Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Boise State, USC: Two Paths to National Title

Kellen Moore's clinic of a two-minute drive proved good enough to beat Virginia Tech, give Boise State a signature victory ... and put the Broncos into the all-important second spot in the latest Simulated BCS Standings.

Yep, with the coaches bumping up Boise State two spots to No. 3 and a couple of helpful computer ratings, the Broncos are now in position to make possible the impossible dream: Getting a non-BCS conference team to the BCS national championship game.

Of course, much work remains for the Cinderella-cum-Goliath (that's like a sex-change metaphor, hmmm, weird). The Broncos must still get by a dangerous Oregon State team, though at home. Fresno State, also coming to the Blue Turf, always presents a challenge. They must stay awake plowing through the WAC schedule, needing to win each game impressively.

And ... they must root for each of those WAC teams to play well in every non-conference game to help along the computer ratings.

If all those things fall into place, then Boise State has a viable path to the BCS title game. Boise State's computer rankings should stay relatively high, with the other big boys slaughtering each other for three months. The Broncos also may be able to retain their spots in the Coaches and Harris polls, should they give the voters no reasons to demote them.

But since we're dealing with a bunch of hypotheticals, let's really go to town on this one: Let's assume all but one of the major BCS conference contenders suffer at least one loss each. And the one who finishes 13-0 in the regular season happens to be USC, who's ineligible for bowl games due to NCAA sanctions.

(It's early, sure, and that USC defense looks far from formidable at the moment. But with a benign schedule to open the season - a 4-0 start looks mighty manageable - and give Monte Kiffin a little bit of time to get that Tampa 2 properly installed ... who knows. Again, purely hypothetical.)

The Trojans are ineligible for both Coaches and Harris polls, and on July 30 the BCS announced that USC also will be bypassed in the computer rankings, with every team below the Trojans moving up one spot for the purpose of tabulating computer points, as it's done with I-AA teams.

But USC isn't barred from the AP poll, and there's been a precedent of a team on probation winning the AP title - Barry Switzer's 1974 Oklahoma Sooners finished 11-0, and split the title with ... USC. Should the Trojans run the table and no one else does, they have a better-than-even chance to claim a share of the championship.

So here's the mother of all hypotheticals. Boise State No. 1, USC No. 2 in the AP poll and both unbeaten. Ohio State is No. 3 coming into the bowl season, with one loss. The Buckeyes eek out a close win over the Broncos in the BCS title game while the Trojans watch with the nation's only unblemished record.

There are a number of AP voters who wouldn't mind sticking it to the BCS and there are probably an equal number who think likewise about USC and Lane Kiffin. We know the Buckeyes get the crystal ball, but deep down, everyone knows they'd get mauled by the Trojans (as they did the past two seasons). So what would the AP voters do?

So much for the AP poll being totally irrelevant, huh?


Ben Prather said...

Actually, USC will have no BCS points, as they will be stricken from the computers like an FCS team in the top 25 would be.

All teams below them would move up one spot.

The Guru said...

You're correct, Ben, and I have updated the post to reflect that. A little late to the party on that announcement.

Anonymous said...

where will James Madison stand in your rankings, now that they beat the vaunted Virginia Tech team on the road without needing a last minute drive?

Anonymous said...

Yeah Ohio St really got Mauled by USC last year, those last second win (18-15) type maulings.

As reality would have it USC couldn't maul UVA at home. USC has no shot of being undefeated as undiciplined and poorly coached as they are this year.

Your bias is showing Mr Guru, stick to the facts

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can honestly say USC would dominate penn state.

USC has looked weak 2 weeks in a row now. Get your anti SEC and pro pac-10 bias out of your head.

PS -- good website

The Guru said...

Hey, it's purely hypothetical. As soon as USC loses (and it may lose 4 or 5 games this season), then it's completely irrelevant. But as long as the Trojans stay undefeated, this conversation is alive.