Granted, no one really thought either team had much of a chance to win, and more than a few people thought they shouldn’t have been playing in a BCS bowl at all. But hey, the BCS made their own dumb rules, and if they don’t like it, they can lump it.
As I mentioned yesterday, Wisconsin qualified for the Rose Bowl by winning the Big Ten Conference championship, which never would have happened if either Ohio State or Penn State had been eligible for postseason play. But they weren’t, and Wisconsin made the most of their opportunity. This has been much discussed, but what I haven’t seen much discussed is the effect Ohio State’s absence from postseason play had on the BCS title game.
This year, Notre Dame and Alabama finished at #1 and #2 in the final BCS rankings and will therefore play for the BCS National Championship. But what if Ohio State had been eligible? Like Notre Dame, they finished the regular season undefeated. If they’d won the Big Ten Championship – and I think it’s a safe bet they would have* – do you think there’s any chance the 13-0 Buckeyes would’ve been ranked lower than the 12-1 Crimson Tide in the final BCS rankings? I don’t.
I suppose the difference is that everyone know Alabama would have qualified for a BCS bowl even if they hadn’t ended the season ranked #2, whereas Wisconsin and NIU (in part) lucked into their bids. On the other hand, this is the second year running that Alabama has sort of lucked into the title game. The Ohio State thing notwithstanding, both this season and last Alabama has benefited from late-season stumbles by other teams – notably, Oklahoma State and Arkansas in 2011 and Kansas State and Oregon in 2012. I guess the lesson is, if you’re going to end the regular season with one loss, try to lose early.
* That said, Nebraska was a 3-point favorite against Wisconsin in the championship game, and lost by 39 points, so …