LSU Tigers Lead First BCS Rankings


The first Bowl Championship Series standings were released last Sunday night, and as could be expected, there are mixed emotions across the board. The top four teams, LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, are in firm control as of now, but the Wisconsin Badgers, who are ranked No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and in the Harris Interactive Col­lege Football Poll, can’t be pleased. The two polls account for just two-thirds of the BCS formula, with computer ratings comprising the final third. Due to their soft out-of-conference schedule, the Bad­gers were downgraded to No. 6 in the BCS standings – hardly where coach Bret Bielema and quarterback Russell Wilson hoped the 6-0 team would fall.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma State, who is actually ranked behind Wisconsin in the two polls at No. 6, benefitted tremen­dously from the unpredictability that is the BCS formula as four out of six com­puters ranked them No. 1. The Pokes resulting BCS ranking is No. 4.

The fact that the LSU Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide, as well as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, make up the top already has tremendous implications for the BCS title game. On November 5, the two top-ranked schools will meet in Tuscaloosa in a game that will likely decide which of them goes to the championship game in New Or­leans. If the SEC powerhouses get past a couple of tough matchups this week – LSU against Auburn and Alabama against Tennessee – then in all likelihood we will know at least one of the title contenders. The other team will likely be either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, who play each other in Stillwater on December 3. If things shake up in the standings – and with the BCS, that’s a real possibility – other contenders who could challenge the top 4 are No. 5 Boise State, No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 7 Clemson and No. 8 Stanford. Beyond Andrew Luck and company, it’s hard to see any­one putting up a strong enough effort to challenge for the ever-coveted top two spots.

All the debates on sports radio this week are not about the proposed title games, but about the reminder of the difficulties with the current BCS system. Under the current system, either LSU or Alabama and Oklahoma or Oklahoma State will without a doubt not be in the championship game. The fact that every­thing rides on the January 9 game in the Big Easy means that LSU’s and Alabama’s seasons will come to their most impor­tant points in November. Under a playoff system, everything would stay up in the air, leaving the thrill of the chase for the title game intact until the very last week.

Even though there will be no playoff this year, many of November and Decem­ber’s games will still hold importance. LSU and Alabama both play big games in Week 13 against Arkansas and Auburn, respectively. It’s nice to think that things will change between now and the bowl season but, under the current system, much remains predictable and very sub­ject to the inefficiency of the BCS setup. Let’s hope the argument doesn’t burden fans and players for the rest of 2011.

Contact Ben Glassman at [email protected].