This year on SportsSpectrum.com, I will be ranking the contenders to the BCS title in college football. Something about me that you should probably know… I don’t like the Bowl Championship Series. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that the top level of college football (NCAA FBS) is the only major sport in America that does not utilize a playoff system. I will probably go more into detail in the coming weeks about my distaste for the BCS, but for now let’s get to the point of the column.
Each week I will count down the top ten contenders to the BCS title. As the weeks progress, we will start whittling it down to fewer and fewer contenders. Now, for this week and the next couple of weeks, my rankings will be based more on what I think will happen. Later in the season, the rankings will be based on team’s resume’s and where I think a certain team deserves to be ranked. For instance, if I went on resumes this week, LSU would be No. 1 and Boise State would be No. 2, based on the teams they beat in week one. But, as of right now, the name of the game is “Who Can Go Undefeated?”, and I will base my rankings on who I believe has the best chance to do that.
USC – Southern Cal is banned from postseason play until 2012. The Trojans can’t even play in the PAC-12 conference championship.
Oregon – A loss to an SEC championship caliber team is nothing to be ashamed of, but with a weakened PAC-12 schedule on the horizon, it will be difficult for the Ducks to rack up enough quality wins to get themselves back into the title picture.
TCU – A Rose Bowl victory in January had Frog fans dreaming big this season. Unfortunately, Robert Griffin III had other plans last Friday night, as Baylor torched the traditionally stingy TCU defense for 50 points. As a non-automatic qualifier to the Bowl Championship Series you have to go undefeated just to have a shot of getting invited to a BCS bowl game, let alone the BCS title game, where no non-AQ school has been.
Notre Dame – The Irish weren’t realistic contenders to begin with this year (or any year in the past decade or so) but not even Lou Holtz would say that Notre Dame could end up No. 1 or No. 2 in the final BCS poll after a season opening loss to USF.
Not quite eliminated, but not making a good first impression
Auburn – For 58 minutes, the defending BCS champions were about to lose to Utah… STATE! Traditionally one of the worst teams in all of college football. The Aggies have not won more than four games since the year 2000, when they won five under then head coach Mike Dennehy.
South Carolina – Until Steve Spurrier settles on a quarterback, the Gamecocks will never be a title contender. Spurrier yo-yo’d Connor Shaw and Stephen Garcia yet again against ECU, and the Pirates went into the break with the lead. Garcia played well enough (7-15 for 110 yards and 1 TD) to rally the team and get the win, but the waffling of quarterbacks against SEC defenses simply does not work.
Ohio State – It seems wrong to even put the Buckeyes here. How much of a disaster would it be for the NCAA if they actually make it to the title game?
Florida State - The Seminoles are ranked fifth in the AP Poll this week and I just believe these guys are overrated. EJ Manuel is taking over for the No. 12 pick in the NFL Draft in Christian Ponder. You just have to believe that the quarterback experience factor will come up to bite Florida State sooner or later. Maybe I should say Boomer Sooner or later…
Top 10 Contenders to the BCS Title
10. Virginia Tech - “Beamer Ball” is built on great special teams play and defense. The offense is usually the question but the the ACC looks to be very weak this year, and the one other ranked team (Florida State) is nowhere to be found on Tech’s schedule. Based on schedule alone, this could be the Hokies best chance ever to at least get to the ACC title game undefeated.
9. Nebraska - New conference, new foes, same great running quarterback in Taylor Martinez (965 rushing yards and 12 rushing TDs last year). The Huskers should fight for the Big Ten Championship with their main competition in the “Leaders” side of the conference being the Michigan State Spartans.
8. Oklahoma State - After two games (Oklahoma State trounced Arizona 37-14 Thursday night) the Cowboys are averaging 49 points per game! If the Cowboys defense can play a little bit, big things could be happening this season for the T. Boone Pickens funded football team.
7. Michigan State - I really like the leadership skills and talent of QB Kirk Cousins. A lot of NFL draft websites are ranking him as the number one overall senior quarterback to be drafted this year and I think Cousins will prove right this season. (You can read my story about Cousins and his faith by clicking here)
6. Alabama - Strong defense, great running game, great athletes, but replacing a senior leader at quarterback this year. I’m a big believer in needing an experienced quarterback to navigate through a SEC schedule unscathed. Former QB Greg McIlroy may not have been given a lot of credit while at Alabama, but now he’s an NFL QB (NY Jets), and those are hard to replace. Sophomore QB AJ McCarron is bound to have some growing pains this year and I think that will mean a loss or two thus knocking them out the BCS title picture.
5. Wisconsin - Transfer Senior QB Russell Wilson is the guy who can take the Badgers from being a Big Ten contender, to a Big Ten favorite and BCS title contender. We will see in the coming weeks how Wilson handles adjusting to a new system. So far, so good (1-13 for 255 yards and 2 TDs vs. UNLV).
4. Oklahoma - Playing Tulsa won’t give you a great barometer reading on how great your team is. We should get a better feel for how good this Oklahoma squad can be when they play Florida State on Sept. 17, which could be another BCS title elimination game. The Big 12 will be tough to navigate through the season undefeated, which is why I have them ranked here as opposed to every other poll, which has them at number 1. The Big 12 could have a very strong year with Baylor looking to be better than expected, Texas will likely rebound from last year’s losing season, Oklahoma State will put up plenty of points, Texas A&M will be good, etc. Again, the first few weeks will be my projections for the season as opposed to comparing resumes.
3. LSU - I really thought that the Tigers would miss Jordan Jefferson against Oregon. But didn’t we all forget that fifth year senior QB Jarrett Lee has plenty of experience to manage the run-first offense in Baton Rouge? LSU took care of the Ducks on both sides of the ball, and the Mad Hatter will be very confident taking his team into SEC play.
2. Boise State - Senior QB Kellen Moore is now 39-2 in his career. Unbelievable! After winning another big-time game against big-time talent, what more does the little blue team from Idaho have to do to prove they are the real deal and deserving of being in the BCS title conversation?
1. Stanford – Andrew Luck didn’t turn down being the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft to go back to school without a chance to win it all. With Oregon stumbling in the first week, Stanford looks to be the favorite in the Pac-12 and will have a great chance to get through the season undefeated. How great would it be for head coach David Shaw to go undefeated and win a title in his very first year of being a head coach at the NCAA FBS level?! I think I would immediately retire on top.