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If Only For a Fleeting Moment: What College Football Dreams, (or Nightmares), Are Made Of– Update: BCS Rankings Released

posted at 5:10 pm on November 20, 2011 by

If only for a fleeting moment………you just have to wonder how many coaches, players, alumni, and the fans of their respective teams, had that “fleeting moment” dancing in their heads yesterday—that shot at a National Championship.

It’s been quite a few years that College Football had such a weekend of upsets, games going down to the last play, or dreams crushed in the jaws of victory.  Dare I say, it was a “play-off atmosphere”?

It all started on Friday night when Iowa State defeated #2 Oklahoma State in double overtime 37-31.  With the Cowboys coming into this game as 27 point favorites, and QB Brandon Weeden owning the air, 42/58 476 yards, the table was supposed to be set for a final game against their rival Sooners, and on to a National Championship game against the now only undefeated contender* (LSU Tigers).  With a commanding 24-7 lead three minutes into the third quarter, many thought this game would be the typical Cowboy’s second half run-away, as so many other games unfolded this season.  But the Iowa State Cyclones, (who had never beaten a top five team), would have none of that storyline. With an OS missed 37 yard field goal try, (over the top of the left upright), with 1:17 left in regulation, the Cowboy’s “fleeting moment” was gone, as the Cyclones pulled out the victory in double-overtime, opening up the floodgates of one-loss teams in search of a shot at the big game.

And boy, did the floodgates open.  With Oklahoma State’s loss, nine top ten teams, (ten if you count still undefeated Houston), became a consideration for that illusive #2 spot in the BCS National Championship as Saturday began.

Super Saturday or Meltdown Saturday

With #1 (11-0) LSU, taking care of business dismantling Ole Miss 52-3, it was just a matter of which team would rise to the occasion.  No one had a clue that so many teams on one Saturday would fail at achieving that goal.  And then, all hell broke loose.  I’ll use some of  Gene Wojciechowski’s descriptions of what can happen on one given Saturday:

Think about it:

• Oklahoma State committed five turnovers and missed what could have been a game-winning 37-yard field goal with 1:17 left in regulation against Iowa State. The Cyclones won in double-OT.

• Oregon committed three turnovers and missed a — wait for it — 37-yard game-tying field goal as time expired.

• Oklahoma committed three turnovers and called a timeout with 46 seconds remaining when it appeared Baylor was content to let the clock run out and head to overtime.

Instead, Griffin scrambled for 22 yards and a first down on the next play. Three plays after that, he threw the game-winning touchdown pass.

• Clemson committed four turnovers in its loss.

This season has officially lost its mind, which isn’t such a bad thing. We thought we had clear-cut national title matchup (unbeaten LSU against unbeaten Oklahoma State). Now we have LSU and BCS bedlam.

Stewart Mandel at SI even adds to the bedlam:

Welcome to the SEC West Invitational.

That’s what the top three will be when the new standings are released Sunday night: Divisional foes LSU (11-0), Alabama (10-1) and Arkansas (10-1), in that order. The Tigers beat the Tide. The Tide clobbered the Razorbacks. The Razorbacks visit the Tigers on Friday…….

Not since the end of the 1971 season, when the Big 8’s Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado finished 1-2-3, has one conference occupied the top three spots like the SEC likely will come Sunday night. One division of one conference? Unprecedented.

Right now it’s hard to see past those three in calculating BCS scenarios. If LSU beats both Arkansas and Georgia in the SEC title game, it will almost certainly rematch Alabama come January (assuming the Tide defeat rival Auburn on Saturday). However, if the Razorbacks beat the Tigers, the SEC’s three-way tiebreaker will likely send Alabama (which beat Arkansas 38-14 on Sept. 24) to Atlanta. If the Tide beat Georgia, they will presumably head to New Orleans, and there will be much sentiment to keep the thus-far dominant Tigers in the top two.

Note that Alabama doesn’t have a particularly overwhelming resume. As of today they’ve defeated just three teams — 9-2 Penn State, 10-1 Arkansas and 6-5 Florida — with winning records. LSU, by comparison, has six such victories. But the Tide are sitting pretty because they started No. 2 in the polls, they took the top-ranked Tigers to overtime in the Game of the Century … and because there aren’t a lot of other options.

Confused yet?  In the words one of our favorite conservative ladies, “You betcha”!

One thing’s for certain, the next two weeks of College Football will be fill with “what ifs”, “how comes”, and “what nows”. And if yesterday didn’t hook you into this world of College Football Madness, it’s a lost cause.  So many dreams were shattered as one team snatched victory from the jaws of defeat—others were re-ignited by the slaying of titans who might have claimed their right to a Championship.  The clamor of play-offs will begin anew as the fallen will think of how close victory was in their grasp…….if Only For a Fleeting Moment.

