|L.G. Patterson / Associated Press|
|The Maty Mauk-led Missouri Tigers opened some eyes with their No. 5 ranking in the first BCS standings.|
The first BCS standings came out Sunday, and there was no surprise at the very top, where Alabama claimed the No. 1 spot. After pummeling previously unbeaten Clemson on Saturday, Florida State barely edged Oregon for No. 2, and Ohio State rounded out the top four. Four other unbeaten teams with varying credentials made the top 10: Missouri (No. 5), Miami (7), Baylor (8), and Texas Tech (10).
As always when computers are involved, there was plenty to debate, from who was ranked too high to who was overlooked. We put the following question to our panel of experts: Where, if anywhere, did the computers get it wrong in the first BCS standings?
Baylor underrated once againThere were no major arguments from me about the first three slots. Alabama was expected to be No. 1, and for those arguing that the Tide has not had a very difficult schedule, keep this in mind: They opened with a neutral-site game against perennial power Virginia Tech and played on the road against Texas A&M, which was in everyone's top five when the season began. Florida State just scored the best win of the year with its wipeout of then-No. 3 Clemson, at Clemson. Head coach Jimbo Fisher's team once again resembles those FSU teams that we'd come to expect year in and year out. At No. 3 is Oregon, and if anything, the Ducks are underrated for their schedule. How many power conference teams play two other teams from power conferences as part of their non-conference schedule? I know Virginia is not very good, but Tennessee has improved greatly since being crushed by Oregon, taking Georgia to overtime and beating a top 15 South Carolina squad.
I think Baylor was overlooked for the No. 4 slot. Yes, its schedule has not been terrific, but the Bears have destroyed just about everyone, and their defense is not getting anything close to its due. The Iowa State team they just dropped 70 on and held to seven points? Ask Texas what it was like to play the Cyclones. And Kansas State, which the Bears beat the week before? It won the Big 12 last year. Baylor will get to prove itself with upcoming games against Oklahoma, Texas, and Oklahoma State, but I just wonder: Could the Buckeyes do enough to limit Baylor's offense, and could they score on Baylor's defense the same way they score on their Big Ten opponents? Perhaps, but it's a legitimate question right now.
Missouri's record not as good as it looksIt stands to reason that any team from a major conference that is unbeaten in late October deserves a lofty spot in the initial BCS rankings. But Missouri's No.5 ranking is a little too lofty. Beating Georgia soundly on the road Oct. 12 was an impressive win, but it was perhaps the Tigers' only one thus far. The win against Florida on Saturday? Computers don't account well for injuries, but the Gators were a shell of themselves, with starters missing on both sides of the ball. Unbeaten Miami, No. 7 in the BCS, beat a tougher and healthier Florida team than Missouri did. This Saturday, despite playing at home, Missouri's BCS standing could be short-lived against South Carolina. The Gamecocks will be looking for redemption after a loss to Tennessee and may be the only team in the SEC East with a chance of keeping the Tigers out of the conference title game.
The computers actually got it rightFor once, I don't disagree with the BCS rankings. Based on the first half of the season, I believe Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State are the best teams in college football. Alabama and Florida State have survived a few early-season challenges, which justifies their spots at the top of the rankings. Oregon has simply blown through the competition on the strength of a dynamic offense and rugged defense. Meanwhile, Ohio State has extended the nation's longest winning streak by taking care of business in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes' play hasn't been impressive to watch, but piling up wins is the bottom line in this business. The inclusion of Baylor, Missouri and Texas Tech in the top 10 is warranted based on their strong play during the first half of the season. As they get into the meat of their schedule, we will see if they are really BCS-worthy.
BCS rankings did better job than pollsI have no issues with the six computers used in compiling the BCS standings. I think the computers generally do a better job than the human pollsters, and this week is no different. The best example: Baylor has played no one, yet the pollsters seem to overlook that -- both polls have the Bears ranked fifth. Thankfully, the computers don't, with an average ranking of 12. The computers also rightly have UCF much higher than Louisville, ranking the Knights No. 19 and ranking the Cardinals No. 28. The pollsters, though, have Louisville No. 16 and UCF No. 25 despite UCF winning at Louisville and UCF also owning a win over Penn State, which is vastly better than any Louisville victory. As for those upset that Oregon is third in the first BCS standings because the computers like Florida State better: Relax, and let the season play out. If the Ducks finish unbeaten, the computers are going to have them ahead of FSU.