The Year of the Ugly Duckling

By Joe Beale on December 8, 2009 at 2:00 pm
The real dealJerry Hughes and TCU want to state their case

The dust has cleared, the conference championships have been won, and no one outside of the military really cares about the Army-Navy game this Saturday (feel free to chastise me if you're all fired up about that exciting contest). Moreover, the BCS selection show is over and we now know where each bowl team will be playing and when. Looking over the teams that will be playing in the most cherished post-season venues, I'd have to say that I'm....well....not very impressed.

There are many college football fans who hate the BCS and who have been rooting for "BCS Chaos" for years in the hope that this mythical scenario will somehow convince the CFBPTB (college football powers that be) to switch to a playoff system (you know, like every other level of football has). In fact, some commentators have already declared that "BCS Chaos" is upon us. It almost happened last year, when 8 teams had at least a plausible argument that they belonged in the BCS Championship game (9 if you count an undefeated Boise State team). But this year the problem is not too many qualified teams. This year the problem is no one outside of Alabama has made a really strong case. We know that the Texas Longhorns are going to the MNC game, but they're not a whole lot more impressive than several of the other teams who were candidates. Did Texas really deserve it? Did anyone else? Let's look at them all one by one.


By virtue of winning the Big 12 Championship game, Texas is 13-0 and has a chance to match OSU's unprecedented feat of winning 14 games back in 2002. But there's nothing in their record this season that would make you think they're capable of knocking off Nick Saban's boys. Prior to Saturday they had only two wins over top-25 teams (OSU has 3), and their close call in the traditional rivalry game against Oklahoma looks rather shaky now that the Sooners have been exposed as pretenders. They did beat a pretty good Oklahoma State team 41-14 on the road, and they crushed a decent Kansas team at home 51-20. But Oklahoma State lost 27-0 to that 7-5 Sooner team, thus taking some of the luster off of that win. And Saturday's less-than-impressive showing against Nebraska now has half of the country scratching their heads. Are the Longhorns really the second-best team in the land? Well, maybe. Or maybe not.


The Bearcats are everyone's favorite up-and-coming team because of their potent offense. But their defense defines impotence better than an hour's worth of Cialis commercials. Their most impressive win was a road victory over Oregon State. They also have wins over top-25 teams West Virginia and Pittsburgh, the latter on Saturday in a de facto Big East (or Big Least, as some call it) championship game. But that last one might well have gone to overtime if Pitt hadn't missed their last extra point attempt, and in any case the Panthers pushed and shoved the Bearcats all over the field in scoring 44 points, much like the Connecticut Huskies had done in scoring 45 against them a few weeks prior. Could the Bearcats outscore the Crimson Tide the same way they did the Pitt Panthers? It doesn't seem likely. Nor does it seem likely that they will stand up well against Florida, but I wouldn't shed a tear if they did.


The Horned Frogs of TCU, like Texas and Cincinnati, are undefeated. TCU has played only two ranked teams, but they crushed both of them. First they demolished a pretty good BYU team 38-7, then they dismantled last year's BCS buster Utah 55-28. The Frogs are solid on both offense and defense, and they have taken care of business consistently throughout the season. Their only close calls came in road games against Air Force and Clemson. Of course, there are only two top-25 teams on their schedule, and those teams are also propped up by weak schedules. But given the weakness of the Big 12 this season, is it really accurate to say that Texas played a tougher slate of teams? I'm not sure about that, but TCU will apparently have to wait at least another year before they get a chance at a big-time bowl match-up.


The school that made their reputation by dying their turf blue and tricking their way to victory over Bobby Stoops and Oklahoma three years ago is back in the ranks of the undefeated again this season and they might have the best argument for the MNC game of all the candidates. Having said that, I must point out that they have only one top-25 team on their schedule, and that was way back on 9/3. But that one game is important, because it was a win against 7th ranked Oregon. The Broncos thoroughly dominated that game, and they've dominated most every team they've played this season. Their only close call was a seven point victory on the road against Tulsa. Still, the schedule is extremely weak and it's not obvious that they would fare any better against Alabama than the others would. Heisman voters seem to understand the problem, as they did not include Broncos QB Kellen Moore among their five finalists despite his gaudy stats and undefeated record.

So what do you think? Is Texas truly the 2nd best team? If not, who do you like among the other candidates? Does anyone think Florida deserves a re-match?