Oklahoma State's Stunning Loss
Now what for the BCS race?
Alright. Oklahoma State gagged away a title shot at Iowa State on Friday night. So now what?
Let's cut through the garbage, the rankings, and the rhetoric: LSU and Alabama are the two best teams in the country, and now it looks like they'll play for the BCS championship on Jan. 9 — whether the anti-rematch crowd likes it or not after their touchdown-less, overtime affair a couple weeks ago.
Of course, the Tigers still have to play Arkansas and, most likely, Georgia, while the Tide still have to get through the throw-out-the-record-books rivalry game against Auburn. But LSU and Alabama have been head-and-shoulders better than everyone else this season and they really, truly are the most talented teams in college football.
Now, thanks to Iowa State, they'll get a chance to do Nov. 5 all over again.
Alabama hasn't allowed more than 14 points in any game all season long, and its top-ranked run defense allows a whopping 29.5 fewer rushing yards per game than the closest team in the nation, Cincinnati. No defense in America is allowing fewer than 250 yards per game other than Bama's, which is giving up only 181.4 yards per outing. Outside of the overtime loss to LSU, no one has come closer than 16 points of the Tide.
Outside of the win over Alabama, no one has come closer than 13 points of beating the Tigers, including Oregon. While Alabama is No. 1 in almost every major defensive category, LSU is No. 2 in total defense, scoring defense and pass efficiency defense, and it's third in the nation against the run.
Take away the 9-6 battle LSU and Bama waged, and the Tigers are outscoring their opponents by an average score of 39.5 to 11.2, while the Tide is outscoring their opponents by an average score of 37.6 to 6.8.
Yes, LSU, Alabama and Arkansas are rolling through an awful SEC and yes, Alabama probably doesn't deserve to play for the national title if it's not good enough to win its own division, much less its own conference. But there isn't another viable other option with Oklahoma State off the undefeated board.
Oregon will make a little bit of noise over the final few weeks, but the Pac-12 South representative in the inaugural title game is going to be awful, and winning the conference this year just isn't that big a deal. Even so, by winning out, the Ducks probably aren't going to finish any lower than third in the final BCS standings.
Oklahoma is the biggest loser of the lot. If the Sooners had lost to a strong Big 12 team like Kansas State, Texas A&M or Texas, they might have still been in the hunt for a national title shot. But to lose at home to a Texas Tech team that went into the tank after said upset victory meant it was going to take something special to get into the top two. That something special would have had to have been beating an unbeaten and second-ranked Oklahoma State team on the road. And that chance went bye-bye in the second overtime in Ames.
There's still room for Oklahoma (fifth in both human polls and fourth by the computers) to make a big jump/ If the Sooners win out impressively, including a dominant win over OSU, the humans might put them ahead of Oregon, but it'll take the pollsters to really not want to see an LSU-Alabama rematch to put them into a top-two spot.
And consider this: Many people anticipated Oklahoma knocking off Oklahoma State, so they anticipated fewer than two remaining unbeatens. Arkansas beating LSU, or Georgia winning the SEC championship, would be a true game-changer.
If Arkansas beats LSU, then the SEC tiebreaker goes to a combination of BCS standings and head-to-head results. To make it as simple as possible, if Arkansas beats LSU to create a three-way tie in the West, here are the most likely scenarios:
• If LSU drops behind Alabama and Arkansas in the BCS standings, Alabama would play in the SEC championship. This would be most likely to happen.
• If both Arkansas and LSU finish ahead of Alabama in the BCS standings, Arkansas would play in the SEC championship.
• If Arkansas doesn't jump past LSU and Alabama and finishes third in the division (regardless of whom is higher in the BCS standings between the Tigers and the Tide), LSU would play in the SEC championship.
And what if LSU gets to 12-0 but loses to Georgia in the SEC championship?
It would depend on how ugly the loss was, but the Tigers wouldn't likely slip lower than second in the BCS standings. As much as the human pollsters don't like rematches, they'd probably hate even more the idea of Alabama and Oregon playing for the national title — considering LSU beat both of them — and they'd likely vote accordingly.
The Oklahoma State loss also opens up the door for Clemson and Virginia Tech to make a statement.
Virginia Tech's schedule stinks — the best win so far was is against Georgia Tech — but if it can make up for the loss to Clemson with an impressive win in a rematch in the ACC championship game, there might be a groundswell of support to give Frank Beamer's 12-1 team a shot to play for it all. That's a long shot, though. Clemson, on the other hand, would have a better claim with a 12-1 record and an ACC championship. Losing to Georgia Tech on the road isn't a plus, but if the Tigers will out, the one loss might be forgiven considering the wins over Auburn and Florida State, two wins over Virginia Tech, and a road win over South Carolina on Nov. 26.
Time is ticking away and there are few chances left for anything too crazy to happen, but no one saw Iowa State pulling off the shocker.