A requiem for our beloved Rutgers, scrappy, disruptive, carriers of mayhem (as well as scarlet fever...get it? Scarlet fev...OK). An underdog and a challenge to the BCS orthodoxy out of SMQ's own heart, felled by hubris. And turnovers.
The Knights tumble in disgrace, all the way to 14th in the latest Series standings, and worse (15th in AP and Harris, 16th in Coaches) in the collective hu-man polls. And so the Big East's dramatic, controversial oddyssey into post-Miami power brokering, for now, comes to its grisly end.
Updated BCS Standings
1. Ohio State (1.000)
2. Michigan (0.926)
3. Southern Cal 0.919)
4. Florida (0.884)
5. Notre Dame (.820)
6. Arkansas (0.807)
7. West Virginia (0.717)
8. Wisconsin (0.680)
9. Louisville (0.643)
10. LSU (0.643)
The reader is aware the buzz at the moment surrounds the probability of a Michigan-Ohio State rematch, which remains low. SMQ's not sure how everyone went so quickly from despising the very notion of this possibility to being totally OK with it, based on Michigan being pretty clearly outplayed Saturday. Call it the Herbstreit Effect: what changed so much on that field? Before the game, no matter how close, a rematch was verbotten. Then Ohio State firmly controls about 70 percent of the game, and it's an instant classic which must be rehashed with haste? The final score was close, but as Brian mournfully notes this morning, the number of people watching past the first quarter who would have wagered on Michigan winning at any point without the disaster of disasters in its favor - and hell, the Wolverines had a three-turnover advantage as it was - is probably not all that much greater than the number of people who would have picked the Ohio lottery numbers to come out matching the final score.
I believe this was settled, thanks
So Michigan remaining at No. 2 here, and in the AP poll - the Harris and Coaches each rank the Wolverines third, but are overruled by the computers - is a sort of courtesy for a great season, a nod of respect for a good team that showed up and kept fighting against the presumptive best Saturday. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. But make no mistake: USC will pass Michigan easily with a win over Notre Dame this week, and SMQ sees no reason this would have to be a "comfortable" win (though he suspects, without looking more closely at the matchup, it will be). This is widely and rightly acknowledged pretty much across the board.
The questions seem to be flying regarding the alignment of dominos in case of a Notre Dame win in L.A., but again, SMQ thinks Michigan is firmly on the outside of the mythical title game in the end unless:
* LSU beats Arkansas and Arkansas beats Florida
* Florida State beats Florida and Florida beats Arkansas
UCLA potentially wields the same wrench as Notre Dame where SC is concerned, but if both Arkansas and Florida win this weekend, count Michigan out. And count Notre Dame out right now, because SMQ quits and will never watch another Bowl Subdivision game as long as he lives until a playoff is enacted if the Irish are voted into a so-called championship game ahead of Michigan after Sept. 16. The only alternative to USC is a one-loss SEC champion.
If, for whatever reason, USC and the SEC champion each emerge with two losses, even if Michigan remains sitting there with just the one, SMQ would probably rather see Boise State get its shot than an OSU-Michigan rematch. This would be tatamount to declaring the passed OSU-Michigan game the de facto championship, as in the old days, and would be better than the can of worms opened by the possibility of a Michigan win. If, as consistently declared by head after talking head since 6 p.m. Saturday, that game was an epic struggle between the two best teams in the nation, however that is supposed to be measured, let it be the championship. Send in the Broncos as a token to an unbeaten season, with an opportunity to prove against every odd the WAC is no joke, or just go ahead and let OSU claim its mythical title without playing anyone at all. Outside of a one-loss Southern Cal or SEC champion, SMQ couldn't be convinced any other school deserved the opportunity. Who, West Virginia? Louisville?
Unless, of course, one's goal is microchip-melting confusion and injustice, with the end result of the instituion of a playoff, in which case, bring on the rematch! Send in the Irish!
This, too, was settled, no?
At the moment, Ohio State and USC are the only teams assured of big money games, and since Boise has entered the tirade, it might be appropriate to note that the Broncos have essentially assured themselves of a spot - almost certainly, according to very official projections, the Fiesta - by moving into the series' 11th position; guidelines permit the entry of such rabble if it manages to crack the top 12 spots. The Broncos have only to knock off Nevada, a respectable and dangerous opponent at 8-3 overall but with zero wins over a team with more than four victories itself, at home this week to secure the biggest game in school history.
Bad news, this, for fans of - most likely, according to the latest very official bowl projections - Texas. The `Horns - or, conceivably, Nebraska - would gain very little from a matchup with Boise, and stand to lose plenty in terms of the final polls; beating BSU, even by a wide margin, is expected, is proof the Broncos didn't really belong, anyway, and carries few rewards. A close win is met with skepticism - you barely beat Boise? An actual loss to the Broncos earns BSU some minor level of respect, but a disproportionate level of ridicule for the more well-financed victim. Playing Boise State in the BCS is lose-lose for a school like Texas. But here we are.
Elsewhere, hu-man voters, defying the computers and every encroaching whisper of consistent logic, persist in keeping West Virginia ahead of Louisville in spite of the Cardinals' two-score victory over WVU earlier this month. The coaches, especially, want nothing to do with the Cardinals, keeping U of Hell all the way down at 11, a full four spots behind the Mountaineers. This is not quite the same as ranking Michigan ahead of Ohio State now would be - UM didn't lose to Rutgers, after all - but it's close. It's about as bad as putting Notre Dame in the mythical championship game ahead of Michigan would be.
The only flipping among the top 14 spots, aside from Rutgers' departure, is Auburn's leaping of idle Texas to No. 12 following AU's fifth consecutive win over Alabama; the Tigers are ranked 13th in the Harris, 13th by the coaches and 14th by the computers, so here we do some Series math:
(13+13+14) / 3 = 12
That's not exactly how the formula is put together, but odd it remains. Berating it is more fun, anyway. Down with the BCS! Bown with the BCS!