Well, Championship Sunday was slated to go down as almost totally intrigue free until the remarkable games of the night shift. With Clemson repeating the throttling they delivered Virginia Tech (how fun was that!) in the ACC title game, Michigan State’s heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin, we got a couple of surprising and thrilling twists in the BCS puzzle. That said, the big intrigue took place when Oklahoma State delivered an emphatic statement against preseason #1 Oklahoma. The legitimate question is raised – who’s #2?
What is interesting is that as of last week Alabama was the #2, and on ESPN yesterday we had Lee Corso opining that there is no controversy – that Alabama was CLEARLY the 2nd best team in the country? Now, don’t get me wrong. I certainly agree with Corso and much of the orthodoxy. I’d sure as hell pick Alabama against every other team in the country. The Crimson Tide has the 2nd best scoring margin in the country – the team has outperformed its schedule by nearly 30 points. If I could draw a name out of a hat to challenge LSU, it’d be the Tide.
However, are we casting a television show, or are we asking who is the most DESERVING opponent for LSU? Who is the “best” team is manifestly unknowable. As quaint as the notion is that the 2 “best” teams should be playing for the title, that notion is more or less completely false. Best ain’t got nothin to do with it. It is who is the most WORTHY. Has Alabama accomplished more than any other 1-loss team in the country? For example, let’s look at the Power Rankings #2 and #4, Oklahoma State and Boise State.
- Conference Championships? Well – Boise State is going to lose its league. Yeah a league title should not be slavishly used as the rationale to do anything, but why have it as a goal if winning was not important? So of the three teams, only Oklahoma State has won a conference. That counts.
- The quality of losses. Obviously Alabama is the winner here. Oklahoma State lost to the #65 team, and TCU is #16. Nuff said.
- The quality of wins. Alabama has beaten: Arkansas (12), Penn State (29). That is the extent of Alabama’s Top 30 victory experience. For Boise State, Georgia (23). Oklahoma State had Oklahoma (11), Kansas State (15), Baylor (19). Texas (31), Missouri (35). We extend the list for Alabama, Auburn (40) comes in. Oklahoma State crushes here by any standard.
Really – the question becomes who “deserves” it more – and breaking that down, CLEARLY it is about how you weight Oklahoma State’s loss against its wins. Do we buy the narrative that any SEC win is innately better than any other kind of win? Personally, I think Oklahoma State has done more than Alabama to have EARNED the title shot. They have beaten more quality opponents. The loss is tough to work around, but its just a matter of opinion. Alabama is a better team sure, but Oklahoma State is a better resume.