Our tidy little BCS plan went out the window in about five hours last night, when unbeaten, sixth-ranked (BCS standings) Baylor hammered No. 10 Oklahoma 41-12, and fifth-ranked Stanford held off No. 3 Oregon, 26-20.
For the last couple of weeks, the debate among college football fans was, would you rather see Alabama play Florida State or Oregon, or Florida State play Oregon with Alabama out of the picture? Now, Stanford must enter the picture, Ohio State remains unbeaten at No. 4, and Baylor – averaging 61 points per game – has to be considered a threat to win the national championship.
The old boxing adage applies to Alabama; to be the best, you have to beat the best. The Crimson Tide have won the last two BCS titles and three of the last four, and they haven’t lost. Until they do, they must be considered the best team in college football and the favorites to win again this season.
Florida State has nothing left to prove after beating previously unbeaten Clemson on the Tigers’ home field, 51-14, then hammering unbeaten Miami last weekend, 41-14. If the Seminoles win out against Syracuse, Idaho and Florida, and then win the ACC championship game, they should play for the title.
The intrigue comes if one of those two loses. I’ve always thought that the only thing you can do is play your schedule. So, if Ohio State and Baylor are the only two undefeated teams from automatic qualifier conferences at the end of the season, they should play for the BCS championship. It’s not Urban Meyer’s fault that the Big 10 is down this year, and there’s no way that an unbeaten team from that conference should have to play second fiddle to a one-loss team from a presumably more powerful one.
Baylor has flown under the radar all year, and certainly didn’t play anyone in its first seven games. But the Bears have scored at least 69 points at least five different times, and took it to the No. 10 BCS team. In addition to its prolific offense, Baylor allows just 15 points per game. The Bears still have to play at Oklahoma State and TCU and against Texas at home, so they have their hands full. But if they do win out and are with Ohio State as one of the only two unbeaten teams, then they should play for the title. Put it this way: They were No. 6, and Oregon lost. If the Bears win out, it would be unfair for a one-loss Stanford to finish in front of them. Stanford probably would – but in my mind, that would be unfair.
As far as Mizzou is concerned, right now the Tigers are eighth. Even if MU wins out, it would be hard to see them passing a one-loss Oregon, Stanford or Clemson. Even though they lost their game in overtime, it was at home, and it was to an unranked team at the time. Oregon lost to No. 5 Stanford, Stanford fell on the road at Utah, and Clemson lost to powerful Florida State.
Either way, Thursday night caused more tumult as the season heads down the home stretch. There are bound to be some surprises before it’s all said and done. If everything does go crazy, the best and only thing Mizzou can do is keep winning. If they win at Ole Miss, against Texas A&M and against Alabama in an SEC championship game, the Tigers will be a certain BCS team. For a team picked to finish near the bottom of the SEC East, that would be quite an accomplishment.