I will continue to write about my favorite subject=college football. Primarily because I enjoy the game. It is the one sport that gets as much coverage during the season. Basketball being next. But the single game per week brings both the thrill of victory and agony of defeat every week.
If either of the sports I played in college were covered as thoroughly; I would be equally as interested. That is not the case. So more of my energy gets channeled into what is being covered. Making it easy to see the problems in the system. But I am not the only one and that is how books like Death To The BCS get researched, written and published.
As I have watched bad decision after bad decision; I have seen the inequity of this system. Human involvement leaving a stain on the competition when it is not necessary. Why would there be a high level competition that relies so heavily on intangibles? On the whims of now 13 people without knowing more about the workings of the committee.
Also because the committee’s less than accurate ranking selections continues. And on this long weekend where we gave thanks; I have a full serving of rancor drenched in derision and a side order of animosity to give the committee. As the problems started early this weekend with their new rankings.
We start in the American Athletic Conference. One of the bigger surprises in the rankings with darlings like Houston and Memphis. Their appearances based mostly on wins against the SEC; the AAC has been invading the rankings as one of the Striving 5. But intra-conference losses have forced both Memphis and Houston off the rankings as well. Probably the myth of “quality” wins or loses only relevant when playing against Power 5 teams.
Houston dropped out of the Top 20 last week with a loss to unranked UConn. In fact; the Cougars got knocked off the charts from their somewhat lofty perch at #19. Not sure what was so detrimental in a 3 point loss. Especially when the Houston was still in the race for not just winning the AAC West. They still were in the running to host the AAC Championship since the league has the top ranked team host the title game. Which allows that team to generate more revenue with an additional home game.
Standing in the Cougars way is a very tough Navy team that has moved up to #15. The Midshipmen defense is solid and would need to be against Houston’s potent offense. The Midshipman have the added benefit of leading rushing attack in football. And the leading scorer in football, QB Kennan Reynolds.
The leading rusher of the day was Brandon Wilson; a converted running back who has played cornerback the rest of the season. Houston was able to win soundly 52 – 31. The game was competitive into the fourth quarter with Middies never giving up. Along with a good game by the Cougar defense; Greg Ward JR and Demarcus Ayers both played a great game.
Even with this loss; this does not bode well for my alma mater. The Army vs. Navy game is the last regular season game on 12 December. It takes place after all the conference championships on 5 December. It takes place after the selection for the playoff on 6 December. That seems like a signal for two teams that are outside the Power 5 conferences.
But even though Houston won their way into the AAC championship; there is little hope they will get into the playoff. They will most likely be ranked this coming week. I assume the ranking will be symbolic. The Cougars may even simply do a direct switch with the Midshipmen. Who knows? The committee does not seem to take the Striving 5 seriously. That is how you have the yo-yo behavior of their teams.
Toledo also had some tryptophan hangover. The #24 Rockets had to beat the unranked Western Michigan to get into the MAC Championship. The Broncos had other ideas and beat the Rockets 35 – 30.
The Rockets loss gives Northern Illinois a berth into the MAC Championship game. The Huskies can defend their championship against Bowling Green. This will be the third straight year that the Falcons will try to defeat the Huskies at Ford Field. Each team has one win in this game so this will be for bragging rights too.
The committee should just be honest about the ability for any team outside the Power 5 getting in. Last year demonstrated that even one of the Power 5 conferences is getting left out every year with this system. If Notre Dame gets selected without being a champion, then two conferences will be left out. I am getting ahead of myself.
Washington State Cougars have moved their way into the rankings at # 20. I am still not sure what convinced the committee to move them up. The Cougars have not been very competitive in the majority of their games against ranked opponents. Their only win against a ranked opponent coming against UCLA. The Cougars moving up with a “quality” win against the very unimpressive Colorado. Still, the committee does what they do and the Cougars were on the board.
Washington was able to provide an upset in this rivalry game. The Huskies won big to take the Apple Cup; 45 – 10. Not sure what the long term impact will be for this loss. Not sure if the Cougars will suffer much for it. Or if the impact will instead be to the PAC 12. Shall have to wait and see.
It took 2 overtimes to knock Baylor out of contention this season. TCU needed both overtimes on a rainy and slick night to sink the Bears. The Horned Frogs extra touchdown got them the win 28 – 21.
The weather played a part in this atypical low scoring and low yardage game. These two teams are used high scoring affairs that gain over 300 yards a piece. In the cold and in the rain; the high octane offensive schemes ran up against solid defenses that each of these teams is alleged not to have.
Unlike last year; Baylor’s two losses will keep them out of contention. TCU is in the same boat. All that is left is to see who the Big 12 “One True Champion” will be. Then will the committee deem that team worthy of being included this year.
