As is the case during many autumn weekends, I spent quite a bit of time (perhaps too much) watching college football this weekend. And of course this enabled me to witness the various losses among the top ten teams, many of which lost to unranked opponents. What started innocently enough with top ranked Southern Cal's "shocking" loss at Oregon State on Thursday turned into a tidal wave with 4rd ranked Florida's loss at home to unranked Ole Miss, 9th ranked Wisconsin's loss at unranked Michigan, and 3rd ranked Georgia's loss at home to 8th ranked Alabama. (Okay, so Georgia's opponent clearly was not unranked, but the way in which events in this game transpired makes it worthy of inclusion in discussion about this chaotic weekend.)
The Florida-Ole Miss game was tight for the most part and as a result, it did not produce quite the level of shock for me as the other games did, other than the fact that Ole Miss was able to pull out the victory. The other three games produced far greater shocks in that Southern Cal was down 21-0 at halftime, Wisconsin was ahead 19-0 at halftime, and Georgia was down 31-0 at halftime!
It was not necessarily surpising that Southern Cal was able to rally and make a game out of it with Oregon State. I felt that if they could have ever tied the game in the fourth quarter then they would have won, but Oregon State's defense came up big at the most crucial points of the game. And watching that game on Thursday night, I thought that the result should completely doom Southern Cal's (national) championship aspirations - and I still do (more on this later) - but then a whole bunch of other craziness ended up happening once Saturday rolled around.
It was likewise not too, too surprising that Georgia was able to rally to create the semblance of an illusion that they were actually sort of in the game with Alabama at any point. After all, Georgia did start the year ranked number one. Now granted, I never understood why Georgia started at number one, and thus I actually expected Alabama to win. However, I did not expect Alabama to lead 31-0. Now sure, if Georgia runs the table (which would necessarily mean that they win the SEC Championship) they instantly put themselves in the conversation for the national title, but the Georgia team that I saw play on Saturday would seem to me to have little chance of beating Alabama in a potential rematch, and I cannot even envision them going through the rest of the regular season without another loss.
What can I say about Wisconsin? I suppose the only statistic that I can point to that would indicate that their collapse was not a surprise would be the fact that Wisconsin has not won at Michigan since 1994. Otherwise there is no way to paint this game as anything other than a colossal choke. Michigan has looked awful this season, and they looked awful in the first half of the game against Wisconsin, turning the ball over five times in the first thirty minutes. However, Wisconsin was only able to produce four field goals and a lone touchdown before intermission. This loss should absolutely doom Wisconsin's national title hopes. After the last two showings in the BCS Championship by Ohio State, Big Ten schools were essentially playing with zero margin for error. As a result, it essentially does not matter if Wisconsin runs the table; they will not beat out a one-loss SEC or one-loss Big 12 school should it come down to such a selection. And they certainly would not beat out a one-loss Southern Cal team.
This all brings us back to Southern Cal. (See, I told you that I would come back to this later.) Southern Cal should be done. The pollsters should have punished them far more than dropping them to nine (on the AP poll - I don't use the Coaches' Poll, it's a total sham). Southern Cal is buoyed by a perceived superiority in athletic talent (which they could well have) and on the strength of convincing early season victories over a very bad Virginia team and an overrated Ohio State team. (Let's face it, even with Chris Wells in the lineup against Southern Cal, Ohio State still gets beat badly in my opinion.) The conventional wisdom prior to last weekend's games was that (a) Southern Cal was the best team in the country and (b) there was the chance that an undefeated SEC or Big 12 team could be left out of the BCS Championship because it was unlikely that either would jump an undefeated Southern Cal team playing in a weaker Pac 10 conference.
This is precisely the reason (now) that Southern Cal should be out of the BCS title conversation. To me, this retarded system in which the contenders for the championship are selected subjectively by human beings has almost no merit whatsoever. And the only time it truly has any merit is when teams being considered are undefeated. It's simple; when teams go undefeated, they have done everything they could possibly do to be in the championship conversation. When teams have one-loss, they have not done everything possible. If all teams (or at most all but one) have lost, and the schedules of the teams in question all can be considered legitimate, then I think it is completely useless to discuss which team a person thinks would win in a hypothetical matchup. For example, a Trojan fan might say today, I totally think Southern Cal would beat Georgia. My response would be, Really? Did you totally think that they would beat Oregon State, too? You see, in absence of a credible argument to support your beliefs about the hypothetical outcome of a college football game, I'm afraid you have to select a team that tallied a more robust list of victories. And I'm afraid that there is no way that a one-loss Southern Cal team can trump either a one-loss SEC Champion or one-loss Big 12 Champion (should this scenario occur) in this department no matter what the identity of those teams might be.