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Monday, November 21, 2011

BCS Stew

A week ago, the Hat Trick tossed in its two cents on the state of the BCS. Most of my theories and assumptions were not earth shattering. There were some “what if conjecture” and “don’t forget” speculations, but any fan of college football could understand my reasoning and most probably agreed with most of what I said. I suggested, among other things, that the only difficult outcome to predict would be if LSU lost to Arkansas on Friday. I said the entire BCS equation would be shot to hell. After this past weekend, I think that has happened already.

Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Oregon all lost. Up is down. Down is up. The BCS polls were well aligned with the human polls. This week, there are LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas, in that order, and everything is a giant jigsaw puzzle, beyond that. The top three teams in the BCS polls are from not only the same conference, but the same division. The number of variables in the BCS race multiplied.

Will the two teams in the BCS Championship Game be from the same division in the same conference? If not, would a one loss Oklahoma State be allowed into the game, in spite of losing to an unranked team and not playing a conference title game? Could Stanford be allowed back into the picture, in spite of not winning its division? What of Virginia Tech? Are they now in the equation?

The Daily Hat Trick will recap last week’s commentary and follow up to that commentary up in BLUE.

#1 LSU Tigers

LSU controls its own destiny. Its outlook is extremely simple if it wins its two remaining regular season games and the SEC Championship Game: LSU would play for the BCS Championship. In face, as long as LSU wins the SEC West division, regardless of the outcome of the SEC Championship Game, I doubt that a one loss division champion LSU team would be excluded from the BCS National Championship Game.

Should LSU lose to the Arkansas Razorbacks in their season finale, all hell breaks loose. Assuming Alabama wins its remaining regular season games, LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas would be in a three way tie for the SEC West division title that would be decided by the 8th step in the SEC tiebreaker (remember that Alabama beat Arkansas and LSU beat Alabama earlier this season). That 8th step would grant the division to the team with the highest BCS ranking. I cannot pretend to predict who that would be; I just know that whatever margin would decide such a tiebreaker would be negligibly close.

Monday, November 21, 2011 - Nothing has changed for LSU, who bludgeoned Ole Miss on Saturday.

The Honey Badger takes what he wants! 1

#2 Oklahoma State Cowboys

OSU came from out of nowhere, to anyone who is not an OSU fan. Mike Gundy’s team piles up a lot of points, but it also give up a lot. It can ill-afford to lose in the regular season. Its December 3rd showdown with Oklahoma will likely decide the Big XII. If they continue to win, they’re in. One loss, to any team, should eliminate Okie State from the BCS Championship picture.

Monday, November 21, 2011 - Oklahoma State appeared to be doomed after Friday night's shocking overtime loss at Iowa State. Now, Okie State may still be in the driver's seat as the highest ranked non-SEC West division team in the BCS poll. No team, losing its division, has ever played in the BCS Championship game.
I don't care what his age is. Mike Gundy will always be "FORTY!" to me. 2

#3 Alabama Crimson Tide

Bama’s fate is tricky. The Tide needs help to play for the big prize, assuming it can win its remaining games. Unbeaten in regulation play, the Tide is the best one-loss team in the country, according to the BCS computers and the Associated Press voters. The problem for Bama is that the one loss came to an unbeaten team in its own division.

The best help that Alabama could receive are wins by Arkansas, whom Bama defeated earlier in the season, over Mississippi State next week and LSU on Black Friday. Should that scenario unfold, Alabama would be in a three way tie with LSU and Arkansas, to be determined by the BCS computers and voters. LSU would still likely have the slightest edge, given its strength of schedule, but nothing is etched in stone in this scenario.

The other help for Bama, which is a huge longshot, would be a win by Oklahoma over currently unbeaten Oklahoma State on December 3rd. Logically, one would think Bama, whose only loss was in overtime to an undefeated #1 team in the country, would move up to #2. However, voters are not going to be keen on rewarding a team that could not win its own division (due to a loss at home) with a BCS Championship Game appearance.

Monday, November 21, 2011 - Alabama's long shot bid for a rematch with #1 LSU in the BCS Championship Game just got a little shorter with OSU's loss. While the odds are still slim, in my opinion, the bottom line is that Alabama is #2 in the BCS poll and, should they beat Auburn this weekend, the voters will to jump another one-loss team over Bama for Bama to not play in the championship game.

Bama fans are dying to get a second chance. 3
#4 Oregon Ducks

Certainly the most sympathetic one loss team…. Oregon’s only loss, like Alabama, is to #1 LSU, a loss that happened in the opening week of the season. The Ducks have since run the table, including a decisive win over previously undefeated Stanford. Should Oregon win the Pac 12 Championship and Oklahoma State suffer a loss, I would bet the farm that Oregon will play for the crystal football.

