The game recap will be up later today, but with yesterday evening’s BCS revelations, I thought it pertinent to address that whole situation right off the bat this morning. For those of you who didn’t get the memo – and if you didn’t, Pete Carroll and I want to know what’s your deal? – TCU dropped to fourth in both of the homo-sapien polls, but remained up on Boise in the all-important BCS standings, BARELY. Thanks to a closer than anticipated game Saturday night, plus Baylor and Utah showing their true colors, our strength of schedule took a MAJOR hit which downgraded us overall in the eyes of the voters. Shockingly enough, Craig James was the one rushing to our aid last night, excusing us for having a “let down game” because, you know, according to everyone else only major conference teams are allowed those. On the announcement show, he was the only one out of Rod Gilmore, Herbstreit and himself to keep us above Boise, which made me pleased, but also kinda dirty. Seriously though, did anyone notice how Herbstreit looked on the verge of vomiting when he had to acknowledge that we were undefeated? I used to like Herbie alright, but maybe that’s just because I respected him for working alongside Lee Corso for all these years without going postal. Did anyone catch Gameday? Wasn’t it a bit creepy how excited Corso was to have the “Herbstreit Boys” on his lap? Chris Hansen has his eye on you, Lee.
So where do we go from here? Last week a few of you thought I was being a bit too arrogant by suggesting that we had “effectively eliminated” Boise from the non-AQ auto bid, and apparently you were right, although I’m guessing none of you were taking into account TCU’s defense showing its more human tendencies or Utah being an abject disaster in South Bend. Honestly, to play devil’s advocate here, Boise probably does have a better resume. Leaving out the result of the Fiesta Bowl, because the voters who rely on that are way off base, Boise has one win over a Top 20 team – yes, one that lost to JAMES MADISON AT HOME, but a top 20 team nonetheless – and has another one left on the slate against Nevada. Meanwhile, Utah has proven to be not as good as anticipated, although if they were Alabama or someone like that this weekend would’ve been as excused as a “let down game” as well, but the fact remains that any team who loses to Notre Dame probably shouldn’t have been ranked in the top 5 in the first place. It’s fortunate that they did not fall out of the Top 25 completely, but when you’re comparing marquee wins, Virginia Tech looks better in the warped mind of an AP voter. And Baylor… Baylor, Baylor, Baylor… at one point I remember sitting at dinner and someone making the comment that Baylor was up by like 20 points on aggy and how I suggested that no one loves beating aggy more than Baylor. And then apparently the bottom dropped out and they lost by 12. Combine that with the absolute destruction that occurred in Stillwater the weekend before, the even greater destruction from our hands, and then of course losing to the weakest Tech team in years, and you’re left with the same ole Baylor, except they beat the teams that they are better than. It goes without saying that the Bears Big 12 wins against Texas, Kansas State, Kansas and Colorado don’t quite hold the same weight as they once did. Let’s face it – when Oklahoma State is the front runner in the Big 12 South, that’s just not a very good division, so by being fourth place in said division Baylor has shown that they just aren’t ready for the big time, at all.
Of course, the worst thing for us going forward is that we have an off week this week then finish up our season with New Mexico while Boise gets three games, including one against a top 20 team. The WORST worst thing going for us though? Two of those games are on ESPN in prime time Friday night spots. When push comes to shove, who do you think ESPN is going to pimp on its BCS countdown show and on all 50 hours of Sportscenter they bring you each day, not to mention College Gameday? It goes without saying that ESPN rules the sporting world and, as a result, the minds of just about every single sports personality in the country that don’t work for the Star-Telegram. Listening to Herbstreit and Gilmore last night made me absolutely want to VOMIT the way they were slurping Boise. I’m not saying that Boise isn’t good, in fact they’re great, but the way they talk about them makes you think you’re dealing with the 2001 Miami Hurricanes or something.
For those who missed it, here was my favorite exchange of the night- Gilmore and Herbstreit RIP us for our close game Saturday, mostly focusing on the fact that we were down by 14 early. I’m not excusing our performance, but I think it’s definitely worth mentioning that we scored 37 unanswered points, didn’t allow a second first down until nearly the fourth quarter, and had those two scores put on us by a trick play and an end zone sack/fumble. Not to mention we left a 7 points off the board due to Ross Evans’ leg, had a turnover inside the red zone and we had a number of starters sit down with injuries. But, do you think for a second that if Boise had gone down by 14 to a 6-2 team who lost two games by 6 points combined- including one on a blatant home cooking call that the NCAA had to amend their rules to compensate for after the fact-rallied for 37 straight, then held off a late push in a “let down game” that Herbstreit and Gilmore wouldn't literally be fist fighting each other to get to rave about how “resilient” and “gusty” a team Boise is and how they “find ways to win?” And that’s not even my argument – that comes later when, comparing the schedules of Boise and TCU, they clamor to praise Nevada – a team who lost to Hawaii, who lost to Boise by 40 – for their win over Cal because Cal held Oregon to 15 points and should’ve beaten them had they not missed a field goal. You mean the same Cal team that’s 5-5 and has gotten BLOWN OUT in four of those losses? Those guys? And Oregon is still #1 in their eyes by the above logic. How does that work exactly? I’m just trying to show you what we’re dealing with here.
