Friday, November 10, 2006

Undefeated: The Big East? Big Deal!

Last night, #15 Rutgers overcame an 18-point deficit to beat #3 Louisville. As sad as it is, this was the biggest win for the New Jersey school since it beat Princeton 6-4 in the first college football game ever. As I see it, the Knights need more than a great story and a top-10 win to earn respect as a premier Division I-A football squad. ESPN seems to think otherwise. Following the game, Kirk Herbstreit was already fueling the Big East vs. BCS debate that will no doubt flood the sportswriting airwaves until Rutgers plays West Virginia on December 2.

Yes, it's impressive that Schiano's Knights held the powerful Brian Brohm-led Cardinal offense to 25 points overall and forced seven straight punts in the second half. However, one has to wonder how Louisville became the second-ranked offense in the country. Yes, Rutgers is 9-0, but how did they get there in the first place? The answer to both questions is the same: Rutgers, Louisville, and West Virginia haven't played anyone of consequence. Let's take a look at their schedules, shall we?

Rutgers' opponents have a collective record of 42-40, but their nonconference wins were over 1-8 UNC, 2-8 Illinois, 7-3 Ohio, and 3-6 I-AA Howard. The only respectable team they have played so far is Louisville. Louisville's opponents are 47-35 and played more teams from major conferences than the other two. Miami was considered a big win early on, but the Hurricanes don't look so good any more. So the Cardinals are left with big games against...Rutgers and West Virginia. West Virginia's opponents are 35-38, and the Mountaineers did handle 7-2 Maryland. However, Louisville is the only other team that is worthy of serious consideration.

Here's Chris Fowler praying that I wouldn't expose ESPN's defense of the Big East as unreasonable. Nice try, Chris.

Even if Rutgers had a halfway respectable schedule, I seriously doubt they could muscle their way to second place of the undefeated/one-loss heap. Texas A&M doesn't have the defense to stop Texas in Austin, and the Longhorns won't lose to the Big 12 North champion, either. Florida, Arkansas, and Auburn are in a weird SEC triangle that will produce at least one one-loss team. Since those four teams are all above Rutgers in the BCS standings, even a decisive victory at West Virginia couldn't put the Knights into the title game. And I didn't even mention the possibility of an Ohio State/Michigan rematch.

They haven't been as dominant in the ACC, but the departure of Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College left the Big East with nothing more than a few posers and a bunch of nobodies. If you look at their records, Rutgers, Louisville, and West Virginia don't look so great after all.

2 comments:

asimperson said...

As a Tech fan, the parallels of Rutgers 2006 are eerily similar to Tech in 1990. I got the idea from a message board post I read but I can't find at the moment. Here's the gist of it:

Rutgers was unranked coming off a 7 win season in a conference that most people saw as inferior to the big conference. (Recall that FSU had not joined the ACC in 1990.) Both defeated a conference foe that was in the top three while they were out of the top then.

While this doesn't apply to you as much as Tech fans, we're all extremely bitter about not getting a chance to play for the title in 1990.

That said, I'm not sure if RU deserves a chance to play in the title game. IMHO, this is why we need a playoff: let this be settled on the field.

Also, as a Tech fan, I remember very well the shellacking WVU gave UGA last year in the Sugar Bowl. Just sayin'.

Tito said...

Even with situations like Rutgers, I still like the regular season as a playoff of its own. It seems like the system is moving towards a playoff anyhow, though.

West Virginia did dominate Georgia, but that was during the bowl season, when excitement makes a big difference in a team's performance. Georgia seemed disappointed to be playing West Virginia and may not have been playing to their full potential.

I'm not saying that White and Slaton didn't play an amazing game in January. All I'm saying is one game at the end of the year is not definite proof that a team could make it in a major conference. What would West Virginia's record be if they played a full season in the SEC? I seriously doubt 7-1.