Monday, November 21, 2011 - They are still sympathetic, with only one conference loss and an out of conference loss to LSU, the only major-conference unbeaten team remaining in the country. They won't get the sympathy needed to play for the big prize with two losses. Oregon blew their second chance for a national championship by losing to USC, falling to #10 in the BCS poll. They won't get a third chance.

LaMichael James has helped Oregon fly back into the BCS picture. 4
#5 Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma is going to need a lot of help. Its one loss was at the hands of a mediocre Texas Tech team that may not even be eligible for a bowl game at the end of the season. The Sooners would need to win their remaining games and hope for an Oregon loss and BCS voters who would dismiss a one loss Alabama, LSU, or Arkansas from the BCS Championship picture for not winning the SEC West. The latter is likely but the former, an Oregon loss, is not probable (though not an extreme longshot). However, there is no guarantee (in fact, I don’t think it is likely) that Oklahoma would jump a one-loss Oregon team should Oregon lose to USC, ranked #18 in the AP poll.

They lost to Baylor on Saturday, falling to #9 in the BCS. Stick a fork in 'em. They're done.

With star wide receiver Ryan Broyles lost for the season due to a knee injury, Oklahoma's chances are fading. 5

#6 Arkansas Razorbacks

The Razorbacks control their own destiny more than any other one-loss team. Should Arkansas run the table, they would be in a three way tie for the SEC West division, to be decided by the BCS system. Should Arkansas thrash LSU in Tiger Stadium, not likely but not impossible considering the strength of the Hogs’ offense and the lack of LSU’s passing game, Arkansas could win that tiebreaker. Should that happen, the Razorbacks would be all but assured a spot in the BCS National Championship Game by winning the SEC Championship Game. A win by Auburn over Alabama in the Iron Bowl would give Arkansas, from my vantage point, complete control over its own fate in the national championship picture.

Monday, November 21, 2011 - Arkansas took advantage of the misfortune of the front runners, thrashing Mississippi State on Saturday. In spite of being ranked #3 in the BCS, Arkansas doesn't even control its own destiny in its own division. Should Arkansas win over LSU on Friday and Alabama win over Auburn, the BCS discussion, resulting in a three way tie in the SEC West (to be decided by the BCS poll) is going to make Bush v Gore from the year 2000 look like a high school debate project in comparison. 

The Darren McFadden led Razorbacks pulled of a BCS-shaking upset in Baton Rouge in 2007.

#7 Clemson Tigers

Clemson would need the most unlikely and convoluted series of events to occur, amounting to multiple epic collapses by Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oklahoma. First, Clemson would need Oklahoma to lose to either Baylor (that could happen) or Iowa State (that is not happening), but win over Oklahoma State (unless OSU were to lose to Iowa State, which is probably not happening). Then, Clemson would need Oregon to suffer a loss to either USC (which could happen), Oregon State (that isn’t happening), or in the Pac 12 Championship Game. Last, Clemson would need to win its remaining games, including the regular season finale against #12 South Carolina, and the ACC Championship Game’ likely a grudge rematch with Virginia Tech, who Clemson beat earlier this season.

Monday, November 21, 2011 - A Clemson loss to North Carolina State on Saturday simplified this picture. Clemson is finished, ranked #17 in the BCS.

#8 Virginia Tech Hokies

Va. Tech would need everything Clemson needs in the regular season, AND a win in the ACC Championship Game, AND a lot of help from the BCS system, considering its earlier loss to Clemson.

Monday, November 21, 2011- Their fortunes took a turn for the better over the weekend, jumping to #5 in the BCS poll. Now, an Oklahoma State loss to Oklahoma and a Virginia Tech win in the ACC Championship game could vault the Hokies to the BCS Championship Game.

#9 Stanford Cardinal

Stick a fork in ‘em. They’re done. The only prayer Stanford has is for Oregon to lose to USC and 2-8 Oregon State.

Half of that prayer was answered. Don't count on the other half, in spite of being the highest ranked non-SEC West school in the AP poll at #4 and being ranked #6 in the BCS. No division championship (Oregon is still in the lead via the tiebreaker) means no conference championship which means another conference champion is likely to get an opportunity to play for the BCS Championship before Stanford.

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 12:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal fumbles the ball after being sacked by Terrell Turner #45 of the Oregon Ducks at Stanford Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Stanford, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Bad Luck 7
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