Remember last week when Stanford's BCS dreams came crashing down and the outlook was bleak and dreary? Remember when I tried to assure you that everything would be okay and the Cardinal would still manage to secure a BCS bid? Better than that, remember when I laid out that pie-in-the-sky scenario that could actually end with the Cardinal still playing for the national championship?
After one of the craziest weekends in the history of the BCS, Stanford is suddenly firmly entrenched amongst a sea of teams that aren't good enough to separate from the pack. They are one of six one-loss teams looking up at LSU, the only undefeated team that matters. (Sorry, Houston.)
There are lots of reasons why the BCS system should be wished into the cornfield, and this weekend is Exhibit A. The voters clearly have no idea what they're doing. Oregon lost to a surging USC team that's clearly developed into one of the top seven or eight teams in the country, and they're pushed back six spots to number ten. Stanford's loss last week to Oregon, then seen as the team most deserving of a title shot, cost them five spots in the BCS. But the voters love Oklahoma State, so OSU's loss to an anemic Iowa State team only pushed them down two rungs to number four, two spots ahead of Stanford. Stanford also trails Virginia Tech, which is... how you say? A travesty.
Anyway, here's our team-by-team look at the weekly standings. As always, your comments are more than welcome.
#1 LSU (#6 Arkansas, SEC Championship)
LSU is in cruise control. They've blitzed Western Kentucky and Ole Miss the last two weeks by a combined score of 94-12, but they've got a huge game coming up this Friday when they host #3 Arkansas.
#2 Alabama (@ #24 Auburn)
Alabama is in pretty good shape. All they have to do is beat Auburn, and they're almost assured of a spot in the title game -- unless Arkansas upsets LSU. If Arkansas beats LSU, the Razorbacks would certainly jump Alabama (even though Alabama beat Arkansas by 24 points in September) and there would be a three-way tie atop the SEC West with LSU, Arkansas, and Alabama all at 7-1. I believe that they would still be tied after going through the first seven tie breakers, leaving the division championship to be awarded to the team ranked highest in the BCS standings, but I could be wrong about that.
#3 Arkansas (@ #1 LSU)
Poor Arkansas? Not exactly. On the one hand, they're the third-best team in the country, which is nice. But since they're also only the third-best team in their half of the SEC, they might get pushed off the big stage. Their bowl game, though, is this Friday when they take on LSU. If they can beat the Tigers, they'll certainly move into the top two. There's no need to feel sorry for them anymore.
#4 Oklahoma State (#9 Oklahoma)
I'm not sure what it is about these Big 12 teams. Either the bottom half of the conference is much better than the bottom halves of the rest of the conferences in the country, or the top teams just aren't good enough to close the deal. Last Friday's loss to Iowa State eliminated the Cowboys from the national championship discussion and probably eliminated the thirty-six-year-old Brandon Weeden from the Heisman conversation as well. If they can beat Oklahoma, they'll land in the Fiesta Bowl. (Stanford fans should pay attention.)
#5 Virginia Tech (@Virginia, ACC Championship)
Dr. Martin Luther King once said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. With that in mind, I'm going on a hunger strike to protest this ridiculous ranking. Sure, Virginia Tech has only one loss, but that was by twenty points to a terrible Clemson team. And what about their quality wins? They don't have any, unless you count their seven-point win over East Carolina or their 14-10 victory over Duke. I simply cannot sit idly by as they're allowed to sit in the top five with an outside shot at getting into the BCS championship game. (You read correctly -- if LSU beats Arkansas, Auburn beats Alabama, and Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State (all results less crazy than last weekend's), Virginia Tech could grab the #2 slot.) I will not eat any red meat until the Hokies are ranked appropriately. It's come to that.
#6 Stanford (vs. Notre Dame)
Even though people are talking about the allure of the #15 Michigan Wolverines as an at-large BCS team, if Stanford beats Notre Dame on Saturday (not a sure thing), they'll almost certainly jump Virginia Tech, and possibly even move into fourth if LSU beats Arkansas. There's no way the #5 team in the country, with the probable Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback, gets sent to the Alamo Bowl. No way at all. And if things break the right way (Alabama, Arkansas, and Oklahoma State all lose), the Mighty Card could even end up in the national championship game. The only problem with that, though, is I'm not sure that's a game I really want to watch. Unless we see better things on Saturday against the Irish, I'm even worried about a Fiesta Bowl matchup with Oklahoma State.
#10 Oregon (Oregon State, PAC-12 Championship?)
So first Oregon blows out the Cardinal in the biggest game in Stanford history. Then, just when they look poised to climb into the natty and leave the Rose Bowl for us, they screw us again by losing to USC. If the Ducks are feeling bad about this, they can go out and lose to Oregon State in the Civil War, giving Stanford the Pac-12 North, a ticket to the Pac-12 Championship game, and an almost certain trip to the Rose Bowl. That would be nice of the Ducks, wouldn't it? I know what you're thinking, though. There's no way the Ducks lose two home games in row. There's no way they lose focus like that in a rivalry game. Well, the USC loss could've been a result of a lack of focus. There were reports that Oregon players were celebrating in their hotel hallway, after watching Oklahoma State fall on Friday night. If they were thinking ahead then, looking past an extremely talented USC team, might they look ahead now? Now that their national title dream has been stolen, might they lose focus? Might they actually lose to Oregon State? I doubt it, but they owe us one.
With all that in mind, here's my projected BCS bowl lineup:
Championship: LSU vs. Alabama
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Oregon
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford
Sugar Bowl: Michigan vs. Houston
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Cincinnati