Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Where I Stand On a Rematch

Astute commenter Ben posed a great question looking over my Ballot for the Blogpoll.

"[Other] than your very obvious desire [not] to condone a rematch, how can you justify the top 3 [OSU, USC, UM]?"

Well, Ben hit part of it on the head. I don't want to condone a rematch, I'll admit that. Michigan had it's shot and missed. Years ago when Florida beat Florida State in the National Championship Game in a rematch, I remember feeling kind of, well, blah about it. There were plenty of good reasons to put Florida in the NC game, but there were a host of other reasons not to. The rematch left kind of a hollow feeling because these teams had already settled this match up on the field once before. (If there are parallels here please remind me and I'll publish them).

There is a scenario where I would put Michigan in the NC game, but more on that in a second.

With regard to the rankings game, I had USC ranked above Michigan for a majority of the year until they lost to Oregon State. The Trojans slept walked through that game and paid the price. Since then they've played pissed. They destroyed Stanford, then #21 Oregon, and then #17 Cal. USC played what I thought to be a decent team in Cal this weekend and put them away only allowing a single offensive score. This is a very good, very balanced team. Can they hang with OSU? I don't know. They haven't played yet. People can point to all the points USC gave up before they finally lost. Fine. Since then they've played lights out with an intensity that was lacking early in the year. In their last 3 games (two against ranked opponents) they've given up 19 points. Is there an Achilles heel? Sure, USC turns the ball over too much. But their defense has been up to the task even with those extra minutes on the field.

I think the resumes are pretty comparable. Besides ND and Wisconsin, Michigan's base resume and USC's base are pretty even. USC molested the #5 team in Arkansas by a far wider point margin than UM over ND (albeit without McFadden in the lineup). They lost by two to Oregon State, Michigan lost by three to OSU. Michigan's loss is better, but I think USC's schedule is better.

Another factor dropping Michigan a spot is the age old caveat of needing to win your conference to play for a championship, which Michigan didn't do. Remember how pissed everyone got when Oklahoma went to the MNC game a few years ago when they lost the Big 12 championship game? On that basis, barring a two loss PAC 10 team winning out, USC should probably go.

With regard to the other contenders, I am not impressed by Florida or Arkansas. The Hogs are one dimensional and Florida has three different teams that take turns showing up each week. SEC fans can argue all they want, but the two teams in the SEC championship aren't as good as USC (proven on the field) or Michigan. Florida's been too much of a wildcard all year for us to have any clue how they'd match up. I think the Auburn game is a fairly good example of how Florida plays against good defenses. OSU's defense is far better than Auburn's, IMO, and I don't think Florida would even come close to matching Michigan's offensive output against OSU. Don't get me wrong, I like both teams. I just don't think they're better than Michigan.

Notre Dame doesn't enter the equation nor does Louisville. After what Rutgers did to Brohm there's no way the Cards hang with Michigan or Ohio State. The Irish pose the only other real choice. Even so, Head to Head Michigan beat ND, badly. Notre Dame can't be ranked or be taken ahead of a team it lost to. Norte Dame isn't in OSU's class in the remotest sense. I've watched a lot of Notre Dame football this year and they do not have the defense to make it agame. OSU's offense is better than Michigan's and their defense ain't bad either. If Michigan smoked ND at home, I cringe at the thought of the score of an OSU blow out of ND. ND just doesn't have the horses on defense.

My basic thought is USC or Michigan plays in the Championship game against OSU. If USC loses, Michigan is clearly the best of the once beatens (based on record, stats, and head to head against it's MNC slot competition and best team in the country) and should go. If USC wins out, which I expect, their schedule is superior, they go.

Here's a final piece of the rationale. If USC wins BIG Michigan's biggest "look how good we are" argument goes out the window. Michigan says look at our record. If Michigan and USC both beat the tar out of ND, then the tie breaker really is "have you played Ohio State yet?" Michigan has, and lost. USC hasn't, so they get a crack. While not critical, Arkansas losing to LSU then beating Florida in the SEC championship would help. But, if USC loses, two loss disqualification and Michigan goes.

Right now USC is the most complete team out there that hasn't lost to Ohio State. That's it in a nutshell.

Let me know your thoughts.

12 Comments:

At 1:19 PM, Anonymous mdm4040 said...

I think it's just a matter of some people (myself included) want USC to prove it before making a jump in the polls. Keep Michigan at #2 this week. If USC beats ND convincingly on Saturday, their resume could then jump them past us. If it's a tight game in the Coliseum, it may take a little more thought.

