I’ve started to see some chatter, some what if talk: should all of BCS top four Alabama, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon lose between now and Jan. 8, could a 12-0 Ohio State be voted the Associated Press national champion?
The NCAA sanctioned Buckeyes destroyed completely overmatched Illinois today to win the Illi-Buck Trophy and remain perfect on the season. The possibility of Urban Meyer’s first Ohio State finishing 12-0 improves with each week, as does the talk of the Buckeyes winning the 2003 USC Memorial National Championship (the only split champion since the BCS inception).
Similar conversation is not ongoing for unbeaten Louisville, which smashed Temple today to extend its perfect record to 9-0. The Cardinals are not in the championship narrative, despite playing in a BCS affiliated conference. Yet, a perfect Louisville would have a similar resume to Ohio State.
Louisville’s current marquee wins are over Cincinnati, a fringe top 25 team, and North Carolina, which coincides nicely with the Ohio State discussion in that it’s also a good team banned from the postseason because of NCAA sanctions. While solid opponents, neither is going to knock off anyone’s socks like an Oklahoma or LSU. Louisville’s remaining schedule includes Rutgers, which could finish with double digit wins but sabotaged the Big East’s BCS computers last week with a loss to Kent State.
Louisville is not in the BCS championship conversation because its schedule lacks oomph. Conventional wisdom is that the front running four would actually have to lose twice to give Louisville an in to the BCS title game. But let’s say the doomsday scenario of Notre Dame, Kansas State, Alabama and Oregon suffering a loss plays out, and Louisville weathers the storm. If Ohio State is worthy an Associated Press split championship, so is Louisville.
Ohio State’s current marquee wins are Michigan state, which fell to 5-5, and bowl ineligible teams Penn State and UCF. PSU and UCF are comparable wins to Cincinnati and North Carolina. Louisville’s remaining schedule gets the boost of Rutgers, and OSU gets the remaining boost of Michigan: again, comparable quality.
So is Louisville capable of earning some national attention like Ohio State? Unfortunately, the answer is probably no. The Cardinals are basically persona non-grata in the BCS rankings, already ranked behind three teams with losses. The perception of the Big East that impacts the rating score of Cincinnati also impacts voters’ outlook on the Cardinals. As much as the Big Ten is struggling, it maintains a more favorable perception than the Big East.