Down to the Wire: College Football 2008

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These last few weeks of the college football season will reveal which teams has what it takes to play for the national championship and which teams will have to settle for a lower tier bowl game. Without a playoff arrangement in place, they’ll always be the argument that one, two or even three or more other deserving teams will have missed out on that opportunity.

college football

In many ways they are right – the convoluted season of major college football is centered on teams getting to a bowl game, a lucrative one preferably, with the ultimate goal of landing a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl, especially the self-titled BCS title game. What had long been an eleven game regular season is now twelve games long, thirteen for the teams playing in a conference championship. Come January, a fourteenth game is played, but that game doesn’t always determine the best team in the land.

There are a number of polls out there to measure the success and progress of the nation’s top teams, but they are rarely in agreement. The AP Top 25 is the writer’s poll, the USA Today Poll is based on coaches’ votes, and the ESPNU Allstate Standings is the fan bowl. But, when it comes down to determining BCS eligibility, it is the BCS Standings which reveal that.

This weekend there are several games of importance involving the current top ten BCS teams. If the season were to end before this weekend, those ten teams would play in one of five BCS bowls, with the top two assigned to the bowl game designated as the BCS championship game. For 2008-2009, that game will be the BCS National Championship game which is to be played in Miami, FL on January 8th.

This weekend, the following teams are in the BCS Top Ten:

  1. Alabama 9-0
  2. Texas Tech 9-0
  3. Penn State 9-0
  4. Texas 8-1
  5. Florida 7-1
  6. Oklahoma 8-1
  7. USC 7-1
  8. Utah 9-0
  9. Oklahoma State 8-1
  10. Boise State 9-0

Boise State played Wednesday night and won their game, while Utah hosted TCU – I wrote this article the day before, so I can’t share with you the results of that game here. Of the remaining eight teams, several will be heavily challenged this weekend and could find their places in the standings shifting depending on how well they perform:

Alabama @ LSU – The hardest road ahead is for the SEC leader who must win at LSU this weekend, beat Auburn (always a tough game) on November 22nd and survive the SEC championship game in December in order to qualify for the BCS game.

Texas Tech hosts Oklahoma State – Beating #1 Texas last Saturday was a watershed event for the Red Raiders but they will be facing Oklahoma’s finest teams the next two weekends. They, too, must win their conference’s title game in order to advance.

Penn State – The Nittany Lions should easily dispatch Iowa and Indiana before finishing at home against #18 Michigan State. If the Nittany Lions run the table, they’ll probably qualify for the BCS title game unless Alabama and Texas Tech win their remaining games.

Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, USC, Oklahoma State – Last year, two time loser LSU qualified to play in the BCS title game, but this year it’ll be nearly impossible for even a one loss team to qualify. Each of the four teams stumbled at some point during the season, but college football isn’t all that forgiving – they cannot afford to lose again.

We won’t know until the conference championship games have been decided on December 6th on just how everything will shake out for this year. Regardless, come December 7th you’ll hear grumbling from college football fans across the US that their team was slighted and the argument for a postseason playoff system will once again come up.


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