Scott Michaux

Sports columnist for The Augusta Chronicle. | ScottMichaux.com

Let's all root for BCS chaos

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As a charter member of the He-Man BCS Haters Club, there is nothing more beautiful than a complete mess.

Quarterback Jarrett Lee and LSU are in the driver's seat for a berth in the BCS title game. But should the Tigers slip, insanity might ensue.  File/Associated Press
File/Associated Press
Quarterback Jarrett Lee and LSU are in the driver's seat for a berth in the BCS title game. But should the Tigers slip, insanity might ensue.

And this season has potential to become one of the finest college football messes if the right teams step up and start throwing wrenches.

For those of us playoff barkers who enjoy cheering for spoilers, our new favorites should be Oklahoma, Arkansas and Georgia. These are the most capable programs of blowing up the beauty pageant between now and Dec. 3 and starting the howling in full force.

Let’s quickly refresh how we’ve gotten to this place.

Only four weeks ago, when the regular season rounded the midpoint, there were 10 undefeated teams including eight from automatic qualifying BCS conferences. First, viable contenders Oklahoma and Wisconsin peeled off. The next week longer shots Clemson and Kansas State were gone. A week later Alabama suffered a TKO in the “Game of the Century,” though some still refuse to acknowledge the defeat. Then Saturday showed the door to best-of-the-Westers Stanford and Boise State, leaving No. 1 Louisiana State University and No. 2 Oklahoma State as the last great hopes for the BCS apologists to get their perfect one-game matchup.

If you were doing the math in that previous paragraph, you of course know that there is a third undefeated team still out there.

Houston (10-0) is playing a very important role in all of this. In the absence of Boise State, Texas Christian or Utah (pre-Pac 12) portraying the plight of the undefeated yet unwashed and deprived non-automatic qualifier, Houston has stepped in as the understudy on the posters for inequality. Somebody’s got to do it, and the Conference USA leaders are doing an admirable job. The Cougars and record-setting quarterback Case Keenum are being almost entirely ignored.

If Houston can run the table against three capable teams with winning records, the Cougars will make great witnesses in any anti-trust lawsuit.

For now, all eyes remain on LSU and Oklahoma State, and both of them have good chances to finish unbeaten. But they’ll both have to work for it despite relatively easy conference road trips this weekend (at Ole Miss and Iowa State, respectively).

While the greatest doubts remain about Oklahoma State, the Cowboys actually have the simplest route into the BCS title game on Jan. 9 in New Orleans. The recent upheaval in the Big 12 has left the conference without a championship game, so all Oklahoma State needs to do is win at home against No. 5 Oklahoma on Dec. 3 and its passage will be booked.

Of course, the annual “Bedlam” game in the Sooner state has never been OSU’s strong suit. The Cowboys have lost eight in a row to their in-state rival. But while Oklahoma was earlier this season ranked No. 1 and still has eyes on a BCS berth, it will be without its biggest playmaking receiver Ryan Broyles who was lost for the season with a torn ACL.

Oklahoma also lost at home as 29-point favorites to a Texas Tech team that Oklahoma State just embarrassed 66-6 last week in Lubbock. Considering the Cowboys will have a bye week to prepare for the final showdown, it’s theirs to lose.

Which brings us to the far more fascinating tale of LSU and the SEC West. The Tigers have the best resume in the country. They beat then-No. 3 (now No. 4) Oregon in the season opener on neutral ground. They beat then-No. 2 (now No. 3) Alabama in an over-the-top hyped game in Tuscaloosa, Ala. They went on the road to trounce then-No. 16 West Virginia.

Now they’ll have to stand up once again and beat No. 6 Arkansas in Baton Rouge, La., just to win the division.

The mess gets truly delicious if Arkansas wins. That would likely create a three-way tie atop the SEC West between 11-1 teams with circular wins against each other. All three would likely be among the top five in the BCS rankings, creating the perfect storm in the nation’s best football conference.

The final tiebreaker in the SEC comes down to BCS standings, but it’s not as simple as just taking the highest ranked team (and there’s no predicting which one that would be anyway). It will come down to the rank order, and the top two teams are all that matter.

The tiebreaker states that if the second highest team is within five places of the highest-ranked team and it beat that team head-to-head, it will get the spot in the SEC Championship game. So let’s just say Alabama is ranked the highest, if LSU is closest behind it then the Tigers get the berth in Atlanta. If Arkansas is next, then the Crimson Tide goes. Run the same program whichever way the rankings fall. Capiche?

That essentially means the SEC West title, and perhaps BCS title frontrunner, could also be in the hands of subjective voters. Perfect.

The drama only starts there. Even if LSU survives Arkansas, it would probably have to face a rejuvenated and improving Georgia in the Georgia Dome. Two weeks ago every SEC East team was considered a sacrificial lamb, but now the Bulldogs have at least a puncher’s chance of pulling off the upset with a quality defense and a talented quarterback.

