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In case you
those of you who want a playoff, you've got it and aren't really
realizing it. All the time, fans need to be reminded of the old cliché
that every week's a playoff in college football, but you have to accept
California lost to Tennessee. Auburn lost to Arkansas. Arkansas lost to
USC. I know, I know, I’ve given the dead-horse,
this-team-lost-to-this-team ranking argument an extra few whacks over
the last few weeks, but there’s a point I do feel I need to keep harping
on: don’t forget about what actually happened on the field.
It’s convenient and easy to say Clemson is the nation’s best one-loss
team after a dominant home performance against Georgia Tech, but this is
the same team that came this close to losing to Wake Forest and
lost to Boston College, another one-loss team. Would I take Arkansas
over Auburn in a rematch? No, but I don’t have to; the two teams already
played. Do I think Cal is better than Tennessee right now? Well, yeah,
but the Vols already won that matchup.
The point is that you can’t let your perceptions get in the way of the
results. If you’re not going to go by what happened, and rank the teams
accordingly by rewarding the teams that won and punish the ones that
lost, then why even play the games? Why not just hand the national title
to Ohio State right now because you think it’s the best team,
just like you handed it to USC in late October of last year, Oklahoma in
2003, and Miami in 2002.
One computer, one
explain the difference between the Colley Matrix computer ranking and
the Anderson & Hester ranking. You obviously can’t do it, and neither
can any other rational human being. The computers are a necessary, cold,
unfeeling watchdog to reel in the two human BCS polls in the made up of
voters who don’t watch nearly enough college football to have an
informed opinion. However, there’s no need to have six different
formulas and six different ways to determine how teams should be ranked.
That a team like Arkansas can be rated fourth by one formula (Sagarin)
and 17th by another (Billingsley) is nuts.
There should be one basic formula that everyone can understand, and it
should be the standard. It should include the strength of schedule as a
major component, punish teams for beating D-IAA teams, bury teams for
losing to D-IAA teams, and give some rewards for wins over elite and
punishments for losses against the dregs.
And one final thing; the computer formula should count for more that
just 1/3 of the ranking. The humans still feel burned by not having USC
in the 2003 national title game, but humans are fallible. The BCS should
be about what teams deserve to be in, and not what teams you think
should be in. If you’re going to do this BCS thing, give the computers
more of a say and come up with an objective way to do this.
Florida State's appropriate color
It was appropriate that Florida State
wore black on Saturday. The way the once-mighty Noles have been playing
over the last five weeks, they ought to be in mourning. It used to be
that no one wanted to play games at Doak-Campbell Stadium, where the
home team held a sizable advantage in the areas of intimidation and
talent. Not anymore. Troy nearly knocked off Florida State in
September before tightening up in the final minutes. Clemson and Boston
College weren’t as generous, helping usher the Seminoles to the ACC
Atlantic basement with a hard-to-imagine 2-3 conference mark. Against
the Eagles Saturday, the nation’s 95th-ranked running attack
didn’t even bother to run the ball, knowing it would have no success
versus the BC front. By its lofty standards, the Florida State program
is broke, and unlike last year, there’ll be no rally for a season-saving
conference crown. It’s time to move around the furniture in Tallahassee
because the current configuration isn’t working like it did in the
past. Maybe that means a total overhaul or just a tweak, but something
has to change. The ACC has never been deeper and with Sunshine State
studs bolting out of state to places like Pittsburgh, Rutgers,
Louisville and NC State at an increasing rate, landing the area’s best
recruits has gotten a whole lot more challenging.
Part one of Texas - Nebraska
Texas-Nebraska was not an easy game to analyze. It could be legitimately
argued that Nebraska put up a good fight against the Longhorns, but it
could just as easily be said that Texas gave the Huskers virtually all
the points they scored.
How can the right perspective be found on a game
as complex and weird as Horns-Huskers proved to be?
Here's the key: had Texas' defense been slow to
react or shaky with its tackling for most of the game's snaps, one could
say that Nebraska outclassed the Longhorns. But since Texas' defense was
so consistent--particularly against the run--the weight of evidence
suggests that a "Texas made mistakes" analysis has more heft than a
"Nebraska played well" line of thought. Similarly, the fact that Bill
Callahan plainly didn't trust Zac Taylor to throw a money pass on the
Huskers' go-ahead scoring drive in the fourth quarter also indicates
that Nebraska struggled for the balance of the day.
Reasonable minds can and will disagree, and I'm
sure there are plenty of smart football people who think Nebraska played
well. There is a case those folks can make for their position, but with
that having been said, the verdict here is that Texas very nearly gave
Nebraska a gift-wrapped, ready-made victory.
Take heart, Husker fans: the bad weather, in my
mind, renders this game a very incomplete measurement of the Callahan
restoration project. The fact that Nebraska lost today could actually
help the Huskers if they draw the Longhorns in a rematch on Dec. 2.
Here's hoping that the weather will be dry and relatively free of wind.
Then both offenses--and their playbooks--could truly test the
opposition, and we'll walk away with a true feel for how the Huskers and
Horns stack up against each other.
Clemson is the real deal
5. Throughout this year, we’ve heard over and over again about
how strong the SEC is and that a one loss team from that conference is
better than an undefeated team in, say, the Big East. One other thing
that we’ve heard all season long is how poor the ACC is this season.
Well, before you go denigrating the ACC one more time this season, take
a long, hard look at Clemson. The Tigers put on a show against Georgia
Tech and with the running game that they have, they’re not going to be
taken down easily. There aren’t many BCS teams who could handle Clemson
right now. Think Auburn is the best one loss team in the country?
Wonder if they could handle James Davis and CJ Spiller right now – they
didn’t stop Arkansas. Texas? If they couldn’t stop Nebraska RB Brandon
Jackson, how are they going to stop Lightning and Thunder? Florida? Is
Florida’s defense stout enough in the middle to stop the Tigers or could
Chris Leak and Tim Tebow handle defensive end Gaines Adams and a fast,
physical defense? Notre Dame? Please. It’s fun to project how these
teams will fare against one another, but conference strength opinions
often cloud our judgment as to what teams ‘deserve’ to be in position to
play in a BCS game. Unfortunately, the reputation of the ACC is that
it’s having a down year, just like last year was for the Big East. And,
tell me what happened when the Big East champ took the field against the
big, bad SEC in the Sugar Bowl last year? I’m just saying, be careful
not to let conference pride cloud the reality of the situation – the
reality is that Clemson is for real this year, just as West Virginia was