until Texas vs Kansas

Monday, November 29


From the E-mail Bag

From loyal reader Mike Timmons:

"Could you please explain to me how Auburn, the undefeated champion of the best conference in the NCAA, is going to be left out of the Orange Bowl? The SEC has 5 teams in the top 25. Auburn's only CLOSE win was against #11 LSU. The PAC10 sucks this year, and the Big12 is as weak as it's been since inception. The only solid conference in the country fields an undefeated team, and they don't play for the national championship? USC almost lost to 4-7 Stanford and 6-5 Oregon State. OU stumbled against Oklahoma State, A&M, and UT. When it comes down to it, and there are three teams from powerful (or in the PAC10s case, once powerful) conferences, the two teams that consistently played the best should play for the title. It looks to me like that will not be the case this year. The undefeated winner of the best conference in the country should not have to settle for second place."

I can’t say that I disagree with you, Mike. Again (see my post below on Texas and the BCS), the only reason that Auburn is #3 instead of #1 or #2 is that they were ranked lower in the pre-season than both USC and OU. It’s no surprise that those three teams are ranked in that order now—that’s how it was when the season began (though Auburn was way behind the other two).

I will say, on behalf of OU and USC, that the computers like them better, especially when you factor in margin of victory (which I believe computer rankings should use). Even with pure won-lost records, though, Auburn comes in behind USC and OU in most computer rankings. The SEC is quite good this year, certainly a lot better than the Pac 10, but it’s not as strong as usual. Texas and Cal are better than every team in the SEC, save Auburn. The bottom of the SEC—Vanderbilt and Kentucky—might not even beat Baylor.

In the end, there’s no easy way to evaluate these teams, and yet again, we return to the inevitable conclusion that there needs to be a playoff. At the very least, let the top eight teams duke it out for the top spot. And if we have trouble agreeing on who is #8 and who is #9, that’s a hell of a lot better than trying to subjectively evaluate who is #1 and who is #2. Or in this case, who is #3…

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