Your assumptions are no longer valid.
Kansas State entered the weekend as the most balanced team in college football. Through 11 weeks, Baylor ranked 120th in yards allowed and 118th in points allowed. But last night in Waco, the Wildcats were unable to do much of anything on offense. Collin Klein had never thrown more than one interception in a game in his career; he threw 3 against the Bears. Kansas State was averaging 213 rushing yards per game, but Baylor limited them to just 76 rushing yards. The Wildcats hadn’t allowed more than 30 points in a game this year; Baylor scored 52 points in the first three quarters and ended the game with 580 yards of offense. The most balanced and consistent team in the country was demolished by one of the most one-dimensional teams in college football.
Who needs Andrew Luck?
At the same time, another surprise was happening in Eugene. If there was one thing we knew in 2012, it was that the Oregon offense was unstoppable
. This has been the case for years — since Chip Kelly arrived in 2007, the Ducks had scored at least 24 points in every home game
. Against Stanford, the Ducks were held to just 14 points in an overtime loss.
In their first years in the post-Andrew Luck and post-Robert Griffin III, the Stanford and Baylor programs dominated the college football headlines on the most important weekend of the season. For the first time in five years, the #1 and #2 teams in the BCS fell on the same day, rendering all of our national championship game assumptions moot.
This much is clear: if Notre Dame defeats USC at the Coliseum on Saturday, the Fighting Irish are going to the BCS National Championship Game. The winner of the SEC Championship Game is going there as well, barring an upset by Georgia Tech in Athens this weekend. I maintain that Georgia is far less deserving of its spot in Atlanta than Florida, who has the most impressive trio of wins this year by defeating LSU, Texas A&M, and South Carolina. Georgia lost to South Carolina but beat Florida, which gave them the tiebreaker and the division crown. But the real key for Bulldogs was that they faced Mississippi and Auburn in the West, not LSU and A&M; as a result, they are the SEC East Champions.
But now is the time for more relevant debates. Assuming an upset — either by USC, or by Georgia Tech coupled with a Georgia upset against Alabama — who is next in line? At that point, four teams will have legitimate claims for the other golden ticket: Florida, Florida State, Oregon, and Kansas State. Fortunately, the Gators and Seminoles play each other on Saturday, which would leaves us with just three promising candidates.
If they defeat Florida State, Florida is the clear “next team up” following a slip-up by Notre Dame or in the event of a two-loss SEC Champ. The computers would love them due to their strength of schedule, and the voters should love them for the same reason and the bump they would get for defeating Florida State.
If FSU wins, their case is much weaker. The computers hate them, and for good reason: they haven’t beaten any good teams. Defeating the Gators would give them a big bump, and they’ll get a chance to beat mediocre team in the ACC Championship Game, but consider: Outside of 10-1 Clemson, each of FSU’s other 9 victories have come against ACC, Big East, or FCS schools that have at least 5 losses. And how good is Clemson? Yes, they have a nice record, but their 10 wins have come against Ball State (#64 in the SRS), and ACC, SEC, or FCS teams with at least five losses.
According to the SRS, North Carolina is the 3rd best team in the conference and they rank 45th. FSU lost to a bad N.C. State team, while while Oregon (in particular) and Kansas State have much more palatable losses. FSU’s argument would be two parts “we lost earliest” and one part “we beat Florida and Clemson, even if Clemson hasn’t beaten anybody.” Florida State’s overall strength of schedule is far inferior to that both Oregon’s and Kansas State’s. In my opinion, even with a win over Florida, the Seminoles likely do not jump both Oregon and Kansas State in the BCS, nor should they.
And consider: if Stanford defeats UCLA this weekend, the Cardinal — and not Oregon — would win the Pac-12 North, which would deal a significant blow to Nike University. Kansas State still needs to get by Texas, but tonight might not end up being a season killer. At this point, they need to root for USC and Florida State, which is historically not a bad position to be in. My guess is Kansas State is next in line after an undefeated Notre Dame, a one-loss SEC Champ, and a one-loss Florida team. It’s possible only one of those three exist by the end of the season.
Let’s take a look at the SRS ratings after 11 weeks. As always, thanks to Dr. Peter R. Wolfe. [click to continue…]