(*only undefeated contender:  For the record, the Houston Cougars are still the only other undefeated team in the BCS rankings.)

Update:  BCS Rankings Released:    As predicted, LSU, BAMA, ARKANSAS 1,2,3………….ALL SEC TOP THREE.  OKLAHOMA ST., VIRGINIA TECH, STANFORD FOLLOW…….


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Fun stuff. The polls are out, and as expected, Arkansas vaulted into the stratosphere.

Less sensible is the elevation of Virginia Tech and Houston. But then, what are you gonna do? VT will probably trounce Virginia and win the ACC title, but Houston may well fall to Tulsa (and therefore lose out on the C-USA title match). Guess the BCS will deal with that when/if it happens.

Stanford’s win over an underperforming Cal was not terribly convincing last night. Boise State let SD State rack up a LOT of points. In fact, Alabama let Georgia Southern rack up a lot of points — more than any of ‘Bama’s other opponents this year, and GA Southern is an FCS team.

Only LSU and Arkansas played consistent with their standing and reputation in Week 12.

Another lesson in the drawbacks of trying to shake out a “Number One” as opposed to a “Winner of the Playoffs.”

J.E. Dyer on November 20, 2011 at 5:38 PM

Someone once said that any sport where a champion is decided by judges is not a sport and therefore college football is not a sport. The individual games are, don’t get me wrong, but the determination of a champion is not.

Sorry, but having computers pick one team over another is even worse than dishonest judges from SovBloc countries screwing over competitors from countries where they can buy soft toilet paper in bulk.

And please, spare me the recrimination about how playoffs take away from student athlete’s time of study. Every other sport in college EXCEPT for Div 1 football has a playoff and they graduate with higher rates. (Except basketball, but that is its own shame…)

If you want to tell me how instituting a playoff system will cost the college some bowl money and cut support for the single mom clothing removal technicians in the bowl cities, I will salute your honesty, but not many will admit to that.

MunDane68 on November 20, 2011 at 6:27 PM

Well OK then, MunDane68. I’m not actually an advocate of a playoff system, although I could probably learn to live with one. (I’ve seen proposals for a playoff system that would shuttle losers at each level into the current slew of Booger Bowls we have throughout the latter half of December, so the clothing removal techs could stay in business.)

I consider the BCS one of the Wonders of the Post-Modern World. Never having been a Utah or Boise State fan, I have no desire for Congress to intervene in it. About half a dozen times a season, it’s useful to remind folks that there’s a difference between choosing a Super Bowl champion — which may very well NOT be the best team in the NFL that year — and using the BCS to pick a “Number One.”

J.E. Dyer on November 20, 2011 at 7:04 PM

This is why I am not interested in college ball. You should be ranked due to the wins and losses in your division.

thebrokenrattle on November 20, 2011 at 7:12 PM

I am not a WAC fan, and the school I graduated from plays in the NAIA, where you have true student athletes.

And I don’t want Congress to get involved either. The guvmint screws up everything it touches.

But J.E., if you don consider the winner of a contest the better of the two, then you ARE probably comfortable with the current ‘beauty pageant’ abomination that Div I college uses (FBS…what a stupid, stupid name…)

MunDane68 on November 20, 2011 at 9:51 PM

You know how we like to rail against liberal bias in the media?

Well, there’s obvious SEC bias in the sports media.

That LSU/Alabama game was quite possibly the most boring game between two horrible offenses I’ve seen in a long time.

The SEC is awful this year too, it can easily be argued that the PAC12 or Big 10 have just as much, if not more talent than the SEC this year.

I’m hoping LSU stumbles against Arkansas and Alabama loses to Auburn meaning zero SEC teams in the BCS title game.

That would be awesome

uknowmorethanme on November 20, 2011 at 10:05 PM

I consider the BCS one of the Wonders of the Post-Modern World

I consider transsexuals to be one of the Wonders of the Post-Modern World, but that doesn’t mean I want anything to do with them.

uknowmorethanme on November 20, 2011 at 10:08 PM

But J.E., if you don consider the winner of a contest the better of the two, then you ARE probably comfortable with the current ‘beauty pageant’ abomination that Div I college uses (FBS…what a stupid, stupid name…)

MunDane68 on November 20, 2011 at 9:51 PM

So, is Iowa State a better team than Oklahoma State? Is TCU a better team than Boise State? Clemson better than Virginia Tech? Miami (FL) better than Georgia Tech?

Were the Giants a better team than the Patriots in the 2007-8 season? Is a wild card team that beats a division leader in the playoffs a better team?

I’m going through this litany to reemphasize that a playoff system doesn’t answer the question which team is better, it answers the question which team won.

