Posted: Wednesday November 15, 2006 11:46AM; Updated: Wednesday November 15, 2006 12:37PM
Should Ray Rice and an unbeaten Rutgers get a crack at the Ohio State-Michigan winner in the BCS title game?
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If Rutgers wins out (still a stretch with West Virginia in Morgantown), why don't they deserve a shot at the Big Ten champ in the BCS title game? Their defense can play with anyone (not a stretch) and they can run the ball. So why not RU? --Andy, Red Bank, N.J.
I give you credit, Andy. I haven't gotten nearly as much e-mail along these lines as I would have expected following Thursday night's game. Perhaps many of your cohorts are just thrilled to be in the top 10, or are taking a wait-and-see approach until after West Virginia.
Personally, I don't know that anyone can say right now whether the Scarlet Knights deserve a shot or not. For one thing, we've only seen them play in one meaningful game, and while their performance was certainly impressive (there's no doubt in my mind Rutgers' defense is one of the top five in the country), I'd like to see them do it again against West Virginia before I go declaring them national-championship worthy. And secondly, it depends on what other one-loss teams are in play. While the football fan in me thinks it would be fantastic to see Rutgers in the national title game, the analyst part of me thinks it would be a slap in the face to a team like USC that went out and scheduled Notre Dame, Arkansas and Nebraska, or a Florida team that would have beaten LSU, Tennessee and Arkansas. It would basically be saying that your schedule doesn't matter.
What ever happened to the notion that a team that loses early in the season has a better chance of climbing up the rankings than a team that loses later in the season? What ever happened to the idea that a team that loses to a ranked team generally drops fewer spots than a team that loses to an unranked team? It seems USC can do no wrong this year with the voters. --John Simonian, San Francisco
I agree -- it's baffling. I think it shows just how much clout the Trojans have amassed over the past few years. The voters seem to be giving this USC team nearly as much respect as they would have the teams from 2002 through '05 when this one clearly isn't on those teams' level. The fact is, they were not the No. 3 team in the country even before they lost to Oregon State, and they're probably not the No. 3 team in the country right now.
That said, it's not like the voters have a lot of other alternatives. Louisville, West Virginia, Texas and Auburn have all lost more recently than USC. Arkansas lost 50-14 to the Trojans. And voters understandably remain skeptical about Notre Dame and Rutgers. The one that puzzles me is Florida. While the Gators haven't been playing well lately, their last loss was Oct. 14 (compared with Oct. 28 for USC) to 9-2 Auburn (compared with 6-4 Oregon State for USC). So I'm not sure what the reasoning was behind USC leapfrogging Florida.
I'm curious. What if after everything shakes out we have a one-loss Michigan team and a one-loss Notre Dame team left? --Clarence, Lathrup Village, Mich.
You'll have to excuse me ... I just vomited into a trash can next to me. Remember all that space I devoted above how bad it would be to have an Ohio State-Michigan rematch? You just found the one scenario that would be worse.
In fact, I think this is why I have a hard time taking Notre Dame seriously in the national title discussion, even though the computers suggest they should be right in the mix. The fact is, we have no idea whether or not Florida can beat Ohio State or Michigan. Same with USC. Arkansas. Rutgers. Even Boise State. Maybe they can. Maybe they'd lose by 30. We don't know. But we do know that the Irish can't beat them -- they've been crushed by both this calendar year. At least with a team like Arkansas, there have been significant changes in its personnel/strategy since the beginning of the year to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the Razorbacks could beat USC this time around (though I'm certainly not saying it's a given). But the Irish are the same exact team they were on Sept. 16. Still the same great quarterback and receivers -- and still the same slow defense and anemic running game.
So even if ND does best USC, I kind of feel like, why bother? Is that wrong? Should I not be saying that? If NBC blacklists me, I'm going to be really ticked, because there would go any remaining hope of meeting Jenna Fischer.