Even without a solid quarterback, LSU is the best team in the country this year and if they win out, deserve to play for the BCS National Championship.
Auburn beat LSU 24-17 October 23rd and that day LSU was never going to be allowed to play in the National Championship game. If Auburn had lost to Georgia and Alabama and LSU had played in and won the SEC Championship game, the argument against allowing LSU to play for the BCS National Championship game would have been that LSU had been beaten by a two loss team and had only defeated a three loss team to lay claim to a shot at the title and that was not good enough. In other words: "down year for the SEC." Auburn is undefeated and there is no doubt in my mind that, given the chance, Auburn will throttle BCS #1 Oregon, #3 TCU, or #4 Boise State. I also have no doubt that if the top five SEC West teams were to square off against the top five non-SEC teams in the country the SEC West teams would win at least 3 of those 5 games.
So why should LSU play for the BCS National Championship instead of Auburn? First, I believe LSU should play for the championship only if they beat Ole Miss and Arkansas that still remain on their schedule. Auburn should play only if Cameron Newton has been totally exonerated of all of this alleged "pay for play" scandal. The latest that I have heard in the national media is that Cameron Newton's father has admitted to asking for money for his son to play college football but that his son knew nothing of his inquiry. It has been widely reported that Newton's father made the final decision Cameron Newton to play at Auburn and that Cameron made a comment publicly about money being a factor in the decision. To me it sounds like Newton's father was his official representative. Auburn has been at least as aware of these developments as I have and so you have to question the decisions that have been made to continue to play Newton. The official bodies investigating this need to resolve this situation immediately and certainly no later than the end of the season. Cameron Newton has accounted for 38 touchdowns this year and a combined 3335 yards through the air and on the ground. It is safe to say that Auburn would not be the same team without Mr. Newton and that even if he were never allowed to play another down of college football, Newton has secured big money from some future NFL team. But how you win is just as important as winning. And past mistakes at Florida and volumes of statements on the record about recruiting bring into question Auburn's record this year. Without Newton running all over LSU, LSU would still be undefeated. By the end of the regular season LSU will have played 6 nationally ranked teams. SEC West teams have played 61 games so far this season and have lost only 1 game to a non-SEC opponent. You cannot argue that LSU has played a weak schedule this year.
However, it seems mighty odd that many in the media and voting in polls seem to be giving other teams a pass this year by overlooking really weak schedules. Ranked just ahead of LSU is BCS #4 Boise State. Boise State does have a perfect 9-0 record. Boise State beat a very good Virginia Tech team 33-30 but it is hard to understand how any of the rest of B.S.U. schedule warrants a #4 ranking. Boise St. has beaten a 2-9 Wyoming team, a then ranked but currently 4-5 Oregon State team, a 2-8 New Mexico State team, a 6-4 Toledo, a 1-9 San Jose State, a 4-6 Louisiana Tech, a 7-3 Hawaii, and a 4-6 Idaho. I ask you voters of the subjective polls: "How can you be certain that a team ranks in the top 10 if team has only played 3 teams with a winning record?". Even with Boise States' dominate record the BCS computers place Boise State no higher than 6th. After comparing LSU to Boise State the logic seems to be that losing to an 11-0 team on the road by a touchdown is not nearly as good as really beating up on six teams that have won an average of less than 3 games a piece. (Add Wyoming 2, Oregon St 4, N.M. State 2, San Jose St. 1, La Tech 4, and Idaho 4 and divide by 6. 17/6 = 2.83) How does Boise State's 48-0 pounding of a 1-9 San Jose State matchup against LSU's 51-0 pounding of a 4-6 ULM? How does LSU's 24-21 narrow victory over then #6 Alabama compare to Boise States' 33-30 narrow victory over then #10 Virginia Tech? Let's face it Virginia Tech and Alabama have only one other loss. Va Tech lost at home to James Madison and Alabama lost on the road to SEC East division leader South Carolina. So Boise State may not have played "SEC caliber" teams or many teams with a "winning record" but they sure have won and undoubtedly have remained healthy and given a number of players playing time.
What about TCU? Surely, a strong Texas school like TCU has played the kind of top caliber opponents that warrant its current #3 BCS ranking. Let's take a look. I watched the TCU vs. San Diego State game this last weekend and it looked like San Diego State might beat TCU. San Diego State was losing 34-14 at the half but lost by less than a touchdown 35-40. San Diego State outscored TCU 21 - 6 in the second half. Hey, LSU only beat West Virginia by 6 points earlier this year so I cannot really hold a 5 point victory over San Diego State against TCU. TCU still won. However, it does kind of stick out that TCU has only played 2 teams that were ranked in the top 25 when they played: a now 4-5 then #24 ranked Oregon State, and then #5 now #23 ranked Utah. TCU has played 4 teams that are bowl eligible. Utah has 8 wins despite managing only 3 points against a weak Notre Dame team and San Diego State, Air Force and Baylor each have 7 wins a piece. There is not a winning record among the other 7 teams that TCU has beaten this year but a couple of those teams are 5-5 and may make it into a minor bowl this year. TCU may be the best team in the country this year it is hard to tell. It would be easier to determine how good TCU is had they scheduled more than three weak top 25 opponents this year. Under Pete Carroll, USC knew that because they played in a sometimes weaker BCS conference that they had to schedule the best non-conference opponents available. Maybe Bosie State and TCU should consider this strategy but hey, why bother if this late in the season you are still ranked 3rd and 4th in the BCS. Maybe LSU should schedule 4 teams non-conference teams with the potential for less than 4 wins next year. Sorry ULM, that would leave out you stronger 4-6 teams.
Mentioning USC and Pete Carroll reminded me of this year's mighty PAC 10 contender the #1 BCS ranked Oregon Ducks. Oregon's victories over a 9-1 Stanford and 7-3 USC are certainly quality wins and a victory over a top 25 Arizona Nov. 26th points to a more quality schedule. Oregon has even destroyed an SEC team when they beat Tennessee 48-13. LSU only barely beat Tennessee in an un-timed last play of the game by 16-14. But, even though Tennessee recently embarrassed a Jerimiah Masoli lead Ole Miss team to the tune of a 52-14 score, Tennessee is only the 10th best team of the 12 SEC teams and has a 4-6 record this year. After see the Oregon Ducks scores, I was excited this last weekend to find that the Versus channel had the Ducks versus Cal. That game reminded me of a few of the LSU Tigers ugly wins this year. Oregon managed to barely beat a 5-5 Cal team by only 2 points and got the win on a very unusual call. I have seen countless kickers take a step forward before the snap on a field goal. During the Cal/Oregon game was the first time that I have ever seen a penalty called for an early step by the kicker. Was it a penalty for the kicker to take a single step forward before the snap? You bet it was. But I have never seen it called. That single step was the difference between an Oregon 16-15 loss and the eventual outcome: a 15-13 Oregon victory.
The Cal kicker had made the field goal prior to the flag being thrown and missed a easy chip shot of a second field goal that had only been moved back 5-yards. As an LSU Tiger fan, I understand. Sometime you win games that you should have lost. Oregon could be the best team in the country. The Ducks have a great high scoring offense. Still, Defense wins championships and I would bank on LSU's defense against any team in the country. I would love for LSU to get another shot against Auburn and would welcome a chance against Oregon. I doubt LSU will get to face a Cameron Newton lead Auburn again next year but LSU and Oregon are scheduled to meet September 3rd for the opening game of next season in the Dallas Cowboy's new stadium in Arlington, Texas. If LSU cannot be in the BCS National Championship this year, I hope Oregon wins so that LSU can open with a stronger schedule next year.