Just Keep Winning

Going into week 8, the SEC held an absurd eight spots in the AP poll. By the time the weekend was over, five of those eight teams had lost–three of them to unranked teams. For the first time in years, even the early season bias of the AP poll wasn’t enough to skew the BCS computers to the falsely perceived strength of the SEC. And while the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes continued to struggle with the pollsters, the BCS rankings are looking much closer to reality than they have in recent memory.

Let’s take a look at the BCS rankings and how we ended up here.

First the Buckeyes
At this point, there isn’t much the Buckeyes can do to improve their chances of a Jan. 6 appearance in Pasadena other than to just keep winning. We can’t impact Michigan’s overwhelming desire to pull another Appalachian State or the fact that PAC 12 officials did all they could to keep the Buckeyes from meeting an undefeated Wisconsin. This is the world we live in. The only way out is to keep winning and wait for the teams around us to fall.

Buckeye fans have shown more than their share of concern after “close” games against both Northwestern and Iowa. And while yes, they weren’t the blowouts many Buckeye fans would like to see, the Buckeyes adjusted in both games. When the passing game wasn’t developing against Northwestern, Hyde was able to take control. When the defense struggled in the first half against Iowa, they were able to adjust in the second and other than a long pass, keep Iowa off the scoreboard.

It was also good to see the offense adjust against Iowa as they opened up the passing game spreading the field and creating some much needed running lanes for both Braxton Miller and Carolos Hyde.

People are quick to ask if the Buckeyes are ready for a national championship game or do they need another year. This ability to adjust and improve not only as the game goes on but throughout the season is why I say bring it on. I think the Buckeyes have the depth and talent to compete with anyone. To think that the Buckeyes might need go three seasons without a loss before getting a National Championship shot is almost more than I can bear.

Clemson’s rise to No. 3 emphasized one of my biggest frustrations with the preseason polls. Before Florida State, Clemson’s only “quality” win was against a No. 5 Georgia who proved this weekend that they never should have been ranked that high in the first place. Boston gave us a glimpse of what was to come and Florida State ripped it open with blinding clarity.

If it weren’t for preseason rankings, Clemson would not have been a part of the BCS discussion.

Like Georgia, Florida is nowhere to be found in the opening BCS polls. Yet at the start of the season, there they were sitting proudly in the No. 10 spot. By week three they were clinging to No. 18 and thankfully, Missouri put an end to any Florida discussion.

Texas A&M
Texas A&M exposed themselves in the first half of the 2013 football season. That was the half where they found themselves losing to Rice. The same half that Johnny Autograph sat out to pay his NCAA penalty. Without their all-star quarterback, A&M was lost. They proved themselves to be a one-dimensional team. Alabama was the first blow, Aurburn the second. Now they find themselves comfortably out of the BCS title race holding down a much more appropriate No. 16 ranking.

The question I want to know, how did Auburn suddenly find themselves in the No. 24 spot? They received no votes in week 6 and after losing to Ole Miss, garnered a handful of votes. Is a blowout win over Western Carolina really enough to justify a spot in the polls? Or did it have something to do with the fact that they were playing a top-ranked team next.

Watch who moves in and out of the bottom of the top 25 and tell me upcoming opponents don’t have something to do with it.

South Carolina
South Carolina started the season ranked No. 6 before losing to Georgia (who just lost to Vanderbilt) and Tennessee. Is there anything more to say?

Although Missouri was unranked going into the start of the season, they are the only SEC team that has earned their ranking (No. 5) and they’ve done it by winning. They have also found themselves a huge benefactor of the SEC bias that comes into the pre-season rankings.

Not to take anything away from Missouri as I think they have rightly earned their No. 5 spot. However, they also get the full benefit of taking out highly ranked teams that never should have been ranked that high to begin with. I don’t see Missouri running the table but unfortunately, if they do could we possibly see another SEC vs. SEC national championship game. No matter how wrong it would be, it’s not out of the question.

In the world of BCS rankings, Tennessee is our control. Without common opponents it’s hard to make comparisons between teams. This year however, we have that comparison in Tennessee. Tennessee started their run against ranked teams when Oregon pummeled the Vols 54-14. Since that drubbing, Tennessee has gone on to push Georgia to overtime and take down South Carolina. Did they really improve that much since their follow up loss to Florida?

At this point, I think Oregon more than anyone deserves a shot at the BCS championship. As you can probably tell, I’m not impressed with Alabama’s schedule so far. If the Vols even give them a second look, I will question Bama even more.

Oregon gets a chance to prove themselves in the coming weeks against No. 12 UCLA, No. 6 Stanford and No. 25 Oregon State. If they continue to blow out their opponents like they’ve been doing so far this season, they get first dibs, not Alabama.

Don’t Call it an Upset
The talk this weekend was all about upsets but the point I’m making here is that “upset” is a misnomer. The only reason we are calling them upsets is because the polls told us they were. If it weren’t for skewed preseason rankings, would Clemson’s loss to Florida State really be called an upset?

There’s still plenty of opportunity for the rankings to continue to sort themselves out. Hopefully, we will see a few more losses among the top five before the season ends. The one thing I do like about the BCS is that the entire season is a playoff. Lose a game and you are out. Hopefully we are past the discussion of a one-loss team jumping over an undefeated Ohio State and the lose and you’re out scenario can play out.

Bottom line, do away with the AP poll, the coaches poll and any other poll until week 8. Let them all come online at the same time midway through the season.