In about 30 stunning minutes Saturday night, the possibility for the mother of all BCS National Championship Games came into focus for the city of Miami: Alabama vs. Notre Dame.
For Canes fans, that stings. For businesses in Miami, that sings.
At first glance, one could assume browbeaten Miami fans would be rooting for Southern California to upset Notre Dame on Saturday. In a vacuum, that would be true. But let’s consider one possible alternative.
If Notre Dame loses to USC, and Florida upsets Florida State, then the only thing separating Sun Life Stadium from an all-Southeastern Conference national championship of Florida against Alabama would be a loss by Alabama to Georgia in the SEC championship game.
For the University of Miami, which forfeited its postseason this week, the hits just keep on coming. If I had to rank the top three teams Canes fans disliked the most, Florida would be No. 1, followed by Notre Dame and Alabama.
I’d say Canes fans would be rooting for Florida State on Saturday, but that just doesn’t seem right. Most likely, anyone with a passing interest in Canes football has either (a) already gone into hibernation until next spring, or (b) numbed their frustrations with strong drink, apathy and dunks by LeBron James, who, coincidentally, played high school sports for the Fighting Irish of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.
I was actually watching LeBron dunk basketballs in Phoenix last Saturday while the college football world was engrossed in one of the more memorable hours of the BCS Era.
Kansas State’s blowout loss to Baylor was a stunning collapse not seen in a BCS title race since perhaps West Virginia’s famous loss to rival Pittsburgh on Dec. 1, 2007. Kansas State was a 13-point favorite but lost by 28 points. West Virginia was a 28-point favorite against Pittsburgh but lost at home 13-9.
That same day in 2007, No. 1 Missouri fell to No. 9 Oklahoma 38-17 in the now-defunct Big 12 championship game. The late-season BCS calamity eventually led to LSU becoming the first and only two-loss team to win a BCS national championship.
I bring this up only because the combination of No. 1 Kansas State’s loss to Baylor and No. 2 Oregon’s overtime collapse to Stanford was not unprecedented. Yet no matter what unpredictable wackiness the BCS presents, every year the SEC finds a way to put itself into the national title game.
A team outside of the SEC hasn’t won a national championship since 2005. Stewart Mandel of SI.com pointed out this week that a scheduling strategy of the SEC is partly the reason: sprinkle games against cupcakes into the final month of the season.
It also helps when five of the teams in the conference begin the season in the top 10 of the Coaches Poll. This year, it was LSU (1), Alabama (2), Georgia (6), South Carolina (9) and Arkansas (10). It almost guarantees that at least one of the teams in the conference, but sometimes more, will be in the national championship picture late in the season.
It’s like giving Usain Bolt a 5-meter head start in the 100-meter dash.
This week, the top five teams in the BCS are, in order, Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Oregon. Alabama beat LSU. Georgia beat Florida. Florida beat LSU and South Carolina. It ensures everyone remains ranked high and in the hunt despite losses. In other words, the system is rigged in the SEC’s favor.
Two-loss LSU, No. 7 in the BCS, and two-loss Texas A&M, No. 9, are both ahead of one-loss FSU, No. 10, and one-loss Clemson, No. 11. Why? It’s not because they’re better football teams. It’s just selective math by guess-work polls based on nonsensical algorithms.
Could FSU or Clemson knock off Alabama on a neutral field? You had better believe it. Have you seen Alabama play football in the past month? Nick Saban’s offense is nothing special, and his defense has regressed.
And what makes Florida six spots better in the BCS than FSU heading into this weekend? FSU lost by a point to North Carolina State. Granted, it was a bad loss, but Florida needed a blocked punt to beat a team from the Sun Belt Conference. That Florida is even in the national-championship conversation is all the proof you need to indict the BCS.
But, hey, the city of Miami could use the money.
Collin Klein, the front-runner for the award before K-State’s loss, threw three interceptions, doubling his total for the season. I’m not buying Johnny Manziel, either. One great game should not win you the award. If a three-pick performance is going to knock Klein out of consideration, then Manziel should be held to the same standard. He had three picks against LSU in a loss and Texas A&M managed only 17 points against Florida.
(Not a representation of my ballot if the season ended today.)
1. Manti Te’o, senior linebacker, Notre Dame. 2. Barrett Jones, r-senior center, Alabama. 3. Collin Klein, senior, Kansas State.