Cavalcade of Whimsy, Part 2 - Why not Hawaii?
Hawaii WR Ryan Grice-Mullen
Hawaii WR Ryan Grice-Mullen
Posted Nov 13, 2007

In part two of this week's Cavalcade of Whimsy, the chances and scenarios to get to the national title game are broken down for the ten top contenders, including Ryan Grice-Mullen's Hawaii.

Fiu's Cavalcade of Whimsy

Part 2

a.k.a. Frank Costanza's Festivus Airing of the Grievances

By Pete Fiutak   
What's your beef? ... E-mail with your thoughts  
Past Whimsies
2006 Season | Preseason Part One, Part Two | Week 1
2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8
Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11, Part 1

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength

It’s not about what you believe, it’s about what you can prove. When it comes to the BCS and the national championship, it’s about who deserves to be in and not who everyone thinks should be in.

Fact: Prior to January 8th, 99% of the population outside of the greater Gainesville metropolitan area assumed there was no need to play the 2006 national title and mentally handed it to Ohio State.

Fact: ESPN, among others, were comparing the 2006 USC team to every great dynasty in the history of mankind before Vince Young had something to say about it.

Fact: Most believed Ohio State didn’t need to bother showing up to Tempe on January 3rd, 2003 to face a Miami team considered to be among the greatest of all-time.

1983 Miami vs. Nebraska. 2000 Oklahoma vs. Florida State. 1992 Alabama vs. Miami. The list goes on and on of upsets that few believed could possibly happen. So with that in mind, forget about what you think you know, and what you think is right. Here are ten national title contenders who are still in the hunt, what they need to do to get a top two spot, and most importantly, how much they deserve to be in the discussion.

10. Hawaii
Every conversation about the national title seems to begin with the phrase, “Hawaii isn’t realistically in the discussion …,” or something to that effect. Why not? Boise State didn’t have a chance against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, right? Appalachian State and Stanford are just a few of the teams who have proven that the wacky and unpredictable can happen this season, so in a one-game shot, if Hawaii is the lone unbeaten team, shouldn’t it get a chance at the big prize? Remember, this isn’t 1984 BYU playing a lousy Michigan team in the Holiday Bowl. This would be an unbeaten FCS team playing a big-time foe on the game's biggest stage.

What has to happen: Work with me here and you’ll see I’m not all that insane. LSU loses to a three-loss Tennessee in the SEC Championship game. Oklahoma gets bombed on at Texas Tech, loses, but wins the Big 12 title by beating a Missouri team that thumps Kansas.  Michigan beats Ohio State, West Virginia loses at Cincinnati, Arizona State loses to USC, and Oregon loses at either Arizona or UCLA or in the Civil War against Oregon State. If all that happens, then Kansas would be the only team left with fewer than two losses, and it would be out of the theoretical debate since it wouldn’t have even won its own division title, much less its conference championship. Even if one of those things doesn’t happen, then that team is in the national title, while Hawaii, as the only unbeaten team in America, can make a claim that in this wild year, if the college football world isn’t going to acknowledge the unbeaten little guy in the national title picture, then it never will.

The Deserve Factor: On a ten point scale, a 1. Hawaii might finish the year unbeaten, but its schedule strength so far is 117th in the nation, meaning it’s dealt with the third easiest slate. That’ll change after playing Nevada and Boise State, but still, that’s not like beating LSU and Virginia Tech.

9. Georgia

Georgia would fall under the late-season hot-team theory. There might have been problems early, but the Dawgs have become unstoppable in recent weeks with tremendous performances against Florida and Auburn hanging a combined 87 points on the two big boys. If Tennessee loses a game and Georgia beats Kentucky and Georgia Tech, it’ll be in the SEC title game against LSU.

What has to happen: The Bulldogs have to beat a No. 1 LSU like a drum, or at least by double-digits. They’d need a ton of help and several upsets, but if they’re the SEC champions, they’ll likely get the benefit of the doubt in the national title discussion over a one-loss Ohio State, a one-loss Arizona State, and a one-loss Kansas.

The Deserve Factor: The one positive about the computers in the BCS equation over the humans is that they take the entire year into account. The early season home loss to South Carolina isn’t pretty now, while the 35-14 thumping at Tennessee is still relatively fresh. Even so, beating Florida, Auburn and LSU would be amazing, and don’t forget about the thumping of Oklahoma State. Kansas is currently living off its win over the Cowboys.

