True, they each stood up for each other when the likes of ESPN’s Mark May downplayed their abilities or Ohio State’s President Gordon Gee questioned who they played, but really, what does one losing have to do with the other. They are separate schools in separate small conferences who both play good football, but now the experts would like to have you believe that they don’t belong and that the Boise State loss proves it. They’d like us all to believe now that one loss teams from the Big-10 and Pac-10 deserve more respect than an undefeated team from the Mountain West.
I know from the experts point of view, it’s just good spin and makes good television. But what else do they have to gain by standing on their pulpits bad mouthing a college football team. Why would some of these experts be so adamant about their stance on a bunch of impressionable collegiate athletes who are trying to finish their season undefeated, and yet are be told they aren't good enough and shouldn’t be allowed to prove it on the field. Is this how they reward their own affiliation with the major universities they played for or went to?
For Mark May, who went to Pittsburgh, why isn’t he campaigning for justice in the BCS system where his own conference -- the Big East -- gets an automatic bid when they have only West Virginia (No. 24) in the top-25 BCS rankings. That seems like a more righteous cause than spewing reasons why TCU and Boise State don’t belong. Let’s be real, the Big East should have been reanalyzed as an automatic qualifier after heavyweight Miami left the conference and Utah went undefeated and beat the BCS out of Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.
This years Big East representative in the BCS Fiesta Bowl will likely be 7-4 Connecticut, a team who was 3-4 at one stage of the season losing to the likes of Temple and Big East bottom feeders like Rutgers and Louisville. Meanwhile, Boise State will be shuffled off to some awful bowl because of their one loss on then No. 18 Nevada’s home field.
What also is surprisingly lost in this entire debate is that everyone has gotten away from the real injustice of not having a playoff system like every other sport. Even NASCAR has some sort of playoff system in place. Division 1-AA football just began their own playoffs last week to end their season and crown a true champion, but the big boys can‘t do it.
Maybe Gordon Gee is is plain and simply right when he made the following comments before Boise State's loss:."I don't know enough about the X's and O's of college football, but I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it's like murderers' row every week for these schools. Until a university runs that gantlet, then there's some reason to believe that they may not be the best teams to [be] in the big ballgame."
Or, maybe he's simply right that he doesn't know enough about college football.
TCU still has an outside chance at making the title game should Auburn lose this weeks SEC Championship game against South Carolina or Oregon lose the civil war at Oregon State, but the experts would have you believe if that either of those teams lose that either No. 4 Stanford or No. 5 Wisconsin would be a more proper choice for the Championship game.
I was actually hoping that Ohio State would somehow pass Wisconsin in the BCS rankings to give us the classic Rose Bowl matchup against TCU, but TCU will now look to handle their business against a Wisconsin team who recently skated through the "gantlet" of their conference with beat downs on Indiana and a quarterback-less Northwestern.
Side Note: TCU announced that they have accepted an offer to join the Big East conference beginning in 2012 leaving the MWC in bad shape for future BCS considerations. With Utah, BYU and TCU gone, the MWC may as well just rename themselves the WAC. TCU apparently got tired of playing the game and seeing how one loss buried Boise State's bowl financial hopes, they figured they better get on board rather than being left out in the future.
Here’s a look at the potential BCS Bowls with lines from Kenny White:
BCS Title Game - Auburn (-1.5) vs. Oregon
Rose Bowl - TCU (-3) vs. Wisconsin
Sugar Bowl - Ohio State (-3) vs. Arkansas
Orange Bowl - Virginia Tech vs. Stanford (-1)
Fiesta Bowl - Connecticut vs. Oklahoma (-7.5)
Sports Books Win
Saturday’s games turned out just as good for the sports books as Oklahoma and Notre Dame had upset wins late that shifted the balance in favor of the house.
College Basketball Notes
Teams on the Rise
Notre Dame (7-0): Of all the Big East Heavyweights, Notre Dame may get lost in the shuffle. Their unranked as of now, but that could change soon after a couple of impressive win against a ranked Georgia squad, stomping Cal and then beating Wisconsin Sunday.
UNLV (6-0): The Rebels won the 76 classic in Anaheim by beating a Virginia Tech team who was ranked two weeks ago and was projected by many to compete for the ACC title. Lon Kruger has this team playing great team defense, hustling and playing smart basketball with quality shot selections.
Texas A&M (5-1): Their week started out with a 67-65 Thanksgiving loss to Boston College, but ended with wins over Manhattan and then beating No. 20 Temple 54-51. They should pad their record with three easy wins until a big match against Washington in two weeks.
Washington (3-2) & Pac-10: The Huskies were previously ranked No. 11 in the nation, but were exposed in losses to Kentucky and Michigan State. The entire conference is under the microscope as they look to prove that their collective troubles last year was just an anomaly. Last years champions, Cal, can’t score and thus far the conference is 1-5 against ranked teams.
Temple (3-2): They were ranked No. 20 last week, but losses to Cal and Texas A&M really showed their weakness, which is overall shooting…from anywhere. They haven’t found anyone to take over the void left by last years leading scorer Ryan Brooks. It won’t get any easier as the Owls play at Maryland and then have a home game against Georgetown over the next two weeks.
North Carolina (4-2): Somehow the Tar Heels remained ranked after losing to Vanderbilt and Minnesota two weeks ago, but their struggle at home Sunday against Charleston just shouldn’t happen. They rallied to win 74-69 and avoided being beaten by the Cougars for the second straight year. We’ll quickly find out what this team is truly made of this week as they’ll face the ranked teams of Illinois and Kentucky. It would be shocking if there were able to get a split.
Game of the Week
Michigan State (5-1) at Duke (6-0)
Wednesday, December 1 - 6:30 pm (PDT)
The No. 1 team in the nation gets tested early with one of the nation's best in the Spartans and then have to face Butler on Saturday. So far, Duke is hitting on all cylinders as they are shooting 50% from the field and 44 % from the three-point line. They are deep on the bench and have five players currently averaging double-digits in points led by Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler at 16 ppg each.
Michigan State’s only loss came due to the hot shooting of Connecticut’s Kemba Walker, but their own trio of stars could give Duke a major scare at Cameron Indoor Arena. Senior guard Kalin Lucas has elevated his game to new heights this season and will have to come up big in this one like he did against Washington when he put 29 points that including 4-of-5 from beyond the arch. Durrell Summers and Draymond Green have already picked up the slack left by the departed Raymar Morgan.
The Spartans have the talent and senior leadership to pull off an upset win at a tough place like this, but as hard as it may be to believe, this Duke team may be even better than last years title winning team. I’ll take Duke to win in a high scoring game, 92-83.