Why USC Should Be #2 & Michigan Should Not
I bleed cardinal and gold and know that I wouldn’t miss a minute of sleep over seeing the Wolverines in the title game. Granted, I would much rather see the Trojans in Glendale (if they beat UCLA) against Ohio State, but if all the components of the BCS put Michigan at #2, so be it. With all this controversy over who really is the second best team in the country, the voters and computers have already decided. While you can have an issue with one poll and who the voters are, you can’t take issue with all of them. The Trojans are #2 in the AP poll, #2 in the USA Today poll, #2 in the Harris poll, #2 in the Master Coaches poll, #2 in the BCS computers and #2 in the BCS. That’s just about everyone who is relevant to NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision rankings agreeing with me and my fellow alumni that USC is the rightful #2.
Ok, I admit Michigan has two things they can lord over USC. Number one, the Wolverines have a “better” loss. Michigan just happened to lose to the #1 BCS team by three points, while USC decided to lose to the #24 BCS team by two points. Can’t deny that Michigan’s loss is “better,” but do you really want to say you deserve the #2 spot because you lost better than another team? I wouldn’t. Number two, you can point out the Notre Dame games and that the Wolverines’ win was more impressive. USC was pretty even with ND in terms of turnovers, total yards and time of possession, at the Coliseum. Michigan had a significant advantage over the Irish in all those categories, and did it in South Bend with a six point larger margin of victory.
But that UM-ND game was two months ago. NCAA Football, and the postseason in all sports, is always about what have you done for me lately. Lately, USC has beaten Notre Dame, Cal and Oregon. Meanwhile, up in the Wolverine State, Michigan has beaten Ball State, Indiana and LOST a game. Beating Wisconsin is Michigan’s only other quality win besides Notre Dame. But it’s not as impressive as a Top 10 win should be when you factor in that the Badgers didn’t play OSU and scheduled Bowling Green, Western Illinois, San Diego State and Buffalo.
So what can USC lord over the Wolverines? Let’s take a look at who USC scheduled aside from Notre Dame. When the NCAA added the twelfth game, the Pac-10 mandated that each team play each other. In other words, USC couldn’t add a MAC or 1-AA team to their schedule, they had to play a Pac-10 team. And for those of you that are unaware, not a single team in any of the six BCS conferences played all of their games against teams from BCS conferences...except...wait for it…the University of Southern California.
So while Michigan may want to argue the quality of the loss, it’s equally important to look at the quality of the wins. USC beat four Top 25 BCS teams to Michigan’s two.
Look at where USC’s out of conference opponents are in the BCS: #9, #10 and #20. Each of them still has a chance at making a BCS game. Three of Michigan’s OOC opponents (Vanderbilt, Central Michigan and Ball State) do not.
Have you seen enough yet Michigan fan?
Three of the BCS computers rank the Pac-10 as the best conference in the NCAA. Only one ranks the Big-10 as the best. Also, your team didn’t even win its own conference. How can you attempt to lay claim to a title shot when you don’t even automatically qualify for the Rose Bowl? (Pssst, the Trojans and Buckeyes did) Remember what happened to the other teams in the BCS title game that didn’t win their conference? Nebraska lost by 23 in ’02 and Oklahoma lost to LSU in ’04. If you don’t win your conference you don’t belong in the title game. Also, considering Michigan’s highly vaunted defense and USC’s loss of two Heisman winners on offense, it is interesting to note that the Trojans had a better point differential than the Wolverines this season.
But don’t cry for Michigan. At worst they have to play in the Rose Bowl, which is a pretty nice fallback. And if they had just beaten Ohio State, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. So enjoy Pasadena and if USC loses on Saturday, forget you ever read this.