College Football Logjam

Two years ago, Auburn was on the outside looking in on the BCS title game. If things continue as they are, we’re looking at a logjam at the top worse than 2004 or 2003.

At this point, nearly half way though the season, Ohio State has the #1 slot sewn up, assuming they win all their games. Their only remaining game against a ranked opponent is Michigan. Michigan already beat then #2 ranked Notre Dame, so this will be no cake walk for Ohio State. But, let’s assume they win since they fall out of the national title hunt if they lose.

After that comes the logjam. This week’s coaches’ poll has the remaining unbeaten teams ranked as such: #2 USC, #3 Auburn, #4 West Virginia, #5 Florida and #6 Michigan. This week’s AP poll has Auburn #2 and USC #3, and the rest of the unbeatens the same. These polls are VERY close. In the AP poll, Auburn and USC are separated by only 28 votes. West Virginia, Florida and Michigan are only 53 votes apart, with West VA and Florida only 2 votes apart!

Of the six unbeaten teams, only four will survive to the end of the season. As I said above, Michigan plays Ohio State at the end of the season plus Auburn plays Florida in two weeks. Of the six teams, Florida has the hardest schedule. They play four currently ranked teams, two on the road (LSU, @Auburn, Georgia, @Florida State). USC has three games against ranked teams, but none are in the top ten and their all at home (Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame). Ohio State has probably the easiest schedule, with only one game against ranked opponent – i.e. Michigan – and they get them at home.

So assuming Ohio State, Auburn, USC and West Virginia all run the table, it’s a toss up who will be ranked #2 and play Ohio State in the BCS title game. Both USC and Auburn are #2 in one of the two major polls. Auburn has three games against ranked opponents (two remaining + their 7-3 victory over then-#6-ranked LSU). USC has four games against ranked opponents (three remaining + their 28-10 victory over then-#19-ranked Nebraska). But none of USC’s ranked opponents are in the top ten and all of Auburn’s are (at least currently). So who has the edge? Who knows? I do know that in this situation, either Auburn or USC will be left out in the cold. Not to mention West Virginia who has basically no chance to crack the top two unless someone stumbles.

I’m predicting lots of complaining at the end of the season. Like every season where there’s more than one unbeaten team. I’m begriming to believe that’s why the BCS was created, so that fans can focus their hostility on computers rather than the polls.

Update: I forgot to mention the ultra nightmare BCS scenario. If USC, Auburn and Michigan run the table, you’ll likely have a USC vs. Auburn title game with Michigan ranked #3. That means Michigan would have beaten both then-ranked #1 and #2 during the season, but wouldn’t get a shot at the title.