The BCS is about to make its last major mistake. When No. 3 Auburn University’s Chris Davis ran back the improbable, game-winning field-goal return for a touchdown Saturday evening, he sent the BCS standing into a whirlwind. An obvious National Championship Game matchup was no more. Now we have a serious debate that further points to the many flaws that have led to the elimination of the BCS at the end of this season.
We now have only two unbeaten teams from major conferences. So this should be easy, right? Assuming No. 1 Florida State University and the No. 2 Ohio State University take care of business in their respective conference championship games (certainly no guarantee), they should be locks for the title game. But you would be forgetting one little thing: the Southeastern Conference.
Certainly you remember: It’s the conference that has won the last seven national championships. Many of those championship games weren’t even close. Maybe 10 years ago, there were two groups of teams. There were teams from automatic qualifying conferences and teams from mid-major conferences. 10 years ago, the idea of an undefeated team from an automatic qualifying conference being jumped by any one-loss team was absurd.
But the college football landscape has changed. There are now three clearly defined groups of teams. It’s the SEC, other major conferences and everybody else. How can you possibly have one game to determine the best team in college football without the best team in the SEC?
Last year, a one-loss University of Alabama team from the SEC obliterated the undefeated non-SEC University of Notre Dame. Back in the 2006 season, a one-loss University of Florida team demolished the undefeated non-SEC Ohio State University. The SEC is head and shoulders above the rest of college football. It has been for seven years. Whoever wins the SEC, whether it’s Auburn or the No. 5 University of Missouri, has to be in the National Championship Game.
It should be simple. The title game should be played between the winner of the SEC and the best team outside of the SEC. The argument out there is between Ohio State and Auburn. But if Ohio State wants to make an argument, it should with Florida State.
There are three undefeated teams remaining in college football. I think we can safely eliminate Northern Illinois University from the equation. Under the current system, or even the four-team playoff, it’s nearly impossible for a mid-major school to have a shot at the title. So the real question is whether Ohio State or Florida State has earned a shot at the SEC champion.
Both the polls and the computers love the Seminoles. Let’s take a look why. I’d say the conference comparison is a wash. Both teams have just two additional teams from their conference in the top 25. Florida State has the 66th-ranked strength of schedule, and Ohio State has the 61st. Once again, it’s essentially a wash. Both teams have just one win against teams that are currently in the top 25. Florida State trounced then-No. 3 (currently No. 13) Clemson University 51-14. Ohio State survived then-No. 23 (currently No. 21) University of Wisconsin 31-24. The edge in signature wins goes to the ‘Noles. Both teams will get a chance at another top-25 team in their conference championship games.
So which team has been more impressive on the field? The clear edge once again goes to the ‘Noles. They have the second-ranked offense and first-ranked defense in the nation. Compare this to Ohio State who has third-ranked offense and 18th-ranked defense. Florida State has outscored their opponent by an average of 43 points per game. Ohio State’s margin of victory is 28 points per game (still really good, but not as good). It all comes down to the fact that Florida State has simply been the better team on the football field.
Assuming the Seminoles beat No. 20 Duke University on Saturday, the National Championship Game has to feature FSU versus the Auburn/Missouri champion. Does that mean Ohio State doesn’t deserve a shot at playing for the national title? No, of course they do! They’ve done all you can ask of a team. They’ve won every game on their schedule. It’s an absolute shame that a team can go all year without losing and not be the eventual champion. But this is the system that we are dealt with. This is the BCS. We can only choose two teams, and the SEC champion and Florida State deserve those spots more than Ohio State.
But unfortunately, my opinion doesn’t matter. I don’t get a vote. I’m not one of the BCS computers. Ohio State currently sits at No. 2, and if they take care of business in the Big Ten championship game, I think it’s unlikely that Auburn or Missouri would jump them in the standings. We’re probably on a crash course for an FSU/OSU National Championship game, and I think it’s wrong.
But what if Florida State loses to Duke? What if Ohio State falls to No. 10 Michigan State University? Would that then put the Alabama back into the mix? I hope not, because I’m sick of them and also because I think you have to win your conference championship to make the National Championship Game. So maybe No. 6 Oklahoma State University would enter the conversation? Although I’m wicked happy to see the BCS go, I hope for the worst on Saturday, because I’m actually going to miss all this chaos.