Week 14 Recap...and the BCS is an absolute crock

    
December 3rd, 2007

Before I get started on my BCS rant, here are the five matchups that will take place in January:

Rose: Illinois (9-3) vs. USC (10-2)
Sugar: Hawaii (12-0) vs. Georgia (10-2)
Orange: Kansas (11-1) vs. Virginia Tech (10-2)
Fiesta: West Virginia (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (11-2)
National Title: LSU (11-2) vs. Ohio State (11-1)

Well, there you have it. In one of the most bizarre and exciting seasons in the history of college football, the BCS has once again managed to screw something up. Not so much the national title game, as that was pretty much expected as Oklahoma took Missouri out behind the woodshed in the second half and West Virginia folded like no other against Pittsburgh. But there are three main issues with this entire process that I do not agree with.

1. Missouri was robbed.
2. If you’re going to hold it against a team if they don’t win their conference title, then maybe you should put that stipulation into the rules. But hell, that would make too much sense, wouldn’t it?
3. The Rose Bowl should either be willing to part with their “sacred” tradition every once in a while or secede from the BCS.

On the first point, I’d really love to see an argument against the 11-2 Tigers being included in the BCS party. Two of their wins came against teams in the BCS (Illinois and Kansas), and both of their losses came against the same team (Big 12 champ Oklahoma). So how on earth were they passed over for teams ranked eighth and thirteenth respectively in the final standings? Mike Slive can give all the lip service he wants about the standings only providing a “guideline” for bowl committees outside of the top two teams, but this is flat-out wrong. Essentially, the Tigers were penalized for playing in a conference title game. If that’s going to be the case, why even have title games?

Point number two is something I bring up because this is the second straight season in which a team in good position to move into the national title game was dropped in the polls because voters decided that you should win your conference title in order to be considered. While Georgia did not have the same level of success as Michigan last year, why is it that a made-up “rule” costs them the opportunity to move up? If it’s so important that teams win their conference, PUT IT IN THE RULES TO BEGIN WITH!!! I’m not going to sit here and say that Georgia should be playing for the national title, because in my opinion the top two teams are correct, but you can’t let teams sit in limbo and then decide that they can’t play in the title game because of a “rule”. Not an actual rule, but a “rule”. I’ll stop before this turns into an Iverson-like rant on the virtues of practice.

Lastly, Illinois has had a phenomenal season to this point. One of the best turnarounds in college football took place in Champaign this season, and given the amount of youth returning they could make a run at the Big Ten next season. But putting them in the Rose Bowl for the sake of preserving that Big Ten/ Pac-10 matchup is wrong. If it’s so important to preserve this meeting, then maybe we should go back to the days of the Bowl Coalition that did not include the Rose Bowl. What I’d really like to know is how the picks went for replacing your participant if they ended up in the national title game. With Ohio State being number one that meant that the Rose had the first “pick”. And you take a 9-3 team with the number one pick? And the Washington Wizards select…Kwame Brown. I’m sure this will read as an “anti-Illinois” rant, but this is more about the Tournament of Roses living in the past in regards to this system.

With that all being said congratulations to the teams taking part in games this holiday season. Enjoy the extra practice time leading up to the game, but at least you’ll end up with some pretty nice bowl gifts. Here’s a recap of this past weekend in college football, and just how we got to this point.

1. Pittsburgh 13, #2 West Virginia 9.
So, all the Mountaineers had to do on Saturday night was take care of Pittsburgh in the 100th edition of the “Backyard Brawl” and they were off to New Orleans. That didn’t happen, with the scrappy Panthers hanging on for the win in Morgantown. Truth be told, if not for two questionable (read: terrible) holding penalties called on wide receiver Oderick Turner, the score would have been worse. Pat White dislocated his right thumb and didn’t return until the 4th quarter, but his injury doesn’t matter when Steve Slaton puts up eleven yards on nine carries. Freshman LeSean McCoy ran for 148 yards on 38 carries for the Panthers, who at 5-7 go into the offseason on a high note. West Virginia, on the other hand, needs to get their chins off their chests before they play Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

2. #9 Oklahoma 38, #1 Missouri 17.
Not too many people gave the Tigers a chance to beat Oklahoma on Saturday night, and those people were indeed correct. Sooner running backs Allen Patrick and Chris Brown combined for 159 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and Sam Bradford made no mistakes in the passing game as OU put this one away in the second half. Thanks to their defensive effort, Oklahoma outscored Missouri 24-3 in the second half in San Antonio. They’ll face another spread offense in the Fiesta Bowl, but West Virginia cannot throw the ball in the same fashion as Missouri. The Tigers will now head to the Cotton Bowl, even though they’re sixth in the BCS standings.

