Monday, January 07, 2013

The BCS Championship Thing

I will be adding more notes, but wanted to get a couple of comments and my prediction on record before the BCS championship game.

The 2013 BCS game is the dream game the BCS planners must have had in mind when they started this travesty 20 years or so ago--there might have been one or two before that were clear-cut matchups of the undisputed #1 and #2 regular season teams (Notre Dame and Alabama, this year) in the past, but not many. 

The game tonight brings back memories of the classic 1973 Sugar Bowl game between the same two teams, which Notre Dame won, 24-23, with the key play being a third-down pass conversion by the Irish from deep in Notre Dame's own territory late in the fourth quarter, preserving their lead.  That kind of matchup was so hard to arrange, pre-BCS, that it no doubt was in their minds to assure such a game every year--except it hasn't usually worked out that way.

In terms of the game tonight, Alabama has its usual strong team and they overcame a challenging schedule--except for the one upset loss to Texas A&M.  They will defend the honor and the championship winning streak of the SEC.  Notre Dame had an overachieving team this year (they were supposed to be building for the future), did accomplish several wins against major teams, and pulled out several cliff-hanging wins.  Their tenacity and red-zone defense are not in doubt, but over most of the other 90 yards of the field, Alabama, which has a suprisingly impressive passing offense and a big, quick defense, will have the advantage.   Prediction:  Alabama 16, Notre Dame 10.

From a betting point of view, that would mean a fairly strong bet for the underdog (N.D. is getting +9.5 points) and a very strong bet for under on the over/under (line is 40.5 points).

Midway Through the 3rd Period (35-0, Alabama):
Wow, was I ever wrong!  The theme of the night is "Of Monsters and Men": What I didn't quite realize was that Notre Dame's lines, both offensive and defensive, could not match up with Alabama's.  I am used to that disparity when the SEC plays a team from somewhere else, but I thought that Notre Dame, with their national recruiting, could match up better.

Alabama showed the nature of the game within three minutes, driving the length of the field without missing a beat.  Two bad calls in the next series of downs--one denying Notre Dame a first down on a third-down pass, the next denying them a fumble recovery on the punt--prevented an early momentum switch.  Then Alabama marched down the field again and, basically, it was over. 

Notre Dame's offensive execution and play-calling was poor in most of the rest of the half, and clearly their vaunted defense was not up to the task.

So, the BCS Championship once again falls short of the mark.  Unlike some, I can't second-guess the choice of the teams in the game, given the circumstances.  The amazing thing was that Alabama would not have even been in the game if it had not been for that dramatic set of games on Nov. 17, when the teams at the top of the standings, Oregon and Kansas State, both lost.

I will say that if these teams were playing in the four-team format that will debut next year, there might have been a better championship game.  Maybe.  This season has proved, once again, that the SEC is a conference at a different level--something like five of the top 10 teams were from the SEC.  This makes seven in a row for the SEC, and 9 out of the 15 years. The one time the SEC has lost in the BCS thing, it was to another SEC team.  Yecch.


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