Monday, November 29, 2010

Top teams prove themselves in final week of regular season

It pains me to say it, but Oregon and Auburn deserve the chance to play in the BCS Championship Game. While I want nothing more than to see TCU get their shot (I even wrote a now-useless blog post about that very topic while Auburn was down 24-0 to Alabama), Auburn and Oregon made rather convincing cases for themselves on Friday. (Side note: Obviously Boise State removed themselves from the conversation with their overtime defeat to Nevada.)

First, Auburn turned Black Friday into a very dark day for Alabama by completing a stunning comeback on the road against a bitter rival who was ranked 11th in the nation. Later, Oregon manhandled #21 Arizona 48-29. It's hard to deny that those two teams have earned the right to play on January 10. (CAVEAT ALERT: If Alabama loses the SEC Championship game against South Carolina or Oregon loses to Oregon State, I'm back aboard the TCU train. Hell, I'll be the conductor of that train.)

It sucks for TCU. After all, they're 35-2 over the last three seasons and, more importantly, they've handled every team on their schedule this season. They beat Oregon State 30-21, Baylor 45-10 and Air Force 38-7, all of whom have been ranked this season. But their signature win came three weeks ago on the road against then-#5 Utah--they absolutely destroyed the Utes 47-7. A win against New Mexico on Saturday put them at 12-0 to finish the season, and they deserve a chance to take the field in Phoenix with the possibility of being crowned national champs.

Problem is, Auburn and Oregon deserve it more. It wasn't always easy for Auburn--Heisman favorite Cam Newton has dealt with rumors of scandal and the Tigers have trailed by 10 or more points four different times this season. And yet, they remain undefeated.

It has been easy for Oregon, however. They've won by 20 or more points eight different times this year and were given a scare really just once when they beat California 15-13. It's clear that the Ducks deserve top billing heading into the bowl season.

Again, each of these teams have a potentially tough game remaining on the schedule, so TCU can maintain hope for at least a few more days. But while it looked for all the world like Alabama would smash the title hopes of their intrastate rivals, it turns out they only put a scare into them as Auburn did to the Tide last year.

The fact is, college football needs a playoff. (Oh, by the way, PLEASE read this phenomenal Sports Illustrated story about the BCS.) But we don't have one yet, and while I desperately want to see TCU get their shot, it's hard to argue against a team that survived the SEC unscathed or a team that continues to overwhelm opponents as if they accidentally signed up for a Pee Wee league. TCU and Boise came very, very close this season, and frankly, I'm holding out hope that Auburn or Oregon will slip up this weekend. But if they don't, it's hard to argue that the Horned Frogs should leapfrog their way into the championship game. If they BCS gods don't smile down upon them next week, here's hoping for next year.

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