8. Arizona State
It’ll be interesting to see what the spin is like if the Sun Devils beat USC with ease. Oregon has a great win over Michigan to point towards, but it’s been getting the most mileage out of wins over USC and ASU, both coming at home. If the Sun Devils beat the Trojans, and considering they beat Cal, and Oregon didn’t, a case could be made that they deserve the same one-loss benefit of the doubt that the Ducks are currently receiving.

What has to happen: In a bit of a hole, ASU must make a big statement against USC, get LSU and Oregon losses as soon as possible, a West Virginia slip, and hope for the three Big 12 teams need to somehow cancel each other out. There’s a slight chance this could be one of the few one-loss teams at the end of the year.

The Deserve Factor: The final score against Oregon, 35-23, looks worse than the actual game was, but ASU gets a wee bit of a break since it came on the road. However, outside of a possible win over USC, the other big wins just won’t be there. The Pac 10 has started to stink, and ASU will turn out to suffer the most because of it.

7. Ohio State

It was almost like the world was waiting to crush the Buckeyes in the rankings to punish them for playing in the Big Ten. It seems a little odd to be the clear-cut, unquestioned number one, and then after one loss against a good team, get thrown under the bus being ranked seventh. Because the loss was so late in the year, and because Michigan is seen as damaged goods after the loss to Wisconsin, and because the college football world is still holding a grudge for the clunker against Florida, it’ll take a miracle to end up in New Orleans.

What has to happen: Look at the Hawaii scenario and apply it here. Not only do the Buckeyes need everyone else above them to crash and burn, they need Arizona State to lose, and they might even need Tennessee or Florida to win the SEC title.

The Deserve Factor: The Big Ten is better than it’s being given credit for, especially compared to any other conference other than the SEC. Even though the schedule is currently the 31st toughest in the nation, there isn’t a signature win. Beating Penn State and Wisconsin, and possibly Michigan, are fine, but those wins don’t carry much national weight. The non-conference wins (Youngstown State, Akron, Washington and Kent State) are a joke.

6. West Virginia
Totally hosed because the Big East has turned into the Big East again, at least perception-wise, the Mountaineers are getting unfairly pushed aside in the national title talk. It’s about style-points right now, and needing a last-minute dash from Pat White to beat a lousy Louisville team doesn’t count. If they want to get into the picture, they have to wake up the voters immediately by hanging up some huge numbers on Cincinnati, Connecticut and Pitt.

What has to happen:
Even though the train has left the building when it comes to Big East respect, the Mountaineers are in a better position than it might appear. Out of the five teams ranked higher, two are certain to lose again between Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, so moving up to the four-slot shouldn’t be an issue. Forget about beating LSU, Oregon, or one of the Big 12ers with one loss in a national title debate. WVU must get more losses out of the top teams to have any shot.

The Deserve Factor: The strength of schedule, currently 56th, is nothing special, but not enough credit is being given to a nice, dominant road win over Maryland, and a blowout over a Mississippi State team that’s giving the SEC a world of trouble. The South Florida loss came on the road in an all-timer of an atmosphere, and with White missing a good portion of the game hurt. However, the No. 4 ranked defense is overrated. It faced one team with an offensive pulse, Louisville, and had problems.

5. Missouri
Missouri is like Kansas but with an actual good win to point to, beating Illinois 40-34 in the season opener. It’s been a bit of a wait-and-see attitude for the Tigers, with nice wins over Texas Tech, Colorado and Texas A&M, but there hasn’t been the signature splashy victory to get everyone excited. A win over Kansas would certainly be one.

What has to happen:
Kansas has to destroy Iowa State to come into the showdown in Kansas City sky high. Oklahoma has to be impressive against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to be built up more for the Big 12 championship. If Missouri can get by Kansas State and then beat the Jayhawks and Sooners, two BCS top four teams, then the résumé would be enough to get a good debate going with the Ducks. If LSU or Oregon loses, and the Tigers are 12-1 with a Big 12 title, they’re in.

The Deserve Factor: Beating Kansas State and going on to win the Big 12 championship, combined with the win over Illinois, would be more impressive than what Oregon has done, considering none of the big wins will have been in Columbia. However, it’ll realistically take an impressive showing against the Jayhawks or Sooners to get the voters to push them ahead of Oregon in the final rankings.

