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Should computers determine conference champs? The editors debate that and more.
1. Should the BCS standings be used to determine conference championships?
Braden: This is obviously related to the current Big Ten quandary. If Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State finish tied, the BCS standings will determine the champion and Rose Bowl contestant. Technically, Michigan State was unbeaten against the two (they didn't play OSU) and Wisconsin beat Ohio State soundly. Yet, the Buckeyes figure to finish highest in the BCS if all three win out. This was also a huge issue for the Big 12 a few years ago when Oklahoma and Texas were in a three-way tie for the Big 12 South. Although both OSU and OU lost head-to-head games, I actually believe they are/were the better team, but the BCS should be used for the top two teams in the nation only. Let the conferences decide tie-breakers how they want.
Mitch: No. The team will the best record in the league or the team that wins the championship game (if there is one) should win the league title. I’m okay with BCS standings serving as a tie-breaker (like in the Big Ten), but it should never trump the league standings.
Steven: Conference championships should not be determined by the BCS. All conference titles should be determined by the teams settling it on the field. The Big Ten is in a difficult spot this year because of a potential three-way tie atop the standings with Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Unfortunately, Michigan State does not play Ohio State, so there’s no way of settling this on the field. The Big Ten will get some help in this department next season with the addition of a 12th team in Nebraska, allowing for a championship game. Using the BCS as a tiebreaker after head-to-head makes sense, but I always prefer to see it play out on the field.
2. Florida State, Maryland and NC State are all 7-3. Who will represent the Atlantic Division in Charlotte on December 4th?
Braden: NC State might have the best player and might be the best coached (and has a win over FSU). Maryland might have the best schedule as both FSU and NC State both still need to make trips to College Park. But Florida State is one-half game up right now and might be playing the best football — they also have the best roster. I will go FSU, but I do not feel good about it. How can you in a league in which everyone finishes within one or two games of each other? I defer to Athlon's ACC guru Steven Lassan!
Mitch: Maryland has an advantage because it plays both NC State and Florida State at home, but I believe that Florida State is the best of the three teams and will win the league. The Noles are 5-2, with the two losses coming by a total of six points — and both in excruciating fashion.
Steven: This is the ACC, so nothing would be surprising, but I’ll go with Florida State. The Seminoles lost two heartbreakers against NC State and North Carolina and need a win at Maryland this Saturday to keep their hopes alive. If the Seminoles beat the Terrapins in College Park, all of the pressure shifts to NC State next week. The Wolfpack still have to play North Carolina and Maryland on the road, and I’d be surprised if they won both games. Maryland has shown big improvement from last year and catches a huge break in the schedule by hosting NC State and Florida State. Although the Terrapins have the best schedule and the Wolfpack have a win over Florida State, I think the ‘Noles somehow emerge as Atlantic champs.
3. Why isn't Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden getting more Heisman consideration?
Braden: Who would have thought that Okie State was more than just a Cheerleading school? No, in all seriousness, Weeden made my Heisman ballot this week and still has one or two more huge chances to improve his standing. He already owns the single-season school record for passing yards with 3,391 yards thus far (and he could still play up to four more games!). He has back-to-back 400-yard efforts in clutch South division wins over Baylor and Texas. He also led the Cowboys to the most points scored on a Nebraska defense (41) since November 1, 2008 (Oklahoma - 62) in the Pokes' only loss of the year. Rematch anyone?
Mitch: That's a good point. I have Justin Blackmon No. 4 in our Heisman poll this week. Weeden probably should be getting more support. He has been tremendous this year for a team that is in the hunt for a Big 12 South title.
Steven: It’s not Weeden’s fault his name has been nearly forgotten in the Heisman mix. With teammates Justin Blackmon and Kendall Hunter having outstanding seasons, Weeden is easily overshadowed when it comes to consideration. The junior has thrived in Dana Holgorsen’s offense, throwing for 3,391 yards and 27 touchdowns – in his first season as a starter. Weeden certainly deserves Heisman consideration, especially if the Cowboys win the Big 12 South. However, having two other offensive stars on your team will hurt Weeden’s stock.
4. Other than Texas, who is the most disappointing team in the nation?
Braden: I think a case could be made for Pitt, UConn, Washington, North Carolina, Clemson, Iowa and a host of others who didn't quite live up to the preseason expectations for one reason or another. But the Florida Gators, with the preseason superlatives lobbed at the John Brantley-led offense, are the only team with as much talent as Texas that has acheived almost as little. It might not even be close.
Mitch: Probably Florida. Maybe we should have seen this coming, but who could have imagined that an Urban Meyer-coached team would be so average on offense. The degree to which they got beat on both sides of the ball last week to South Carolina — in such a big game — was shocking.
Steven: Florida has to be near the top of the list for the most disappointing teams in the nation. Although the Gators had personnel losses on both sides of the ball, the talent from the elite recruiting classes was supposed to keep this program as the best in the SEC East. Instead of playing for the SEC title, the Gators are in danger of losing five games and missing out on a BCS bowl for the first time since 2008. The defense has been solid this year, but the offense has been a complete disaster. John Brantley looks like a bad fit in this offense, while the receiving corps and offensive line have underachieved. Changes need to be made in Gainesville, and although coach Urban Meyer indicated offensive coordinator Steve Addazio would return, it wouldn’t shock me to see some changes along the offensive staff.
5. Has South Carolina elevated their program permanently now that they have finally made it into the SEC title game?
Braden: It certainly takes more than one season to improve one's lot in the college football caste system. For the sake of discussion, Athlon ranked South Carolina the 26th-best job in the country in this year's mag. It will take years of continuity to make the Cocks a better gig than, say, Tennessee (No. 16), Nebraska (No. 17), Texas A&M (No. 18), Virginia Tech (No. 19) or Auburn (No. 20). They have taken the first step, however, even if it did take them 18 years.
Mitch: South Carolina has made progress, but one season does not make a program. Reaching the SEC title game is a milestone, but let’s not forget that the Gamecocks won the East with a 5-3 record in the worst year in the division since the league split in 1992. South Carolina will likely be the preseason pick to win the East next year; if the Gamecocks can win it for a second straight year, with the expectaitions, then they will be on to something.
Steven: Only time will tell. However, winning the SEC East this season this is certainly a step in the right direction for South Carolina. If the Gamecocks want to permanently elevate the program, they need to be a consistent contender in the SEC East. Florida and Georgia are down this year, but if South Carolina contends when both programs are in the top 10-15 on a consistent basis, then the Gamecocks will have elevated the program.
Year Three of the Campus Challenge returns as Mitch returns to defend his championship. The rules: Each person picks a quarterback, running back and wide receiver to make up his "team" for the week in an effort to amass as many passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards and total touchdowns as possible. Whoever has the best stats as the end of the year wins. All players selected must be from a BCS conference team playing an FBS opponent, and each editor can only use a player once during the season.
Week 12 Selections
|Quarterback||Brandon Weeden, OSU||Blaine Gabbert, Mizz.||Matt Barkley, USC|
|Running back||Montee Ball, Wisc.||Jordan Todman, UConn||Mikel LeShoure, Ill.|
|Receiver||Alshon Jeffery, S. Car.||Armon Binns, Cincy||Jermaine Kearse, Wash.|
|Week 11 Results||Steven||Mitch||Braden|
|Passing Yards||3,155 (1)||2,568 (3)||2,842 (2)|
|Rushing Yards||1,799 (2)||1,773 (3)||1,806 (1)|
|Receiving Yards||1,339 (1)||1,095 (3)||1,289 (2)|
|Touchdowns||59 (2)||49 (3)||63 (1)|