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Orange Bowl paves way for historic BCS season

with 3 comments

Iowa’s dominating win over Georgia Tech in the FedEx Orange Bowl last night paves way for an interesting historic note that I’m stunned nobody is talking about.  But, before I get into that, big kudos to the Big 10 for breaking their stigma as BCS chokers in a big way.  Ohio State and Iowa both put up dominant defensive performances en route to breaking the Big 10’s six-game BCS losing streak and locked up the conference’s first bowl-season winning record since 2002.  That was a great game last night.  Much better than I expected and, for my money, the best BCS game so far this season.

But one thing that nobody is talking about is that this season is well positioned to be the first time ever that every underdog in BCS games have won.  No. 8 Ohio State started it by knocking off No. 7 Oregon.  That same night, No. 5 Florida crushed No. 3 Cincinnati.  Then, No. 6 Boise State topped No. 4 TCU.  Last night, No. 10 Iowa took down No. 9 Georgia Tech.  No. 2 Texas has a chance to complete the sweep and make history tomorrow night in the BCS National Championship against No. 1 Alabama.

Previously, the best performances by underdogs were the ’07-’08 and ’08-’09 seasons when the underdogs won three of the five BCS bowls.  Underdogs have never before come this close to sweeping the BCS.  In two previous seasons (’00-’01 and ’04-’05) the favorites swept the BCS.

I wonder why this little historical note seems to have escaped everyone’s attention.  Is it perhaps because people are caring less and less about these matchups as they buck for a tournament?

Could it be that people forgot that some of these teams were underdogs?  It’s pretty easy to forget that Florida fell from No. 1 to No. 5 after losing to Alabama and that, despite expectations, they weren’t technically the favorite in the game.  And with the huge layoff the Big 10 has before BCS season, it can be easy to forget where Iowa and Ohio State were ranked, let alone that they were even playing in BCS bowls.

It might be that the teams are more evenly matched than perhaps any previous season.  This is only the second time that every team in a BCS bowl has been in the top 10.  In fact, in five previous seasons, there has been one team outside the top 15 in the BCS, three of which have been teams outside the top 20.  This is also the first time that every matchup has been between two teams that are separated by no more than 2 spots in the polls.  One could say that this is the best demonstration of how the BCS should work that we have ever seen.

So, maybe it is the fact that nobody was facing a “real” upset.  After all, how much of an upset can you call it when No. 8 tops No. 7?  Nevertheless, Texas does have a chance to make history tomorrow night, and nobody seems to be noticing.

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Written by Austin Swafford

January 6, 2010 at 5:33 pm

3 Responses

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  1. I did notice this, and for most of the reasons you’ve mentioned I didn’t pay it particular attention.

    Flip TCU into the game against Cincinnati, thus pitting Boise State against Florida, and we would have had all five BCS bowls match the top-10 BCS teams in ranked order (1 vs. 2, 3 vs. 4, etc.).

    While I think most fans and analysts (most, anyway) would agree that Alabama and Texas are significantly better than the rest of the field, there is still a lot of parity at the top. Certainly Florida was favored over Cincinnati by fans (and Vegas) despite their lower ranking. The other three games were close enough (points-wise) that a few breaks the other way could certainly have led to entirely different conclusions.

    I’ll add a little attribution to the poor job of rankings all season (really, since the inception of the BCS, as far as I’m concerned). The preseason polling does as good a job at barring teams from “perceptively inferior conferences” any chance to make the national championship as the computers or any other aspect of the BCS system.

    I don’t think it’s people bucking for a playoff… I think maybe this year has been as close to a playoff as the BCS has ever been, and so that griping has lost a little of it’s punch.

    Aside from the fact I’m cheering for Texas, it would be kinda cool for all the lower-ranked teams to win their BCS bowl. I’m a big fan of things that have never happened before.

    zeekgeek

    January 6, 2010 at 7:07 pm

  2. PS…

    Am I the only one that has the idea in his head that there might actually be some small amount of legitimacy to a conspiracy theory that ESPN has it in for the Big 10?

    When I look for motivation from anyone, individual or group, I try to first follow the money. And the fact is that the Big 10 is a direct competitor for the ABC/ESPN Family of Networks with it’s FOX affiliated Big 10 Network in over 70 million households.

    Just a thought…

    zeekgeek

    January 6, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    • Yes. You are the only person that had that in their head. Penn State and Ohio State always get favorable coverage and rankings, until perhaps BCS season. I think the conference that has the hardest time overcoming perception is the Pac-10, outside of USC, who is loved up on regardless of performance. People talked about them as the best conference in football, but I think that’s just residual from last year’s bowl performance. It’ll die as quickly as it appeared. The conference that gets the most unjustified love from the media is the ACC, who they keep ranking high despite having absolutely no reason to.

      Sorry to ramble, but my answer is no, I don’t think ESPN has it out for the Big 10. They’ve earned every bit of criticism they’ve gotten in recent years for getting crushed in BCS bowls and having losing records in bowl games for 6 years. They seem to be turning that around, but it’s not like criticism of the Big 10 has been unfounded.

      Austin Swafford

      January 6, 2010 at 7:38 pm


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