll recall my article of a couple months ago, I pretty much nailed it that Ohio State would be playing in this game, and spelled out a number of scenarios that would have needed to occur to keep LSU out. Well, here they are, but I'm not so sure they'd both be here if a playoff was conducted.

Let's say there was an eight-team playoff, using the top eight from the final BCS standings. Here's how the matchups would look: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 8 Kansas; No. 2 LSU vs. No. 7 USC; No. 3 Virginia Tech vs. No. 6 Missouri; and No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Georgia. Now, let's check out the matchups based solely on the outcomes of the bowl games thus far.

Of the top four teams, I think only one would win their game. Kansas struggled with Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, hanging on for a 24-21 victory. I don't think the Jayhawks could go to the Horseshoe and beat the Buckeyes, or even on a neutral field. Next, I think that USC, back to their NFL-like ways evident in their 49-17 rout of Illinois in the Rose Bowl, would handle LSU either in Baton Rouge or on a neutral field.

In the next game, I think it would be close, but I believe Virginia Tech would beat Missouri in Blacksburg, but the Tigers would prevail in a neutral location. Using the actual bowl outcomes, with Missouri winning big over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl and the Hokies losing to Kansas, the Tigers get the nod — plus they had a better average point spread for the season, winning by a margin of two points more than Virginia Tech did.

Finally, with Oklahoma losing the Fiesta Bowl to West Virginia and Georgia humiliating Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl, the Bulldogs would oust the Sooners either in Norman or on a neutral field.

Now it gets tricky. Based on a lowest-rank vs. highest-rank pairing, USC would travel to Ohio State and Missouri would face Georgia in Athens (or they would be played on a neutral field in a bowl-type game). Again, I don't think USC is going to lose to anyone at this point in time, so they beat the Buckeyes and move into the championship game. I also think Georgia is the better team when matched up against Missouri, so they would face the Trojans for the national title. USC wins that game, 26-24.

Of course, that's what I think would happen if a playoff was conducted this season. You may have a different opinion. You might think that Ohio State and LSU would end up in the title game anyway. Or, you might be a fan of Georgia or USC or Kansas and think that one of them would play for the championship if given the chance. Regardless of how you feel, the fact is we're stuck with a team that lost twice during the regular season and another that hasn't played in nearly two months battling for the most coveted and honored award in college football — the national championship. Good luck to both the Buckeyes and Tigers, and maybe the game will be exciting, despite my lack thereof emotionally.

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