by John Furgele
It must be October. Baseball, NFL, the NBA, the NHL and for the die-hards the start of the Major League Soccer playoffs. But, the monumental event of the month: the BCS standings have begun. Why everybody makes such a big deal about them is beyond reason? Does FSN really need a 30 minute BCS unveiling show? The biggest problem with the BCS ratings is the projections that everybody makes. Some have Alabama and Texas already playing for the BCS title (it does sound good, though), while others say that if Penn State goes undefeated, they may lose out to a team with one loss in the BCS Championship Game. Simply, it is way too early to speculate because there is way too much football to be played. Let’s review.
1) Is Alabama That Good. The Tide has re-emerged under Nick “The Dictator” Saban, to the delight of the Alabama faithful. In many ways, this team reminds you of the the 1992 team under Gene Stallings that kept winning close games, never looked great, but never lost, crushing Miami in the Sugar Bowl in the game where George Teague stole the ball away from Lamar Thomas. Even Alabama boosters are worried about this team even though the keep winning. But, the worries may be for real as the Tide still has to play at Tennessee, at LSU and will end the season at home against Aubrun, a team they haven’t been able to beat in recent years.
2) Missouri Exposed. We know two things about Missouri. One, they are not that great and after beating up on weak sisters, they have been beaten up soundly the last two weeks. Two, Chase Daniel is a system quarterback who does not have the arm strength to succeed at the next level. The spread offense was fun when it was run by a handful of teams, but no sport is more copycat that college or pro football. The defenses now know how to contain Missouri’s “vaunted” attack, and logic suggests that Texas will be able to expose Texas Tech’s pass happy spread when they play on November 1 in Lubbock. But first, a test this Saturday versus Oklahoma State. The spread may be fun, but can it really be counted on against the big time opponent? So far, Missouri has played two big-timers and is 0-2. To me, the answer is no.
3) Can Utah Make a Second BCS Bowl: The Utah Utes are number 12 in the BCS standings and in order to automatically qualify for a BCS bowl, they have to end up eighth or higher. If the Utes finish 12-0 and say, 10th, the BCS powers-that-be, rather than hear from Congress, will probably take the Utes and put them in the Fiesta Bowl. The question is can the Utes run the table? Currently 8-0, the Utes play at (4-4) New Mexico; host 7-1 Texas Christian, which just pounded Brigham Young; at 1-6 San Diego State; and finish the season hosting 6-1 Brigham Young. If BYU and Utah came into the final game undefeated, it would be for a BCS bowl, but TCU is a very good football team and they may be the best team in the Mountain West. If TCU could beat Utah and finish 11-1 with their only loss at Oklahoma, would that be enough for the Frogs to make a BCS bowl? I would think that Utah’s BCS rankings would increase enough by virture of wins over TCU and BYU, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves—again. One thing is for sure. If Utah goes 12-0, they are in. Book it. Why Kyle Whittingham’s name is not being mentioned for head coaching openings is puzzling. This guy is getting it done in Utah.
4) The Problem With Bowl Tie-Ins. What if Utah doesn’t make a BCS bowl? What about the other currently undefeated teams like Ball State, Boise State and Tulsa? The chance that all four of the teams will run the table is slim, and even if all do, only one would make it to a BCS bowl, but there is another problem. If Ball State ends up 13-0, they will likely play in the International Bowl, the GMAC Bowl, the Motor City Bowl or some other third tier exhibition game. Their opponent might be Big 10 #7, Big 12 #6 or SEC #9. The same for Tulsa. They likely destination is the Liberty Bowl against SEC #7. Is that really fair to a 11-1 Tulsa team or a Ball State team? One of the better matchups in recent bowl memory was the Liberty Bowl of a few years ago. Boise State, the WAC Champion played then Conference USA champion Louisville. Both were conference champions and both had the swagger of a conference champion and the game lived up to the teams records. I would love these smaller bowl games to pit conference champion against conference champion. Wouldn’t the MWC champion facing the CUSA champion be better than last year’s Las Vegas Bowl matchup between 10-2 BYU and 6-6 UCLA? It’s lose-lose for the these teams. Beat the 6-6, 7-5 team and you beat a mediocre team. Lose to them and you and your conference are overrated.
Let’s reward these teams from the non-BCS conferences by matching them up in bowl games. Let Big 12 #7 play Big 10 #7 in the Motor City Bowl and let Ball State play Tulsa and Boise State play Utah/BYU/TCU in a better, higher profile game. With a playoff system still decades away, the BCS/NCAA can still tweak things up to make it a bit more fair for all 119 Division 1-A football schools. If I’m 12-1 Ball State, I don’t think I would be that pumped up for 7-5 Connecticut.
5) Army and Indiana State Updates. Army led Buffalo 24-10 in the fourth quarter, then 24-17. They stopped the Bulls on a 4th and 3 at their 16 and looked poise for their third straight win. On the next play, fullback Collin Mooney broke through for a 20 yard run, but fumbled the ball—his second fourth quarter fumble in as many weeks—and the Bulls recovered, scored to force overtime, then won it 27-24. The Bulls had the ball first and made a 37 yard field goal. Army’s possession went in retreat as they lost nine yards on three plays, then watched a 51 yard field goal said wide right. Army (2-5) continues to run the ball impressively (Mooney had 172 rushing yards) and will host Louisiana Tech this Saturday.
Indiana State is in shambles. The Fightin’ Sycamores were blanked 56-0 at Western Illinois last Saturday. In seven games, they are 0-7 and have been outscored 275-40. Up next, is South Dakota State and things won’t get prettier. It would be a shock if Indiana State doesn’t finish 0-12. My only hope is that the school sticks with the program because one has to believe that talk of discontinuing football has been at least discussed in Terre Haute.
Until next week.