After three months of defending home turf, grueling road wars and cycling through four different number one teams, college football has finally come down to this month of waiting. Notre Dame retains the title of Bowl Championship Series (BCS) No. 1 after a beat down of Wake Forest for their first shutout of the season in sacred South Bend. They took the momentum into Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles and beat down the battered University of Southern California to stake their claim as the only bowl-eligible undefeated team of the 2012 season.
Of course, Braxton Miller and the rest of the Ohio State Buckeyes went into Ohio Stadium this past weekend and beat “That Team from Up North,” the University of Michigan, to complete Urban Meyer’s first year undefeated but they can’t play in a bowl this year thanks to NCAA-imposed sanctions. Cross your fingers for an Associated Press Championship, Buckeyes.
While Notre Dame will be playing in the BCS National Title Game in Miami on January 7th (lament the 46-day wait), the real question is: who is the actual No. 2 team in the country? Alabama rebounded after its sole loss of the season against SEC-newcomer Texas A&M and the fabulous Johnny Manziel, rolling over Western Carolina and Auburn before setting their sights on the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. Georgia kept its end of the bargain after getting blown out by South Carolina early in the season, going on to beat their last six opponents by an impressive 141-point difference.
And what about the team out west, quacking for their spot in the title race?
Stanford upset Oregon in overtime, 17-14, but the Ducks dominated every other game they played. Even if they missed out on the Pac-12 title game, they deserve a chance to prove themselves against the rest of the country.
The simple answer is this: no one really knows who the No. 2 team is.
Thanks to a couple more years of the non-playoff BCS system, we may never find out. In 2014, there will be a four-team playoff system, but for now a few well deserving team will be left out. Florida, perhaps the hottest team in the country, will be shunned by the system. They won their last four games and crushed in-state rival Florida State on Saturday Nov. 24. They’ll have to ask last season’s Southern California team who missed the title game due to sanctions how to deal with the feelings of exasperation.
So who is this year’s number two going to be? Alabama, because of their dominance of the No. 1 spot nearly all season and the fact that they won the BCS last year should be in, right? Georgia should get in because they recovered from a blowout loss and trampled the competition to end the season and are set to take on Alabama in the SEC Championship, right? Oregon deserves it because of their dynamic running back duo, Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas, and because the only game they didn’t put up 42 points or more was against probable Pac-12 champion Stanford, right?
Arguments can be made for every team in the top 5 of the BCS standings, and that is true every year. There will never be an agreement among everyone as to who should play, so why not throw out one more opinion as to who should play Notre Dame in the title game?
Let’s start at the bottom with No. 5, Oregon. They shouldn’t make it because of the mediocre strength of their schedule and the fact that they couldn’t even qualify for their own conference championship game, losing to Stanford in their biggest game of the season. They will likely finish their season playing Kansas State, as former No. 1 and No. 2 play each other in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Too bad, Ducks, the Pac-12 just isn’t the SEC and you can blame yourselves for that loss to Stanford in overtime.
Florida, No. 4, won’t be lucky enough to go to Miami thanks to its sloppy 17-9 loss to Georgia. The Bulldogs ran through the rest of the SEC East, and finished the regular season by blowing out of Georgia Tech, keeping Florida from the SEC Championship Game. So, the Gators’ season will end playing the Big-12 champion Oklahoma Sooners in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
No. 3, the Georgia Bulldogs, will face No. 2 Alabama on Dec. 1 for the right to play Notre Dame. I don’t see the Bulldogs putting up enough offense against the Tide’s ranked defense, allowing the least amount of points in college football. Sorry Bulldogs, but tough love here; go destroy Clemson and enjoy some chicken sandwiches at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
We’re left with the Crimson Irish Bowl. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Two traditional powerhouses are recapturing the glory days. The Perennial powerhouse will play the resurrected team that everyone loves to hate. It will be another SEC football for someone else to face in the national title game. I for one will have my TV tuned to that game, come January.