The race for the BCS National Championship Game on January 9 in New Orleans looks all but settled. Alabama appears locked into the #2 spot at worst, and LSU’s hold on #1 is so strong that BCS experts it’s virtually impossible to imagine them slipping below #2 even if they lose the SEC Championship Game. The Notebook protests both situations.
I’m a believer that a team must win its conference title to compete for the national championship and I think the logic behind it speaks for itself. I have no problem with a two-loss Georgia team playing for #1 and if it were up to me, Georgia-LSU on Saturday would be winner-take-all for a spot in the title game.
But on the flip side, why should LSU have to risk its position on Saturday night while Nick Saban and Alabama can sit comfortably at home and just start preparing for the rematch with the Tigers? Here, it’s not even about my ideological rejection of teams that don’t win their leagues. I simply don’t see why Alabama is just automatically presumed to be the undisputed second-best team in the country. They lost at home while not scoring a touchdown in the process. Their best non-conference win at Penn State was decisive, 27-11, but they handle the Nittany Lions nearly as well as Wisconsin did on Saturday in a 45-7 blasting. If you want to argue that Alabama, thanks to their stout defense is the #2 team in the country, I can certainly see the argument. But to argue that this status is so far beyond a reasonable doubt that no other team should be given a crack at LSU is something not rooted in reality. And for that reason, Oklahoma State should get first dibs on the second spot in New Orleans.
I find it astonishing that media focus on Oklahoma State’s one loss has only been on the fact that it came as a 28-point favorite over Iowa State. There’s no reference made to the fact the Cowboys had to play that game the very day they heard about the tragic plane crash that took the life of the women’s basketball coach and their assistants. The team spent most of the day grieving and it remains a mystery to me as to why the powers-that-be didn’t postpone the game. It was scheduled on a Friday night on ESPN and the decent thing to do would be at least push it back a day, perhaps even to Sunday. They didn’t, Okie State looked lethargic and lost in overtime. They deserved first dibs on a second chance and the ensuing run of upsets opened the door. If it were up to me, Oklahoma State’s game against Oklahoma would be to punch the Cowboys’ ticket to New Orleans, with Virginia Tech next in line, at least among BCS conferences. I’m also sympathetic to the notion of giving unbeaten Houston a crack at LSU, but that’s so far beyond the scope of reality that I’ll leave it for another day.
That’s where the Notebook stands. In the real world, this is how I’d project the BCS games shaking out…
BCS National Championship: LSU-Alabama
Fiesta: Oklahoma State-Houston
Sugar : Stanford-Michigan
Orange: Virginia Tech-West Virginia