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Matt Zemek on Orange Bowl


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II. College Football's Bad Side

While the game between the lines can be so glorious and transcendent, college football becomes an absolute hellhole when you turn to the BCS and the obvious futility of a piss-poor system.

When the shiznit hit the fan between USC and LSU last December, I made the point--as I always do when discussing the Bull Crap Series--that even if problems are somehow avoided each season, that doesn't mean they don't exist. Therefore, even while college football might very well avoid a number of problems, the mere potential for another set of disasters shows how lousy this current system is. Let's go about considering the rankings, and you'll quickly see just how much of a nightmare we could potentially have.

In assessing the landscape and considering the top teams in the country, the big debate right now seems to concern Oklahoma and Auburn for second behind top-ranked USC. A number of cautionary statements are in order:

First, while USC definitely deserves to be number one, the Trojans are playing a bunch of teams that, Cal aside, are inferior to the squads that Oklahoma and Auburn are playing. If USC wasn't even slightly challenged in the dark, cold and wet conditions of Pullman, it's really hard to take the Pac-10 seriously as a league that has imposing road environments for quality teams. Stillwater, on the other hand, is a daunting road venue; so is Neyland Stadium, which Auburn handled with ease. USC's number one, but the Trojans' schedule is certainly inferior to its two competitors in the top three. What makes USC a worthy number one is the fact that they're pasting each and every opponent. Damn the BCS with its de-emphasis of margin of victory; kicking butt has to count for more than sliding by, even while OU's and Auburn's schedules are tougher than the Trojans' slate.

Second, and precisely because of the schedule equation, let's not get trapped into thinking that USC is a strong, strong number one, with no one else having a legitimate claim to being the top team in the country. USC has been extremely impressive and clearly figures to romp to a Jan. 4 date in Miami, but that shouldn't indicate that USC is somehow light years better than OU or Auburn. Pete Carroll is doing an absolutely sensational and underrated job, but that awesome coaching performance can't mask the fact that USC is still young at a number of positions, and is therefore not at the level of last year's group, which set the bar at an even higher level.

Third, Oklahoma should not be downgraded for its performance against Oklahoma State this past weekend. Some people are looking at the Sooners' three-point win and saying that OU is weak and playing on thin ice. This suggests a line of reasoning that believes OU is miles better than the Cowboys. Well, if you think that a team should dominate regardless of whether it's playing in a rivalry game or not, you don't know how college football works. Rivalry games are special creatures, and it's a very impressive achievement for OU to simply escape Stillwater with a win. If the Sooners can simply survive College Station with a win, they're basically home free in terms of registering an unbeaten campaign. Nebraska (likely twice) and Baylor don't figure to stop the Sooners from running the table, if A&M is conquered at Kyle Field next Saturday.

Fourth, the Oklahoma-Auburn debate is ultimately irrelevant because the Tigers--if able to beat Georgia and then win the SEC Championship Game as part of a 12-0 regular season--would clearly merit an Orange Bowl berth more than the Sooners, making the authentic BCS debate a contest between USC and OU, not OU and Auburn.

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What makes USC a worthy number one is the fact that they're pasting each and every opponent.

They cetainly didn't paste Va Tech, Stanford, or Cal.

I hope they would paste BYU, Colorado State, Washington and Washington State, because those are below average teams.

The only case you could make for them pasting a good team is Arizona State. But all they have done is lose their 2 tough games by a combined score of 72-7.

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yeah that's what i didn't get. ou and auburn are both winning by equally as impressive (or more impressive) margins week-in, week-out. i mean we've played one game all year that was less than an 18 point beat down. ou didn't stomp texas, but they shut them out. and they've manhandled almost every other team until last weekend (kstate the one exception and i don't think the final was all that close).

bottom line, usc plays the worst competition, and they've produced similar results. that tells me they are the least worthy. but like sport said doesn't matter if we don't beat the dawgs. war eagle!

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yea...i didn't know what he was talking about with USC. they haven't blown out that many teams. our only close game was frekin LSU.

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One of the sports websites, I forget which one, has USC schedule ranked as the 4th toughest in the country. It has AU's ranked as somewhere in the 70s. Both are totally BS. The PAC 10 is full of a bunch of mediocre teams. Although everyone says the SEC is down this year, I don't see it. Here's USC schedule this year:

VA Tech- USC barely beat this less than impressive team

Col St- Bottom tier in their conference

BYU- no comment

Stanford-again, no comment

Cal-the only legitimate competition in the PAC 10

AZ St.-not bad, not good

Wash-Bad, just bad

WSU-Again, bad, just bad

Oregon ST-Not sure how good they are, maybe we should ask LSU

AZ- Would probably finish 4th in the SEC West Division

ND-sometimes good, sometimes bad. This year, mostly bad

UCLA- again, no comment.

As far as our schedule, the Citadel and ULM hurt us bad.

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living in the west coast for 8 years and becoming familar with teams in the wac-10 i am convinced this conference is comparable to the new big east. they get more notice because the other conferences of the west are weak unlike the midwest and south who have the acc, sec, big ten and big 12 competing with each other for recruits. california schools specifically ones in southern california get the best recruits the west has to offer. usc and ucla are attractive because of weather, big stadiums and their legendary past. granite oregon, california, washington and one of the az teams will come around from year to year because they pick up the one or two sleeper recruits. every other team is a duke or vandy.

unfortuantely the two teams okla and auburn are being rang through the ringer making players feel uneasy and more vulnurable. if the media and coaches would be less concerned about record and look at the overall picture you would see auburn and oklahoma in the top 2 followed by wisconsin, miami and georgia. usc though a good team deserves a number 8 - 10 ranking.

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unfortuantely the two teams okla and auburn are being rang through the ringer making players feel uneasy and more vulnurable.  if the media and coaches would be less concerned about record and look at the overall picture you would see auburn and oklahoma in the top 2 followed by wisconsin, miami and georgia.  usc though a good team deserves a number 8 - 10 ranking.



The pollster's are too concerned with their win/loss record on picks than choosing who really should be the #1 team in the nation.

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wins and losses are the only proof we have. i think you've underrated the pac ten a tad bit. they are light years ahead of the big east. cal or usc would skate through west virginia's schedule unbeaten. however, arizona is as bad or worse than msu unlike the one break down that put them around 4th in the west. i think most folks want to give them automatic credit for being coached by a stoops; fact is they just suck.

the reason usc's schedule is rated so highly is b/c they don't have any lamo's or citadel's. i contend however that it is harder to play multiple really good teams and some bottom 100 teams than it is to play a bunch of 50-80 teams. i think at a point bad is just bad. when auburn or usc or oklahoma lines up against a team ranked 111th or a team ranked 51st... it's still a win regardless. at least in auburn and ou's case you get more than one true challenge a year.

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ok...let me get something straight

USC has scored 294 pointsto their opponents 87 through 8 games

AU has scored 318 points to opponents 87 through 9 games

Oklahoma has scored 284 points to opponents 123 through 8 games

USC is averaging 36.75 points per game while allowing 10.87 points

AU is averaging 35.3 points per game while allowing 9.6 points

Oklahoma is averaging 35.5 points per game while allowing 15.38 points

Average Margin of victory for USC is 25.88, for AU is 26.7, for OU 20.13

yea....USC deserves to be number one by those stats, and has pasted their opponents but auburn hasn't...good reasoning....not

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