The last instance of committee ranking misfeasance came with USC vs. UCLA. The battle of cross town rivals is always a hard fought contest. This game was no different. Although neither team is in the playoff discussion. But I think that there are plenty of players on both rosters who merit consideration by NFL teams come draft time.
For now; the Trojans will have to settle for a few things. One bragging rights in LA by winning 40 – 22 over the Bruins. Two they will have to settle for being another unranked team to beat the #21 team in the country. Last they will have to settle for representing the PAC 12 in the championship game.
The other participant in the PAC 12 title game had a big game on Saturday as well. In an upset win; Stanford solidified their ranking as one of the best in the nation. Beating the over-ranked Notre Dame team 38 – 36 with a last play field goal.
The #9 Cardinal had to play very hard against the #6 Irish. This was a hard fought game. Both teams played with heart, desire and passion. In the end, Stanford showed why they are going to be representing the PAC 12 North this coming weekend. They play hard every down in every phase of the game.
Notre Dame is likely knocked out of the playoff discussion. But I renew my discussion as to why they were so highly ranked to begin with. I think it is the intangible and irrelevant statistic of “travelling well”. The Irish alumni and fans do support their team. That is not a question. But that should not be the determining factor in getting teams into the playoff.
Play on the field has to be the determining factor. That can only happen with a better system. The ascension has been made from the BCS. But there is still more to do to make the system better.
Speaking of play on the field, the University of Florida did little to impress against Florida State. The last leg of the Florida Cup is another serious contest during this rivalry week. This serves as the Florida State championship series. The Seminoles showed that they are the class of Florida winning big 27 – 2. Coupled with an earlier win against Miami, the Seminoles will keep the Cup.
But with loses against LSU and Florida State imagine the turmoil if the Gators, the SEC East champs, could beat Alabama in the SEC Championship. The Tide did not look impressive vs. Auburn. The Tide’s 29 – 13 victory does not reflect how close the game was. It took two late scores; a field goal and touchdown in the fourth quarter, to pull away from the Tigers. Within the last 5 minutes; the Tigers were still putting up a good fight. They were a few dropped balls away from making it more uncomfortable. The Iron Bowl really should not have been this close when it is a matchup of two teams at either side of the table in the SEC West. That is not very impressive. No team should be frightened of this Tide team. Especially in light of their loss to Ole Miss earlier this season.
If the Tigers had pulled off the win, Ole Miss would have represented the SEC West in the Championship. Seeing how Ole Miss was able to win the Egg Bowl. The Rebels would have won their way into the championship if they had beat Arkansas a few weeks back. That one point loss sunk their chances since the Rebels hold the tiebreaker against the Tide. Oh well that is not to come to pass.
This season, the Civil War matchup of Oregon vs. Oregon State did not have the luster of past seasons. The high scoring affair had the Ducks scoring a whopping 52 over the Beavers 42. The high scoring game won’t have the affect of past seasons.
Unlike Bedlam matchup of Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State. After Baylor’s loss on Friday; this game was serving as a de facto championship game. The Sooners got the upper hand early and kept it throughout. The Sooners put 58 on the Cowboys who only managed 23. Sooners taking the title as “One True Champion” for real this time.
I think there are only two regular season games left. One is this weekend Texas vs. Baylor. And like next week’s Army vs. Navy; the games are inconsequently to the playoff.
Games that will count toward the playoff are the conference championship games. The Big 12 champion is Oklahoma who have played the rest of the league once already and beat all but Texas. Remaining in the Power 5 needing to determine champions are :
ACC : Clemson vs. North Carolina
SEC : Alabama vs. Florida
Big 10 : Iowa vs. Michigan State
PAC 12 : Stanford vs. USC
The Sun Belt Champion is determined in the regular season. Appalachian State leads the standings with Georgia Southern and Arkansas State nipping at their heels. The rest of Striving 5 conferences will play for their championships this weekend. Their championships will be contested this weekend as well. The following competitive affairs are :
AAC : Temple vs. Houston
MAC (Friday Night) : Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois
Conference USA : Southern Miss vs. Western Kentucky
Mountain West : Air Force vs. San Diego State
This rivalry week cleared up a lot. Week 14 will determine the rest. Then the committee will do whatever they do. Four teams will be in the playoff. Odds on favorites right now are Clemson, Oklahoma, Alabama and the Big 10 champ. Hawkeyes vs. Spartans is too close to call for me which is the way it should be. I think the other two games will be predictable wins for Clemson and Alabama. Still, anything is possible.
With the current system; who knows who will be there. We should have a system where like all the others; the winners get into the championship.