The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

College football madness

Posted by disappointmentzone on 12 November 2006

The BCS standings were released this evening. The Ohio State Football Buckeyes are still #1 and the University of Michigan is still #2. Then: USC, FLA, and ND. Notre Dame has no right to be ranked #5, and normally it wouldn’t matter except that USC and ND play in a couple of weeks and the winner of that game will benefit from the huge bump that accompanies a victory over the third or fifth ranked team in the nation (assuming neither team loses next week, that is). Florida is essentially locked out of the BCS championship game at this point. Even if Florida wins the SEC championship the best team they can hope to beat in that game (Arkansas) is ranked lower (#7) than both USC and ND. The only chance Florida has, in my opinion, is if ND barely beats USC and then Florida blows out the SEC West champion. But even then I don’t think Florida should make it because….

Ohio State and Michigan are by far the two best teams in the country.

What’s more, this weekend brought this fact into stark relief for anyone in the country who was still unsure. The only reason Florida is still in the hunt for the BCS title game is because they have tall player on their team who can jump very high and block kicks, and they needed him to do this twice yesterday to beat a fairly pedestrian South Carolina team at home. Struggling at home to beat South Carolina on national television doesn’t bode well for Florida when both OSU and Michigan killed their respective opponents. The fact is that Ohio State and Michigan are about 7-10 points better than every other team in the nation and it’s just an unfortunate circumstance that they have to play each other in the last game of the season. One team will lose and late season loses always damage teams more than early season losses. As I have argued before, unless the OSU-Michigan game ends in a blowout (25+ point victory) the AP voters would be hard pressed to make a convincing argument for moving either USC, FLA, or ND ahead of the loser of the OSU-Michigan game, let alone another team.

And the OSU-Michigan game certainly won’t be a blowout. You have to go back to 1993 to find the last game between OSU and Michigan that was decided by more than 16 points. Six times in that span the game has been decided by seven or fewer points and once by eight points. It’s a rivalry game — arguably the biggest in all of college sports — and one of the least relevant facts is the national ranking of either team. As if it matters if OSU is #1 or Michigan is #2. The outcome of the game will be close, as it always is, and would be close even if Michigan were ranked #35. Ohio State has opened as a 7-point favorite. This number will probably come down in the next few days and my guess is that it’ll close around 4 points (just a hunch). The game will be close. There will be no blowout.

Depending on time I plan on doing a fairly involved statistical breakdown of the OSU-Michigan game that may come in pieces or as one long chunk later in the week. In the meantime, my fingers will be crossed that sufficient coverage is given to the fact that OSU and Michigan are the two best teams in the country no matter what happens on Saturday.

Why?

Because the only thing better than beating Michigan once in a season is beating them twice. And the only thing better than that is beating them for the National Championship. The possibility is there and the scenario under which this possibility could play out is utterly logical and apparent. Which is why I doubt it’ll happen.

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3 Responses to “College football madness”

  1. Erik said

    I like how ESPN referred to OSU-Michigan as a national semifinal game. Not quite.

    This game IS the national championship, or at the very least, a national championship preview.

    I thought it was crazy a month ago, but more and more, I can’t make a convincing case for anyone else but OSU and Michigan to hook up again in Arizona in January if, as you said, Saturday’s outcome is even remotely close.

    If any other team makes it to Glendale, they are going to get rolled by whomever wins Saturday’s game. East Coasters want to see Rutgers in the title game. Be careful what you wish for.

    In the end, it might be the case that OSU and Michigan deserve a rematch. I’m sure the rest of the country would yawn and turn on Desperate Housewives, but for the Great Lakes region, it would be an amazing experience.

  2. I would be shocked if another team beats either OSU or Michigan in the national championship game. 11/18 is indeed the national championship game (assuming there isn’t a repeat). Rutgers is in a tough spot, I think. They climbed a lot in the rankings with the victory on Thursday, but not high enough. USC, ND, FLA, and Ark all can beat higher ranked teams in the upcoming weeks, and USC or ND definitely will. A lot of craziness would have to happen in order for Rutgers to climb in the BCS and if all that craziness does happen then my guess is that there will be an OSU-Michigan rematch.

    If the OSU-Mich this week turns into a grudge match (which it will) there might be some appeal nationally for a rematch, but I think you are right that most people would rather see a different game. But the Fiesta Bowl would certainly love an OSU-Mich game since both teams travel very well.

  3. Isaiah said

    Because of Saturday’s oddness (I mean, no one wants to be in the BCS games, apparently, so they all lost), everything is mixed up and this scenario could actually happen without it being all that insane:

    Cal beats USC, USC beats ND. That eliminates all 3 teams from the title game. Rutgers loses to WVU, Arkansas to LSU, Arkansas beats Florida in the SEC championship game. The least likely of those outcomes is, in my opinion, Arkansas losing to LSU, but regardless, if USC loses, Arkansas will drop vital computer points because USC beat Arkansas 50-14 to open the season (and that remains Arkansas’ only loss, which is all the more remarkable since USC has proven themselves not to be that tough and Arkansas is undefeated in the SEC, which is by far the best conference in the country top to bottom).

    The issue that might plague any hope of an OSU-Mich rematch is if USC beats Cal and USC and Arkansas wins the SEC crown while keeping their one-loss status because that would give USC major quality points and since the BCS computers are in love with USC (god knows why, the PAC 10 sucks) that might vault them over any other one-loss team, as it has so far. The only issue will be if the polls accurately reflect the fact that OSU or Michigan lost to another undefeated team during the last game of the season or if the pollsters will vote those teams lower simply because they lost a game — they’ve been known to do it before — and since the BCS rankings weight the Harris and Coaches polls more than the computer rankings, that could ultimately decide who plays in the Championship game.

    Personally I think it should be OSU/Mich winner vs SEC Champion in the title game, but that’s just me since I’m really high on the SEC right now. OSU and Mich are obviously great teams (I think OSU is the best in the country, but Mich has played the tougher schedule pretty convincingly), but if Arkansas can go undefeated in the SEC I think they deserve a shot (I’m willing to forgive their big loss to USC as first-game jitters/inexperience since McFadden and Co are just unreal right now).

    And all of this is exactly why a playoff is necessary. Boise State could get blown out in the first round!

    The BCS sucks.

    Also, I hope this was coherent. I just sort of wrote it.

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