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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Who Should Play for the Title?

Chris gave his take on this potential BCS mess. Now it's my turn. Let me start off by saying that Rutgers will not be undefeated at the end of the season. I predict they will lose to Cincinnati and West Virginia. Nevertheless, an undefeated Rutgers should not be given the opportunity to play for the national championship. Why? For the same reason that Louisville and West Virginia should not have been given the opportunity - it sets a bad precedent. The Big East got fat this year on playing a ridiculously weak non-conference schedule. If the Big East is rewarded with a shot at the national championship, then it will only further propagate this cowardly habit. Ohio State went down to Austin and played the defending national champions. Arkansas played the Trojans. What did Rutgers do besides play a couple of overrated in-conference foes? If Rutgers goes to the title game, then college football as we know it is dead.

So who should go? Well, that's a complicated issue. The Trojans have been unimpressive this year, with the exception of a big opening victory against Arkansas. They're ranked third in the BCS largely on reputation. However, if USC can beat Cal, Notre Dame, and UCLA in the next three weeks, they might have a legitimate case. With the way things have been going since the installation of Charlie Weis as head coach of Notre Dame, the Trojans better watch out next week, provided they handle the Golden Bears on Saturday. After all, Reggie Bush isn't available to push Booty into the end zone this time.

How about Florida? Well, they've been unimpressive, also. South Carolina nearly sunk the Gators, but thanks to poor special teams, Florida chomps on. If they win the SEC and USC loses one of the last three, these guys will get the nod, but they don't really deserve it. The SEC is usually college football's strongest conference, but it isn't this year.

What about Arkansas? The Razorbacks have been white hot since opening up by taking a 50-14 drubbing at the hands of the Trojans. If Arkansas wins out, they will have a legitimate claim to a spot in the title game.

How about Notre Dame? The Irish played most of their tough games to start the year. They struggled several times this year, and have not looked like a national championship contender. Nevertheless, a big win over a one-loss USC in the Coliseum could punch Notre Dame's ticket to Glendale, setting up either a rematch of the 2006 Fiesta Bowl or with Michigan. Notre Dame looked overmatched in both of those contests.

What about an all-Big Ten final? This is a terrible idea. Contrary to what the talking heads in Bristol are saying, no one outside of the Midwest is interested in seeing Ohio State and Michigan play twice. The very idea renders the first matchup meaningless. Playing in a conference means you have to win it to contend for the title. If you lose the de facto conference championship game, well then I guess that's just how it goes. Sorry.

Having considered these choices, it is apparent there is no good answer to this question. Whatever the answer winds up being, be sure that there will be plenty of grumbling.

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