Preparing for the B.C.S. Apocalypse
By Paul Myerberg // Nov 15, 2011
Let’s just say that Arkansas beats L.S.U. to end the regular season. And let’s say that a week later, Oklahoma derails Oklahoma State’s quest for perfection. For good measure, let’s say that Houston loses to S.M.U. on Saturday. You know what would happen if these three events do come to pass? That would be B.C.S. apocalypse, that’s what: no undefeated teams, as many as 10 one-loss teams, complete and utter disarray and, at the very least, four or five fan bases griping and grumbling all winter.
Here’s what you could have:
Virginia Tech, 12-1 The Hokies avenge an earlier loss to Clemson by getting the better of the Tigers in the A.C.C. title game.
Oklahoma State, 11-1 Perfect through 11 games, the Cowboys lose a heartbreaker to Oklahoma at home.
Oklahoma, 11-1 The Sooners’ only blemish is a foul first half against Texas Tech back in October.
Houston, 12-1 A loss to S.M.U. is followed by strong victories over Tulsa and Southern Mississippi, the latter to win the Conference USA crown.
Boise State, 11-1 Once again, only a kicking blunder stops the Broncos from a perfect regular season.
Oregon, 12-1 After dispatching of Stanford and U.S.C. in back-to-back weeks, the Ducks have little issue with the Pac-12 South winner in Eugene.
Stanford, 11-1 A win over Notre Dame is nice, but the Cardinal lost when it counted.
L.S.U., 12-1 The Tigers lose to Arkansas but still take home the SEC championship.
Alabama, 11-1 Another team stymied by kicking woes, the Crimson Tide dispatch with the remaining 11 teams on their schedule with relative ease.
Arkansas, 11-1 The Razorbacks end the regular season with a monumental upset of L.S.U. in Baton Rouge.
I’m including Houston in this mix even if it’s clear that the Cougars, even at 13-0, aren’t playing for the national title. At most, an undefeated Houston team is landing an at-large B.C.S. bid. But projecting a loss to one of the three terrific teams still ahead — S.M.U., Tulsa and Southern Mississippi — ends any push that may arise to put the lone undefeated F.B.S. team in the B.C.S. National Championship Game.
So what’s next? How many of the 10 teams have a legitimate case for playing for the national title? Let’s work backwards: Houston and Boise State don’t have a case. That leaves eight. I don’t think Virginia Tech has a case; seven. Neither does Stanford, which imploded on its biggest stage.
That leaves six teams with a legitimate case for being one of two teams meeting on Jan. 9 in New Orleans: Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Oregon, L.S.U., Alabama and Arkansas. And what happens then? Which team would have the greatest case?
Oklahoma State’s case is the weakest: by the time the dust clears, the Cowboys may have only one win, Kansas State, over a nationally-ranked opponent — though the September win over Tulsa looks better and better, and there’s no debating the fact that Oklahoma State has looked as good as any team in the country through 10 games.
Oklahoma has the worst defeat: the home loss to Texas Tech was — and is — inexcusable. The head-to-head argument only works with the Cowboys; the remaining four one-loss teams can tout a stronger resume, from top to bottom. And yes, when every contender has one loss, the strength of that one loss does matter.
It would get messy between Alabama and Arkansas. Alabama beat Arkansas, but Alabama lost to L.S.U.; L.S.U. beat Alabama but lost to Arkansas. L.S.U. wins the SEC, but would Arkansas deserve to be ranked higher in the B.C.S. than Alabama? And even if neither team plays for the national title, which would deserve the SEC’s second B.C.S. bid?
What about Oregon? Blindly — and unscientifically — comparing Oregon’s resume against Alabama’s finds that each team will have beaten one great team: Stanford and Arkansas, respectively. Both would have suffered one loss to a great team. Oregon would have an additional win against a very good team, U.S.C., while Alabama would have a win against a good team, Penn State. Commence your arguments about the middle of the Pac-12 against the middle of the SEC.
I think the one clear conclusion is that L.S.U., even with a split of its final two regular season games, plays for the national title with a win over Georgia in the SEC title game. Why? Simple: the Tigers would have a loss to a contender in Arkansas, but would also have wins against Oregon and Alabama — to many, the Ducks and Tide are the teams most likely to be paired with L.S.U. in a rematch should Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State on the first Saturday of December.
Discussing the B.C.S. is like peeling back the layers on an onion. And yes, it’s O.K. to cry. In a perfect world, L.S.U. would get past Arkansas and Oklahoma State would avoid a loss against the Sooners. Three notes: Arkansas has won three of four against L.S.U.; Oklahoma State hasn’t beat Oklahoma since 2002; and Oklahoma State is 17-81-7 all-time against Oklahoma. So this B.C.S. apocalypse — 10 one-loss teams? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.
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Tags: Alabama, Arkansas, B.C.S., B.C.S. National Championship Game, Boise State, Houston, L.S.U., Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Stanford, Virginia Tech
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