I sympathize with Chris Petersen. We are kindred spirits. No, that doesn't mean I want to spend the rest of my life in Boise competing against cupcakes, although the Broncos are moving to the Big East soon, so they'll upgrade from playing one decent team a year to maybe two. Maybe.
He and I are simpatico in that we detest the current BCS system. Yes, I know, LSU and Alabama are the best two teams in the country, and therefore completely deserving of slots in the title game. But the issue is more about the process that arrived at that conclusion. It's done with slide rules, charts, graphs and calculators rather than blood, sweat and tears. Boise State, as well as others, deserve a chance to either roll or be rolled.
Hate to flaunt my astute command of the obvious, but we need a playoff format.
But really, who cares about Nos. 17 down? In any sport, if you don't position yourself safely beyond the dividing line, you have little cause to complain if you're dropped below it.
Also, I changed one egregious matchup. I can't see keeping Stanford at No. 4 and Oregon at No. 5 when Oregon lit up the Cardinal on the road 53-30.
So here are the matchups, and results (for the purposes of this exercise, the higher-seeded teams would host, at least up to the semifinals):
No. 1 LSU vs. No. 16 Georgia: In a rematch of the SEC title game, won by the Tigers 42-10, the outcome this time would be closer. But LSU still prevails by 17.
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 15 Clemson: These Tigers were a little hard to figure this season - a loss at North Carolina State, a victory over No. 5 Virginia Tech. But the Tide hasn't been; it has advanced steady and strong. Alabama triumphs, 49-21.
No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 14 Oklahoma: There is no reason to believe the Cowboys would be any less dominant in this rematch than they were Saturday in a 44-10 rout. OSU wins in similar fashion, 42-17.
No. 4 Oregon vs. No. 13 Michigan: I like what the Wolverines accomplished this season. But they wouldn't know what to do with Chip Kelly's high-octane offense. The Ducks, 52-28.
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No. 6 Arkansas vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech: The Hokies had only one victory against a ranked team this year - 37-26 over then No. 21 Georgia Tech - and the Yellow Jackets were overrated. The Razorbacks were far more impressive this season. Arkansas, 31-14.
No. 7 Boise State vs. No. 10 Wisconsin: Excellent first-round matchup, a nifty clash of styles and cultures. In the end, the Broncos squeeze out a 28-24 verdict.
No. 8 Kansas State vs. No. 9 South Carolina: A toss-up between two feisty, above-average teams. The Wildcats get the nod, 27-17, on the strength of a quality win over Baylor and a valiant performance in a losing effort at Oklahoma State this season.
Eight teams left. Get psyched for the quarterfinals:
No. 1 LSU vs. No. 8 Kansas State: The Wildcats haven't faced anyone with LSU's overall athleticism. Tyrann Mathieu, a.k.a. Honey Badger, will unspool his own highlight reel. LSU 55-13.
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 7 Boise State: The Broncos will throw a scare into `Bama. But The Tide is No. 1 in rushing defense, and therefore Boise State will be reduced to a one-dimensional offensive team. Plus, Trent Richardson will gallop unfettered. The Tide will rally and win 31-28.
No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 6 Arkansas: When the Razorbacks played elite teams this year - LSU and Alabama - they were outclassed. This will be more of the same. The Cowboys, 35-10.
No. 4 Oregon vs. No. 12 Baylor: This might be the most entertaining game in the tournament. In the end, Oregon's overall speed and ability to pound the ball on the ground will be too much. The Ducks, 45-38.
Now, brace yourself for the semifinals:
No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Oregon: The Tigers are clearly the best team in the U.S. at the moment. However, we're talking about one game here. While LSU has been consistently excellent throughout the season, the Ducks have been a little more mercurial: shaky on Sept. 3 in a 40-27 loss against LSU; terrific in a win on Nov. 12 against Stanford, 53-20; slightly off at home Nov. 19 vs. USC, a 38-35 loss. Still, I'm picking the shocker. In revenge for the season opener, the Ducks spoil the Tigers' season 31-30 as they baffle LSU with a frenzied and efficient mixture of run and pass.
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State: Two more of the most accomplished teams in football. The separation is that `Bama lost only one game, to No. 1 LSU, in overtime 9-6, whereas OSU stumbled in two OTs, 37-31, on the road against an Iowa State team that finished 6-6. This will be a splendid battle between the Cowboys' productive offense led by QB Brandon Weeden against one of the best Ds in the nation. OSU peaks at the right time, and it wins, 34-28.
Whew! What a tournament! See? This is why we need a playoff system. Now on to the grand finale:
No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 4 Oregon: The Cowboys rank third in the nation in total offense, the Ducks sixth. Neither ranks in the top 50 in total defense. Therefore, let the pyrotechnics begin, and continue for four quarters. When the dust settles, Oklahoma State will prove to have more firepower. And Oregon will commit too many turnovers. Oklahoma State, 52-42.
How are you feeling about that? Overjoyed? Outraged? Satisfied? Irritated?
Whatever your emotions, you'll agree that letting it play out on the field is more in keeping with the spirit of competition than letting computer geeks match wits. LSU and Alabama certainly are deserving, but I'd rather seem them get there with brawn than with math.
In football, goons are better than geeks any old day.