Wednesday, November 05, 2008

BCS may stink, but so does USC loss at Oregon State

It's no secret the BCS is, um, embattled. And usually, I'm at the front of the line to criticize the system over and over (and over and over). It's been a hard season watching the USC Trojans, widely considered a preseason favorite to reach the championship game (btw, that sounds familiar), continue to slide in the polls each week after trouncing opponents. And while Pete Carroll recently said he doesn't understand the system and thinks it stinks, the Trojans have no one to blame except themselves. And Oregon State.

The formula for USC was a simple one: undefeated season = BCS title berth. The Trojans slipped in Corvallis, and now would need some serious help to make the title game. Heck, they still need the Beavers to lose to win their own conference. I agree with Carroll that the system stinks, but let me explain to coach Carroll - from the perspective of a very pro-Trojans blogger - why USC is falling. It's actually quite simple.

BCS Standings Week 1:

1. Texas
2. Alabama
3. Penn State
4. Oklahoma
5. USC
6. Oklahoma State
7. Georgia
8. Texas Tech
9. Ohio State
10. Florida

USC started out fifth in the initial BCS standings behind three undefeated teams as well as 1-loss Oklahoma, who lost to No. 1 Texas. The Trojans also got the nod ahead of undefeateds Oklahoma State and Texas Tech largely based on reputation.

BCS Standings Week 2:

1. Texas
2. Alabama
3. Penn State
4. Oklahoma
5. USC
6. Georgia
7. Texas Tech
8. Florida
9. Oklahoma State
10. Utah

The Top 5 remained unchanged with everyone winning. Florida jumped two spots with another SEC win over Kentucky, but mainly because the Oklahoma State loss to No. 1 Texas dropped the Cowboys down a few spots. The Trojans remained ahead of still undefeated Texas Tech after the Red Raiders defeated their only ranked opponent of the season so far (No. 23 Kansas). While USC clung to a 17-10 win at Arizona, the Trojans remained No. 5 in the BCS thanks to a jump from No. 10 to No. 6 in computer average.

BCS Standings Week 3:

1. Alabama
2. Texas Tech
3. Penn State
4. Texas
5. Florida
6. Oklahoma
7. USC
8. Utah
9. Oklahoma State
10. Boise State

USC falls two BCS spots despite a 56-0 win over a doormat Washington team. Why? Because Texas Tech who had been camped out behind the Trojans with an undefeated record beat No. 1 Texas, catapulting them to the front of the line for a BCS title game berth. Texas remained in near the top with their only loss being to the new No. 1 team - the same way Oklahoma stayed near the top two weeks earlier with their only loss being to the No. 1 team. The Trojans were also leapfrogged by Florida who stomped SEC preseason favorite Georgia, sending the Bulldogs into a free fall from No. 6 to No. 13 in the BCS.

While the eyeball test says Florida is playing better than almost every other team out there, the eyeball test also suggests that USC is killing crappy opponents. The argument has always been that USC can't control their conference schedule. They aren't playing in a mid-major. They're in a BCS conference (then again, where are any contenders from the ACC or Big East?) and schedule a competitive non-conference slate. But look at their one loss compared to other 1-loss teams.

USC's loss:
21-27 at Oregon State
Oregon State record: 5-3 (4-1 Pac 10)
USC strength of schedule (to date according to 62
Oregon State strength of schedule: 45

Texas's loss:
33-39 at (7) Texas Tech
Texas Tech record: 9-0 (5-0 Big XII)
Texas strength of schedule: 1
Texas Tech strength of schedule: 26

Florida's loss:
30-31 vs. Mississippi
Mississippi's record: 5-4 (3-3 SEC)
Florida's strength of schedule: 13
Mississippi's strength of schedule: 11

Oklahoma's loss:
35-45 vs. (5) Texas (neutral site)
Texas's record: 8-1 (4-1 Big XII)
Oklahoma's strength of schedule: 12
Texas's strength of schedule: 1

Oklahoma State:
24-28 at (1) Texas
Texas's record: 8-1 (4-1 Big XII)
Oklahoma State's strength of schedule: 64
Texas's strength of schedule: 1

Perhaps this is just a case of the Big XII South being so good so early that they'll all eventually go away when they finish playing each other, or perhaps the Big XII South is the SEC of 2006 or 2007. But just watching these teams, it's easy to see they are good. Really good.

Watching USC, it's easy to tell that they are very good as well. But it's even more evident that the teams they are playing bad. Really, really bad.

The Trojans just beat Washington, 56-0, which would be great if Washington had perhaps won a friggen game so far this season. But USC hasn't even put up the most points against the Huskies. It was sixth loss by at least 21 points that Washington has suffered this season.

The previous week, USC edged Arizona, 17-10, the same team that lost to New Mexico. Ooh, but the Wildcats did beat Idaho and Toledo. Impressive.

The Trojans embarrassed Wasington State in Pullman, 69-0. Wow, they just killed them. Or they were the fourth team in the conference to score 60+ on the Cougars. Cal (66-3), Oregon (63-14) and Oregon State (66-13) all kicked the Cougars teeth in. So USC's 69-0 loss doesn't look too cool anymore.

Arizona State failed to score against USC, falling 28-0 at the Coliseum. Yes, but the Sun Devils haven't won since September 6 and are currently in the middle of a healthy six-game losing streak. (Washington is not impressed)

So while USC is killing these teams, there isn't much they can do except continue to systematically exterminate the rest of the Pacific 10 conference and hope that somewhere along the way Oregon State falters. At that point, USC can make the Rose Bowl and face off against probably an undefeated Penn State team, giving the nation what could be considered an amazing BCS Bowl season.

National Championship Game:
Alabama vs. Texas Tech in a battle of unbeaten teams

National Championship Game 1a:
USC vs. Penn State in Joe Paterno's last hurrah of a season

But if Oregon State doesn't drop a game and they do win the Pac 10 conference and Rose Bowl berth, USC won't be able to blame the BCS. Teams that don't win their conference shouldn't play for the national title (are you listening 2003 Oklahoma? -- yes I'm still bitter). Same applies to the Men of Troy. And if USC thinks that stinks, I'd be afraid to ask Coach Carroll's opinion of the Holiday Bowl.


Just for fun, some captions from the USC/Washington game:

"Isn't there a mercy rule?"


"You're winning by thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much."

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