Philadelphia, PA – The first BCS standings have been released and it comes as no surprise there is already a little bit of controversy brewing.
Two years from now the playoff system goes into affect at the FBS level and the BCS rankings will no longer maintain a stranglehold on the college football world. However, if the system is going out, it isn't going to do so quietly.
The first BCS rankings came out on Sunday and to no one's surprise, defending national champion Alabama sits in the catbird seat. The Crimson Tide have shown no signs of letting up after posting a dominant shutout in last year's title game.
The Tide followed that win up with an equally impressive rout of then nationally ranked Michigan in this year's season opener. The problem is, the win over the Wolverines is by far the team's most impressive as the competition has been less than stellar since. The Tide will make up for it starting this week with a four-game stretch that includes road treks to Tennessee and LSU and home games against Mississippi State and Texas A&M.
Oregon is No. 2 in the major polls and, like Alabama, the Ducks have done it against lesser competition to this point. They have posted lopsided wins over a couple of good teams (Arizona and Washington), but wins over Arkansas State, Fresno State, Tennessee Tech and Washington State have cost the team the second spot in the initial BCS rankings.
Chip Kelly's squad will have time to make up the narrow difference between itself and a guaranteed spot in the National Championship Game, though, starting with a matchup at Arizona State this week and then other tough games at USC, versus Stanford and at Oregon State during an ambitious November schedule.
If the Ducks run the table, not only will they put themselves into the championship game, they may just head to Miami as the top team in the land.
Is there an SEC slant to the BCS formula? One may think so considering Florida's quick ascent, as the Gators opened up at No. 2 in the standings.
Will Muschamp's team has road victories at Texas A&M and Tennessee, and opened October action with a 14-6 win over LSU in Gainesville. The Gators close out their SEC schedule early this year (Nov. 3) and if they can knock off South Carolina, Georgia and Missouri in consecutive weeks, they will earn a spot in the SEC Championship Game, regardless of the outcome of the regular-season finale at Florida State.
Wins over the likes of the Gamecocks, Bulldogs and Seminoles would assure the team remains in the BCS picture, although a likely showdown with Alabama in the SEC Championship Game could derail an otherwise superb season for the Gators.
Rounding out the Top 5 in the BCS rankings are Kansas State and Notre Dame.
Bill Snyder has done it again. For the second time in his illustrious career he has revived a stagnant Kansas State program and brought it to the precipice of greatness. The fourth-ranked Wildcats are sitting atop the Big 12 standings and have the ultimate trump card in the race for the conference crown, having already beaten league favorite Oklahoma (24-19) in Norman no less.
KSU also has some tough games ahead, starting with this week's trip to Morgantown to take on Heisman favorite Geno Smith and the rest of the West Virginia Mountaineers. Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor and Texas won't just lay down and concede the Big 12 title, but unlike the other three teams in front of it, Kansas State won't have to play an extra game with the Big 12 Championship Game now a thing of the past.
Notre Dame was supposed to be better in year three of Brian Kelly's reign, but not many could have envisioned the Irish would get through the first half of their schedule unscathed. ND's meteoric rise has come from a defense that hasn't allowed an offensive touchdown since Sept. 8.
The rapid climb into the Top 5 has set the Irish up for what could be a monumental leap into national title contention. Having already run a gauntlet with big wins over the likes of Michigan State, Michigan, Miami (Fla.) and Stanford in succession, there are still a couple of marquee opponents left on Notre Dame's docket with road trips to both Oklahoma (currently ninth in the BCS standings) and USC (10th in the BCS) looming large.
With three wins over ranked foes and two more possibly before all is said and done, it would be hard for the BCS to deny Notre Dame, although if we know anything about the current format, it is getting used to disappointment.
Kelly doesn't anticipate doing anything differently despite the lofty ranking in the BCS standings.
"I don't normally gauge the interest of these things with our football team, so I would never ask the questions," Kelly said in a conference call on Sunday. "They watch TV. I mean, they see that. There's a sense of pride. There's no question that when you're talked about and you're putting Notre Dame up there in the Top 5, there's a sense of pride. I just have to make sure that they understand that with that pride comes a greater obligation to do the thing the right way. I think that's how we'll handle it."
It is a sentiment shared by most college coaches these days. Worrying about a mathematical equation that determines a team's postseason fortunes is fool- hardy. Taking care of one's business on the field is the only thing that is controllable.
The BCS formula is flawed for sure, one that will mercifully go away in 2014. But it isn't likely to do so without making the college football world scratch its collective head often between now and then.