Sunday, October 26, 2008

Blogpoll Roundtable 5: Midseason Report Card

The fifth installment of this year's Blogpoll Roundtable is being held over at Corn Nation. As the name suggests, Corn Nation blogs Nebraska Cornhusker sports.

1. We're about half way through the season. Has your team met your expectations, wildly exceeded them, or are you about to light the torches and storm your athletic department demanding blood?

Going into the North Carolina game, I was going to say that Boston College has comfortably met expectations this season but not wildly exceeded them. But after the Tar Heels went all Office Space on the fax machine that is BC, I just going to go with "met expectations" bordering on this season falling below expectations.

Expectations for anyone outside of Chestnut Hill weren't very high for the Eagles going into the season. BC had to replace Matt Ryan at quarterback as well as their two starting tailbacks. What was going for BC was that the Eagles returned one of the best defensive units in the country. We were supposed to win five out of our first six games, losing only to Virginia Tech at home. We replaced a loss to Virginia Tech with a loss to Georgia Tech, a game that the Eagles could have won. Then came this Saturday, a game that the Eagles entered as a Top 25 ranked underdog. While it wasn't a given that BC would win yesterday, I think what was more surprising was the way in which the Eagles lost, going up 10-0 and then getting outscored 45-14 to finish the game. Still, we are now a little past the halfway point of the season and sitting at 5-2 (2-2 ACC), I would say the Eagles have met expectations.

The last 5 games will be when it really gets interesting ...

2. In an election year, all sorts of promises will be made, few will be kept. What is one promise or item you thought you could count on that hasn't come to pass yet this season? Is there still a chance?

The one promise for Eagles fans that hasn't been kept is getting some much valuable PT for our redshirt freshman backup quarterback Dominique Davis. After the Rhode Island game, Coach Jagodzinski stated that Davis should get about 20 snaps in each of the Eagles' last 9 games. Fifth year senior and first year starter Chris Crane had struggled through the first 2 games of the season and Davis began to see some playing time in the win against Central Florida.

Davis was the left in most of the game against I-AA Rhode Island, but we haven't seen him since. Why? Because in the next game, with the Eagles coming off a bye week, Crane and the Eagles torched the NC State Wolfpack going 34 of 51 for 428 and two scores in the 38-31 road victory. Crane continued to struggle in the win against Virginia Tech, however, completing only 50% of his passes, throwing for a touchdown but 3 costly interceptions that led to 14 Hokie points. Yesterday was more of the same for Crane as he threw 3 very costly interceptions that led to 21 Tar Heel points.

I, for one, have faith in our coaching staff that they are keeping the best option at quarterback on the field. But we should definitely start to get Davis some snaps. We only have 5-7 games left with Chris Crane under center, and we need to start getting Davis some big-game experience so we don't have to go through another season of growing pains for an inexperienced starting quarterback.

3. Georgia #1... No, USC #1... No, Oklahoma #1... No, Texas #1! Who's the real #1 team, and who do you think will make it to the big BCS National Title game?

Our real #1 right now is Texas. If they can now get past the 8-0 Red Raiders in Lubbock this weekend, they will most likely win the rest of their regular season games, win the Big XII Championship game and play in the BCS National Title game.

Joining them will be either the Penn State Nittany Lions or the Alabama Crimson Tide. If Alabama wins their 4 remaining regular season games (very possible) and the SEC Championship game against either Florida and/or a rematch against Georgia, their 13-0 mark will put them in the title game over Penn State, who doesn't play a championship game and will have a weaker strength of schedule than 'Bama.

If all hell breaks loose and Texas, Penn State and Alabama all lose a game, and, say, Texas Tech goes undefeated by beating #1 Texas, #6 Oklahoma State, at #4 Oklahoma and the Big XII Championship, we can see the Red Raiders playing in the Title game against a one-loss SEC Champion or Southern Cal.

4. In only a few weeks, college football fans get to be treated with the obligatory and annual "We Need a Playoff" screaming. Well, you don't get a playoff, but I'll let you make one change to the BCS (and no, you can't cop out and have the BCS commit suicide) to make the world a better place. What is your change?

This question is right in my wheelhouse. If I can't get a playoff, or anything resembling a playoff (a cop out answer would be limiting the BCS teams to 8 and using the BCS National Championship Game as the Plus One game), then I want the BCS bowls not to be able to select which teams play where and seed the non-title BCS bowl games with #3 vs. #4, #5 vs. #6, #7 vs. #8 and #9 vs. #10. The implication here is that the BCS bowls forego their conference champion affiliation and the 6 automatic bids get to play in the bowl based on where they finish in the final BCS Standings, not based on their conference affiliation.

I am really tired of seeing Big Ten vs. Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl because the Rose Bowl Committee stands on "tradition" and picks a 9-3 Illinois team over a bunch of other more deserving teams. Case in point: as per's Week 9 bowl projections, they are currently predicting that Ohio State will face Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl. Again?! The same teams in the same city and likely the exact same result. Who wants to watch that crap? I, for one, will certainly not be tuning into that game.

