The BCS race is decided by those who read box scores. Scratch that, if voters had read the box scores, their decision-making might have been wiser. Boise State beat Idaho 52-14. TCU won a close one against San Diego State, 40-35. Is this demonstrative proof Boise State is better? Voters thought so. They flipped Boise State and TCU in the polls. That may be enough for Boise to close the BCS rankings gap and, potentially, play in the National Title Game.
Scores can be deceptive. Stanford “scraped by” Arizona State 17-13. Had they driven onward from the ASU 4 instead of taking a knee, that’s a controlled 24-13 win. Boise State won by 38. The Horned Frogs triumphed by five. The Broncos’ margin is bigger, but look at the competition. San Diego State is a solid opponent. Brady Hoke had them 7-2 heading into that game, a borderline Top 25 team. Even with the loss, they are 43rd in the Sagarin ratings. Idaho is terrible. Sagarin has them 92nd, behind ten I-AA teams. They have three FBS wins. Their highest-ranked victim was Western Michigan (Sagarin 123).
TCU didn’t dominate, but they were better than the score suggests. They allowed an early touchdown and went down 14 after an unfortunate end zone fumble. The Horned Frogs then responded by scoring 37 unanswered and holding SDSU without a first down for nine-straight possessions. They held the first down advantage 27-7 and held the ball for 41 minutes. They allowed only 38 rushing yards on 21 carries and stopped 9/11 third-down conversions.
Give TCU a little better luck. They don’t fumble in the end zone. They make one of their two missed field goals. If the margin is 43-28, does another cruise control WAC win rock the boat for Boise? Possibly, but less likely.
Coaches and Harris poll voters watched Georgia-Auburn or Penn State-Ohio State and skimmed the scores. Perhaps, they saw a couple highlights of the TCU game, which would have emphasized scoring, heightened drama and distorted the overall impression. This, with an unrelated Notre Dame win over Utah, caused them to flip the two teams in their polls. The flip may determine which team goes to the National Title Game.
The best way to differentiate between undefeated teams is to have them meet on the field. Using lasting impressions from people who did not watch either game is the one of the worst methods conceivable.
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