For all but Army and Navy the regular season is over folks. That's it. We've reached the end of the 2011 college football twelve game schedule. Folks are setting up for going bowling, teams are shopping for head coaches, recruiting is now becoming the topic du jour and other people are just figuring out what they can tweak to improve in 2012.
In The Bleachers Ballot - Week 15
Alabama Crimson Tide
Oklahoma St. Cowboys
South Carolina Gamecocks
Michigan St. Spartans
Kansas St. Wildcats
Virginia Tech Hokies
TCU Horned Frogs
Boise St. Broncos
Florida St. Seminoles
West Virginia Mountaineers
Northern Illinois Huskies
SB Nation BlogPoll College Football Top 25 Rankings »
No new teams. Just risers and fallers after the conferece championship games and the last round of football for teams without a title game. LSU is the definitive number one as they have been since like the second week of the season. Geaux Tigers as they settle in for the rematch against Alabama. We will get into the whole BCS ordeal but first let's talk about who moved, who didn't move and how this all shook itself out.
Moving On Down: Houston, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech are the big drops this week. Not just because they lost but because they all three looked absolutely inept in conference title games or in the case of Bedlam, the final game of the season that decided the conference. First up, Houston. With all the hullabaloo last week about Coach Kevin Sumlin's next job and Case Keenum deciding before they finished the drill was the time to start stumping, it seemed the Cougars weren't focused on the task at hand. They went out there and got beat down by the Golden Eagles and Larry Fedora, ending their BCS Bowl hopes and effectively ending both the "Case Keenum for Heisman" talk and the "we deserve a shot" talk about the undefeated Cougs and the BCS Championship.
Great season for them but overall they showed that you gotta bring defense to the party and letting Austin Davis and Tracy Lampley get loose all over you isn't the way to get things done. Larry Fedora and his gang are the 26th team for me, their brain farts against UAB and Marshall will keep them from achieving that ultimate success of a BCS Bowl but hell of a season for that group of young men. Now it seems Fedora is the name of the day thanks to his team's showing.
Oklahoma, sad, sad to see this team we all thought would be playing for a national title in August and September crumble into what they have become. They weathered the Austin Box tragedy. Played through their best defensive player battling a broken toe. Survived the loss to Texas Tech on a weather delayed Saturday that became Sunday in October. Persevered through their best player Ryan Broyles and his heartbreaking ACL tear. But in the end their defensive deficiences first shown to us against Texas Tech ultimately were too much to overcome. The coverage in the back end was woeful at times against Mizzou and for entire games like Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, while the continued inability to handle a mobile quarterback sank OU against Baylor.
Then we get to Virginia Tech, Kudos on the BCS bid to the Sugar Bowl but shame, shame, shame on this team for their ACC Championship game performance. Clemson took their October meeting and decided they wanted to turn up the heat and just blitz this squad. It looked a lot like an early season game where Logan Thomas was a converted tight end, David Wilson wasn't ready to tote the rock every down, the offensive line was unprepared and the defense just couldn't handle the pressure. Honestly it looked like the Hokies in their games against LSU in 2007 or Stanford 2010, ugly.
Now it must be said that losing Jayron Hosley hurt them. Freshman Detrick Bonner was picked on like the kid who smells bad in middle school all game by Chad Morris and the Clemson offense. The Hokies, for the first time ever, were not ready for the ACC Championship Game stage and that showed on Saturday night in Charlotte.
Moving On Up: Baylor, Clemson, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Southern Cal end up higher than they were just a week ago. Baylor just took apart Texas and Robert Griffin III absolutely proved he's a man amongst boys on the field. The kid is the best offensive player in the nation right now and for me it isn't even close. Ask him to do it and he will get it done. He throws, he runs and he creates so much opportunity for Baylor like a Russell Wilson on steriods with a stronger arm and word class speed. Art Briles had better be very much in the hunt for coach of the year.