3. LSU overcomes the distractions, then Tennessee in the SEC title game.
How often does a head coach call a press conference less than two hours before a championship game? Not very, and this made Les Miles’ appearance before the media all the more bizarre. After assuring the media that he would not be taking the Michigan job, Miles and the Tigers overcame a sluggish first half and beat Tennessee 21-14 to win the SEC. Ryan Perrilloux, who got the start in place of the injured Matt Flynn, played well enough to be named MVP of the game. The Tiger defense, dismissed by some as “overrated” towards the end of the season, came up with two huge interceptions in the last seven minutes of the game. Also, defensive coordinator Bo Pelini had to deal with the distractions of his move to Nebraska to become their head coach, but the Tigers played through it all and now find themselves with a de facto home game for the national title. With a month to heal up a bruised defensive unit look for LSU to play much better on January 7th.

4. USC wins their sixth straight Pac-10 title. And if the reports are true, they also signed Karl Dorrell’s pink slip.
USC was dominant on the defensive end on Saturday, holding the rival Bruins to twelve yards rushing (and 168 overall) in their 24-7 win. Three Trojans ran for at least sixty-six yards on the ground, and the Bruin defense simply couldn’t stay off the field thanks to their offensive ineptitude. ESPN’s Joe Schad went on the air tonight with news that UCLA could release Dorrell as soon as tomorrow, which means that the injury bug “crutch” means nothing. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to their recruiting class, which was touted as one of the best based on who’d given them verbals already. As for the Trojans, once again their off to Pasadena, something that’s almost taken for granted these days.

5. Hawaii wraps up a BCS berth in their comeback win over Washington.
It all looked so easy for the Warriors. Take care of 4-8 Washington and you’re headed to the BCS. But three early turnovers put Hawaii in a 21-point hole, but they managed to crawl out of it late thanks to a Colt Brennan-to-Ryan Grice-Mullen touchdown strike with forty-four seconds remaining. An interception in the final seconds sealed Hawaii’s first ever 12-0 season, and now they head to the Sugar Bowl to take on Georgia on New Year’s Night. While some may argue their merits based on the strength of their non-conference schedule, they’ve beaten every team on their schedule. Give these gentlemen their due, because they’ve earned their place. Also, if you’re going to criticize Hawaii for their schedule, then you need to do the same for “major” schools who buy out games that look to be the least bit threatening. And don’t act like this doesn’t happen, because it does.

6. Once again, the two quarterback system works for Virginia Tech.
Thanks to the play of quarterbacks Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor, the Hokie offense has improved drastically since their 14-10 loss to Boston College back in October. On Saturday, it was Glennon’s arm (18-27, 174 yards and three touchdowns) that got the job done in Tech’s 30-16 win over Boston College. Outgained by 89 yards, the Hokies got the job done thanks to a defense that didn’t allow Matt Ryan the big play. Also, Boston College was 5-16 on third down for the game. They don’t wow you with their yards or points, but the two quarterbacks make it tough for teams to prepare for Virginia Tech. Kansas will have their hands full in all three phases of the game in the Orange Bowl, not just defense and special teams.

Lastly, here are a couple other observations from Saturday.

- Central Florida’s Kevin Smith is unstoppable. Smith ran for 284 yards and four touchdowns in the Golden Knights’ 44-25 win over Tulsa in the Conference USA Championship Game. He most likely won’t be invited to New York next weekend, but maybe he should be. And he’s only a junior, which should make for an interesting decision come draft deadline time next month. My question is this: how on earth did the Hurricanes let the Miami native leave the city?

- Florida Atlantic dominates the third quarter at Troy and wins the Sun Belt. The Owls had to hang on to win 3832, thus clinching a spot in the New Orleans Bowl, but it was their three forced turnovers that got them the breathing room needed to pull this one out. What stinks for the 8-4 Trojans, who led the Sun Belt for the entire season up to this point, is that they have to stay home for the holidays while numerous 6-6 teams get to play another game.

- BYU finishes Mountain West play undefeated with a 48-27 win over San Diego State. The Cougars, led by running back Harvey Unga and quarterback Max Hall, put up 538 yards of offense in their win on Saturday. The bad thing for the 10-2 Cougars is that they get a 6-6 UCLA team in the Las Vegas Bowl. Most likely a win, but it would have been better for them to play a team with a better record as well as a solid coaching situation.

- Florida International ends their 23-game losing streak. The Panthers took care of North Texas 38-19 on Saturday night, ending the nation’s longest losing streak. In the true last game to be played in the Orange Bowl, first year head coach Mario Cristobal gets his first win. And it’s good to see the OB go out with a win instead of that 48-0 whipping Virginia put on Miami a few weeks ago.

Hopefully the bowl season can be as wild as the regular season has been. Take care.