BCS Fail: Alabama, not Oklahoma State, heads to the BCS National Championship Game
I thought it was pretty clear cut that the two best teams in college football this year were LSU and Oklahoma State. That was really the case all year. Oklahoma State consistently played top competition in the Big XII. They beat all comers Alabama played two of the top teams in college football in their own division. They split.
Now, the important thing is we have a system that officially recognizes SEC champion LSU as the best team in the nation this season. If we had stayed up all night arguing the injustice that is Alabama being ranked second overall in the nation, even though they are a clearly more qualified pick than Stanford, or Boise State, or Houston, or Oregon, we would have missed the fact that the BCS typically gets it right. LSU is the best. There’s no real competitor. Having a championship game because of indecision is not necessary. Everyone knows who no. 1 is. They just happen to be contractually obligated to play it.
The game they got though is a particularly boring one. LSU and Alabama play stylistically similar. Both defenses are amongst the very best in the nation. Alabama has one NFL starter among their skill positions, who is a true difference maker when he is in: Trent Richardson. When he comes to the sideline, Alabama cannot move the ball. They cannot kick the ball. Their quarterback cannot run or throw the ball. Alabama is a brutally efficient college team, they are not an interesting college team. If LSU is any better, it’s because their dominance is almost artful in nature. LSU has more talent at the receivers than in the backfield, and their offensive line is not great by SEC standards, but they choose to run it because it defines who they are as a team. It doesn’t make LSU particularly interesting to watch, but they are an easy team to appreciate.
LSU-Oklahoma State might have been the best of all the BCS bowls. As it is, LSU-Alabama will be the third best game of the series. LSU should be expected to win comfortably. They are the better team. Furthermore, I don’t know how much Alabama can actually do to close the gap from last time, other than to run Trent Richardson on some type of Olympic distance running program so he never comes off the field. Absent that, I think LSU wins very comfortably.
I feel like LSU would have won easily against Oklahoma State as well. And no, I don’t think the score would have been 39-36. I think LSU could have easily exposed Brandon Weeden in the first half, and in the second half would have dominated Oklahoma State with their depth. I think OSU would have put up many touchdowns, but would have been chasing the whole game. Alabama at least is unlikely to be put out to pasture int he second half. Still, will the game be in doubt at any point?
More concerning to me is the fact that four of the top nine teams in the BCS standings will not play in BCS bowls. What is the point of this charade? One vs. Two? I guess. After doing an awful job of sorting out the top five teams, I’m not sure the BCS standings have a purpose. Arkansas and South Carolina can’t make it by rule, which I suppose makes sense since if you are going to have automatic qualifiers, there has to be some system of making deep conferences ineligible past a point. But the bigger issue is Boise State and Kansas State both didn’t make it. Uh, what? The B1G Ten and ACC both received at large berths? REALLY? A team that failed win the ACC is in the BCS? I’ll go say the obvious: Virginia Tech is less qualified than Houston is to be in a BCS game this year.
The BCS failed to provide compelling or even fair match-ups in multiple games this year. Is this specifically the fault of the BCS? Perhaps not. College football may be in danger of over-saturating the demand for its product in certain geographic regions of the United States. They consistently must pander to the masses in order to defend the Bowl system. Does that hurt the sport? Probably. Is that wrong? Unfortunately so. Will any of this matter when LSU is holding the crystal ball? The BCS executive committee is gambling that no, none of this will matter to anyone in a month. Life will go on. And history suggests: they are probably right.