Get ready for LSU-Alabama II. Oklahoma State gave ‘em a run, but in the end, the majority of human voters still viewed Bama as the second-best team in the nation. Those votes plus the computer numbers kept the Tide at #2 in the final BCS standings, meaning they’ll get their shot at the national crown — at least part of it — on January 9th.
That means of course that the SEC has effectively already wrapped up its sixth consecutive BCS title. Unreal. That’s eight BCS titles in the system’s 14-year existence. Won by a total of five different schools. And in hindsight, is there anyone who thinks undefeated Auburn didn’t deserve a shot at the crown back in 2004?
Anyone suggesting that SEC bias is at play and that the SEC “might not really be the best conference” is ignoring a helluva lot of history. (Not to mention more NFL draft picks every season than any other college conference.)
The best football is played Down South. For those who disagree, they disagree based on their hearts and not their eyes. No amount of championships can or will convince them. So tune ‘em out. The nation’s two best teams will meet for the national championship. The fact that the the two best teams in the country happen to reside in Mike Slive’s league should surprise no one.
Some random thoughts on the title game and the full SEC’s bowl schedule below (all times Eastern):
December 26th, 5pm (ESPN2)
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl
Missouri 7-5 vs North Carolina 7-5
* Get used to it SEC fans, starting next season you’ll be seeing more league teams in bowls — in most years — when Missouri and Texas A&M come aboard. The Tigers and Aggies were dumped to the bottom of the Big 12 bowl list this year.
December 30th, 6:40pm (ESPN)
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Mississippi State 6-6 vs Wake Forest 6-6
* Despite what bowl officials stated publicly, this was likely an easy choice. MSU will bring more fans to town for a longer period than Vanderbilt would have by simply going across town. For State, it’s a winnable matchup that could/should give the Dogs their second winning season in a row.
December 31st, 12:00pm (ESPN)
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Texas A&M 6-6 vs Northwestern 6-6
* The Aggies won’t have far to travel for their season-ender. But A&M interim coach Tim DeRuyter will have to find someone new to call plays for the game because just-fired head coach Mike Sherman was also the Aggies’ offensive coordinator.
December 31st, 12:00pm (ABC)
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Vanderbilt 6-6 vs Cincinnati 9-3
* This is a good landing spot for the Commodores. First, it will allow VU’s first-ever two-bowls-in-one-four-year-stretch seniors to experience a bowl away from home (having played in the Music City game in 2008). Second, it will be a chance for VU fans to prove that they will travel — a pretty short distance — to back their team and their exciting new coach. (The oddest thing about this matchup? Both schools lost to 5-7 Tennessee.)
December 31st, 7:30pm (ESPN)
Auburn 7-5 vs Virginia 8-4
* The good news — The Tigers will go bowling in nearby Atlanta… an easy trip for fans and a chance to show off in front of the city’s many recruits. The bad news — Virginia’s strength is its run game and that’s not something AU has had an easy time stopping this year.
January 2nd, 1:00pm (ABC)
Georgia 10-3 vs Michigan State 10-3
* A trip to the Sunshine State is a nice reward for a team that won 10 games and put up a half’s worth of fight against #1 LSU. If the Dawgs had not dropped two touchdown passes early, they might not have been blown out of the Georgia Dome and they might have been playing in a better bowl. As it stands, this will be a good test for both squads. Georgia ranks third nationally in total defense while MSU ranks fifth.
January 2nd, 1:00pm (ESPN)
Capital One Bowl
South Carolina 10-2 vs Nebraska 9-3
* The sexiest bowl matchup in Gamecock history? Quite possibly. Steve Spurrier’s team will be going for a school-record 11th win in a bowl the Cocks haven’t visited since its old Tangerine Bowl days way back in the 1970s. USC’s defense is strong, but it’s the pass defense that excels. Nebraska’s strength is its run game, so this one could be pretty interesting.
January 2nd, 1:00pm (ESPN2)
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl
Florida 6-6 vs Ohio State 6-6
* Just call it the Urban Bowl as Urban Meyer’s new team will clash with his old team. While Meyer won’t coach in the game, he’ll be all the talk for the next month. We’ll see how many Gator fans are forgiving of their ex after they have to hear about him day after day after day.
January 6th, 8:00pm (FOX)
AT&T Cotton Bowl
Arkansas 10-2 vs Kansas State 10-2
* The Razorbacks will be headed back to Jerry Jones’ palace for the second time this year, the third time in two years and the fourth time in three years. The Capital One committee figured it could get a bigger tourist bump from South Carolina fans than Arkansas fans. I understand that Hog fans will have an easier trip to Texas — and it’s good for recruiting — but a trip to sunny Florida against a bigger name program could have been theirs if folks in Orlando had thought they would travel. Ah, well, pearls before swine.
January 9th, 8:30pm (ESPN)
Allstate BCS National Championship Game
New Orleans, LA
LSU 13-0 vs Alabama 11-1
* Les Miles and his Tigers were given the opportunity to share their reaction to the rematch on ESPN and the wave of cheers made it clear that folks in the LSU program are okey-dokey with a rematch for the crown. Good for them.
