I really don’t want to hear anyone defend the BCS right now after this Saturday, where it was perfectly clear that none of the teams in the upper echelon of college football have any business making claims to a title game.
Non-championship/BCS related notes: Kevin Smith of Central Florida is a disgustingly good running back; I didn’t care about Miami of Ohio and Central Michigan; I think CBS played so many vignettes during Army-Navy to distract from the fact that Paul Johnson’s Midshipmen just bitch-slapped the Black Knights HARD.
Mike Bellotti had a brain cramp in the fourth quarter of the Civil War (Oregon State-Oregon) that cost the Ducks the game — the Duck kicker missed a 54 yarder in the 4th quarter with no timeouts left, but a 15-yard penalty against the Beavers made it a 39-yarder with the clock stopped at 20 seconds. What should Bellotti have done? Kicked the field goal there. However, the offense rushed once, didn’t spike the ball, and the rush field goal was short. Oregon lost in 2 OTs.
The quietest collapse of the season was Cal, which lost to Stanford to close a season where many expected the Bears to be BCS contenders — everyone forgot about them after Kevin Riley forgot to spike the ball against Oregon State. Jeff Tedford-coached teams are always good for two losses that don’t make a lot of sense every year, but the slide that went on in Berkeley this year was beyond the usual malaise, with the Bears losing six of their last seven games (they only beat Wazzu on Nov. 3rd after beating Oregon on Sept. 29th.)
Now to the stuff that matters:
Virginia Tech gave Boston College the business in Jacksonville (with no one in the stands) in the 4th quarter with 14 unanswered points, helped along by blocking punts, field goals, and points after — and Sean Glennon threw some good touchdown passes to take the game away and make Matt Ryan play catch-up, which he got picked twice trying to do. But this is the same Hokie team that got its ass beat by LSU 48-7 in the second week of the season, and couldn’t finish BC the first time in Blacksburg a few weeks ago.
LSU made it out in a squeezer against a Vols team that kind of nicked itself with small little mistakes in the game (as the Vols have been wont to do most of the season, only to make a run that got them the SEC crown.) A pick-six thrown by Erik Ainge was the sealer. Now, every predictor says they’ll squeeze back in to the national title game as the #2. That might be the least offensive thing, given that both losses were in overtime — but there is the matter of the fact that the Arkansas team they palyed wasn’t ranked and the Bengals’ D couldn’t stop anyone on that day. Still, Les Miles, through some sort of disgusting voodoo or retard luck, will be playing for a national championship. Smart of him to talk about staying at LSU while not inking that contract extension just yet.
USC finished off Karl Dorrell’s tenure in Westwood with a 24-7 victory in the Coliseum, and one could have argued that the Trojans could have made it a wider margin given the Bruins’ tendency to turn the ball over. USC really has no one but themselves to blame right now even though they are headed to the Rose Bowl: if they beat Stanford like they’re supposed to, even if it’s a close game, they’re playing for a title. But losing to the Cardinal means you don’t deserve it. Now, the names of Boise State’s Chris Peterson, Texas Tech’s Mike Leach, and former NFL head guy Steve Mariucci are being bandied about as Dorrell’s replacement. I’ll believe it when UCLA decides to pay for a head coach.
West Virginia got Wannstache’d by Pitt despite the attempts of the Big East officiating crew to hand the Mountaineers the game after Pat White had been knocked out due to a dislocated thumb on the non-throwing hand. There were two offensive holding penalties on Pitt that were completely unwarranted in the fourth quarter. If Dave Wannstedt had taken his crutches and beaten the refs over the head with them, no jury would have convicted him of assault. LeSean McCoy got nearly 150 yards on 38 carries for Pitt, shouldering the workload and killing clock as the Pitt defense stifled the hobbled WVU offense, which does not function in the same way without White (and Steve Slaton was completely out of it.) The Big East still has a rep as a lesser conference, and no two-loss team from this con is making a BCS championship.
Oklahoma just owned Missouri in the second half, forcing Chase Daniel to rush and the Tigers to settle for field goals while the Sooners got into the end zone rushing. But Bob Stoops is delusional if he’s politicking for a championship game spot with any sort of convcition: losing twice to unranked opponents in your own conference (and the Big 12 is not the strongest of conferences) will screw you out of a slot. OU can take some comfort in the BCS money and the fact that Sam Bradford will have another year under his belt to be a hell of a lot better.
Hawai’i doesn’t have the strength of schedule to be in the BCS championship game, but that’s not necessarily their fault. Unless the Pac-10 makes some crazy decision to expand into the Pac-12 and play a championship game, they’re not getting into a big conference and teams won’t go to the islands to play them — partially due to the flight and time change, but also because the Warriors can run it up on you. In a nice little compendium of a bad season for the Washington Huskies, they went up 21-0 on the Warriors and Colt Brennan calmly led them to 35 points and a victory via a touchdown to Brian Grice-Mullen with 44 seconds left to go. If Hawai’i pulls a Boise on its opponent this year, no one would be particularly shocked. However, it’s sad that because of their conference and unwillingness of bigger schools to play them, that they won’t get a shot at the title game.
Ohio State sat at home and moved up yet again. Bring on the 16-team playoff — the one Dan Wetzel suggested in a Yahoo column’s a good place to start. The only thing I would quibble with right now is that the first two rounds, not three, should be home field — hold the national semis and finals at neutral sites (regional for the semis, pick a location to host the championship game.) This day has to come — you have to give conferences like the WAC, MAC, C-USA, and the Mountain West their due somewhere down the line, because the more you have Boises and Hawai’is coming along, the more argument there will be, and adding conferences like the MAC and the Sun Belt will encourage those schools to improve the product during the regular season in order to get the automatic bid.
If Bizarro College Football Season has given us anything outside of the enjoyment of watching teams that looked like juggernauts get whooped, it’s showing just how fatally flawed the BCS is — which everyone knew it was after Auburn in 2005 and USC the year before. However, no one should be on this much of an edge about the top two teams and waiting for Fox to reveal the results post-NFL.
Photo: AP/Matt Slocum