(Written by Sean Potts)
Ohio State hasn’t lost a college football game in nearly 2 YEARS. You would think that would put the perennial power house in position to play for the national championship… but that’s far from the case.
OSU is on the outside looking in right now and frankly they should be. The first BCS standing were released this past weekend and the Buckeyes sit 4th. With the meat of their already lousy schedule behind them, they don’t have any opportunities left to impress voters or a computer. We can argue how stupid the BCS is all day but it won’t change the fact that is the current system we have in place. Thank god this is its final year.
The BCS determines the best two teams based on two main factors: how impressive a team looks and its overall body of work.
Unfortunately for OSU, beating a decent Wisconsin team, hanging on for dear life against an apparently terrible Northwestern team, and surviving 4-3 Iowa at home is not much to write home about. Can anyone really argue Ohio State should be ahead of Alabama, Oregon or Florida State? I don’t think so.
The truth is, it’s not Ohio States fault the B1G is flat out pathetic. Pathetic might be a kind word to describe how bad this conference is, outside of the Bucks of course. Punishing OSU for beating every opponent on their schedule hardly seems fair. But, we are in the flawed BCS era and that is the reality all Buckeyes fan must deal with. However, not all is lost quite yet.
Only one time in the BCS era (since 1998) have 3 BCS conference schools gone undefeated. Back in 2008, USC, Texas and Auburn went undefeated, which of course lead to the greatest BCS title game ever between Texas and USC. Every other year, there are 2 or less teams to leave a 0 in the loss column. What also happens every year is midway through the season you’ll look at 3 or 4 teams and think there is no chance they’ll actually lose a game. Yet somehow, they always do. Alabama actually did not go undefeated in either of the last 2 seasons.
College kids are exactly that: kids. They play off emotion, don’t come to play every week and get rattled more easily than they should. Sure Florida State SHOULD win every game remaining on their schedule, but they certainly shouldn’t be penciled in for an undefeated season. Let’s take a look at the teams in front of Ohio State:
The Positive (from an OSU perspective): Alabama has 3 lose-able-ish games left on the schedule; LSU, @Auburn, SEC Championship game (Mizzou). LSU-Bama has been the marquee rivalry in college football over the last few seasons, and LSU has always played them well. Auburn-Bama is the OSU-Michigan of the south and we all know how unpredictable those games can be.
The Negative (from an OSU perspective): They have a veteran QB who has been through this before, and proven to be a winner. They are incredibly talented and well coached. Saban has somehow kept them as hungry as ever, despite winning the last 2 titles.
* Pulling spreads from “NCAA games of the year” on sportsbook.ag, and using gambling odds, I’m going to give a rough statistical chance each team loses based on games where they won’t be ~99% favorites
The outlook: I would say Alabama is by far the least likely team in front of OSU to lose regardless of statistical chance.
The Positives: Spread teams and Oregon in particular struggle when they play physically superior defensive front sevens. Stanford will be the best front 7 Oregon plays and should be good enough to slow Oregon down. This is a Thursday night game at Stanford stadium. Thursday night college home dogs have historically been awesome.
The negatives: Just about everything outside the Stanford game. What’s the scariest thing about Oregon? They’re scoring 57.6 points a game, and are 12th in the country in points allowed. This might be the best defense Oregon has had in a decade. Oregon is a 22 point favorite or more in every other game!
The Outlook: If Stanford doesn’t beat them, it would take a near miracle for them to lose. I’m aware they play UCLA, at Arizona, rival Oregon State and Stanford slayer Utah, but they’re 22 or more point favorites in all four games, nothing to see there. Also the Pac 12 title game will be against ASU or UCLA as Stanford is in their division. That will be another 20 something spread. The one silver lining is according to Chad Milman of ESPN, the public loves to bet offense. Oregon is actually one of the most public favorite teams ever, and the books jack up Oregon lines to ensure they won’t get hammered on Oregon too hard. Translation, the Stanford game is absolutely a game Oregon could lose. I adjusted the Oregon ML in the Stanford game to reflect this.
The Positives: They have 2 big in-state rivalry games left and a freshmen QB. I have also seen Florida State lose plenty of games they shouldn’t have in the past 5 years. They haven’t really been in a close game yet. While this might sound like a positive, it’s not. How will Jameis play in the 4th quarter of a one possession game?
The negatives: They look unbelievable. The 51-14 thumping of Clemson was hands down the most impressive win of the year in college football. They also have blown out every other team on their schedule. Jameis is so damn good and they have so many play makers on offense, we might not ever find out during the regular season how they will play in a close game.
The Outlook: They look dominate, I just trust them less than I trust Oregon or Alabama. They’re the less proven commodity, with a QB midway through his freshmen year. They also appear to have the toughest road with 3 games that should be within a 2 touchdown spread.
Ohio State’s outlook:
Needing 2 of these 3 teams to lose is going to be tough. With nothing left on our schedule to boost us over these teams, we need them to lose. All three teams seem to have better than 50% odds to win out. Also, Ohio State needs to take care of business. The most surprising future line on sportsbook was Ohio State (-4.5) @ Michigan. I thought that line would be 10 or more. Oh well, at least we know M%chigan sucks. Cheers to the last year of this BCS bullshit.