* Nick Saban will be going for his third BCS title since 2003. If he accomplishes the feat, he’ll put his name alongside college greats like Bud Wilkinson, Barry Switzer, John McKay, Bernie Bierman, Frank Leahy and Paul “Bear” Bryant. All of those men won three or more national titles in the major polls.
* Miles can tie Saban and former Florida coach Urban Meyer with his second BCS title if LSU wins. Even if the Tigers lose in New Orleans, it’s possible…
* Miles and LSU will still get a share of the national title. With the media’s hatred of the BCS, we believe it’s likely that the AP Poll would give its national crown to the Tigers if LSU loses a close game. Voters could say, “LSU shouldn’t have had to play Alabama again anyway and why should the second game count more than the first?” Their was a split national crown in 2003 as LSU won the BCS title and Southern Cal was given the AP honor.
* In our opinion, barring a Bama blowout win in New Orleans, a split national crown would be the most fair option. LSU and Alabama have clearly been the two best teams all season. If they split their games in similar fashion, each should get a share of the title.
* A rematch in the title game. A possible split championship. A non-conference (and non-division) champion with an opportunity to grab the brass ring. With enough controversy, a seeded plus-one format might begin to gain some traction among schools. It wouldn’t be tough to do. In this year’s case, #1 LSU would face #4 Stanford in a bowl game while #2 Alabama met #3 Oklahoma State in another. The winners would advance to a national title game the following week. And for those who’ll say that wouldn’t solve all the issues, a fifth-ranked team has a lot less reason to moan than a third-ranked team. This is clearly the best plan for college football and it’s remarkable that the powers-that-be refuse to embrace the obvious.
* During the BCS reveal on ESPN last night, analyst Kirk Herbstreit — one of the best in the business (and from personal experience having worked with him a bit in Columbus, Ohio television, a really good guy) — took issue with the Sugar Bowl’s selection of Virginia Tech. The Hokies were whooped by Clemson in the ACC title game yet they still got the nod over teams like Baylor and Boise State. Herbstreit asked — and I paraphrase — has the BCS selection process just come down to who’ll travel better?
Uh, yes. That’s what all the bowl are about. The BCS is designed only to match the two best teams in the nation in its championship game. Then it culls the herd of available teams for the remaining BCS bowls. At that point, it’s all about who’ll fill hotels and restaurants.
That should surprise no one. That’s what the bowl system has always been.
People argue for better matchups, but tourism and convention bureaus from Shreveport to San Diego could care less about which teams are deserving of bids. Cities create bowls as a way to lure tourists into their cities. More tourists equal more dollars. Wins and losses have little to do with that process at all.
It’s time everyone recognizes that fact. And it’s been that way since Michigan and Stanford kicked off the first Rose Bowl way back in 1902. Bowls exist to make money. They take whoever they believe will make them the most money.
* Wondering how the coaches in the USA Today poll voted with regards to Alabama and Oklahoma State? See below…
Alabama #2: Gary Anderson (TCU), Frank Beamer (Va. Tech), Todd Berry (La-Monroe), Troy Calhoun (Air Force), Gene Chizik (Auburn), Dave Clawson (Bowling Green), David Cutcliffe (Duke), Mark Dantonio (Michigan State), James Franklin (Vanderbilt), Jim Grobe (Wake Forest), Pat Hill (Fresno State), Brady Hoke (Michigan), Doc Holliday (Marshall), Skip Holtz (South Florida), Rob Ianello (Akron), Pete Lembo (Ball State), Mike London (Virginia), Rocky Long (San Diego State), Mike MacIntyre (San Jose State), Doug Marrone (Syracuse), Dan McCarney (North Texas), Les Miles (LSU), Ken Niumatalolo (Navy), Tom O’Brien (NC State), Bo Pelini (Nebraska), Chris Petersen (Boise State), Gary Pinkel (Missouri), Larry Porter (Memphis), Mark Richt (Georgia), Mike Riley (Oregon State), Nick Saban (Alabama), Greg Schiano (Rutgers), David Shaw (Stanford), Frank Solich (Ohio), Steve Spurrier (South Carolina), Rick Stockstill (MTSU), Charlie Strong (Louisville), Kevin Sumlin (Houston), Bob Toledo (Tulane), Kyle Whittingham (Utah), Kevin Wilson (Indiana), Paul Wulff (Washington State)
Oklahoma State #2: David Bailiff (Rice), Tim Beckman (Toledo), Bret Bielema (Wisconsin), Art Briles (Baylor), Dave Christensen (Wyoming), Sonny Dykes (La. Tech), Jon Embree (Colorado), Larry Fedora (Southern Miss), Al Golden (Miami, FL), Mark Hudspeth (La-Lafayette), Bronco Mendenhall (BYU), Jeff Quinn (Buffalo), Paul Rhoads (Iowa State), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Jeff Tedford (California), Tommy Tuberville (Texas Tech), Ron Zook (Illinois)