If Georgia should win, it would create BCS bedlam. Would a one-loss SEC championship loser (LSU) still get the title shot? Or would a one-loss team that didn’t even play for the title (Alabama) go instead? Or would the nation’s best conference be bypassed altogether in favor of another one-loss team (Oregon) that also lost to LSU?

That’s the kind of complete mess and chaos that anyone who dreams of a legitimate playoff should wish for.

Comments (11) Add comment
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Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 11/16/11 - 04:54 am
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" Or would a one-loss team

" Or would a one-loss team that didn’t even play for the title (Alabama) go instead? "....that, according to the unofficial ESPN head guru, Kirk Herbstreit, CAN'T happen, Scott. Remember a few years ago when Georgia had one loss but didn't play in the SECC game? Herbstreit proclaimed that a one-loss team that didn't even win it's conference shouldn't have the right to play in the MNC game....and it was so! I believe Georgia went on to finish ranked #2 that year. It'll be interesting to see if Herbie changes his mind this year on his past edict.

Scott Michaux
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Scott Michaux 11/16/11 - 10:24 am
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JMO, it CAN happen. It didn't

JMO, it CAN happen. It didn't in 2007 because that was a two-loss Georgia team and it didn't go because another two-loss team (LSU) won the SEC title and went instead. The voters made that choice with their final ballots (and it was the right choice) but there is nothing in the rules that prohibits teams from playing for the BCS title if they don't win their conference. If LSU were to lose to Arkansas, play in the SEC title game and lose to two-loss Georgia, the possibility exists that a one-loss Alabama would go instead. I don't like it and maybe the voters will unite again and make it not happen. But many of those same voters have been talking about an LSU-Alabama BCS rematch, and that can only happen if a one-loss that didn't even win its conference division were to get invited over other conference champions and runners-up.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/16/11 - 12:02 pm
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In 2007. LSU had two losses

In 2007. LSU had two losses and lost its last regular season game at home. UGA lost two games early in the year to Tenn and guess who...South Carolina, but hadn't lost since the 6th of Oct and was ranked ahead of LSU.

UGA was jumped and that was done for the expressed purpose of sending the conference champion. That wasn't right unless we are going to put credence in conference championships as vetting the conference representative.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 11/16/11 - 12:07 pm
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You tell him River!!!

You tell him River!!!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/16/11 - 12:27 pm
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JTF, we know that wasn't

JTF, we know that wasn't right.

Hey, you know how people say this is a down year in the SEC east with Fl and Tenn being weak? I've heard that a while now. Happened last year, too, when SC won the division. Recruits are heading other places. It could be things have changed for a long time.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 11/16/11 - 12:35 pm
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River, would you mind

River, would you mind clarifying your last post? "It could be things have changed for a long time." Not sure what you are saying. Thanks.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/16/11 - 12:37 pm
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UT and UF are going to be

UT and UF are going to be down for a looooonnnnngggg time.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 11/16/11 - 12:54 pm
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Yes, I agree. I believe the

Yes, I agree. I believe the future for UGA is definitely positive. They already have a great recruiting class ready to sign up right behind the "dream team" of last year. Hopefully, they will sign a couple RBs. I'm still unsure about Crowell.

David Parker
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David Parker 11/16/11 - 04:30 pm
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Rudy Rudy Rudy !!

Rudy Rudy Rudy !!

Scott Michaux
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Scott Michaux 11/16/11 - 05:39 pm
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"UGA was jumped and that was

"UGA was jumped and that was done for the expressed purpose of sending the conference champion. That wasn't right unless we are going to put credence in conference championships as vetting the conference representative."

Shouldn't we put credence in conference championship? Of course. If you can't play for a conference title, you shouldn't play for a national title. Plain and simple. I have been advocating that for 11 years.

UGA had no business going in 2007 because it failed to win its division. Richt lobbied then because that's what a coach is supposed to do, but he hasn't complained since because he knows (and has said so) that a conference title should mean something.

Until there is a real playoff, it doesn't matter WHEN you lose, only IF you lose. This pageant system is all about a body of work. A playoff system rewards the team that finishes best.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/16/11 - 06:12 pm
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Scott said, "Until there is a

Scott said, "Until there is a real playoff, it doesn't matter WHEN you lose, only IF you lose."

You know better than that. There are too many cases of a team losing early in the year and coming back up in the rankings to win it all by season's end.

2007 was the crazy year when number one kept getting knocked off the last half of the season. Until the final regular season poll, those behind number one always moved up. When number one and two lost UGA should have moved into the number one slot as had been done all year. But it was as if the pollsters got tired of the whole system and made drastic changes at the end of the season and jumped UGA. Mark Richt was on national TV lamenting the changes in the way everyone voted resulting in UGA being jumped.

blues550
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blues550 11/17/11 - 07:03 am
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What concerns me is the
Unpublished

What concerns me is the pundits complaining about the style of play rather that the best or most exciting team. In a "down" year the SEC is far and away the best conference, period.

You see no SEC teams bolting for other conferences.

When all is played out the SEC will still rule supreme, and the national pundits will just have to deal with it.

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