Regardless, I guess it's just a matter of whether you give them the benefit of the doubt now or wait until they make their case this weekend

 
At 1:24 PM, Blogger Gorilla said...

Great post, right on the money. Rematch could happen, but really shouldn't without something going to pot.

After this comes to fruition, can we have a Michigan Nortre Dame rematch is boring column?

 
At 3:01 PM, Blogger Maize n Brew Dave said...

mdm-

I think the win over Cal was a good enough win to push them up. Basically, only a micron or two separate Michigan and USC. The drop puts Michigan where I had them prior to USC losing their first game, so I think it's consistent. I'll probably toy with this overnight and see if I think differently in the morning. But you're right, it is better that they prove it.

It's tough. Had OSU lost by the same score where would we put them? A lot of questions about their D were answered in the negative. Would they fall to 3? Probably. Then we'd say "see they can't play defense like we thought!" But with Michigan the result was so out of character for the way the team's played this year that it stands to reason the score wouldn't be the same the next time around.

Dunno. I'll have to think it through a little more.

gorilla-

I've got my own biases that would make me immensely enjoy a UM/ND rematch. Now that the Domers have had some time to get their act back in gear, it might be a pretty good game.

I don't really have a problem with bowl game rematches per say, I just don't like national championship rematches. Bowl games should be fun. The Championship on the other hand should put the best two teams together for a knock-down-drag-out.

If we end up in the Rose I'm hoping for a Florida/Michigan matchup. Ain't gonna happen. But I'm hoping.

 
At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Ben said...

I think mdm hit it on the head. And after reading your explanation, I don't think we disagree as much as I thought we did initially, Dave.

Like mdm, I believe that USC would deserve to jump Michigan if, and only if, it beats ND this weekend. Even then I'm not 100% sure.

There's an argument that posits USC's loss to an unranked team against Michigan's only loss to #1 -- the counter would be USC's schedule vs. Michigan's. That's a legitimate beef, and one that reasonable minds can disagree on. Personally, I don't think USC's schedule is better than Michigan's.

Check this out -- wins over BCS bowl-eligible teams in the first set of parenthesees followed by their opponent's combined record in the second set:

1. Ohio State (6) (71-69)
2. Michigan (5) (80-60)
3. USC (7) (63-47)
4. Florida (6) (65-46)
5. Arkansas (4) (52-65)

Agree to disagree. And if you don't believe me, the computer schedule ratings make unbiased claims for BOTH USC and Michigan in the schedule department. But the crap about winning your conference to play for the MNC is a contrived argument with no basis in logic, just preference. I'm not buying it.

That said, if USC wins out -- they go. Until then, Michigan stays at number 2 in my eyes.

p.s. notre who?

 
At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Ben said...

Also... for what it's worth, I don't know yet if I want to see a rematch. I'm still digesting everything emotionally.

But I just want to make sure that everyone is voting based on objective observation and facts rather than preferences, ya know.

 
At 6:58 PM, Blogger dipso said...

USC wins out, they're in and deserve it.

I personally think if one of the SEC teams comes out with only one loss (and USC loses), they should play 01/08. God help me for saying it, but OSU deserves the chance to beat the best cross-section of talented teams across the country to prove their championship.

This all being said, if USC, Florida and Arkansas all end up losing again, I will be out of my head about a OSU/UofM rematch. I pledge, however, that if that scenario plays out, I still give OSU full bragging rights. They won The Game. They are Big Ten champs. The national championship is fluff -- but it sure would be fun.

 
At 6:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction: OK did play in the Big 12 title game against K-State, but lost handily, so I get your point. I just think the facts should be accurate to help bolster your point.

 
At 6:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree USC should play OSU if they win out, but Arkansas is such a different team now than the one that lost to USC it's not even funny. Also, you need to consider the "possibility" that ND and Texas are badly overrated, which could mean Michigan (and OSU) are a little bit overrated, too. This would mean a 1-loss SEC team should have 2nd dibs after USC, just to prove or disprove that theory. The SEC is a meat-grinder, and not giving a team that navigated that with only 1 loss would be ballsy. The USC clubbing of Arkansas is the only reason they have 1st dibs over a 1-loss SEC team.
BUT, I totally agree that Michigan deserves that 3rd spot:
1. 1-loss USC
2. 1-loss SEC
3. Michigan

 
At 7:40 AM, Anonymous mdm4040 said...

