Thanks to the BCS, we get what I think are a fairly lousy set of match-ups for the (so-called) biggest games of the season. I'm normally a guy who believes that the BCS system works okay and don't favor a playoff. This season is one which could change my mind.
With no great deal of analysis, these are my initial impressions of what the BCS has delivered us this season.
BCS National Title Game- LSU versus Ohio State
LSU was the team that most people had anointed early in the season as the year's best. While having two losses, both were in triple overtime. Add to that LSU's 21st-ranked strength of schedule (SOS ranking from Sagarin).
Ohio State's SOS is 60th. Their non-conference schedule contained Youngstown State, Akron, Washington, and Kent. Not awe-inspiring by any means, which is why no one but people from Columbus, Ohio wanted to see them make this game. Still, Ohio State managed to beat nearly everyone on their schedule.
Bo Pelini is a factor in this game. If he coaches for LSU, then there's no mystery. If he doesn't, can someone else take over the defense well enough to win a title for the Tigers? I don't think it'll make much difference. I expect LSU to beat the pants off Ohio State, and then we can spend years pounding the Big 10 into the ground where they belong.
Rose Bowl - USC versus Illinois
The Rose Bowl had to have their traditional Big 10/Pac 10 match up and this is what we get. Illinois first trip to the Rose since 1983. I've never understood the Big 10's love for the Rose Bowl. Travel to California, and get destroyed by a California team on their home turf. The Big 10 sets itself up to go 0-2 in big games because they just can't let go of a lost tradition.
Fiesta Bowl - Oklahoma versus West Virginia
Oklahoma took care of Mizzou much easier than I expected in the Big 12 championship. Missouri didn't help matters, shooting themselves in the foot but that was largely due to to the Sooner's defensive line.
It's an interesting match-up, but you expect more of the same in this game. Oklahoma's defense smothers West Virginia's offense and then pounding them into submission. I'd consider Oklahoma one of the best two teams in the nation. It's too bad we don't get to see them against LSU. That's the game I'd love to see.
Orange Bowl - Virginia Tech versus Kansas
Kansas' SOS is 88th, Va Tech's is 36th. Most people knock Kansas due to their weak schedule and rightfully so. Kansas will be elated to be in this bowl game, so much so that they'll stammer around for the first quarter being in awe of how great a season they've had.
I can see Kansas' defense handling the Hokies offense, but not the other way around. I like this match up, but I doubt the rest of the nation does. Expect the Hokies to be a heavy favorite.
Sugar Bowl - Hawaii versus Georgia
Hawaii's SOS? 98. Very explosive, but Georgia is a darned good team. At first look, Georgia should wipe the field with Hawaii. We'll get to rehash Boise State's defeat of Oklahoma in last season's Orange Bowl about a thousand times before this game is played, but Hawaii may be too one dimensional to win this game.
Bowl games are all about emotion and it may be Hawaii's best asset. They'll play the underdog, the guys who have to prove themselves. If Georgia gets caught up thinking too much about how they should have been in the national title game, Hawaii can catch them. It's a no-win situation for Georgia. I'll be crying myself to sleep thinking about how horrible it is for them.
Notice how I'm trying to talk myself into believing that these will be good games.
Missouri's only losses came against Oklahoma, who makes it into a BCS game. Two of their wins come against Kansas and Illiniois, both of whom make it into the BCS. You could argue that Mizzou deserves a big game more than Kansas based on the Jayhawk's horrible schedule and that Mizzou beat them on the field. It's too bad that the BCS couldn't take three Big 12 teams instead of two Big 10 teams but I'm showing my bias, aren't I?
Arizona State gets screwed too because of the Rose Bowl committee. Instead, they'll go into the Holiday bowl against Texas and probably lose it, spending too much time feeling sorry for themselves instead of playing football. That's my hope - I have no interest in seeing coach whore Dennis Erickson succeed.
Bottom line? Choke and gag. Like I said earlier, a season like this makes me wish for a playoff. Unfortunately, that ain't ever going to happen. University presidents are too content with the present system. You don't think all those Big 10 presidents want to go to Pasadena every year and take the wife, kids, cousins, and friends and have the whole thing paid for by their university? It ain't about tradition. It's about a nice warm free vacation.