Jay Christensen covered college football, among other sports, for the Los Angeles Times and produces the popular college football blog TheWizofOdds.com.Things aren’t always as they appear. Take, for example, the Bowl Championship Series.
It has been clear sailing so far for the BCS, which gleefully saw its Boise State problem disappear Saturday. The Broncos’ loss to Texas Christian, coupled with Oregon’s defeat of previously undefeated Stanford, meant the BCS could freely engage in its guilty pleasure of pushing the mute button on bothersome playoff advocates for at least another week.
With Louisiana State and Oklahoma State firmly at the top of the heap, a BCS dream matchup of the undefeated Tigers and Cowboys is only weeks away. If each team wins out, it will be a no-hassle, no-worry BCS title game on Jan. 9 in New Orleans.
Or will it?
Haven’t we seen this before? Like say, last season, or the season before, or the season before that?
How soon they forget.
It was last January when an Oregon team with a record-setting video game offense promised to run circles around Auburn’s defense. Then they teed it up and the Tigers won, 22-19.
Or how about 2009, when Texas rolled up 529 points and a 13-0 record on its way to Pasadena? Alabama’s defense knocked Colt McCoy from the game early and when it was over, the Crimson Tide had prevailed, 37-21.
Oklahoma appeared unstoppable in 2008 when it averaged 54 points a game behind quarterback Sam Bradford. Florida didn’t stand a chance, the experts said, and you know what? They were wrong. Final: Gators 24, Sooners 14.
Not to knock LSU’s credentials in 2011 which are, without question, unmatched, The record of teams defeated by the Tigers is 59-41, and that includes a neutral site win against Oregon (9-1 and No. 4 in the BCS standings) and road victories at Alabama (9-1, No. 3 in the BCS standings) and West Virginia (7-3).
But if the BCS is all it claims to be — a vehicle to ensure that the top two teams play in its title game — then Oklahoma State is not the team fans deserve or should desire to see. Neither, in my opinion, is Alabama or Oregon, teams that have already had their shots at the Tigers. Arkansas? Its opportunity will come Nov. 25 at LSU.
Yes, the team that in the end will truly deserve a chance to play LSU is Oklahoma. Let me explain.
Oklahoma State, with the flashy offense, is just like the Oregon, Texas and Oklahoma teams that played in the previous three title games. What people fail to mention is that defensively, the Cowboys rank 101st out of 120 Division I-A teams. Oklahoma State does rank No. 1 in turnover margin, but that is only masking its considerable deficiencies on defense.
And who have the Cowboys beaten? The team’s marquee win came against Kansas State (8-2, No. 13 in the BCS), and that came in Stillwater. The only other opponents with more than six wins were Louisiana Lafayette (8-2) and Tulsa (7-3).
A stronger case can be made for an LSU-Alabama rematch because the Crimson Tide has victories over Arkansas (9-1, No. 6 in the BCS) and Penn State (8-2 and fading). But do you really want to see another 9-6 game? Rutgers beat Princeton, 6-4, in the first intercollegiate game on Nov. 6, 1869, and in the 142 years since, there hasn’t been a clamoring for a rematch.
Yes, Oregon did put up 27 points in losing to LSU the first time, but just like Alabama, why do the Ducks deserve a shot at going 0-2 against the Tigers?
Arkansas, as mentioned, will get a crack at the Tigers, but even if it does beat LSU, the Razorbacks’ title game credentials are questionable at best. Arkansas’ opponents are 43-56, with Alabama and South Carolina (8-2, No. 12 in the BCS) accounting for 17 of the 43 victories. The rest of the opponents are 26-53. The Razorbacks, who play eight home games, have been shaky on the road, beating Mississippi (2-8) by five points and Vanderbilt (5-5) by three. Oh, and don’t forget that crushing 38-14 loss at Alabama.
That leaves only one team worthy of a shot against LSU, and that team is Oklahoma.
The Sooners’ opponents are 51-38 and the team already has impressive road wins at Kansas State and Florida State. If Oklahoma wins at Oklahoma State on Dec. 3, it is the Sooners who must play LSU.
LSU would be 3.5-point favorite over Oklahoma, according to Joel Spaniszewski of Las Vegas Sports Consultants. Is this the best possible matchup? From a point-spread standpoint, no.
LSU-Alabama is rated a pick, Oregon would be a 2.5-point underdog. But the only fair thing to do is give the Sooners something the Crimson Tide and Ducks have already had — a opportunity to defeat LSU.Week 11 impressions:
Georgia’s victory over Auburn and Arkansas’ win against Tennessee marked the final regular-season matchups between teams from the SEC East and West divisions. Straight up, the West won 13 of the 20 games. Against the spread, the West held a 12-8 advantage.
Teams ranked in the top 10 of last week’s Associated Press
poll went 4-5 against the spread. Top 10 teams are now 65-32-2 (67 percent) against the number.
Baylor needed overtime to win by a point at Kansas, yet climbed three spots in this week’s BCS standings.You can follow The Wiz of Odds on Twitter @JayChristensen