It seems likely that in moments, the talking heads on the BCS Selection Special will confirm that Ohio State and LSU will meet for the BCS National Championship Game or some similar amalgamation of capital letters in January. The Tigers have surmounted several teams to reach #2 in the USA Today poll, which is factored into the formula, and the Associated Press poll, which is not; Ohio State profited off losses by Missouri and West Virginia to reclaim a #1 position it held for much of the year.
The question, obviously, is not whether it will happen, but whether it should.
In my opinion, no team played better football to close the season out than Georgia, which nailed longtime hammer Florida in the World’s Largest Outdoor Excessive Celebration Penalty Sequence, then steamrolled through the rest of its schedule with nary a scare. That is, except Oklahoma, which, despite Sam Bradford’s injuries and a radar-blip loss to Texas Tech, owns two double-digit wins over last week’s #1, Missouri, including the total demoralization that was last night’s Big 12 Championship. And, you know, USC’s Trojans finally figured it out of late, winning four straight, including two over ranked opponents, and allowing no margin of victory narrower than 17 points while picking up a Pac-10 title. Oh, and Virginia Tech only lost to LSU and Boston College, the latter defeat avenged in Saturday’s ACC Championship Game.
Ohio State and LSU have credentials, too. The Buckeyes only dropped one game, to a good Illinois team, and shut down Michigan to win the Big Ten; Les Miles’ By The Grace of Guts Bengals rebounded from a loss to Arkansas to claim an SEC Championship, and beat top-ten denizens Virginia Tech and Florida.
And Kansas is a one-loss team. And Hawai’i boasts the only unblemished record in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
But flip the mirror the other way.
Hawai’i is undefeated, but their schedule was scarcely better than the archipelago’s Little League World Series champions’ slate; they’ll play their second ranked opponent in their bowl. Kansas may have one loss, but it came on the heels of a cupcake schedule, in their first real test of the year, and denied the Jayhawks a shot at their conference’s championship.
LSU lost to Kentucky, now unranked, and Arkansas, which seems more schizophrenic than the sometimes fantastic, sometimes underwhelming Tigers. Ohio State lost to a quarterback named Juice.
Virginia Tech was dominated by LSU, and couldn’t close out Boston College with a ten-point lead in the dying minutes of the final quarter. USC fell to Stanford; Oklahoma’s Waterloo was in Boulder, Colorado. Georgia lost a game to South Carolina, which might not even be bowl-eligible.
This year, every team has flaws. This year, every team has beauty.
For the time of a loss to judge which team should be worthy of a chance at a title is wrong. For schedule strength to discriminate between teams is wrong. For common opponents to help determine if Team A would beat Team B is wrong.
The idea is to let Team A and Team B play. It’s called a playoff. And it will work, someday.
But, this year, every team has an argument; every team had its moments.
Don’t forget how much fun it has been.