Title picture clear, yet maybe hazier than ever

mlough@macon.comDecember 4, 2012 

And here we thought the debate season was over, what with massive memory loss and flip-flopping. The BCS standings say otherwise.

Here’s our problem.

We have more parity in the national championship race than seemingly forever, including since the BCS process -- also known as “Still Ridiculously Better Than the Old System That Most Have Completely Forgotten About” began.

You know how we all do the if they played 10 times, who would win how many times game? The one that really proves absolutely nothing but can offer cogent analysis for those capable of offering and accepting cogent analysis?

Take the top 11 teams in the current BCS standings, where again, some two-loss teams are better than those ahead of them.

It seems like almost nobody thinks Notre Dame is worth a flip. Well, we can be tired with the broadcast media obsession and all, but the way the process goes, yes, the Irish should be No. 1.

That said, I’d least like to play Alabama or Oregon in the national title game, by far more than anybody else. Thus, it’s easier to argue about who shouldn’t be in the championship game than it is to argue who should be. There’s a difference between winning and being really, really good. It’s not about just the record.

Notre Dame’s defense: quality defense, steady offense, undefeated. Notre Dame’s issues: had to pull out three-point wins over 6-6 Purdue, 7-5 BYU and 5-6 Pitt (in three overtimes), all at home, struggled on the road with 2-10 Boston College and might have been the beneficiary of a botched call in a win over Stanford.

Notre Dame, as far as being a complete team exercising its muscle, is as unimpressive a No. 1 team at the end of the season as we’ve seen.

Alabama’s defense: elite defense, effective offense, super fundamentals and consistency. Alabama’s issues: not as good as the past few title teams, could’ve lost by 10 to LSU and did lose at home to a freshman quarterback, albeit the inevitable Heisman winner.

Georgia’s defense: playing as well as anybody, top-flight defense, effective offense. Georgia’s issues: hammered by 28 at South Carolina (certainly in previous years there’d be no yelling about playing for the title with a 28-loss, right?) and survived against a bad Kentucky team (does a five-point win over Kentucky -- which lost at home to FBS Western Kentucky -- really mean more than a three-point win over a Pitt team that has beaten two ranked-at-the-time teams and is a win away from .500?).

Florida’s defense: some quality wins, stellar defense, weapons on offense. Florida’s issues: struggled against mediocrity and lower programs (Bowling Green, Vanderbilt, Missouri and Jacksonville State) more often than not.

Oregon’s defense: wins over ranked teams by 49, 31, 11 and 24. Oregon’s issues: a loss to No. 13 by three isn’t a stumble, it’s a stubbed toe.

Kansas State’s defense: fairly handled most opponents, ranked or not. Kansas State’s issues: OK, yes, I’ll say that losing by 28 points in the next-to-last game of the season to an unranked team eliminates a team from consideration.

LSU’s defense: took care of business, wins over No. 3, No. 18 and No. 21. LSU’s issues: gave away the Alabama game, sluggish against sluggish Florida, mediocre wins over Auburn, Arkansas and Towson.

Stanford’s defense: wins over two No. 2s, No. 11 and 17 (and yes, yes, if you count the ranking at the time when your team won, you have to count everybody’s); Stanford’s issues: loss to Washington,

And two-loss Texas A&M, South Carolina and Oklahoma lost only to ranked teams, all of whom are now in the BCS top seven, and all beat top-10 teams.

Strength of schedules can be fruitlessly debated by checking out Sagarin, teamrankings.com, collegefootballpoll.com and gberatings.com, among others

All we really know is that whichever team wins Saturday in Atlanta becomes America’s Team for about five weeks, during which the debate stage will remain crowded and loud.

Contact Michael A. Lough at 744-4626 or mlough@macon.com.

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