I think your point is that the BCS doesn’t have a valid formula for determining which team is “better.” I wouldn’t argue, point by point, that it does. But neither does a playoff system. A playoff system crowns a champion based on a series of particular wins. A Super Bowl winner can, and often does, have a worse record than teams that lost in the playoffs, or than its losing Super Bowl opponent.

The BCS is non-stupid in that it currently recognizes LSU as the most winningest team against a relatively tough slate of opponents. It would be ridiculous to put Houston in the same category as LSU, since Houston doesn’t have to play Alabama, Arkansas, hasn’t played Oregon, etc. These broad-brush measures of merit, the BCS does OK on.

It’s judging between teams like the latest Ignoble Fallen — OK-State, Stanford, Oregon, Boise State, Oklahoma — that the BCS performs less well on. Part of that problem lies with the fact that different NCAA conferences have different styles of play and differing levels of competitiveness. And part of it lies in the basic flaw of the whole enterprise: trying to pick a “Number One,” instead of picking a “team that survived the playoffs without losing.”

J.E. Dyer on November 20, 2011 at 10:30 PM

J.E., I really wonder if you ever have played sports.

But let’s get some things out of the way. Yes, Iowa State was the better team than OSU on Saturday. Baylor was better than Oklahoma on Saturday. TCU was better than Boise St last Saturday.

That is the nature of sports and why you play the game instead of looking at the two teams and saying “Wow, ISU is totally outclassed, just give OSU the win and we can get drunker in the parking lot!”

A sport is supposed to be decided on the field, warts and all. Armando Galaraga didn’t just miss a perfect game because someone decided before the game he just wasn’t that good a pitcher, the human element was needed. The 1980 Miracle on Ice happened because they played the game, instead of saying “The Soviets are the best, let’s go home…” The 18-1 NE Patriots season happened because the Giants played the game instead of tossing the towel to a team they had lost to already.

The BCS takes all that away. LSU is a good team and they play their cupcakes too, like everyone does. No one should hold their heads up real high for beating Northwestern State or Western Kentucky, but why should those wins amount to anything when they couldn’t even play LSU in a FBS playoff? The BCS is based on polls which are very subject to manipulation and computer rankings which are subject to programmer errors.

The champion match up in sports are supposed to be decided on the field, not in a CPU or in an office.

MunDane68 on November 21, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Here’s the PackerBronco plan:

Split Division I football (currently consisting of about 120 teams) into Division IA and IB (or whatever you want to call it.) Reduce the size of Division IA to about 64 teams. Division IB has their own champion and playoff system.

You have to be in a major conference to be in Divisoni IA. No independents. Notre Dame is told to join a power conference or get placed in Division IB.

Division IA teams play 11 regular season games. Figure that they play 3 “pre-season games” out of conference and 8 “in-conference.

Conferences pick their own conference champs and runner-ups using whatever criteria and championship game they choose.

Division IA Playoff
16 teams
Conference champs
Conference Runner-ups
Remaining slots filled by at-large bids.

Round 1: Home games. Conference champs get automatic home games. Remaining games are determined based on seeding.

Round 2: Regional site (one of the four major bowl game sites)

Round 3: Final Four. One site hosts the semi-final game on Saturday, and then also hosts the final game 1 week later.

Teams that don’t make the playoffs go to a bowl game, just like they do now.

PackerBronco on November 21, 2011 at 11:47 AM

MunDane68 on November 21, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Let me add that the greatest crime of the BCS is that it removes the possibility of the Cinderella team. Upsets come in two flavors: the Cinderella and the Spoiler. Cinderella stories are the most compelling in sports: USA beats the Soviet Union in hockey, NC State beats Houston, Jets win Superbowl III. In each case, the underdog wins something of value and for that we remember them. You don’t even have to be a fan of those teams to find those games exciting and wonderful.

In contrast, a spoiler is the underdog who wins the game, but gets nothing of value for it (other than the satisfaction of the victory and ruining someone else’s season.) Give me a list of the great spoilers in history and unless it was your team doing the spoiling, you can’t name a single one. The spoiler is the t*rd in the sports punchbowl, quickly to be forgetten.

And that is the great fault of the BCS: it uplifts the spoiler and prevents the Cinderella. When ISU bet OSU, they didn’t win anything of value, no. they made it possible for SOMEONE ELSE to make it to the championship game. What kind of stupid system is that? Imagine now, if that had been a playoff game. What if it was ISU that was going onto the next round of the playoffs and OSU was going home? That would be awesome and memorable. But the BCS doesn’t allow that, because winning the game is not enough, you always have to get the computers and voters to move you up.

As it is, a month from now, no one will remember that game other than ISU and OSU fans. For the rest of us: it will be forgotten.

PackerBronco on November 21, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Prediction: LSU 29, Razorbacks 23

SouthernGent on November 21, 2011 at 10:29 PM

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