The whacky college football season just won't end. With a clear path to the BCS Championship game, West Virginia and Missouri both laid an egg.
Now, I probably shouldn't ding Missouri too much for their loss. They weren't favored, and OU had already beaten them once, but beating a team a second time is often quite difficult (see BC and Virginia Tech) and OU did it convincingly. Nevertheless, Missouri had their fate in their hands and let it slip away.
Now admittedly, West Virginia was without Pat White much of the game, but still couldn't manage more than one one touchdown, and that something of a gift on a ticky tack call, against a 4-7 Pitt team.
So, who should be in the championship game? It depends on how you define who should be there.
- The two best teams - If you want the two teams playing the best, this year it very well may be Georgia and Southern Cal. Or if you insist the team must win its conference championship then replace Georgia with Oklahoma. Each had unfortunate losses earlier in the season, and USC's losses were with an injured QB and then without him while he recovered. Pete Carroll has taken responsibility for the Stanford loss for not replacing Booty. And OU's second loss was without their QB who had suffered a concussion. So if you want the best teams you should be lenient for a loss when they didn't have all their bullets.
- The two best records - I think everyone would admit this is a slippery slope as one must play a reasonably difficult schedule, otherwise we must include Hawaii in this conversation. But ruling them out, you then have Ohio State and Kansas, but while not nearly as weak as Hawaii's schedule, neither team played a terribly difficult schedule. Ohio State's best win is arguably against Michigan but Michigan is a 3 loss team that lost to Appalachian State and got spanked by Oregon State. Kansas' schedule was so weak that they didn't have a win over a team with a winning record other than Central Michigan (8-5) and Texas A&M (7-5).
- Whomever is at the top of the rankings - Given this, if you lose, you move down and teams simply move up to fill the slots. This would result in Ohio State and Georgia. But folks will then complain that Georgia didn't even win its division let alone its conference. But if Ohio State can benefit by not playing, why not Georgia? Of course, this approach is flawed as it assumes teams are rated correctly to start and should just move up. But if they were rated correctly then the top teams wouldn't have lost!
In the end, we are going to be stuck with Ohio State simply because the voters won't have the guts to do anything else other than move them up to #1 given the points gap there was last week. And the second team will likely be LSU which will be a travesty as they would be leaping 3 other teams, one that won their championship beating a higher ranked team (BC higher than Tennessee) by more points (14 vs 7). If the voters really believed LSU was better than Georgia and shouldn't allow Georgia to move up, they shouldn't have voted them ahead last week.
But we can hope the computer ratings keep the voters honest. For what its worth, I have a set of computer ratings I do (sorry, didn't get them on my web-site this year) and using my ratings that adhere to BCS rules (can't use margin of victory) would have a rematch of Virginia Tech and LSU, these teams having a small margin over #3 Missouri that had been #1.
I have ratings that do include margin of victory (I believe it must be accounted for, but can't reward running up the score) and those have Ohio State (despite my personal belief they don't deserve it) and Florida! But Florida has an ever so small gap over Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Southern Cal so you could take any one of those as the #2.
What this season begs for is a playoff though. There really is no way of crowning a national champion in a single game this year. I wouldn't be surprised to see a split championship this year as you could easily have differing #2s in the polls with the computers deciding who it is, and then with this season, who knows would would win leaving more questions to be answered. And the AP gets to vote and crown theirs completely separate from the BCS anyway.
On a positive note, it does have everyone talking about College Football ...