BUCKEYES BENEFIT FROM BOWL 'CHAOS' SERIES, WILL RETURN TO NC GAME
If you've ever gotten a bank error or tax error in your favor--to the tune of a couple million dollars, or, in Jim Tressel's case, $200,000 for his championship-game incentive--then you know how the Ohio State Buckeyes football program is feeling this morning.
After No. 9 Oklahoma's 38-17 throttling of No. 1 Missouri in the Big XII title game and Pitt's world-shattering 13-9 upset over No. 2 West Virginia, that "glimmer of hope" of an Ohio State return to the BCS National Championship has turned into a beaming light of certainly. This happens, of course, after most left their national championship chances for dead after a home loss to Illinois with one game to play.
The bank error analogy isn't to say Ohio State doesn't belong in the game because, if yesterday's pandemonium proved nothing else, it's that Ohio State is at least the second best one-loss team from a BCS conference, and unless you want to argue that Hawai'i is more deserving than the Buckeyes, the Scarlet and Gray have a foolproof argument. What I mean, more or less, is that this all comes somewhat unexpectedly when you consider the doom and despair that filled Ohio Stadium after the Illinois game.
You don't have to scroll far down the page to read my defense of the Rose Bowl and an all-but-concession that an '07 Buckeye national title probably wasn't going to happen. Of course, my last post came before a lot of dominoes fell into place. (Remember, Arizona had already beaten Oregon.) Here they are:
1.) Ohio State beat Michigan and did so dominantly. The "dominant" part doesn't really matter because Ohio State could have won 2-0 or in overtime, and they would still be where they are. They clinch the Big Ten outright and a BCS (Rose Bowl) bid.
2.) Oklahoma loses to Texas Tech.
3.) Arkansas defeats LSU in triple-overtime.
4.) Missouri beats Kansas. (Had Kansas won, they would going to the title game, even with a loss to Oklahoma, and today's sit-and-wait would be a lot less interesting.)
5.) Oklahoma destroys Missouri. (Ohio State is probably "in" at this point.)
6.) Pitt knocks off West Virginia. (Bedlam.)
I was rooting hard for Pitt to stun West Virginia, so hard that it was the primary game I watched last evening only switching over to the Big XII game occasionally. I was elated because that result came in first, but then I started to play out scenarios in my head about who Ohio State's opponent would be?
Would we have been better off with West Virginia and their spread option?
Of course not, many of you say! The Mountaineers had the offensive speed to tear the Buckeyes apart, and OSU dodges a major bullet by not only getting into the game but also by avoiding them. Perhaps you're right, but in my BCS bowl projections, you will see that the Buckeyes will be meeting an equally formidable opponent on its ad hoc home turf.
Projections: I'm going to do this like the NCAA Men's Basketball selection show because today has just about the same amount of intrigue by using terms like "In" and "On the bubble."
"In:" Ohio State (Big Ten), USC (Pac-10), LSU (SEC), Virginia Tech. (ACC), West Virginia (Big East), Oklahoma (Big XII), Hawai'i (at-large--trailed Washington 28-7 last night in the first half before rebounding to edge them 35-28 in the closing seconds), Georgia (at-large).
"On the Bubble:" Kansas, Missouri, Arizona State
The bowls pick in this order: NC game, Rose (because they lose Ohio State to the NC game), Orange, Fiesta, Sugar.
...well, unless LSU slides up to No. 2 in the BCS and, thus, into the NC game. Then, the Sugar Bowl gets to pick LSU's replacement after the Rose Bowl picks Ohio State's.
Confused yet? Try to stay with me.
National Championship Game--Sunday, Jan. 7: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 LSU
I have said all along that if Ohio State gets into the national championship game, they do not want to play LSU. Unfortunately, the two-loss Tigers (or lyrically, "11-2 LSU") is going to get to host the championship in their home state. Even though the computers may give the edge to Georgia, if Lou Holtz, Kirk Herbstreit and others are any indication, the voters are going to give the edge to LSU. They have lost twice in triple-overtime and they won the best top-to-bottom conference in the country. I can't really argue with that.
Rose Bowl--Monday, Jan. 1: USC vs. Missouri
As much as I would have liked Illinois to slip in here, and they might have if Colt Brennan hadn't led Hawai'i back last night, Hawai'i's selection makes Missouri the best candidate for the Tournament of the Roses here. Though Georgia will likely finish higher in the BCS standings, Rose Bowl execs will remember the resounding success of the 2006 game, which pitted USC and Texas against each other. My gut is they will take Missouri over Kansas because Missouri beat Kansas two weeks ago. At least, that would be fair. I, most definitely, could be wrong here, as it seems selection committees have short memories, and Missouri did get drubbed yesterday. Most likely, it will come down to who they think will bring in the most money. Maybe they will play it safe and go with Georgia, but I think they will leave Georgia on the board.
By the way, CBS has Illinois here, which would really surprise me but would make for an interesting matchup, I believe. I'll root for that but stick to my prediction.
Sugar Bowl--Monday, Jan. 1: Georgia vs. Hawai'i
Georgia is the LSU replacement pick and an SEC team who will draw very well. They will then get the last pick and take Hawai'i.
Fiesta Bowl--Tuesday, Jan. 2: Oklahoma vs. Arizona State
This one is in my backyard, and I'm picking a little bit against my football sense. CBS puts Kansas here, and with one tight loss to Missouri, they deserve it. But I think the Fiesta will take the hometown Sun Devils because of the easy ticket sales and Arizona's State's strength of schedule. Likewise, even though Kansas and Oklahoma didn't play each other this year, bowls tend to shy away from inter-conference bowl games. Plus, after what the Sooners did to Missouri last night, they would likely do the same or worse to Kansas. Unfortunately, I think the Jayhawks might be on the outside of this BCS party looking in, but they do have the coach of the year.
Orange Bowl--Wednesday, Jan. 3: Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia.
Like the Sugar Bowl, this is an easy call. The Hokies get an automatic bid, and West Virginia gets an automatic bid here. It might as well be a border war. This game will probably be the best matchup outside of the national championship game.
That's all I've got. As I typed that, I decided I need to take a shower now, feeling dirty after slighting several teams. I'll try to forget about it by indulging myself with Browns/Cardinals today.
In the meantime....Go Buckeyes?