Sunday, September 6, 2009

What to Do About BYU?

In 1984, BYU went 13-0 and won the national championship - the last consensus national title for any school not in the current BCS conferences. What's largely forgotten is that the Cougars played only four teams that finished with a winning record, the best being Air Force's 8-4.

That won't be the case this year.

Should BYU go undefeated this regular season, its 13th game should be for the BCS national title, because its schedule would be worthy for it.

After upsetting Oklahoma, 14-13, at Cowboys Stadium last night, the Cougars should be ranked in the top five of the polls, the most critical element comprising the BCS standings formula. If they fail to crack the top five, then the Mountain West Conference's mounting grievances against the BCS will have the fiercest argument yet.

Consider -

* Despite being listed as a neutral-site game, last night's affair was a de facto OU home game, with Norman only 200 miles away and the Metroplex a natural habitat for OU alums.

* Never mind that Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford was hurt on the final play from scrimmage in the first half. When the 2008 Heisman winner was playing, OU managed only 10 points.

* In the fourth quarter, after OU got the ball on a turnover at the BYU 27, it failed to score a touchdown to put the game away. The Cougars stuffed the Sooners six times inside the 10 (three times inside the 2) to force a field goal.

* Despite having two 1,000-yard rushers in the backfield, the Sooners ran for only 118 yards. They were outgained by nearly 100 yards as BYU held the ball for almost 38 minutes.

It's unfortunate that Bradford got hurt, but don't kid yourself that OU would've won that game going away had he stayed healthy. BYU earned that victory, fair and square - injuries are part of the game.

BYU should be in the top 5 after this victory, and its remaining schedule is strong enough for the Cougars to make a case for the BCS title game should they stay undefeated. They play Florida State, TCU and Utah, all three teams currently in the AP top 20. By contrast, Florida, everyone's favorite to repeat as BCS champions, will play only two teams that will be in the top 20 in next week's poll (and please spare me the 'but SEC is the toughest conference in the galaxy' fallacy*).

Certainly the season just got started and BYU can easily suffer a loss (or two or three) along the way and render this whole debate moot. But at this point in time, with what's already done, the Cougars deserve recognition as a top 5 team.

One other side effect from BYU's upset win: Two nights ago, Boise State seemed poised to claim a BCS spot, after beating Oregon and with a favorable schedule ahead. But with BYU's victory, the Broncos may finish the regular season undefeated and not get a BCS bowl berth for a second consecutive season.

That would hurt a lot more than a LeGarrette Blount sucker punch.

*In the realm of logic, this is called "begging the question." It usually goes like this:

SEC Apologist: The SEC has the best teams in the country.
SEC Skeptic: How do you know?
SEC Apologist: Because week-in and week-out they have to play the toughest teams in the country.
SEC Skeptic: How do you know these are the toughest teams?
SEC Apologist: Because they play in the SEC, the toughest conference in the country.

This is not to say that the SEC doesn't have good teams, it's just that the league has its bottom feeders like all other leagues. And since top SEC teams get to feast on these weaklings, the argument that their schedules are tougher than any other doesn't hold water.

Do you know when's the last time Florida played a nonconference game against a BCS conference team outside of the state of Florida? Try 1991, at Syracuse, in a 38-21 loss. But this will be the topic for another day.


Beta Rho said...

Why the unnecessary knock on the Florida schedule in favor of BYU?

Florida State, TCU, Utah is more difficult than FSU, LSU, Tennessee, Georgia + SEC Champion?

Viewing who a team plays in the Top 20 may be one way of viewing a difficult schedule - but it's the SEC weekly grind that makes it a superior conference. The off weeks are few and far between.

uhcoognation said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kendall said...

no offense kid..... seriously.....

Assuming Florida and Texas win out, do you still feel as though BYU deserves to play in the big show?

Yea.... I really didnt think so....

utesfan100 said...

You forgot to mention that BYU's top RB, a 1000+ RB for the last 2 years, was out.

Their #1 LB, 1st team preseason MWC, was injured early in the 1st quarter.

BYU's offensive line was depleated by graduation as badly as Oklahoma's and lost two projected starters during fall practice, reducing the total number of offensive linemen available to 7.

I think BYU at least competes with Oklahoma in the injury department.

Anonymous said...

Great post, but you need to make a correction. You wrote: "When the 2008 Heisman winner was playing, OU managed only 10 points."

That isn't true: The score was tied 7-7 when Bradford got knocked out by BYU's blitzing defense (and that wasn't luck - BYU had gotten to Bradford on the same scheme just two plays previously).

Felixt said...

OU never once drove the length of the field on BYU's defense. Their only TD came off a BYU turnover when Jacobsen bobbled a punt at the BYU 35, and their longest drive was 43 yards.

BYU, on the other hand, drove the length of the field several times (remember Chambers' fumble at the OU 1?) and scored two TDs on drives of 63 yards and 78 yards.

BYU's offense > OU's defense.

BYU's defense > OU's offense.