Hope is a good thing...
It's "Championship Saturday", and while the point spreads in the two relevant games are both in double digits (Florida -10, Oklahoma -16.5), there is still a chance that the Rose Bowl could end up a face-off between the #3 and #4 ranked teams in the AP Poll.
Here is how this goes down (and yes, for the record, we are probably dreaming here):
- Alabama beats Florida and holds a solid #1 in the newspaperman's poll.
- Missouri beats Oklahoma and hopefully exposes a gap in the impenetrable Big XII hype machine. Keep in mind Missouri is Texas' "big win" outside of the three-team circle of death that has dominated the college football discussion for an entire week now (wow, if feels like longer than that).
So that sets up the #3 vs #4 in the Rose Bowl. We're halfway there. Looking into the future:
- Whoever wins the Rose Bowl is going to have to look very good doing it.
- Texas, who slides into the MNC game without even playing in their conference championship game, has to win in a fluky manner. Use your imagination.
- For the first time since 2005, the Big Ten is going to have to show up in their bowl games. Ohio State will have to dominate a probable match-up with Missouri in the Fiesta Bowl. Michigan State will have to regroup from their Happy Valley shellacking and beat Georgia in the Capital One Bowl.
- Other things that would help: an Oklahoma loss in the Cotton Bowl to Mississippi (this is how much better the SEC is than the rest of the us: Mississippi lost to Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina yet still finished 2nd in the SEC West, 4th overall); the Big Ten winning the Alamo Bowl and Insight Bowl against their respective Big XII opponent (we are probably looking at rooting for two of these three teams: Minnesota, Northwestern and Iowa).
This all leaves the AP voters in an interesting position. Besides a good excuse to go rogue, they have to at least consider the fact they are not contractually mandated to vote for the BCS MNC Game winner (the reason Paterno gave up his Coaches' Poll ballot, by the way). In a lot of ways they have to see a chance to instigate a power struggle between their once highly respected, now largely irrelevant poll and the new kid on the block BCS formula.
Or maybe I'm looking too much into it.
On a more practical level, the voters have to second guess their pre-bowl opinions. The Big XII was largely considered the most elite conference, but if the Big Ten runner-up (Ohio State) beats the Big XII champion (Missouri), followed up by at least one more Big Ten > Big XII bowl game, that may change. An SEC loss in the MNC game, along with a Capital One loss to Michigan State, and the "our conference is better than yours" debate is no longer holding anyone down.
The Rose Bowl winner all of the sudden becomes a very trendy pick...and who doesn't love to be trendy?