If you pit 3 vs. 4, 5 vs. 6, etc., you are going to likely have much more enjoyable, hard-fought games than USC 49, Illinois 17 ... Georgia 41, Hawaii 10.

This will never happen though short of a playoff because the BCS doesn't want the possibility of a split National championship. Under this scenario, if #3 blows out #4 and #2 squeaks by #1, that could coax the AP into voting for #3 as the National Champion.

Oh, and if I could get a second change in, or at least consideration for a second change, I would also stricken BCS Automatic Qualification rule #4 from the record. Notre Dame shouldn't get an automatic berth if it finishes in the top 8 of the BCS standings. They should have to get into the BCS like every other non-BCS conference champion; it shouldn't be automatic. Or if you insist on keeping the auto-berth rule in place, make the rule an auto-berth for all independents, not just Notre Dame.

5. Using this year ONLY - no historical references - respond to the statement "The Big 12 is a better conference than the SEC". There's nothing sillier than conference wars, but then again, there's nothing sillier than how SEC fans respond to any challenge to their supremacy. Aim, Fire!

The Big 12 is not a better conference than the SEC this year. The SEC is still #1. While arguably there isn't a tougher division in college football than the Big 12 South with Texas (8-0), Texas Tech (8-0), Oklahoma (7-1) and Oklahoma State (7-1) wearing out scoreboard lights, the other side of the conference is not that strong. Top to bottom I think the SEC is still a tougher conference than the Big 12 by a slim margin.

Here's a hypothetical. Just like college basketball's ACC-Big Ten challenge, let's play a Big 12-SEC challenge to illustrate my point. Taking current RPI of teams from both conferences, we'll pair the best teams with the best teams and the worst teams with the worst teams. Let's play the following twelve matchups on a neutral field and see which conference would win more games:

Texas vs. Alabama
Texas Tech vs. Georgia
Oklahoma vs. Florida
Oklahoma State vs. LSU
Missouri vs. Vanderbilt
Kansas vs. Kentucky
Nebraska vs. South Carolina
Colorado vs. Mississippi
Kansas State vs. Arkansas
Texas A&M vs. Tennessee
Baylor vs. Auburn
Iowa State vs. Mississippi State

While the top 4 games could very well be instant classics, of the remaining 8 games, I'd be hard-pressed to pick 3 Big 12 teams to win. I'd imagine Missouri would beat sliding Vanderbilt, Kansas and Kentucky would be a really good game, and Nebraska might find a way against South Carolina, but don't see many other wins for the Big 12 with that lineup. But since this will never happen, the short answer is 'who knows?'


Sebastian said...

As for Rule #4, I would say the only thing a conference ensures is a certain number of games against a closed set of presumably regional opponents. Of the BCS teams, only the Big 12, ACC, and SEC have an extra game-- the conference championship game.

Those 7+ guaranteed, conference games mean more than other games because those games count toward standing within a pool of schools. The champion of a BCS conference gets a guaranteed BCS game, and sometimes a 2nd or 3rd place team wins a BCS berth as well. Non-conference games have less meaning to a conference team than it would to Notre Dame, who needs all 11-12 games.

Notre Dame has not been the only independent in college football, but many of the other schools have joined conferences for 1) money 2) scheduling and 3) exposure.

Notre Dame already plays a set of annual opponents-- their conference games consist of Southern Cal, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, and Navy. A second tier of familiar opponents is also present-- Stanford, BC, Pitt, and to a slightly lesser extent, Georgia Tech. The other games-- non-conference in this example-- are FBS/1A schools.

Being an independent program is not a holier-than-thou position; as long as a school is able to schedule opponents, compete for the title, and make their money, any school can do it. USC, for example, could survive as an independent.

But for some schools, not having to worry about all that mess is reason enough to join a conference. And they can still win a BCS berth, to boot.

If Notre Dame can continue to operate as an independent--- consistently schedule opponents, maintain national exposure, compete for the national championship, and stand to make money--- they have no reason to change.

Brian said...

sebastian - my point is less around Notre Dame and whether they should join a conference, rather more around the fact that Rule #4 only applies to Notre Dame.

The rule should either A) apply to all independents or B) be removed. You can scoff at the fact that Army, Navy or Western Kentucky would ever finish Top 8, but the rule shouldn't be confined to only the Irish.

I prefer the latter, as Notre Dame should have to be selected as an at-large just like any other team that isn't in an auto-berth BCS conference. It shouldn't be automatic.

Sebastian said...

Ah, I see what you were getting at.

Keep up the good work on the blog, it's always an interesting read.

SubwayDomer26 said...

Actually,and I may be wrong, ND has to be ranked higher than a Non-BCS school. ND has to be #8 or higher, while Utah could get in at the cutoff line at #12. If ND is rated #9 in the BCS and TCU is rated #11, ND is left out of the process.