Poll Dancing: Week Eight, or Two Tickets To Paradise

BCS supporters–both of them–breathed a little sigh of near-relief this weekend as Oklahoma and Wisconsin joined the ranks of the beaten, inching the system that much closer to “getting it right” another season.  If you’re a BCS-hater like me, it’s tough to decide what to cheer for right now, as there are two options to get the most anti-system vitriol spewing next offseason.

Option One: Too Much Awesome

The Badgers and Sooners were supposed to help us out here, but there’s still hope.  The ACC’s Clemson remains perfect and has a reasonable schedule leading up to the conference championship, probably against Virginia Tech.  The Big 12 has no title game and two lossless teams remaining in Oklahoma State and Kansas State (they play November 5).  The Pac-12’s Stanford has challenges in USC and Oregon, but will have a relatively easy conference championship game if they can get there unblemished.  The SEC will almost certainly produce a undefeated champ as perfect divison-mates LSU and Alabama (also facing off November 5) probably aren’t sweating the eventual East champ too much.  On top of that, mid-majors Boise State and Houston will try to make their case should they continue their winning ways.  Expect the Broncos to gain some popular support.

The bottom line here is that 6 undefeated teams, including 4 from AQ conferences, would be too much for even the most devout BCS apologists to spin.  At the very least this situation would demand a four-team playoff or Plus-One style setup.  And that’s if you leave out the mid-majors again.

There really is no best outcome for the BCS here.  No matter who gets left out, they’re going to be livid and they’ll have a good point.  Whoever loses the game will be considered unworthy of their spot (as usual), and no matter how the other teams are matched up, the season will likely end with multiple unbeaten non-champions.  That will be ugly for BCS PR.

Option Two: Too Much Mediocrity

Let’s keep this scenario realistic (even though no unbeaten AQ teams and an unbeaten Boise is probably the worst thing for the BCS) and say that either LSU or Alabama wins the SEC at 13-0.  Sure, there could be a misstep elsewhere but it’s pretty unlikely with these two.  Next, Boise is probably going undefeated, but that’s not even necessary for things to get messy.  Aside from those two, every other unbeaten with a chance (sorry, Houston, no one cares about you… yet) could easily lose a game or two down the stretch.  Clemson visits Georgia Tech this week and South Carolina to finish the season, but their best shot at losing is an ACC title matchup with the Hokies.  Oklahoma State still has the season-ender against the Sooners, and Kansas State has Texas A&M still upcoming.  Also, of course, those two have to play each other.  Stanford has their aforementioned tilts vs. the Trojans and the Ducks.

In this scenario, we finish with the 13-0 SEC champ, 12-0 Boise State and a whole bunch of one-loss teams like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, any one of five Big Ten teams with big ticket-selling names, and whichever of LSU/Alabama doesn’t win the SEC.  This would be similar to 2007 with its mess of one- and two-loss teams clogging the top of the rankings but with the added Boise State argument.

At least this scenario can end with just one unbeaten national champion, but only if the BCS system allows Boise to play in the big game, something that will bother fans/coaches/administrators of AQ conferences who will cite the Broncos’ easier path to perfection.  Expect the volume on that argument to hit new levels if Boise gets blown out in that contest.

Either of these options would at least be damaging for the BCS and I have to think that Option One would be the worst.  There just aren’t a lot of legitimate arguments for why an undefeated team doesn’t deserve to play for a championship, and there have to be even fewer for why FOUR undefeated teams aren’t good enough.

FraudWatch Update

Here’s how my projected fraud teams are faring so far this year:

Projected Losses: 5+

1. Kansas State (currently 7-0)

The Wildcats will need to lose all but one of their final 6 games (including the bowl) to achieve full fraud status.  It’s not impossible with consecutive games against Big 12 heavyweights Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas up next.  If they lose all of those then a loss to Iowa State becomes viable while the bowl opponent gets a lot easier.  However, chances are that Kansas State avoids the 5-loss tier.

2. Texas Tech (currently 5-2)

A surprise win over Oklahoma has boosted the Red Raiders’ hopes, but the season still ends with 3 road games in 4 weeks, with the lone home date in that stretch against Oklahoma State.

Projected Losses: 3-4

3. Illinois (currently 6-2)

With unexpected losses to Ohio State and especially Purdue, the Illini are now likely to jump up to the 5-loss tier with a road trip to Penn State this week followed by home games against Michigan and Wisconsin.  A visit to Minnesota should end the regular season on the right note.

4. Georgia Tech (currently 6-2)

The Yellow Jackets are also on a two-game skid and have visits from Clemson and Virginia Tech ahead, as well as the season-ender against Georgia.

5. Oklahoma State (currently 7-0)

The Cowboys are in good shape, but games against Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma could trip them up.

Projected Losses: 1-3

6. Texas (currently 4-2)

7. Oklahoma (currently 6-1)

8. Wisconsin (currently 6-1)

Other Teams (0-2 Projected Losses)

LSU (8-0), Alabama (8-0), Stanford (7-0), Boise State (7-0), Clemson (8-0), Michigan (6-1), Houston (7-0)


  1. The way the BCS works. Still never crystal clear. I have what I think is a valid question.

    If by chance there is only one undefeated team, why even bother having a National Championship game? Since the regular season play observes so much importance. Just give it to them by default!

  2. @evilCoz – I have seen proposals for a system like this before. Basically, the idea is that the postseason format changes depending on the outcome of the regular season. It could work, but would be a logistical nightmare. (“Hey, Rose Bowl, you get the title game… IF we have one.”)

    But to your point specifically, what if the one undefeated team this year is Houston? Their signature win will be a 4-point victory over a UCLA team that’s probably going 6-6 at best.

    While I do think that undefeated mid-major teams should have a chance to win the title, they certainly can’t just have it handed to them for not playing anyone.

    This is why a playoff makes the most sense. Teams like Houston can earn a chance to prove themselves against legitimate teams. If Houston were to beat Alabama, Clemson and Michigan State in consecutive weeks, then it would be hard to say they don’t deserve it. If they get blasted by the Tide in the opener, that’s still better than what we have now.

  3. I’m not a big Dan Wetzel fan, but his recent article on boycotting small bowls was interesting.

    If the players/captains on one single team (especially if it’s a popular team) refused to play in a small bowl game, that would likely kill the NCAA as we know it (along with the BCS).

  4. I admire Wetzel’s idea, although I don’t know how it would be implemented. Announce that you’re not playing too early and the bowl will just bring in a replacement team. Announce it late enough so that’s not an option and you risk becoming the enemy who robbed fans (who may have dropped substantial cash on tickets and travel) of a game. Maybe if it was a more widespread, multiple-team effort. In fact, what the hell, why not call for EVERY team to do it? The Year With No Bowls.

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