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BCS Bustin': The Final Standings in Realpolitik

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First, the standings. Note the very significant disparity in human and computer opinions of Virginia Tech and Ohio State:

Final BCS Standings, 12-2
Rank Team BCS Pts. Harris Coaches Comp. Avg.
1. Ohio State .959 1 1 3
2. LSU .939 2 2 2
3. Virginia Tech .870 6 5 1
4. Oklahoma .857 3 3 T-6
5. Georgia .839 4 4 T-6
6. Missouri .776 7 7 4
7. Southern Cal .764 5 6 9
8. Kansas .759 8 8 5
9. West Virginia .663 9 9 10
10. Hawaii .647 10 1- 12

And the bowls:

Mythical Championship: Ohio State vs. LSU
Rose Bowl: Southern Cal vs. Illinois
Sugar Bowl: Georgia vs. Hawaii
Orenge Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Kansas
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. West Virginia

For the record, in the last hour, this blog has received no less than two dozen hits for searchers of "Colt Brennan shirtless," which is like twice what that term brings in on an average day. Kid should have a good time on Bourbon Street.

Also for the record, only one "national champion" has ever been voted into the top spot of a major poll that finished with two losses: Minnesota in 1960, tabbed at number one by the AP and UPI prior to losing the Rose Bowl to Washington and shares the championship with the Huskies, Ole Miss, Missouri and Iowa, depending on who you ask. Since it was a pre-bowl title, in fact, no team has ever won a widely recognized mythical national championship with two losses.

So LSU, if it wins – my initial thought is that the Tigers should be at least field goal favorites if healthy – will be breaking new ground, and it’s worth keeping in mind as championship hype reaches a fever pitch over the next month that LSU has a chance for a designation that dozens and dozens of one-loss and a few undefeated teams did not have in more accomplished seasons; in the last 15 years alone, members and partisans of undefeated, uncrowned teams from Penn State (1994) and Auburn (2004) are just thrilled by this turn of events, I’m sure, along with at least one jilted one-loss team from every season as far back as you care to go that would stake a claim to the top spot this year. It can’t be any other way this season – vacating the title isn’t an option, unfortunately – but by virtue of its two losses alone, LSU’s season could be the weakest of any champion in the last four decades. They probably won’t put that on the banner.

Me, I’ve only had four undefeated teams miss playing for a national championsip. Eh, whaddaya gonna do?
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Anyway, enough of that; you take it when you get it, I guess, and as I said earlier, I agree with the decision to bump the Tigers into the game, even if its merits as an end-all championship are more dubious than ever. The computers actually prefer Virginia Tech (Ken Massey, Jeff Sagarin and Peter Wolfe all ranked the Hokies number one), but Tech was fifth and sixth in the relevant human polls, good enough to finish well in front in spite of the machines. For sure, the forced exclusion of margin of victory in their formulas affected the "thought" process, since a 48-7 obliteration at the hands of LSU in September is just another loss to a very good team by the computer standards.

Arizona State and Missouri = screwed, I guess, though neither is surprising. The Devils and Tigers are in front of Illinois and Kansas, respectively, in every poll, but the Rose Bowl was obviously intent on securing the traditional Pac Ten-Big Ten matchup with the Illini and the Orange Bowl, well, I suppose the Orange Bowl figured one loss is better than two. The Jayhawks make no sense over Missouri otherwise, having lost to Mizzou, obviously, and ranking below MU in both human polls and four of the six computers. The computers like Arizona State, but with Hawaii qualifying automatically, Georgia and Kansas/Missouri locks for two of the last three at-large spots, and no chance of a rematch with SC in the Rose, ASU was doomed to be snubbed for the Illini, who with this bid might pass their Big 12 North competition as the outrageous surprise of the season. Really: Illinois, in the Rose Bowl? Fact. Even the optimists among us wouldn’t dream of it.

Assuming USC and Virginia Tech will be substantial favorites, the Oklahoma-West Virginia match in the Fiesta is the only really intriguing pairing outside of the championship. Oklahoma is a winner in that regard, with a distant chance to challenge LSU for a split title in the AP ballot if the respective margins of victory work in the Sooners’ favor. Georgia, on the other hand, is the loser, put in the position to either play the OU role as victim to the heroic climax of Hawaii’s dream season or gain nothing in the polls or public mind by beating the Warriors as expected. UGA has been a big favorite in the Sugar Bowl before, and it didn’t work so well for the Dawgs last time.

That’s it – plenty to bitch about for the haters, as always, but if you take the system at face value, there are no alarms and no surprises.