Mark May raised a pretty good point by saying that everyone is just assuming Boise is going to continue blowing teams out and finish a third straight undefeated year. They still have two tough games against Fresno and Nevada, and that’s without even mentioning Utah State who smothered BYU. They have to lose eventually… right? But, assuming they don’t the general consensus is that Boise will eventually rise above the Frogs – and when the consensus is raised by the people whose votes heavily influence, albeit indirectly, the overall rankings, that probably means its going to happen – what happens to TCU? Sadly, the Las Vegas Bowl is still in play here and although a lot of you would say, “Well, we’re undefeated, how do we get shut out of the BCS altogether?” just remember the Poinsettia Bowl when the same thing happened to Boise.
So why am I penning such a Debbie Downer article about the #4 team in the country? Well, first off it’s because I am a LITTLE down about it, but also because once I really sat down to think about it, I discovered that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, courtesy of CBS Sports’ Bowl Projections. Mark May also raised the point that everyone is just assuming that Auburn and Oregon are going to go undefeated throughout the rest of the year as well, which is FAR from clear at this point, and actually probably a little unlikely. Here are the scenarios:
If Auburn loses to Alabama, beats USC in the SEC Championship game, and Oregon goes undefeated. Would Auburn stay above the Frogs? Alabama still has a TON of respect among the voters despite losing twice, so it’s presumed that Auburn would not drop too far with a loss in that game. However, I don’t think they’d be able to jump over undefeated TCU or Boise. I just don’t see it. In this case, the door is open for one of us to sneak into the big game and, if we’re looking solely at the current rankings, it’d be us. And even if Boise went above us – which, of course would be a HUGE HUGE nut punch in the situation – the presumed stance is that some BCS bowl would be obligated to take us, and in their projections it’d be the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech. The Rose Bowl would still be in play here because they could absolve their non-AQ debt, but the likeliest scenario is that they would take Stanford and roll it over to the next year because they only have to take the highest ranked, qualifying non-AQ school, not the second which TCU would be. Clearly this is the least desirable scenario, but it’s the one that everyone is assuming will happen.
If Auburn wins out and Oregon Loses. Pretty much the same scenario as above with us and Boise coming down to the wire for the second spot, except the Rose Bowl would FOR SURE be out of play here because they would not be losing a Big Ten or Pac 10 team to the title game. So, assuming we get left out of the title game and the Rose Bowl, what then? Well, before they updated their projections last night, they had Oregon and TCU in the title game, and Auburn and Boise in the Sugar Bowl. Umm… potential treat alert? Of course I’m not saying that this is preferable to the title game, but getting a BCS matchup against an SEC team in New Orleans? Are you kidding me? That’s better than the Rose Bowl, in my opinion. Of course, the Sugar Bowl gets first pick of the leftovers and could easily go for ticket sales and take Ohio State here – definitely a scary situation – but it’s also very possible that the Sugar Bowl, like the Fiesta last year, does the right thing and takes the most deserving team.
If Auburn and Oregon both win out. Clearly we wouldn’t be included in any title game scenarios, and rightfully so because Auburn will have run an absolute gauntlet, and it’s not like we expect to be above undefeated Oregon anyway. In this case the Rose Bowl would have to take the highest team between us and Boise, and whoever that turns out to be is looking like they’d play Wisconsin in Pasadena on New Years Day. But what of the second place team? I think the situation above applies and the Sugar Bowl still takes the team that gets shut out of the auto bid, except in this case they’d either be playing LSU or possibly Arkansas. Of course I’d be rooting for a matchup against Arkansas mainly to see how fun the Xmas holidays with my family would be, but clearly 99% of you would rather us play LSU, and I’d be hard pressed to disagree.
If Auburn loses twice and Oregon wins out. I think this would be the same as scenario one, except Auburn would be left completely out of any BCS game and South Carolina would get the Sugar. You still have Ohio State and LSU looking for landing spots, but the Sugar isn't going to match up two SEC teams, so it'd come down to us/Boise or Ohio State. Sadly they'd take the ticket sales here I'd bet and go Ohio State. In that case we'd be scrambling to find a spot in the Orange, Fiesta or Rose Bowls. Rose likely would take Stanford and Wisconsin, the Fiesta HAS to take the Big 12 winner and will likely end up with the Big East. That leaves the Orange, which has to take the ACC and then would be between us and LSU if they have one loss. Let's just say we do NOT prefer this situation in my mind.
If Auburn beats Bama, then loses the SEC Championship, and Oregon wins out. This is a curious situation because USC would have to be invited to the Sugar and you'd have potentially have two 1 loss SEC teams. Of course, a given conference can only have two teams invited, so we're not completely closed out, but I'm not sure this is a happy situation for us at all. Much like the above.
So that's my two cents. Of course there are more scenarios at play, but those are probably the most likely. Clearly the best scenario is for Boise and either Auburn or Oregon to lose so the Frogs can play on January 10th in Glendale, but I just wanted to point out that there are other situations out there that shouldn’t have any of us hanging our heads - except the last one. We very well may be passed by Boise and it’s something we should prepare for in the back of our minds, but if that does happen and the consolation prize is Auburn or LSU in the Sugar Bowl, the pain will be lessened ever so slightly.