Finally… I have posted a new blog entry! But more importantly, FINALLY (starting in 2014), college football will have a playoff to determine the national champion. The BCS (computers) will be no more, and the automatic qualifier status that favored specific conferences has also been vaporized.
The BCS system has long been scrutinized by national media and fans alike, and for good reason. Here’s a fun example of why it did/does not ensure the best two teams me(e)t in the championship game – a decade ago, Nebraska lost its final game of the regular season by a horrendous 62-36 margin and STILL played in the 2002 championship game. No surprise, they were pulverized in said championship by Miami. Nebraska’s making the championship game in 2002 specifically displayed the culmination of an egregious systematic error, but year after year, great teams are getting leapfrogged by lesser teams based on polls and rankings and automatic bids that cheapen the prior season of play, not to mention make little sense.
The new playoff plan, approved Tuesday by a committee of university presidents, will consist of two national semifinal games (four top teams – #1 vs. #4; #2 vs. #3), and the winners of each will meet in the finale.
The Conference title games are long gone (does anyone even remember what happened?). The BCS gods (computers) configured the final rankings and match-ups. The bowls (all 1340983475 of them) have begun. But the big mammajammas (read: BCS Bowl Games) are still looming.
Lots of people find the bowl breakdown come end-of-season wildly confusing. To quote the BCS on the web, “the BCS is a five-game showcase of college football. It is designed to ensure that the two top-rated teams in the country meet in the national championship game, and to create exciting and competitive matchups among eight other highly regarded teams in four other bowl games.”
I’m not putting a dog in the fight about the BCS this year, whether I think it’s a good system, whether there should be a playoff etc. etc. I’m too tired. What I will say, however, is that there are going to be (should be) some damn good football games to bring in 2012.
Bowl Championship Series (in chronological order)
Rose Bowl – Oregon vs. Wisconsin on Jan. 2, 2012, 5 p.m. (ET obv) in Pasadena, CA
#5 Oregon and #10 Wisconsin fire off the BCS start gun for “The Granddaddy of Them All”, better known as the Rose Bowl. The Ducks lost last year’s title game to Auburn (cough, Cam Newton, cough), and Wisconsin actually lost last year’s Rose Bowl game to TCU. Both are looking for Rose Bowl glory in this now-fairly-standard match-up of Pac-12 & Big Ten champions. Watch these two VERY different, but very high-powered offenses go to work.
After a shoddy match-up last year (Oklahoma faced four-loss Connecticut, in a low-rated and low-attended game) and a scandal involving wrongful political campaign contributions by Fiesta Bowl employees (including the subsequent booting of then president and CEO John Junker), the Fiesta Bowl has what looks like redemption in the form of a great game. #3 Oklahoma State, who some/many thought should have been in the title game, and #4 Stanford, led by likely first pick in the NFL Draft QB Andrew Luck, will bring their offensively-potent squads onto the Arizona gridiron this year. This very well may be the best match-up of the BCS bunch (remember the offensively riveting LSU v. Alabama game earlier this season?)
Allstate Sugar Bowl – Michigan vs. Virginia Tech Jan. 3, 2012, 8:30 p.m. ET in New Orleans, LA.
The Sugar Bowl takes the controversy mini spotlight (of sorts) this year because of the teams playing in it. #13 Michigan will face #11 Virginia Tech – do they seem like fairly middle of the road-ranked teams? Yes. That’s because they leap-frogged teams like #6 Arkansas, #7 Boise State and #8 Kansas State (Arkansas and Kansas State will meet instead in the Cotton Bowl on January 6). People are pissed off, Michigan and VTech are defending their right to play in the Sugar Bowl. It’s not leaving a great taste in a lot of mouths. The Hokies having trouble selling off their share of tickets was not helping matters either. Players to watch (if you watch) – Michigan’s QB Denard Robinson (a multi-purpose offensive threat) and Virginia Tech’s RB and ACC player of the year, David Wilson.
In yet another high-octane offensive showdown, #23 West Virginia (they get a bid because they share the Big East title and because the computer said so) and #15 Clemson meet in the Orange Bowl to try to light up one another. Both of these teams averaged over 33 points and 440 yards per game this season. Clemson started the season 8-0, upsetting ranked teams and climbed up the rankings themselves, setting school records for pass yards, total yards and scoring along the way. The Orange Bowl will be the first-ever BCS bowl for Clemson.
In a VERY high-profile rematch (the first title game rematch in BCS history actually), #1 LSU will face #2 Alabama, this time with the national title on the line. After all the talk of high-powered offenses in the BCS bowls, it’s (almost) refreshing to talk about two stalwart defenses who helped make a 9-3 final score possible when the teams clashed in November. The Tigers won that battle in OT, but I’m sure the Tide has other plans for the title game (like getting into the endzone). They also have something to prove to those who think/feel this rematch shouldn’t be happening. As mentioned earlier, Oklahoma State almost fought its way into the title game (beating rival Oklahoma 44-10 in the last week of play), but Alabama held the edge – the Tide finished second in both the Harris poll and the coaches’ poll, and by enough to overcome the fact that Oklahoma State had the edge in the computer rankings. If the system hasn’t pissed you off enough by this point (I know I said I’m not going to fight about this.. but I can take jabs), take into consideration that no matter what happens in the title game, for six years in a row, a team from the SEC is going to be crowned victorious. The system has ensured it.