The Undefeateds

VPI, Texas, Texas Tech, Georgia, Alabama, USC, UCLA

Of the six, all but VPI face an elimination game. Texas will beat Texas Tech this weekend; USC will beat UCLA at the end of the season; and if they both win out, Georgia will beat Bama in the SEC championship game. While VPI doesn’t face another unbeaten, it may have the toughest remaining schedule of the group.

Enough with the commentary, how ‘bout some stats? Since 1999, no team with a scoring defense not in the top 10 has won a national title, and only one not in the top 10, Miami in 2002, has even played in the national title game. On the other side of the ball, consistency at QB is the key. He doesn’t have to be flashy, but he does need to be efficient. All the national championship participants since 1999 have had a QB rated in the top 15 in passing efficiency. The one exception was Nebraska in 2001, who many people feel should not have been there anyway. It’s worth noting that of the recent left out teams, Auburn in 2004 met both criteria while USC in 2003 did not.

So far this year, the defenses stack up as follows:

VPI 1,
Bama 4,
UGA 5,
Texas 7,
Texas Tech 13,
USC 35, and

and for pass efficiency:

VPI 2,
Texas Tech 3,
Texas 4,
USC 7,
UGA 12, and
Bama 20

Statistically UCLA is the worst of these teams despite only playing one team with a winning record. Alabama has by far the worst offense (even with Prothro), and it’s highly unlikely that they’ll get through Tennessee, Auburn, LSU, and Georgia unscathed. Texas Tech just hasn’t played anyone outside Nebraska. With two wins over IAA teams, which combined for one win, and wins over FIU, Kansas, and Kansas St., the Red Raiders clearly have played the softest schedule, and have only faced one top 60 offense (KSU at #57).

Focusing on the other four, VPI is clearly the statistical leader with the #1 total defense and #2 pass efficiency rating. They’ve faced by far the toughest defenses, and they’ve thrived. On the other hand, they’ve yet to face a strong offense. Statistically, West Virginia was the best offense the Hokies have seen at #56 and even that ranking is padded by the soft Big East competition. My take: I have to admit that I was wrong about Vick. He has lived up to the hype against some pretty tough competition. The problem is that the schedule only gets tougher with upcoming games versus BC, Miami, and Virginia before a probable ACC title match-up versus FSU. All those teams are better than any teams VPI has beaten, and only NC State has athletes on defense anywhere near what Vick will see against Miami and FSU. VPI is very good, but they will lose a game (or two) against a very tough schedule.

It’s been a strange year in college football, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the SEC (Big 10 is close second). Georgia was overlooked by many as some people actually picked Boise St. to upset the Dawgs; however, as the Broncos learned, a good record versus an easy schedule doesn’t equate to talent. By the numbers Georgia looks pretty good with a top 5 defense and top 15 pass efficiency rating. On the other hand, the best offense UGA has faced is Boise St., whose numbers are, as always, inflated by poor competition. My take: Like Vick, Shockley has played well as a first year starter, and like VPI, the defense is solid. Unlike VPI, Georgia’s remaining schedule isn’t that tough, and unless Auburn is better than expected, the Dawgs should make it to the SEC title game undefeated. A showdown versus Bama or LSU in Atlanta will be tough and could go either way. In any case, a 12 – 0 UGA team not in the Rose Bowl could spell doom for the BCS.

The Longhorn’s defense falls just below Georgia’s at 7th, and these guys are loaded with 9 starters back from last year. Vince Young earns Texas 4th place in pass efficiency, and he’s done it against some pretty solid defenses. My take: It’s been a long time since a dual threat QB has led their team to the national title, and no offense to Vick and Shockley, but if anyone does it this year, it will be Young. Young has improved as a passer and is electrifying to watch with the ball in his hands. Plus the Big 12 is really bad, and the rest of the schedule plus title game should pose no problems.

USC’s defense is statistically average with a 35th ranking. On the other side of the ball, Leinart has been great though surprisingly less efficient than Young. In defense of USC’s defense, the offenses they’ve faced are significantly better than those any of the other undefeateds have faced. Conversely, USC hasn’t faced a defense ranked in the top 50. My take: Everyone is infatuated with the potential of this team rather than its performance. Given the talent they have, USC has been disappointing. They should have destroyed everyone they’ve played; however, they’ve trailed at the half 3 times and needed a lot of luck to pull out the victory in South Bend. The offense is loaded, but USC has relied on Bush to bail them out on more than one occasion. This team possesses outstanding talent, but they need to play to their potential if they want to repeat. Even more so than Texas, the rest of USC’s schedule is a joke. Despite the media’s infatuation with Cal, UCLA is the only above average team remaining, and the Bruins have had luck on their side thus far. Unless Bush or Leinart gets hurt this team will make it to the Rose Bowl.

I project that Texas Tech, VPI, Bama, and UCLA will lose in the regular season. Georgia will make it to the SEC championship game, and whether or not they win, they won’t be smelling roses.

That leaves UT to face USC in the Rose bowl. USC still will not have had to play a complete game to get through a relatively weak Pac 10. UT on the other hand, will continue to play well though they won’t need to in order to get through an even weaker Big 12. Many points will be scored in this game. USC won’t stop Texas with a healthy Vince Young and Jamaal Charles. The question is can Texas slow down a healthy USC offense. I think so, but I’ll have a much better feel for that after this weekend. If UT can hold Texas Tech to under 20, you can go ahead and put the Longhorns on the BCS trophy.

Regardless, Bush gets the Heisman that he should have won last year. Leinart is good, but in both 2004 and 2005, you could name a half dozen QB’s that could put up similar numbers with USC’s offense; however, take out Bush and this team would have lost several games. Since it’s not about MVP, the winner is even clearer. Leinart means a lot to this team, but Bush is one of the most outstanding football players I’ve ever seen.

General NCS Football

2 Responses to The Undefeateds

  1. BJD95 10/19/2005 at 4:16 PM #

    If I were ever to pray about something as trivial (in the theological sense) as sports outcomes, it would be for the regular season to play out exactly as you lay it out. Playoff advocates (such as myself) would love nothing better than to see an SEC team run the table but not play for the national title 2 years in a row. Not b/c I dislike the Dawgs or SEC football in general (to the contrary, I like both), but I can’t imagine for a second that the SEC would stand for that, whatever inertia continues to keep the archaic bowl system in place. And if the SEC breaks the coalition, it will fall apart.

    Noted dinosaur Joe Freaking Paterno recently commented on how absurd it was not to have a playoff (and that was in response to a leading question about how favorably the computers/BCS system ranked Penn State). Now, people – this guy is still noty comfortable with newfangled notions like the forward pass, freshman eligibility, and likely women wearing long pants in public. But even he sees the lack of a 16-team playoff (like Division 1-AA has) as ridiculously outdated.

  2. Slader4881 10/19/2005 at 10:21 PM #

    Playoff would be nice but there has to be some major $$$ involved to offset the bowl system as it is today. I would suggest an 8 team playoff with bowls for all other teams that qualify that do not make the top 8. Regardless there would be some hot debate on even selecting the final 8 just like the BCS system today. That will always be a sticking point no matter how the playoffs may work.

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