Take away conference realignment, and this has, thus far, been the most predictable season in years. The teams you expected to win have won. OK, you had TCU falling to Baylor early, but otherwise, there have been very few upsets.
Nobody expected Texas to beat Okie State, and it didn’t happen. Of course, if you can find someone who expected OSU to be ranked #1 in the first computer poll, as they are, I’ll pin a rose on their nose.
Ah, the Beauty Contest is underway. Where is Cinderella?
Well, she’s not in the vicinity of Illinois anymore. The Illini lost to Ohio State 17-7, wasting their scintillating victories over Arkansas State, S. Dakota State, Arizona State, W. Michigan, Northwestern and Indiana. Surprise, surprise.
She isn’t hanging out around the Varsity near downtown Atlanta, eating great hotdogs and fries near Georgia Tech. The Ramblin’ Wrecks dropped a 24-21 game to Virginia. Say goodnight, Wrecked Ones.
And she has left Ann Arbor after a 28-14 drubbing by State. State, you’ll recall, got slammed 31-14 by Notre Dame in a game the Irish decided not to give away in an indiscriminate manner, unlike their previous contests.
The official Beauty Contest poll is out, and who do the humans and the computers love? Some deeply flawed teams, yes, but pretty much the ones we all expected.
How should they be ranked?
1. Alabama coasted to a 52-7 win over Ole Miss. Could M’sippi beat Kansas? I doubt it, but the real question is, can anybody beat Alabama? I doubt it.
2. LSU cleaned Tennessee’s clock 38-7 and is ranked #3 by the computers. Lucy, could you ‘splain that one to me? All LSU has done is blow out Oregon, West Virginia and Florida. And that’s good for #3? I recall an old computer-related axiom. Perhaps you’ve heard it. It went something like, “Ordure in, ordure out.”
3. Oklahoma was in the #1 slot on my list last week after their beatdown of a team you may recall. The Sooners took the week off, beating Kansas only 47-17 in a game that was still a game in the second quarter. Scoring 47 on Kansas is like seducing Madonna. I’m sure it was fun, but it’s nothing to brag about. Kansas has given up 42 to Northern Illinois, 66 to Georgia Tech, 45 to Texas Tech and 70 to Okie Lite. Big deal.
4. Wisconsin beat Indiana 59-7, completing their tour of the lame and the halt. The computers rank Wisconsin #11. Look at their schedule and you can see why. To my eyes, they look better.
5. Oklahoma State beat Texas 38-26. I am biting my tongue to keep from saying what I think of the gift-wrapping on that game. Regardless of my opinion, it was an impressive win by a team with a sensationally good offense. Texas made them look like they even have a defense, an illusion which will become apparent in the future.
6. Boise State rolled over Colorado State 63-13. Beauty Contest computers do not see scores; hence Boise is #6 and falling in the computer rankings. And will fall all year despite anything they can do. Boise’s prayer is that Georgia wins the SEC East, which is possible. Of course, the SEC East is so weak this year that Kansas State could win it, and everybody with two eyes knows it.
7. Stanford beat Washington State 44-14 and should maybe be #4. But it is difficult to judge the beauty of this team when their competition has been so Wisconsin-like.
8. Clemson rallied to outscore UnderArmour 56-45. Meet Cinderella. Clemson doesn’t face a top team until their bowl. Unfortunately, and unlike Boise, Clemson faces respectable foes every week until then. Should Clemson be ranked above Boise if both go undefeated? Yes.
9. Oregon ran away from Arizona State in the second half 41-27. That seems to be a recurrent theme for Nike. Close at halftime, destroy you after the bands play. That didn’t work against LSU. I doubt it will work in a bowl, unless they play a Big 10 team.
10. Arkansas took the week off. Like Oklahoma.
Curiously, Texas dropped out of all the human polls, but the computers loved us enough to keep Texas in the first BCS Top 25. There’s a difference between “fact” and “reality.” In fact, the Longhorns have just lost the only two games I expected them to lose this season. In reality, considerable smoke points to a meltdown. The coaches are going to earn their money over the remainder of the season. We have faced the two teams that were expected to be better. Let’s see what happens now.
Kansas State beat Tech 41-34 and remained undefeated. God loves Bill Snyder for reasons I have yet to grasp.
Nebraska is still hanging around with the cool kids after an open date. A date with Minnesota next Saturday is a sure cure for whatever ails them.
Virginia Tech—remember them?—show up at number 10 on the computers. They beat Wake Forest 38-17. Woooo.
West Virginia sat back and let the coaches give them the #15 slot. Not worthy of mention.
Houston isn’t close, but I’ll mention them anyhow, because they’re close to home. Houston opened at #19. Here’s your Cinderella, I’d say, except that you’d expect the Coogs to win every game so far. You’d also expect them to win out. This season, it could happen. History says no way.
Auburn? Gene Chizik ought to be Coach of the Year if he wins 4 more games. Wow! What a job!
A&M defeated Baylor 55-28 in the last conference game between the two heated rivals. Nobody got killed in the stands. Whoopee.
Penn State is ranked #21 in the BCS. This is evidence – in case you needed more – that name brands fare well in the Beauty Contest. Penn State beat Purdue 23-18. Wooo.
Don’t look now, but Georgia is 5-2 after a 33-28 win over Vandy. With South Carolina having lost the Lattimore kid for the year with a torn-up knee and Florida sucking like an open chest wound, that pass that the Vanderbilt kid dropped in the endzone could easily propel Georgia into the SEC Championship game. That’s how lame the SEC East is this year.
So what’s left?
Can it really all play out like we expect?
Can an undefeated LSU and Alabama square off on November 5 for the right to kill the team that wins the SEC East and a slot in the MNC game? Can an undefeated OU and Oklahoma State play on December 3 for a chance to keep an SEC team from winning a sixth straight MNC?
Sure looks that way. If it plays out like that, and Stanford and Wisconsin remain undefeated, how long will they complain? Will that outcome produce enough outcries to create a playoff? Dream on.
It’s a Beauty Contest. Was. Is. Always will be.
Texas piles on Oklahoma State. Photo courtesy UT Athletics.
Cary Michael Cox:
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