Even if it were to mean Kansas State would somehow get a raw deal, I want the four teams atop the BCS rankings in college football to remain unbeaten. I want it badly.
Alabama, K-State, Notre Dame and Oregon have to run the table the rest of the way. They have to, if for no other reason than those of us who love and follow college football want to see how the BCS system, which will be gone in 2014, picks the two best teams.
Because I’m here to tell you, it’s an impossible task. Humans can’t do it, computers can’t do it, not even Lee Corso can do it. And if Corso can’t do it, you know it’s difficult.
This is lining up as the perfect year for the implementation of a four-team playoff, but that’s a couple of years away. Instead, we’ll use every imperfect way of determining a team’s strength while the only true way – competition – is left standing on the sideline. It’s a ridiculous system and it will remain so until the day we bury the sucker 60 feet beneath the ground, under layers of iron and steel.
You can’t tell me Alabama is better than Kansas State. Or that Kansas State is better than Alabama. You can certainly have an opinion, but you can’t tell me for sure. And when it comes to sports, I have been programmed to know for sure by what has been decided on the field of play.
The San Francisco Giants are the best team in Major League Baseball because they went through an arduous playoff system and came out the other side.
As for college football, I have no idea as to which is the best team. Perhaps it will become more clear as the rest of the season plays out, but I hope not. I will be disappointed if the four unbeaten teams at the top of the BCS standings aren’t the four unbeaten teams there at the end.
Polls and computers take over. It becomes a guessing game. Poll voters come in all shapes and sizes. Some pay close attention to the goings-on in college football while others do not. Coaches who are asked to vote in polls often turn those duties to some flak in the media relations department. And sportswriters who cast votes in the Associated Press poll are often too busy covering teams in their area to pay much attention to college football on a national scale.
And don’t even get me started on the computers that take in different kinds of data and spit our their rankings from week to week.
Here’s what we know: Only two teams can play for a national championship. Nobody has ever figured out a way to get three or more teams involved.
We also know the four teams at the top are high-quality squads. Based on what they have done this season – and having nothing to do with preseason rankings or any of that stuff that often creates an advantage for the teams that start higher in the polls – I believe the four best teams in America, in order, are: Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame.
You might agree and you might not. There is nothing scientific about my order; it is based solely upon some statistical information and upon seeing all play at times this season. Certainly, I have seen Kansas State the most. I have seen a couple of Notre Dame games and bits and pieces of Alabama and Oregon.
Why is Alabama my No. 1? Probably because of the Crimson Tide’s defense, which ranks No. 1 nationally in points allowed. But Alabama also scores more than 40 points per game. True, the Tide does not have a jaw-dropping win yet, even though they play in the SEC. Saturday’s game at LSU will be Alabama’s toughest test to date.
Oregon has whitewashed its competition in the Pac-12 so far, but its’ toughest tests are to come starting with a game Saturday at Southern California. The Ducks finish the regular season at California, at home against Stanford and at Oregon State, before playing in the conference championship game on Dec. 1. And how unfair is it that the SEC and Pac-12 have an extra game while the Big 12 doesn’t? Anyway, Oregon scores more points than any team in the country and its defense isn’t shabby, either. But Oregon does have the toughest remaining schedule.
Finally, there’s Notre Dame. What the Irish did to Oklahoma on the Sooners’ home field Saturday night was impressive. Before that, I’m not sure I took ND seriously as a national-championship contender. I do now, based mostly on a defense that has limited opponents to less than 10 points per game. But Notre Dame has a relatively soft schedule the rest of the way, outside of a regular-season finale agianst USC in Los Angeles on Nov. 24. And who knows what the Trojans’ record will be by then? If bounce from a team’s remaining schedule is a big BCS factor, the Irish look to get less of one than the other contenders.
If – and this a big if – the four top-ranked BCS teams win out, I believe it will be Alabama vs. Oregon for the national championship. That would make Kansas Staters and Golden Domers irate. Those teams likely would be left to play a morbid consolation game in the Fiesta Bowl, sure as shootin’ they belong in Miami to play for a national championship.
What we potentially have here is a huge, giant mess. Somebody’s feelings are going to get hurt, I believe, because of a system that has never worked and one that is finally being tossed on the scrap heap in a couple of years. As this season takes shape, it looks like a couple of years too late.