On Sunday the Bowl Championship Series announced that the undefeated Tigers will face 11-1 Alabama in the BCS Championship Game on Jan. 9. In doing so, the system that passed over Oklahoma State still set up a must-see game that should draw huge ratings and offer a worthy end to a grand season of college football.
But whether it is the right must-see game will be debated long after the Crimson Tide or Tigers are crowned the best in the land.
In the final tally, Oklahoma State used its 44-10 shellacking of rival and No. 10-ranked Oklahoma to significantly close the gap. The gulf between its No. 3 spot and the coveted No. 2 ranking that earned Alabama a shot at its second championship in three years went from .0839 to .0086.
In the end, after all the hand wringing and disagreement since the Bedlam game threatened to unleash bedlam in the BCS, the lineup of human and computer polls weighed Alabama’s single loss — the 9-6 overtime defeat at home against LSU on Nov. 5 — as more significant than the Cowboys’ slate of better wins.
Still, let’s be clear and candid. If Oklahoma State were named “Ohio State,” “Michigan,” “USC,” “Florida” or “Oklahoma” it would be making travel plans for New Orleans.
What few of us want is to see a rematch to decide a national championship. It is simple logic in the best of the American spirit: You had your shot, you lost, now it’s someone else’s turn. So this year in particular underscored the flaws in a BCS system that seems to routinely exclude worthy challengers in the name of a less-than-fine part of Americana: Life’s unfair; get used to it.
For fans, what happens if Alabama beats LSU — creating a situation where the champions have already lost to the team they beat in the title game while the No. 3 team — one with plenty of voices (including mine) clamoring that it should have played LSU — never got a shot to see if they measured up?
We all just pretend that 9-6, field-goals-only game never happened? Isn’t that why we have conference champions, to at least in part winnow the field so these kinds of situations don’t spring up?
So here’s hoping The Hat, the Honey Badger and the rest of LSU’s relentlessly talented team takes care of business and finishes off one of the finer seasons we’ve seen in college football. Certainly beating, yet again, the rival they love to loathe will make for some great theater. Certainly not letting Alabama further showcase the absurdity of the BCS would be good for the game and the fans who love it anyway.
It won’t be an easy task, but let’s hope LSU beats its dangerous rival.
And I suppose that is the point as well. Alabama is no charity case. The Crimson Tide are a great team with a superb defense and a coach who’s a lighting rod for ill will and winning ways. Nick Saban vs. Les Miles, ’Bama vs. LSU, two fan bases that hate each other without any pretense, right down to their bones — that’s great stuff.
It will be an incredible game, even if a few of us don’t think it’s the right incredible game.
Yes, with a month layoff and two defenses that are the best in the land, it actually could be a 3-0 or 6-3 affair. Not exactly riveting offenses sending fireworks into our living rooms and sports bars, I suppose, but great football anyway.
The BCS has spoken, again. Like a lot of bosses a lot of us have had, it has authority if not our respect.
Accept it, America. It’s Alabama-LSU playing for the whole darn thing.