Playoffs versus Polls - Week Five
The BCS and all its affiliates should take some time this week to craft a beautifully worded Thank You note to the fine gentlemen at the University of Oklahoma. No one was quite sure how good the Sooners were this season. However, their monstrous schedule made it so they could not be ignored until they lost. With matchups against six ranked teams, schedule strength alone kept them in the National Championship discussion. But after their loss to Colin Klein and the Kansas State Wildcats, Oklahoma can play out the rest of their season unperturbed, and the future of the Big 12 in regards to the title game is in the capable hands of Geno Smith and the aforementioned Klein.
The other news of the weekend came from Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama where LSU showed they are nowhere near the juggernaut of a year ago. The defense is still superb, although not historic, but the offense is also weaker. It seems more and more that LSU’s game against Alabama in early November will be for the SEC West crown and nothing further. And in the meantime, the Tigers still must travel to Florida and face South Carolina at home before the Crimson Tide even come calling. An all-SEC West BCS final is not in the cards this year.
What is developing, however, is a huge crop of teams who would be in the running for a futuristic playoff berth. Throw Texas in with the other two, previously mentioned Big 12 teams; South Carolina, Florida and Georgia round out a quintet of SEC teams; Stanford is up there with Oregon claiming rights to the Pac-12; Florida State made a huge statement this past Saturday, dismantling a powerhouse Clemson team; and Notre Dame is still lurking, with a number of potent enemies remaining on their schedule. The problem for all these teams is that there is only one spot for them to claim this year. If we advance Alabama to the final, as no one seems capable of playing with them, let alone beating them (and who is giving first place votes to the likes of LSU and Florida State this week??), just one spot remains for the rest of the country to fight for. With that in mind, the team nearest the top currently has a huge advantage on its peers.
Oregon came up really big this weekend, showing their defense should be talked about a little more. Shutting out the Rich Rodriguez-led Arizona Wildcats is no small feat, and doing it in dramatic, red zone thwarting ways is even more impressive. There is no reason, in a computer/formula generated system, that anyone should be able to pass an undefeated Oregon Ducks team on their way to the National Championship. Florida State (currently ranked 4th) and Georgia (5th) do not have the schedule to pass another BCS-conference team without a loss. Kansas State (7th) or West Virginia (9th) wouldn’t have the cache or backing of the humans to leap the Ducks. Notre Dame (10th) would be sitting pretty for a four-team playoff but they started off ranked too low for them to hop so many teams on their way to the number two spot.
In a year where only one team stands out, it would seem fitting to give a few competitors the chance to dethrone them. Alas, only one will surface and right now, it seems like the one with the head start.
AOTM Predicted BCS Top Two:
(1) Alabama vs. (2) Oregon
AOTM Predicted Playoff Top Four:
(1) Alabama vs. (4) Kansas State; (2) Oregon vs. (3) Notre Dame