Agreed, Dave and Ben. At this point arguments could be made both ways, even looking at things objectively. Come December 2nd (or maybe even November 25th) the voters will have all of the data they need (and can hope to get) on which to base their decisions. Until then, it's idle - and fun - discussion.

 
At 8:38 AM, Blogger Maize n Brew Dave said...

Anon-

Noted and changed. My memory's getting fuzzy in my old age.

Other Anon-

Granted the SEC is a meat grinder. But the problem is Florida's albatross is a loss to two loss Auburn and an inconsistent streak that drives their fans and detractors crazy. Arkansas, if they win out, has a great argument. But getting shellacked by 36 points at home is inexcusable, no matter how well they're playing now. On that rationale, ND should be taken ahead of them as ND lost by less at home to a team ranked ahead of them.

Wies said it best in one of his recent interviews, "everyone's got a blemish." Looking at the records, quality of wins, quality of play, quality of Schedule, Michigan is probably the best team with one loss. However, they lost to the title game opponent, so I feel USC is the next best and should go over Michigan.

I agree the SEC is a meat grinder. But the quality of play this year is markedly down from previous years. The top teams are struggling to beat the also rans, and its not because there's great football being played. Much hyped Auburn has 2 losses, Tennessee's got three, LSU's got two, and Florida will be lucky to escape with one. All three have been an offensive nightmare to watch (especially LSU).

Arkansas is the class of the conference right now, but their loss to USC coupled with Utah State, Southeast Missouri State (d1-AA), and Louisiana-Monroe on their schedule kills any claim to a NC berth.

 
At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Matt K said...

My only problem with your argument is this paragraph.

"Right now USC is the most complete team out there that hasn't lost to Ohio State. That's it in a nutshell."

I thought the purpose of the rankings were to figure out the best teams in the nation. And specifically, I thought the blogpoll was supposed to be different because it wasn't going to go by the same old procedure the other polls did: over emphasize late losses, automatically drop teams that lose (even if to a higher ranked team and even if the drop results in them falling behind teams that might be worse), ect.

I just find it extremely hard to believe that USC could beat us on a neutral field. I don't even really think that they'd beat us in LA. I think we just match up with them very well. They turn the ball over, and we're tops in the land in turnover margin. They've struggled to run, we stuff the run. Their D is susceptable when they've been on the field for long stretches, we're tops in the nation in TOP. I think we can get pressure with 4 or 5, and I think we can cover Jarrett and Smith. It's not like they're really capable of doing what OSU did to beat us, spread the field, move the QB efficiently, and put 5 dangerous pass-catchers on the field. Personally, I haven't seen any evidence this season that suggests to me that USC is better than Michigan.

Plus, I don't really think we did anything last week to disprove the notion that we're the second best team in the country. I guess it comes down to having a problem with the voters voting for a matchup (as you admitted) rather than the best teams. I'd prefer to see an honest assessment from you about who you actually think the best teams in the country are.

The system we have is supposed to place the best 2 teams in the country on the same field at the end of the season. That's the only real description, there should be no real consideration of conference affiliation, or consideration of who's going to play who. Not that I agree with the system, but those are essentially the guidelines which we have to go by. I don't necessarily favor a rematch because I don't really want to go down the path of not valuing the results of games that have been played. But if at the end of the year, we all think that OSU and Michigan are #1 and #2, then the rules say play the game.

Sorry, I don't mean to be long winded, but this is just one man's opinion. I'm interested to see what you think.

 
At 5:29 PM, Blogger The Gardiner Bison said...

Just some random thoughts.

Imagine a Big 10 conference championship and a rematch where we beat tOSU this time. Then what? Who goes to the championship game?

How about a 4 team playoff system and we beat USC and tOSU beats Florida or Arkansas or ND. Again, then what?

How about if we lost to tOSU in the Big 10 opener instead of the finale then ran the table. Would the situation be different?

The BCS was supposed to eliminate a split NC, but that didn’t occur when USC beat Michigan 3 years ago and the writers put them #1, but IMO the BCS improved what we used to have. A 4 team playoff would have #5 crying to be in, but IMO that would be an improvement over the BCS.

Every system is flawed. I personally don’t like how basketball chooses a champion, because how many of the eventual winners were in most peoples opinions the best team in the country?

We have to do what is best for the game. To me it is unfair to say that Michigan is not the #2 team in the country today because of a late season loss on the road, but I would be fine with USC going to the NC game if they were to win out. It is just too hard to say, but that is what makes college football great!

 

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