Now that LSU has defeated Ohio State for the BCS title, did the system set up the right championship game? I’ll do a quick rundown of the 1-loss and major conference 2-loss teams then make my case. After all, everything’s clearer with 20-20 hindsight. Teams are listed in alphabetical order, and the “Best Wins” category lists wins over .500 or better teams from major conferences (and Hawaii, if applicable, since the Warriors made a BCS game and had only one loss).
1 Loss Teams
Best Wins: Boise State, Fresno State
Loss: Georgia, 41-10
No wins over a major conference foe besides the Pac 10’s doormat, Washington. I feared for Colt Brennan’s life in the Sugar Bowl. No way, no how. I’m calling this one right now.
Best Wins: Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech
Loss: Missouri, 36-28
While losing only once (and only by 8 points) is impressive, beating a perpetually suspect Virginia Tech team and a 7-6 Oklahoma State team is not, so Kansas is not helping itself much with the schedule.
2 Loss Teams
Best Wins: Auburn, Florida, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Kentucky, Oklahoma State
Losses: South Carolina, 16-12; Tennessee 35-14
The team was lost and listless until injuries forced Mark Richt to play Knowshown Moreno as a feature back. Uninspired play also forced Richt to pick a new motivational gimmick each week starting with the Florida game, all of which worked. This team was playing some of the best football in the country at the end of the year, but you must consider the season as a whole.
Best Wins: Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech
Losses: Kentucky, 43-37 (3OT); Arkansas, 50-48 (3OT)
It’s hard to accept a national champion who had two losses and gave up 50 points in a game during the season. Still, no one had a better array of wins, and as LSU fans will be quick to point out, the Tigers were undefeated in regulation and won the system everyone agreed upon.
Best Wins: Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech
Losses: Oklahoma, 41-31; Oklahoma, 38-17
Missouri only lost to one team all year, except that it did so on two separate occasions. The Tigers did have wins over BCS participant Illinois and Arkansas, a team that beat LSU.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Best Wins: Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Losses: Illinois, 28-21; LSU, 38-24
Ohio State had the #1 rated defense in the regular season and was one of the most consistent teams all year. It did however play in the Big Ten, which dropped a stink bomb in bowl season and looks awful now. Plus, Illinois was thrashed by USC and the final score of the LSU game was closer than it should have been.
Best Wins: Arizona State, Illinois, Oregon State
Losses: Stanford, 24-23; Oregon, 24-17
The Arizona State and Illinois wins were certainly impressive. However, it took until November 3 for the Trojans to beat a team that would finish above .500 for the year. The Stanford loss was unimaginably bad, and though USC had it’s backup QB playing the game, so did the Cardinal. Oregon with a healthy Dennis Dixon was probably the best team all year, and USC lost by just a touchdown.
Best Wins: Cincinnati, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Rutgers, UConn
Losses: USF, 21-13; Pittsburgh, 13-9
The Fiesta Bowl win was a huge statement, the Miss State win was nearly as big as LSU’s, and the UConn win was overwhelming. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, the Pitt loss was nearly as bad as USC’s loss to Stanford, and the team couldn’t get anything going against USF. In its defense, WVU lost Pat White for large stretched during the two losses.
As a side note, Pitt’s 13-9 win over WVU that sent LSU to the championship game was the same score as the UCLA win over USC last year that sent Florida to the championship game.
Who are the top two teams?
Hawaii is eliminated, period.
Kansas had just two wins over teams that finished above .500 for the year. You’re a nice story, Jayhawks, but you’re also eliminated.
USC, you only had 3 wins over above-.500 teams, and you still lost to Stanford. Total body of work counts, so you’re eliminated.
Ohio State had only 5 wins over winning teams, but it also played a pillow-soft non conference schedule and the Big Ten was deplorable this year.
West Virginia had also 5 wins over winning teams, but it was the weakest set of wins out of the teams with 5. WVU, you’re eliminated.
We’re now down to Georgia, LSU, and Missouri. LSU does belong in the top two because it had seven wins over .500 or above opponents and wins over two other BCS conference champions (ACC, Big Ten). Between Missouri and Georgia, the Bulldogs had more wins over teams .500 or better and beat a team (UK) that beat LSU. But, Missouri’s losses were better and the Tigers played just as well as UGA did in each’s bowl game.
For the moment, I have to pick the team with more quality wins, so I go with Georgia. That leaves an LSU/Georgia game. It might make people from the Midwest or West unhappy, but honestly those two deserved it more.
So no, the BCS didn’t get it right.