Sunday, November 19, 2006

What if...

This is a new blog and we are still trying to find our way. Please post suggestions, ideas, the point is to get as many people talking about Vanderbilt Sports and whatever else we are yapping about.

Vanderbilt University Sports Blog founder, RWilliams and I discussed having a "What if" thread to get people talking and posting. The first "what if" post is not about Vanderbilt Sports, but rather about the BSC and who should play for the National Title against Ohio State.

S0, What if:
1. LSU beats Arkansas
2. Arkansas beats Florida
3. Notre Dame beats USC.
4. Rutgers beats West Virginia.

Who should play for the National Title?

Notre Dame? Michigan? Arkansas? Rutgers?

Michigan beat Notre Dame soundly in South Bend. With that said, do we really want a re-match of Ohio State/Michigan despite what a great game it was? Does any two-loss team deserve a shot, even if that team plays in the SEC which is poised to have no less than 9 teams in a bowl? Is beating Louisville and West Virginia enough to overcome losing to Cincinnati?


Stanimal said...

The latest BCS Standings have been released, and I'm not sure if y'all are aware of it, Michigan did not drop any spots. They remain number 2 in the BCS, though the margin of difference is very close between Michigan and USC.

So should all of those things shake out the way you mention, the point becomes moot. Michigan and Ohio State would all meet in the national championship. Should USC rock Notre Dame and convince the voters to drop Michigan a slot, then we won't see a rematch. Should Notre Dame beat USC and Florida win out (DECISIVELY) we might see Florida leap frog to number 2. Either way, Michigan has no control over their future. But they sure as hell couldn't be in a better spot.

Now whether that's what we all want is another matter. Can we please institute the plus one?

RWilliams said...

I agree with Stanimal. After watching that game, I am pretty soundly convinced that Ohio State and Michigan are the two best teams in the country. So if everything skakes out the way O'Shea said, I think it would be hard for the voters (computers are another story) to leave Michigan out of it, seeing as they obliterated a Notre Dame team that looked vulnerable all year.

With that said, now that every team in the discussion to play OSU has at least one loss, if a 1-loss team were to come out of the SEC (in the form of an Arkansas or a Florida), it would be a travesty to leave them out. I presume, based on the proposed scenario, that O'Shea would agree with that.

Bobby O'Shea said...

I would certainly agree that a one-loss SEC team deserves to play Ohio State. With that said, based on where the computer ranks are now, it would seem that a one-loss Arkansas team is more likely to leap-frog Michigan when the BSC computers spit out their rankings at the end of the season than Florida.
The Gators are both the victim of a weaker out of conference schedule than they reasonably could have expected because of how bad Florida State is, and absolutely responsible for being left out in favor of Michigan should they win out. Scheduling Western Carolina, at this point in the season, is ridiculous. There out of conference schedule is atrocious. Michigan, Arkansas, and USC to their credit, did schedule at least one quality out of conference game. Florida State being as bad as they are this year is unfortunate, and might make this argument unfair. With that said, it is certainly something worth mentioning when trying to figure out which one-loss team deserves to play Ohio State.
If Arkansas ends up with one loss they will have beaten LSU and Florida down the stretch, two very good teams. Those quality wins ought to be enough to convince the voters (and the computers) that they deserve a shot at the title. Florida, on the other hand, will have only beaten Arkansas.
With that said, what about USC? If they beat Notre Dame and UCLA, on top of beating Arkansas in Fayetteville, don’t they deserve a chance to play?
The more I go through all these scenarios, the more I am convinced that there has to be a playoff. There are a number of teams that deserve a chance to play for the national title, the fact that the National Title game’s fate is decided by a computer program and coaches who can’t possibly watch all the games they are voting on is insane.

Stanimal said...

As much as my bias wants to support a one-loss SEC team going to the national championship ahead of USC or Michigan, I'm afraid that it simply won't work if USC runs the table. USC will need to CONVINCINGLY beat Notre Dame in order to leap frog Michigan. If that happens and USC beats UCLA soundly, then you can bet the polls will be placing USC in the national championship (primarily because the pollsters love USC).

In addition, if Arkansas does win the SEC Championship, and USC wins big against Notre Dame and UCLA, there is no way that Arkansas can pass USC, given the massive blowout that USC laid on them at the beginning of the season. If USC wins out, they are either number 3, or number 2.

Either way, what is being neglected is whether or not any of the possible scenarios will be enough for Michigan to lose that number 2 spot. The sportswriters lasting impression of both teams will be their epic match-up. It's going to take an impressive performance by USC, or an impressive performance by Florida (or if USC loses, Arkansas) to jump Michigan.

Very very rarely does a team drop down in their rankings unless they lose. In addition, very rarely does a team jump up very much unless the teams in front of them lose. As such, I think that Arkansas just has too many positions they have to climb, particularly with where Michigan is entrenched. As much as I believe an SEC team should play for the national title with it clearly being the toughest conference, the way things are right now I don't see a scenario where it could happen.

I completely agree with O'Shea on the playoffs. But alas, the chances of that arising at any point in the near future are very slim.

RWilliams said...

I'll go on the record here, as I've done elsewhere, that I firmly support the transition to a playoff system. What form that system would take is a subject for another thread.

As for the one-loss SEC team, I disagree about Florida being able to leap-frog Michigan. The season is over for the Big Blue--they can't do any better than 11-1. Florida is 10-1 with two games left to play. The first of those two games is against Flordia State, who is 6-5 in a division with only TWO teams boasting fewer than 8 wins and only ONE team below .500 (NC State). FSU has lost 4 of those 5 games by a touchdown or less, including Clemson, BC, and Maryland. This to say nothing of the fact that it's a rivalry game, in Tallahassee, that anyone can win in any given year.

After that, the Gators will face Arkansas in the SEC title game, and a win there (against a team currently #6 in the BCS), would probably be enough to send them to the national championship because at that point they would be the only team other than Ohio State with 12 wins (remember USC, Notre Dame, and Michigan don't play title games).

Bottom line: regardless of who wins the SEC, if doing it gives them their 12th win, I suspect the computer may tip the scale in their favor. Nonetheless, it's going to be a photo finish--unless, of course, USC beats Notre Dame and loses to UCLA...

RWilliams said...

And just to add to that last post, as far as deserving is concerned, I think the coaches and writers know the SEC is easily the toughest conference.

But let's forget win-loss % and look at quality wins:

Should Florida win out, they are 12-1 with quality wins against Tennessee, LSU, and Arkansas (Georgia looks less impressive now). 3 big ones.

Should Arkansas win out, they are 12-1 with quality wins against Auburn, Tennessee, LSU, and Florida. That's 4 big ones.

Should USC win out, they are 11-1 with quality wins against Arkansas, Nebraska, Cal, and Notre Dame (Oregon looks much less impressive now). 4 big ones. The one loss being to a team as bad as Oregon St arguably cancels out one of their big wins.

Should Notre Dame win out, they are 11-1 with quality wins against..hmm...Ga Tech? Sure. Penn St? No way, much less impressive now. So that leaves only USC. That's 2 quality wins, and certainly shouldn't be enough.

Finally, Michigan stands at 11-1, and while I do think they are as good as advertised, their only real "quality wins" looking back are Notre Dame and Wisconsin. Penn St and Iowa are much less impressive in retrospect. Their performance against Ohio St may make up for this deficit, but that's no guarantee when stacked up against the resumes of these other teams.

When push comes to shove, I think these are the factors voters need to look at the most. But, alas, nobody asked me.