Poll Dancing: Week Nine, or Another Two Bite The Dust

When previously unbeaten Clemson and Kansas State went down this week, you have to think that whoever still likes the BCS system got a little more comfortable and started imagining how everything was going to work out just fine yet again.  Virtually a given is that the winner of this weekend’s LSU/Alabama showdown will cruise through to the big game, joined by…

…oh, wait…

There are two other undefeated teams remaining from automatic-qualifying conferences, and the BCS needs one (and only one) of them to stay perfect along with the LSU/Alabama winner to ensure that the defense of their system isn’t completely laughable.  Those two teams are Oklahoma State and Stanford, not exactly traditional powers used to dealing with heightened expectations.  As the unfamiliar media spotlight (and pressure to perform) increases, so does the difficulty of the schedule.

Both teams face a much tougher road ahead than the one they’ve already traveled and this is where things could get ugly for the BCS.  Oklahoma State’s opponents so far have won just 54% of their games.  The opponents they’ll need to beat to make the title game have won 72% of theirs.  Similarly, Stanford’s first 8 victims won 43% of the time, while their next 5 (including the Pac-12 championship game, almost certainly against Arizona State) have won 60%.

This weekend, Oklahoma State faces Kansas State, fresh off their first loss.  They’ll close out the year against the team that beat KSU (Oklahoma), the team that beat Oklahoma (Texas Tech), and the team that just beat Texas Tech (Iowa State).

Stanford will travel to Oregon State for their second straight road game and may be a bit worn out from the triple-overtime thriller against USC.  The real test will come next weekend though, when the Cardinal hosts Oregon.  Admittedly this isn’t last year’s Duck team that averaged 47 points a game and lost only to Auburn in the national championship.  No, this year’s version is averaging 47.5 points a game and has lost only to potential national champion LSU.

So, of the six undefeated teams still out there, one is guaranteed to lose this week, two will be facing significantly tougher challenges from here on out than they have yet, and the other two are Boise State and Houston.  We know that Houston, regardless of how they finish, is not going to make the championship game, but Boise presents an interesting dilemma for the BCS.  What if we end up with unbeaten LSU, unbeaten Boise, and everyone else with at least one loss?  Can the Broncos, whose schedule features just one AQ-conference team (albeit the respectable Georgia), be a viable #2 over potential one-lossers Alabama, South Carolina, Arkansas, Stanford, Oregon, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Nebraska, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, or even Cincinnati?  As much as I support the opportunity for any undefeated team to earn a championship in a playoff system, I can’t see a justification to give Boise State a shot under the BCS format (probably the main reason I hate the system to begin with).

If Boise does get the spot, and gets murdered by LSU/Bama (which is what would happen), then the outcry from the one-loss AQ teams will be just a shade less deafening than the one from Idaho if Boise doesn’t get the spot, especially if the game is still a blow-out (again, very likely) and the Broncos win their bowl.

Of course, maybe I’m wrong, maybe the Cowboys or the Cardinal will navigate the gauntlet and come out with a goose-egg in the L column.  Hell, maybe they both will.  Oops, that would be a totally different kind of BCS disaster…


  1. The cries from the southern part of this great country will become deafening when the loser of the Bama/LSU game is shut out of the BCS title game. No amount of stumping from Gary Danielson is going to make that happen. I love that we are still headed toward a trash fire no matter how this ends up — two undefeated teams or four, it’s going to be a horrible finish.

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