Playoffs versus Polls - Week 4 Football

USC College Football Quarterback Matt Barkley

Playoffs versus Polls - Week 4

I think the Big Ten should change its logo from “B1G” to “Frown.” Can we vote on this? After a tumultuous first two weeks, where many of the conference’s top dogs fell, Michigan State joined the party in week three, falling to Notre Dame and destroying any and all chances the Big Ten had of throwing a team into the BCS final. The only contender in the conference that remains is Ohio State and they are, how shall we say this?…not allowed to play. If there was a playoff this season, the Big Ten would not be as doomed as they currently are. Michigan has one, “good” loss; Michigan State does as well. Throwing in Wisconsin and all these teams still having to play each other, it was conceivable the Big Ten winner could have finished in range of a top four vote. In future seasons under the four-team (and pending eight-team?) playoff, that will be the most interesting wrinkle. How do voters determine value? Will a Big Ten conference winner be more highly regarded than the second place SEC team, for example? In 2012, this conversation is futile and the Big Ten is finished.

But the Big Ten was not the only conference to suffer some National Championship shortcomings. There was also the Pac-12’s USC. Many, including this author, felt like the Trojans had no weaknesses. Apparently Stanford felt otherwise. Even with the addition of Penn State transfer Silas Redd, USC could not move the ball at all on the ground. Matt Barkley was also not very good against the Cardinal defense and the powerful Trojans managed just two first half scores on their way to a 21-14 loss. It was a pretty fair assumption that both Southern Cal and Oregon would go undefeated until their November 3rd clash to decide which one would represent the conference in the title game or the Rose Bowl. It even seemed possible that this game on November 3 could mirror last year’s Alabama-LSU game, in that a rematch would decide the National Champion. Instead, Oregon alone holds the hope of the Pac-12. A win against USC, followed by a win against Stanford later in the month could propel an undefeated Oregon squad into the top two.

Perhaps we were forcing this excitement anyways. After all, the SEC has two top tier schools. Why were we searching for someone from another conference to step up? Alabama and LSU have once again snatched up every single first place vote in both the AP and USA Today week four polls. A rematch of the rematch’s rematch seems inevitable at this point, except for the fact that they still play in the same division as each other, the SEC West, and still must face each other on November 3rd. (Wow that is going to be a great weekend of games!) It is feasible one could lose to the other and still make their way to the championship game. It just does not seem likely this year with how good the rest of the top ten could look.

With Virginia Tech losing to an inferior opponent and Logan Thomas’ draft stock dropping faster than one of his passes, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s chance at a title game representative will make itself known this week when Clemson travels to Florida State. Either would have a chance at making the playoffs with a good showing but, truthfully, neither has a very good shot at finishing in the top two of the BCS. The ACC in general cannot wait for the playoff format to kick in so they can finally battle for some representation in a championship fight.

Kansas State vs. Oklahoma is the first in a murderous line of OU games that has them facing a ranked opponent. The Sooners haven’t looked like anything special yet this year, and they really benefit from their high preseason ranking, but a spotless record from Oklahoma would guarantee a playoff berth in the future format and should almost guarantee a BCS Championship spot as well. They play #15 KSU this weekend, #12 Texas, #11 Notre Dame, #8 West Virginia, and #17 TCU before the season is out. Rather than trying to come up with a scenario where a 12-0 Oklahoma team is not making the Championship, it is probably just easier to assume they will lose at least once.

The last remaining matchup of the weekend with BCS ramifications is Michigan vs. Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish, as they are known to do, have once again managed to weasel their way into the public consciousness before the end of September. Looking ahead, even after the Michigan game, they play a very tough slate of games this season, something that has not always been the case in recent years. We all know an undefeated Irish team will garner huge amounts of votes in a future playoff format. Would the computers be as kind in a BCS title game scenario? It will be interesting to find out. Either way, Notre Dame is back! And we know how important that distinction was for the Big Ten teams.


AOTM Predicted BCS Top Two:

(1) Alabama vs. (2) LSU


AOTM Predicted Playoff Top Four:

(1) Alabama vs. (4) Oklahoma; (2) LSU vs. (3) Oregon


Week 4 Football - What to Watch For