This weekend and last are the reason why college football coaches, players, athletic departments, and fans should never bring up being left out of the BCS National Championship picture before their regular season (and conference championship game if need be) is 100% fully completed.
There has been so much discussion in the 24-hour newscycle about ‘Who is going to be left out?’.
Oh no, what ever are we going to do! There are four undefeated AQ teams! Some poor team will have done everything perfectly all season for nothing!
There were still three games left. Four if you include conference championship games. Yes, the four undefeated teams (Alabama, Kansas State, Oregon, and Notre Dame) would be favored in all of their remaining games, but that just means that they are likely to win, not guaranteed to win those games. I think people forget that these are not computer-generated statistics playing one another, they’re people playing the game. The human element can be highly unpredictable.
We all know that Alabama is not built to come back from deficits, but most didn’t anticipate them ever being down by that much (20 points in the second quarter to Texas A&M). They still had to play a #15-ranked Texas A&M, which isn’t easy for any team, no matter the ranking, especially considering the SEC is somewhat unfamiliar with them in their first year as a member of the conference.
Oregon’s relentless quick-strike no-huddle offense is a beautiful thing to watch and a nightmare to defend as long as it is firing on all cylinders. But it’s also like the engine of a Mercedes; if the slightest moving part is out of sync, it takes the whole engine with it. Stanford completely shut down Southern Cal earlier this year, there was no reason they couldn’t slow Oregon down.
Kansas State was probably the biggest unknown of the undefeated teams just because not many people make a point to watch a team from Manhattan, Kansas play every weekend. Their claim to fame was putting up 55 points on West Virginia and Texas Tech in consecutive weeks, but neither of those teams have a defense that falls into the category of ‘serviceable’.
Notre Dame was outplayed by an unranked Pitt team in South Bend for the majority of the game, but the Irish were able to squeak out a 29-26 win in overtime.
What we do know now is that no team other that Notre Dame can complain about being ‘left out’ of the national title game (if all contenders win out). The reason is that they all have one loss. They didn’t do everything possible to ensure their spot in the game. There’s nothing worse than having to make the argument that “your loss was worse than our loss”. No matter what happens in the next few weekends, this is what makes college football interesting. We just don’t know and can’t predict with any level of certainty what will happen. Notre Dame could lose at Southern Call next weekend and throw a wrench into the whole works and mess the entire bowl picture up.
There’s nothing like end-of-the-season college football chaos. Let’s just sit back and enjoy.