The SEC occupies the top 2 spots in the new BCS rankings, released Sunday night. Alabama and Florida are Nos. 1 and 2, ahead of Kansas State, which passes Oregon to take No. 3. The SEC has a third entrant at No. 6 in LSU, with Notre Dame sitting one spot higher.
You can already hear the gnashing of teeth over SEC favoritism, but it’s difficult to find much fault with the Tide and Gators slotted top 2. A compelling case can be made for Florida to overtake No. 1, based purely on resume. The Gators have three wins over the BCS top 25: Texas A&M, LSU and South Carolina. Florida’s non-conference defeat of Bowling Green
Kansas State’s resume stacks up favorably to anyone from the SEC, or any other conference. The Wildcats’ rout of West Virginia moves them to 7-0, with a pair of wins against the BCS top 25. The West Virginia is weighted favorably enough that Kansas State jumping Oregon shouldn’t come with too much dispute.
Alabama doesn’t have the resume of Florida, but has easily dispatched all comers and ranks No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. So long as No. 1 handles business how it should — emphatically, week-in and week-out — I see no sense in penalizing it. Consider this Ric Flair logic: to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man. BCS metrics apparently agree.
Alabama’s win over Michigan trumps anything on Oregon’s resume to this point. The Ducks have handled business as easily as Alabama, though a true, marquee win eludes Oregon. Arizona improving its stock meant Washington lowering its. Arizona State has zero wins over .500 or better FBS competition, so the Sun Devils do little to bolster Oregon’s resume.
Oregon is hardly paddling against current, though. Bear in mind, these rankings are released with almost half the season still to be played, and the Ducks’ docket gets much more challenging. Still to come are BCS Nos. 7, 9 and 17 via Oregon State, USC and Stanford. Should UO navigate that
Oregon’s remaining schedule is actually the most conducive to paving a BCS championship game path, with Florida close behind. The Gators still see No. 10 Georgia and No. 12 Florida State, as well as a hypothetical SEC championship against top ranked Alabama should the Tide hold serve. Odd teams out in this scenario are Kansas State and Notre Dame.
Both can build impressive resumes, but the inability to play a 13th does hinder them somewhat. K-State still draws Texas and Texas Tech, both in the BCS top 25. Notre Dame faces a must-win for its championship hopes this week when it travels to Oklahoma. The Fighting Irish also face USC in Los Angeles.
The biggest boost Notre Dame can get, aside from winning out, is from USC or Stanford defeating Oregon. Kansas State purple might resemble Oklahoma crimson this Saturday; the Wildcats would benefit tremendously from a Sooner win.
Here is how the BCS would shape up should the ranked teams maintain their status the rest of the way:
BCS Championship: Alabama/Florida vs. Oregon
An undefeated SEC champion has the golden ticket to the BCS, no questions asked. Oregon’s difficult schedule to come, including a conference title game, would give it the necessary boost to pass Kansas State.
Rose: Oregon State vs. Michigan
The Rose Bowl selects Big Ten and Pac-12 teams when all BCS qualification criteria is met. The Big Ten champion won’t be in the hunt for a title game berth, so leading Michigan is lined up for Pasadena. The Pac-12 should have a second team eligible if Oregon plays for the title; assuming Oregon State finishes 11-1, the Beavers will snap a nearly five-decade Rose Bowl drought.
Sugar: Alabama/Florida vs. Oklahoma
The Sugar Bowl uses an invitation on the SEC where applicable. Though the champion is bound for the title game, the second at-large choice should be sufficient to land the SEC runner-up. In the current scenario, I’m giving the higher ranked Notre Dame the win — however, even if the Irish does steal Saturday’s meeting in Norman, 10-2 with losses to two of the nation’s top five teams is an impressive enough resume to earn OU an at-large selection.
Fiesta: Kansas State vs. Notre Dame
The Big 12 champion is contracted to the Fiesta Bowl when available. Notre Dame, should it maintain its perfect record, is an awfully enticing option for the bowl with first dibs at an at-large.
Orange: Florida State vs. Rutgers
The ACC is contracted to the Orange Bowl, and Florida State should win the conference title (emphasis on should). As host of the BCS title game, the Orange Bowl has final priority on the at-large. Rutgers sits one spot ahead of Big East rival Louisville. Their meeting next month should be the de facto conference title game.