Players, coaches react to BCS

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
11:10
PM ET
Michigan State defeated Michigan 28-14 on Oct. 15 and finished one game ahead of the Wolverines in the Big Ten's Legends Division.

The Spartans played in the inaugural Big Ten championship game on Saturday night, falling to Wisconsin 42-39 in one of the most entertaining games of the season.

Yet, when the BCS bowl games were announced on Sunday night, the Wolverines were picked to play Virginia Tech in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, while the Spartans were left out and will play Georgia in the lesser Outback Bowl.

"Michigan sat home on the couch and watched us," Cousins said. "I don't see how you get punished for playing and someone else gets to sit on the couch and get what they want. If this is the way the system is, I guess it's a broken system."

Oklahoma State might be asking the question of Alabama.

[+] EnlargeLSU and Alabama
Marvin Gentry/US PRESSWIRELSU and Alabama will line up against each other for the second time this season, this time with the national title on the line.
Without a playoff system in college football, the BCS objective is to match the two best teams in the country in the Jan. 9 Allstate BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans.

Whether you like the sport’s system for determining its national champion or not, the BCS got it right this season.

No. 1 LSU will play No. 2 Alabama in the Mercedes-Benz Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans with a BCS national championship on the line.

The Tigers and Crimson Tide are the two best teams in the country.

There’s no debate about whether or not the Tigers deserve to be there, after they blasted No. 14 Georgia 42-10 in the SEC championship game on Saturday night to finish the regular season with a 13-0 record. The Tigers have defeated the Pac-12 champion (Oregon), Big East champion (West Virginia) and six SEC teams which were ranked when they played them.

The Crimson Tide, whose only loss came against LSU 9-6 in overtime on Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., edged Oklahoma State for No. 2 in the final BCS standings released on Sunday night. The Crimson Tide had a .9419 BCS average, slightly ahead of the Pokes’ BCS average of .9333.

Alabama (11-1) was ranked No. 2 in the Harris Poll and USA Today coaches’ top 25 poll, which make up two-thirds of the BCS formula. The Pokes (11-1) were No. 3 in both human polls.

Alabama was also No. 2 in two of the six computer ratings in the BCS formula; OSU was No. 2 in the other four. A team’s average in the computer rankings is the other one-third in the BCS formula.

“The system that we have is the system,” Alabama coach Nick Saban told ESPN. “Regardless of what anybody thinks [of the system], it sort of is what it is. I think there are a lot of people out there who think these are the two best teams in the country and want to see them play again.”

LSU coach Les Miles said he didn’t have a problem playing the Crimson Tide again, even though the Tigers have already defeated them on the road this season.

“We look forward to playing Alabama,” Miles told ESPN. “The upside is you understand your opponent and you’ve seen them play. You’ve studied them before and obviously you’ve played them. It will be played in the same fashion with great enthusiasm and want to compete.”

OSU coach Mike Gundy, whose Cowboys will play No. 4 Stanford in the Jan. 2 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, said his team did everything it could in trying to impress voters by blasting rival Oklahoma 44-10 on Saturday night.

“We were very disappointed,” Gundy told ESPN. “We felt like our team had worked very hard. We had a tough loss [37-31 in double overtime at Iowa State on Nov. 18], but we came back and did everything we could do to dominate the game against Oklahoma. We felt like we had an opportunity by the way we played in the game.”

[+] EnlargeKirk Cousins
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesMichigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins was none too pleased that Michigan, a team his Spartans beat 28-14 is heading to a BCS game and Michigan State is not. "I guess it's a broken system," he said.
Gundy didn’t criticize the BCS system, saying his school “bought into the system several years ago.”

“We wanted the opportunity to settle the debate that had gone on all year about the offense of the Big 12, the defense of the SEC,” Gundy said. “We thought our defense was a lot better than most people thought. For whatever reason, people decided they wanted to see a rematch of LSU and Alabama. There obviously weren’t enough people who wanted to see the Big 12 champion against the SEC champion.”

The BCS didn’t get everything right on Sunday night.

After then-No. 6 Houston was upset by Southern Mississippi 49-28 in Saturday’s Conference USA championship game, there was one at-large selection available to BCS bowl games. By finishing in the top four of the final BCS standings, Stanford was guaranteed of earning an at-large selection under BCS rules.

With the Cougars out of the mix, the Allstate Sugar Bowl selected No. 11 Virginia Tech to play No. 13 Michigan in New Orleans on Jan. 3. The Hokies were routed by then-No. 20 Clemson 38-10 in Saturday night’s ACC championship game in Charlotte, N.C.

Sugar Bowl officials selected the Hokies over higher-ranked teams like No. 7 Boise State and No. 8 Kansas State.

The other BCS bowl matchups: No. 5 Oregon will play No. 10 Wisconsin in the Jan. 2 Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio and No. 15 Clemson will play No. 23 West Virginia in the Jan. 4 Discover Orange Bowl.

Here are a few other intriguing bowl games outside of the BCS:

  • No. 6 Arkansas will play No. 8 Kansas State in the Jan. 6 Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. The Razorbacks, whose only losses came against LSU and Alabama, probably would have played in a BCS bowl if they weren’t in the SEC (BCS rules allow only two teams from one conference to play in BCS bowl games). The Wildcats were just as deserving as Virginia Tech to play in the Sugar Bowl.
  • Florida State and Notre Dame, two of the sport’s traditional heavyweights, will meet in the Dec. 29 Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla. Both teams had disappointing seasons after high preseason expectations, but should bring back good teams in 2012.
  • Penn State, which finished 9-3 and tied with Wisconsin for first place in the Big Ten Leaders Division, slipped all the way to the Jan. 2 TicketCity Bowl at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The Nittany Lions will play Houston. It seems obvious that bowl games sitting higher in the Big Ten’s pecking order wouldn’t want PSU because of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
  • Ohio State (which last week hired Urban Meyer as its new coach) will play Florida (Meyer’s old school) in the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. OSU interim coach Luke Fickell will coach the Buckeyes in the bowl game, but Meyer figures to be a very interested observer.

Mark Schlabach | email

College Football and Basketball

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