The Baylor Bears are in the midst of the greatest season in school history: 8-0, 5-0 in the Big 12th, ranked 5th in the country by oft-wrong pollsters, and ranked 5th in the devoid-of-logic BCS standings. It’s November, the DID-THAT-REALLY-HAPPEN month in college football, when the unexpected regularly takes place (see Stanford 26, Oregon 20 last week; Baylor 52, Kansas State 24 last year, Iowa State 37, Oklahoma State 31 in 2011) and the lobbying intensifies to get into the only bowl game that truly matters: The BCS Title game.
Thanks to the Oregon loss, Baylor is in position to play for the Championship.
Wait, how’s that possible? Baylor still has three teams – Florida State is No. 2, Ohio State is No. 3 and Stanford is No. 4 – to hurdle!
Regular season games remaining against the BCS Top 25:
Florida State: 0
Ohio State: 0
Here’s where it gets a bit tricky: The two quality opponents Baylor has left, Oklahoma State and Texas, meet this weekend. The Cowboys are 3-point favorites. Should Baylor be rooting for 1-loss Oklahoma State (spanked at lowly West Virginia) or 2-loss Texas (despite a recent hot/lucky streak, national perception of the Longhorns is garbage)? If Texas wins, Baylor will still face two teams in the BCS Top 25 … but neither win would be considered impressive by the pollsters. If Oklahoma State wins … well, nobody respected the Cowboys in the first place. I think Baylor would like Texas to win this weekend.
Stanford has a road game against improving USC, and hosts Notre Dame, and those are “name” programs that will register with pollsters, but won’t carry as much weight in the BCS Standings as the two potential Baylor wins.
Here’s why Texas and Oklahoma State matter so much: the margin between No. 3 and No. 5 in the BCS is extremely thin (we’ll get to Florida State later):
3 Ohio State .8926
4 Stanford .8689
5 Baylor .8618
There’s little-to-no doubt that if each of these three teams finish the regular season without a loss, Baylor will finish 3rd in the BCS rankings. (Yes, the Big Ten is that putrid, but also quirky scheduling meant Ohio State only played one of two good teams in the league, Wisconsin.)
Oh, and when you look at the invaluable SRS rankings, guess where Baylor is right now? Second. Behind Florida State and ahead of Alabama. Don’t think the Baylor SID isn’t floating those numbers to the pollsters.
Which brings us to the conference title games – Baylor doesn’t have one – and the unknown:
* Ohio State vs. Michigan State/Nebraska
* Stanford vs. Arizona State/UCLA
It is difficult to speculate on these games. The Buckeyes and Cardinal will be favored regardless the opponent, but probably not by much. For the sake of this post, I won’t.
Basically, Baylor just needs to finish by hanging 50+ on its last three opponents in wins, get into the #3 spot in the BCS and hoping for one of the following*:
1) Alabama finds a way to lose at Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
2) Alabama finds a way to lose the SEC Titl … man, I couldn’t even type that entire sentence without laughing. Missouri or South Carolina? No shot.
3) Florida State stumbles in the (empty) Swamp to Florida in what amounts to a game of Pride for the Gators.
3) Florida State finds a way to lose the ACC Titl … another laughter-inducing sentence. Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech? Yawn.
Why not Baylor?
* Why speculate on the SEC/ACC title games, but not Big Ten/Pac 12? Come on. Alabama and FSU are considerably better than their potential opponents – probably two touchdown favorites. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Ohio State or Stanford choked.