Read ‘em and weep: #2 Alabama, #8 Michigan, #13 Michigan State, #14 Clemson, #24 Boise State and #25 Auburn.
Three of these teams will be has-beens for this season’s National Championship Game before the season starts. They are among the 6 top-25 teams who will be pitted against another top-25 opponent in the opening week of college football play starting Thursday (8-30-12).
A ton of games will be on tap, but the three that matter are Boise State at Michigan State in Spartan Stadium Friday night, Auburn and Clemson in the Georgia Dome Saturday night, and Alabama and Michigan at Cowboys Stadium Saturday night.
If you are interested in winning a national championship, 3 of these 6 ranked teams cannot do so because their pairings are not high enough to sustain a loss against their opponent.
Michigan is not going to run the table against Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Nebraska, Iowa and Ohio State.
Ditto for Michigan State against Boise State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin AND Nebraska.
Auburn will have its hands full against Clemson, and then must face LSU, Arkansas and Alabama. Yikes!
Should Clemson handle Auburn, the Tigers must play Florida State, Virginia Tech and South Carolina. They are not going to win all 4 of these games.
Should Boise State upset Michigan State, the Broncos still play such a sorry schedule that even if they run the table, they will not be selected to play for the national title because their opponents are pathetic.
Alabama can beat Michigan but the Crimson Tide must face Arkansas and LSU on the road to successfully defend its BCS national title won last year against LSU.
This happens because both the AP and Coaches Polls had Alabama ranked #2, Michigan #8, Michigan State #13 and Clemson #14, while Boise State was #24 in the AP but #22 in the Coaches Poll, and Auburn was excluded in the AP Poll but #25 in the Coaches Poll.
Interestingly enough, both the AP and Coaches Polls had 23 of the same teams, and 14 of the 23 (60%) with exactly the same rank. Two teams appeared in one poll and not the other—they were #18 Ohio State and #25 Louisville in the AP Poll, and #24 Notre Dame and #25 Auburn in the Coaches Poll.
So why are these 3 opening match-ups such a big deal? I’m glad you asked. Here’s why:
1) If you are not in the AP Top 25 Preseason Poll, you have zero chance of playing in the National Championship Game, even if you are undefeated, as has happened to 7 teams in the 14-year history of the BCS program. Simply put, no team has EVER made it to the BSC title game UNLESS they have been ranked in the AP Top 25 Preseason Poll.
2) Even being among the AP Top 25 Preseason teams does not mean a whole lot, since 21 of the 28 teams to play in the national championship game (75%) were also ranked among the Top 10 in the poll.
3) In fact, no team in the history of the BCS program that has played in the BCS title game has been ranked lower than 22nd, and that was Auburn 2 years ago. The second lowest ranked team was Oklahoma at 19th in 2000.
There are 3 other questions I want to get answered on opening week:
1) In a contest of Cougar Cats, will new Washington State Coach Mike Leach be able to pass his way past Brigham Young in his season opener on the road?
2) Have the San Jose State Spartans improved enough to even be competitive against David Shaw’s hammer-head Stanford team at Stanford Stadium?
3) Will new Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer be able to slap down visiting Miami of Ohio like a fly on the backside of a Buckeye in his home opener?
By late Saturday night (9-1-12), all 3 questions will be answered.
There will be 4 new teams joining Division 1-A (what the NCAA brain trust likes to call the FBS, the Football Bowl Subdivision), upping the number of 1-A schools to 124. They are:
Massachusetts will join the Mid-American Conference (MAC), South Alabama will join the Sun Belt Conference (SBC), and Texas State-San Marcos and Texas-San Antonio will both join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).