The conference championships have all been decided and the bowl games are set. What do I think about Oklahoma State? Where does Alabama belong? You’ve already seen what the BCS thinks, but I don’t see it the same way the computers do.
This will be my final poll of the season until the bowl games have all been played. I will release a end-of-season poll at that point. So here we go!
1. LSU (Last week: No. 1) — The fact that people have had to get on tv and make any case at all for LSU being the top-ranked team is ridiculous. They’re the only undefeated team left in the country … end of debate! The Tigers have stood up to every punch along the way, so there’s nothing else needed to put them in the top spot and give them a chance to play for the national title.
2. Oklahoma State (Last week: No. 7) — This is where it gets dicey, and I know that the Cowboys will not be playing for the national title. But don’t they deserve a shot? The answer is yes. Nobody is debating the strength of Alabama as a football team, but there shouldn’t be any debate that Okie State is really good as well. This is a team that scored at least 59 points five times. They’ve beaten four ranked teams. Yes, they lost to Iowa State … on a Friday night … on the same day that tragedy struck OSU Athletics, but they also won their conference by beating Oklahoma by five touchdowns. Why wouldn’t you want to see what that offense can do against LSU?
3. Alabama (Last week: No. 2) — When your second-most impressive victory is a road win over Penn State, you don’t have an argument if you’re left out of the BCS Title game. My poll is about how well teams perform, but also how strong their opponents are. Oklahoma State played a tougher schedule. And they probably would have beaten Georgia Southern by 70. I JUST DON’T WANT A REMATCH, OK? IS THAT SO WRONG???
4. Stanford (Last week: No. 3) — Stanford seemed to be left out of the national title discussion because they didn’t win their own conference. Alabama was given a shot at a rematch with LSU, despite the same issue. You figure it out.
5. Arkansas (Last week: No. 6) — Arkansas had a great season, but they were overshadowed by the other talented teams in the SEC West. It was difficult to get a good read on the Razorbacks — they looked great against some of their lousy opponents but then got blasted by LSU when it mattered most. Are they the best two-loss team in the country? We’ll see when they take on Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl.
6. Oregon (Last week: No. 8 ) — Favored by 30 points, the Ducks beat UCLA 49-31 in the Pac-12 Championship game on Friday night. Was it as ugly as most expected it to be? Not quite, but Oregon did enough to win the conference and get to the Rose Bowl, where they will face off against Wisconsin.
7. Wisconsin (Last week: No. 13) — The Badgers got their revenge on a regular-season loss to Michigan State, winning the Big Ten Championship game 42-39 when the Spartans ran into the punter with less than two minutes left. They were going to get the ball back with a chance to win or tie, but they screwed it up! So Wisconsin won the conference (as they probably deserved to do) and Michigan State is left out of the BCS. But Michigan gets to play in the Sugar Bowl. Sucks for the Spartans.
8. Kansas State (Last week: No. 10) — The Wildcats didn’t have an impressive victory over the weekend, beating Iowa State 30-23 (although, beating Iowa State is an accomplishment these days — ask Oklahoma State). But they had a great season, finishing with a 10-2 record in the regular season and losses to only Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. They’re off to the Cotton Bowl, which is always a great bowl game.
9. USC (Last week: No. 14) — The Trojans have been a strong team all year, but their season is over due to NCAA sanctions. Now, we wait to see if QB Matt Barkley returns for his senior year. If he does, they have a good chance to be the preseason No. 1.
10. Oklahoma (Last week: No. 5) — Early in the season, the Sooners spent a week as the top-ranked team in my poll, but a slew of injuries left this team ripe for the picking when they rolled into Stillwater over the weekend. Were they tired? Did the injuries finally take their toll? Was Oklahoma State really that good? I think it’s probably the third option, but you could make an argument for any of the three.