4. Oklahoma
When will the other shoe drop? College football fans have long memories, and the last time the Sooners got the benefit of the doubt, they were obliterated by USC in the 2004 national championship. This is still the program that lost to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, and lost the last two times they played for the national championship. That should have no bearing whatsoever on this year and the 2007 Sooners, but subconsciously, it has to.

What has to happen:
Step one is to win the Big 12 title. Considered the league’s most talented team, it would be a big plus if it flexed a little muscle in the championship victory, and it would be a huge help if the North opponent comes in on a huge roll. It might sound strange, but Kansas or Missouri could leapfrog Oregon by winning out, considering that one of the wins would come against a more respected Oklahoma. The Sooners will need an Oregon or LSU loss to get in.

The Deserve Factor: It would help a bit if Kansas was the North champion since the Sooners already beat Missouri. The blowout win over Miami is absolutely no big deal anymore, so the big wins have been over Texas and Missouri. Throw in a Big 12 championship, and OU has three nice pieces to play with, but it won’t be enough to get into the top two without a loss up top.

3. Kansas
As the only unbeaten team from a BCS conference, KU is being given a certain measure of respect, but there's still work to be done when the best win is over Oklahoma State. The schedule is currently ranked 72nd in the nation, but the big boys are coming up with a chance to make two big statements late in the game. For good or bad, it’s almost all about what happens at the end.

What has to happen:
Win out and they’re in. The Jayhawks have a shot at beating two top five BCS teams in the final weeks of the season, if they beat Missouri to get to Oklahoma in the first place. In this wild and wacky year, if they’re 13-0 and the only BCS conference team, and maybe the only team, without a blemish, then there’s no way it’ll be kept out of New Orleans.

The Deserve Factor: Let the debate begin. If you think the unbeaten factor is a big deal, then you’ll think KU deserves a top two spot. If you’re skeptical because the schedule wasn’t that great, then you’re probably in the Oregon camp. Would wins over Missouri and Oklahoma on neutral sites be enough to overcome the Ducks’ wins over Michigan, USC and Arizona State? Again, it would make for some lively arguments.

2. Oregon
The Ducks have the attention of the nation and have been solid when the lights have been on, and now it might be up to style points. Forget about LSU. Despite what the talking heads might have you believe, this won’t be a Ducks-Tigers showdown for a BCS spot. LSU is in if it wins out. The question will be Oregon vs. the Big 12 champion, but since it’s already in the number two spot, it’ll take a crowbar to get some voters to make a change if things go to form.

What has to happen: Kansas has to lose. Oregon probably has enough ammo to beat Oklahoma or Missouri in a debate, but it probably doesn’t have a leg to stand on against Kansas. If LSU loses, then there’s no question or concern; an 11-1 Oregon would play for the national title.

The Deserve Factor: Only LSU will have a better résumé if the Ducks win out, but the Big 12 champion will scream and yell about a home loss to a Cal team that turned out to be ridiculously overrated. With the 15th toughest schedule in the country at the moment, a blowout win over Michigan, and wins over USC and Arizona State, it’ll take something big to push them out of the top two.

1. LSU
Don’t believe what anyone else is telling you. If LSU wins out, it’s in the national title game. Period. End of story. Go take a steam. If the Tigers beat Arkansas and end up winning the SEC title, there’s no way, no how that they’ll fall out of the top spot. If by some miracle they do, like if Kansas beats Missouri by 40 and Oklahoma by 50, they’re not going to fall further than two.

What has to happen: Beat Ole Miss. Beat Arkansas. Beat the SEC East champion. Get on the bus and go down the road about 80 miles in the first week of January. Style points won’t even matter. There’s no chance of LSU not finishing in the top two if it wins out.

The Deserve Factor: Forget about the 32nd ranked strength of schedule. No other team can come close to touching LSU’s résumé if it wins out. If the Tigers go 12-1, that means it’ll have beaten Mississippi State by 45, Virginia Tech by 41, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, and either Tennessee, Georgia or Florida. The loss was in triple overtime on the road at Kentucky; that’s not all that awful.

Week 11 Cavalcade of Whimsy, Part 1