Daily Blog - Friday June 19th
I love the Mountain West conference. Every year I list them as the best non BCS conference in the country. Last year I rated them the 4th best conference in the country at the end of the year!
The Mountain West is going to congress to try and get the government to force an 8 team playoff in college football which gives an automatic bid to the MWC if they meet certain criteria. First of all I am against an 8 team playoff. There is no way that you could find a single #7 team in the country the last 12 years that had a legitimate claim to being in the national title game. For more on why I think the College regular season is the most important in college football and why an 8 or 16 team playoff would ruin it, check out page 24 and 25 of this years magazine.
College football changes on a yearly basis. I can see a proposal where the MWC and the Big East battle for the open bowl slot or as the MWC proposal has the conferences are awarded an automatic BCS bowl berth. I felt both TCU and Utah were better than any Big East team last year and I would have had no problem with both being in a BCS bowl and the Big East not having an automatic bid. That of course changes on a yearly basis so why not pick the best team from either the MWC and Big East at the end of the year and give them the bid.
The next 2 paragraphs will probably fire up the MWC and Utah fans out there but it is accurate and true. Utah finished last year with a dominating win over an Alabama team that was 12-0 and #1 in the country heading into the SEC title game. I watched that game and I watched the Florida/Alabama game and Utah beat Alabama much worse than Florida did. Those are facts. Utah did NOT deserve to play in the title game nor did they deserve a claim of the top spot like 16 writers did in the final AP poll. Last year I was the BIGGEST Utah fan in the entire country. Prior to the year my magazine was the only one that pegged them 1st in the MWC (Sports Illustrated did call for a tie for first with BYU). BYU fans bombarded my website, chat boards and there were a ton of articles about what an idiot I was for not picking BYU #1 and what little I knew about college football. Every week I rooted for Utah to win and I had them listed as the #1 non-BCS Surprise team with a shot at an undefeated season and a BCS bowl. While the score of the Michigan game in the opener was close, it should not have been as Utah had 313 yards in the 1st half and led 25-10 in the 4Q but did only win by 2. They also dominated Air Force with a 440-196 yard edge but somehow only won by 7. I do not consider either of those wins lucky even though they were close. They did have a large situational edge versus Oregon St. OSU had to travel and play them on a Thursday in the altitude. OSU was also off their monumental win over USC the week prior and were in a clear letdown spot. I personally expected Utah with the great situation edge as they only played Weber St the previous week and were pumped up for the national TV home game to roll. They did not. They were down 11 points with 2:18 to go and I almost shut the TV off and went to bed unhappy because my #1 non-BCS team had lost their shot at the BCS bowl. They rallied for the win and I was relieved. They were hardly impressive at New Mexico and granted they were looking ahead to their huge Thursday Night showdown vs TCU but they only won by 3 vs a team that finished with a losing record. The next week they caught TCU on a 2nd straight road game and playing on a short week. Once again Utah had the advantage of a loud excited home crowd and once again I was frustrated at the end of the game. Utah down 10-6 took over at their own 20 and needed an 80 yard drive on which they overcame a 4th and long. They got a TD pass with :48 left and pulled out the win and I went to bed happy knowing that for the THIRD straight year the team I pegged as the top non-BCS team (Boise in ‘06 and Hawaii in ‘07) would indeed be in a BCS bowl (phew!). By my computers calculations, Utah played at a Top 10 level just 2 of their regular season games but did have one of the top games of the year for any school in the bowl. Was the only team to finish the regular season unbeaten worthy of a #2 finish in the polls? Absolutely. Were they worthy of playing in a title game? No. Keep in mind they did not face Alabama when they were #1 (like Florida did) and giving 100% effort as they were trying to get to the national title game with a win in the Sec. The Alabama team that Utah faced was a huge favorite in a game vs a non BCS foe and had their national title hopes crushed in the previous game so they were disappointed and playing a Utah team that was sky high for the matchup vs a storied opponent (A game for Utah vs B game for Alabama).
I mentioned that Utah only played 3 games at a Top 10 level. This blog is getting a little lengthy but I devised a system that takes the opponent, yards and points that were gained in their game as well as the home field edge and then awards a point system for the level the team played at. I will have a complete chart of the 2008 season in the upcoming weeks and will release it in one of my blogs. The high performance for the year was 125.3 points when USC annihilated an Oregon team that finished #10 in the country 44-10 with a commanding 598-259 yard edge. That game was given a power rating of 125.3. The worst performance of the year for FBS vs FBS teams was when New Mexico St lost 47-2 to a Utah St team that was 2-9 at the time and Utah St had a 410-156 yard edge. There were 1,520 games played by FBS teams last year with 120 teams times 12 equaling 1440 games before the bowls and title and extra games are added. A Top 10 grade is among the top 8.3% of the NCAA (10 divided by 120 teams). If I take 8.3% and multiply it times the 1520 games played last year at would be the top 126 games would be a top ten performance. If I go down to the 126th best performance of the year it was Iowa’s win over Penn St. Iowa was out firstdowned 24-19 but dealt Penn St their only loss of the regular season. Iowa played to a 97.08 power rating. Therefore any team that played at a 97.08 level or higher in a game was a Top 10 performance and including the bowl Utah did that 3 times last year. USC played at that level NINE times, Oklahoma, Texas and Florida all played at that level 8 times.
By now you probably think I hate the MWC and I am just one of the reasons that Congress needs to step in. That is far from the truth. Had Utah won their games like BYU did the previous two years (they beat MWC foes by an AVERAGE of 39.6-14 in 2006) I would have given them consideration as they were the only unbeaten team. Also when they scheduled Michigan the Wolverines were one of the top teams in the country so the schedule was ambitious. This year the MWC does NOT NEED Congress to play in the title game. BYU has that almost in their own control. BYU’s first game of the season is versus a LOADED Oklahoma team that will be #3 in the AP poll. They have tons of first round picks throughout the lineup. A win at a neutral site vs that caliber of team would be impressive. They also play the ACC Atlantic preseason favorite Florida St at home. With TCU and Utah on the schedule that would be 4 quality wins. If they were to do that and be one of two teams left unbeaten at the end of the year I would be on every one of my radio shows and on the website daily proclaiming that BYU MUST be allowed in the title game! I remember when BYU won their national title in 1984. That was the product of playing a soft schedule and then beating a mediocre 6-5 Michigan team in the bowl. BYU would be a much stronger and more deserving team with the caliber of wins should they run the table this year. We do not need an act of congress for BYU to get to the title game this year, if they run the table (and they are my favorite to win the MWC), they would deserve a shot!
76 DAYS UNTIL the start of the college football season!