The brilliant thinkers who invented the BCS system, and tinkered with it and expanded it and made it grow and then changed it and then tinkered with it again and created a championship game to put the cherry on top of the bowl series sundae have another fine mess to deal with. Where order was the goal, chaos is now in order. And here's what we say: GREAT!
The picture lost focus last Saturday Nov. 11 with all manner of upsets and almost upsets following the improbable victory by Rutgers over Louisville on Nov. 9. Anyone who thinks they have a clear picture now please let us know.
Michigan plays Ohio State on Saturday Nov. 18 and you can't want for anything better than that: No. 1 vs. No. 2. The winner gets a spot in the BCS title game on Jan. 8 in Glendale, AZ, for certain. The loser? Well, the loser could get a spot in the BCS title game on Jan. 8 in Glendale AZ. Huh? The winner goes and the loser goes? It could happen.
College football over the next three weeks is an unfathomable mess. What is certain is that the wild but neat package that the NCAA basketball tournament presents is nowhere to be found and probably never to be found in the stewpot of college football. College football's best team may not be the National Champion but college football's best record surely will be.
Let's put the Buckeyes and the Wolverines aside for a minute and look at other BCS contenders. No one looms larger than the No. 3 USC Trojans, who have been down this road several times before. Up next is 8-2 Cal, followed by 9-1 (and 5th-ranked) Notre Dame and the dangerous 5-5 UCLA Bruins. Getting past those teams may be impossible for this year's Trojans, having lost so many from last year's national runner-up and the 2004 and 2005 National Champions. So let's presume that the Trojans end the season with two losses and a spot in a nice bowl game, just not the championship game.
OK. Next is 9-1 and 4th-ranked Florida. We made the Gators our choice to be in the big game a month ago before the first BCS ranking. We just loved the idea of the Gators' two-quarterback system of Chris Leak and Tim Tebow finding its way into the final. You could like the Gators chances now with Western Carolina (2-8 with an 8-game losing streak playing in Division I-AA) and down at the heels Florida State to finish the regular season. But Florida has the SEC championship game, too, on Dec. 2 and No. 7 Arkansas is the likely opponent. Tough, but not impossible; certainly an easier path than USC.
Then we have everyone's favorite (Not everyone's? Do tell.), the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Coach Charlie Weis has finished whining his way back to the No. 5 spot in the rankings. Having a schedule lined with East Creampuff and West Creampuff has not hurt. But the game at USC looms. The Irish will have gotten ready for that one by testers against Michigan State, Navy, North Carolina and, this week, Army. Too many passes, not enough real tests for Notre Dame? Sure.
And next, the flavor of the week, Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have done something this season that few schools ever get a chance to do in college football--create real change. Moan about it all you want ACC defenders and SEC supporters but Rutgers is a Division I-A team, Rutgers is unbeaten. Should they apologize for their schedule? No, they still had to beat all those teams. Should we presume that the Scarlet Knights are as good as the other two unbeaten teams above them? Uh uh. Not even close. These guys have three more games left--Cincinnati, Syracuse and a big test at No. 8 West Virginia. Says here they don't even get to Morgantown unbeaten so they won't be going to Glendale.
Arkansas could go 11-1 regular season and beat Florida in the SEC final. So the Razorbacks could go but there are computers and finicky voters to deal with so even at 12-1, that's not a sure thing. West Virginia should run its table but it would be next to impossible for the Mountaineers to pass so many others.
So, if you were paying attention, and I'm sure you were, the possibility exists that the two best records at the end of the regular season and conference championships (and the ones most favored by the mystery of the BCS standings) will be Ohio State and Michigan, one unbeaten at 12-0, one at 11-1. If Florida loses to Arkansas in an SEC final, you'd be hard-pressed to declare the Razorbacks more deserving of the BCS final than the 11-1 Big Ten school. Surely the BCS folks were hoping that the final would be a rematch of a game earlier this season, except what they must have hoped for was a rematch of Ohio State-Texas (Buckeyes won back in early September, 24-7). And that's the way it seemed to be headed until the Longhorns fell before mighty Kansas State last Saturday and may have lost the brilliantly named QB Colt McCoy.
So it could be Ohio-State Michigan on Jan. 8 and brings us back to the original thought: this is a fine mess you've created O BCS swamis and we thank you for it--even if it's not what you had in mind.
Now, we call on FanNation to tell all who you think should be playing in the BCS championship game and who you want to see in the BCS final. Doesn't have to be the same teams you know. Add your comments below.