Clemson and Sakerlina are linked for me. The Gamecocks took apart the Tigers a week ago. This week that win means even more to me as the Tigers absolutely slapped around the Hokies. Stopping Dwayne Allen, Sammy Watkins, Andre Ellington and DeAndre Hopkins is no small task but the Gamecocks made it look easy a week ago. For Clemson, they balled so hard against Virginia Tech. It was like the light from September came on all over again and on the biggest stage, sending the Tigers to their first BCS Bowl in a long, long time.
Wisconsin got the job done against Michigan State and the game ended in controversial fashion yet again. Their defense is not very good but their offense is a powerful juggernaut that should make for an interesting Rose Bowl. Russell Wilson has facilitated like the well groomed field general he is and Montee Ball is doing man's work toting the rock. 32 touchdowns for the Wentzville, Missouri junior is not getting nearly enough publicity.
Ah, Southern Cal. Oregon's the Pac-12 Champ with an 11-2 record. The Trojans have an early season loss to a much difference Arizona State squad than the one we saw in November and an overtime loss to Stanford to sit them at 10-2 and parked for the bowl season courtesy of probation. However, Lane Kiffin's guys also have a win over Oregon and the type of squad that makes folks think had they been eligible they'd have done it again to get into the Rose Bowl if they were eligible. They're a hell of a ball club and if stand out quarterback Matt Barkley comes back expect USC to be sitting right there in a position we all got familiar with during the Carroll era, in the Top Ten for the 2012 season.
Now for the BCS:
Let the anger begin folks! AAAARRRRRGHH THE BCS HAS SCREWED TEAM X!
I guess let's start with the non-BCS ranks who, for the first time since 2005's regular season, failed to get a team into the mix. Sucks. The BCS National Title game and the non-AQ provisions were made to help get those teams into games but Boise State and Houston both dropped the ball by losing their conference. TCU and Southern Miss also dropped the rock by virtue of early season losses. Boise State ends up the only team that qualified for an at-large bid and when they're swimming in the same pool with heavy hitter at-large teams they, somewhat expectedly if you're not naive, got the short end of the stick.
Now for Kansas State. They finished eighth. Three sports ahead of Virginia Tech yet the Hokies got the bid. That's tough. Both of the Wildcats' losses came to teams ranked higher than them; got blown out by Oklahoma at home and a scorefest against Oklahoma State on the road. Hell of a season for Bill Snyder and Collin Klein but the committee decided to go another route. It happens.
And here is where we stop freaking out about this being "the BCS's fault" and recognize what the actual issue is here; bowls get to pick. The BCS is designed to get the top two teams into a game against one another to crown the champions of the college football season. That's the it. That's the primary goal. Your conference champions are going to the same bowls that they've gone to for decades. ACC goes to the Orange. Big XII goes to the Fiesta. Big Ten and Pac-10 (Pac-12 now) go to the Rose. SEC goes to the Sugar. Big East floats between Fiesta, Sugar and Orange depending on who wants them. That's not new. It isn't a BCS invention.
After that bowls are gunning for attractive match ups to sell their cities. The Sugar Bowl, because of the rematch, lost the guarantee that they have always had; an SEC team to sell out their stadium come January. They opted to try and get that sell out by pulling in the 13th ranked, but nationally powerful, Michigan Wolverines and the "we travel pretty well" Virginia Tech Hokies. They didn't "skip" anybody. They looked at who was available and picked the teams they wanted most. Hell, I'm surprised that the Hokies got tabbed over the Sooners more than them going over Boise State, Kansas State or Baylor. Michigan doesn't surprise me at all though.
But hey, if we're going to get bent out of shape over order let's do it all the way, starting with Arkansas in this argument. They both got passed by both Michigan and Virginia Tech as well. Let's bellyache about that because the Hogs are ahead of Boise State, Kansas State and Baylor, the teams people think are more deserving than the Hokies of a Sugar Bowl bid. Throw Arkansas in the game, instant sellout from folks traveling down just one state.
If we're really going to argue skipping and it not being fair let's start at the beginning. Arkansas is above everyone but LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Stanford and Oregon. Why aren't they going to a game?