Does a One Loss UGA Reach the Natl Championship? DudeYouCrazy Says Yes
From a previous discussion with Andrew over at DudeYouCrazy, we continue our debate on whether a one-loss SEC team would reach the title game this year given three undefeated teams from other conferences. We decided to address both sides of the argument. Here you can find my original write up as to why I think there's a strong change they wouldn't make it. Given the LSU loss yesterday they will be out of the mix, and UGA is the likely candidate to face this scenario (if they beat Bama in Atlanta). Luckily for our arguments sake (but not for the Dawgs) KState, Notre Dame, and Oregon all notched another victory yesterday to stay undefeated. Thanks to Andrew for his contribution on this one.
Below is Andrew's argument for the Dawgs reaching the title game if they win out:
If Georgia Wins They'll be in the National Championship
Much has been said this week regarding the possibility of the Georgia Bulldogs sneaking into a National Championship. I’ll lead off by saying this: I don’t think the Georgia Bulldogs will sneak into a National Championship, if – and this is certainly a large “if” – they make it they will do so by being one of the two best teams in the country by consensus.
Accordingly as I see it there are two sets of obstacles between the Georgia Bulldogs and the National Championship Game: Winning out and Out-ranking outsiders.
I’ve spoken several places about the importance of winning-out during the regular season and in an effort to not insult my informed readers I’ll simply convey that if Georgia doesn’t win-out through the regular season in Conference play there will be no SEC Championship game and that if the Dawgs slip up against Georgia Southern or Georgia Tech there will be no BCS Championship talk. Furthermore, I’d assert that the Bulldogs need to win the remaining four regular season games in a manner that breeds confidence among voters. They need Vandy-style wins, not Kentucky-style wins, but I’d even take Gangnam Style wins.
I don’t know that it really matters who the Georgia Bulldogs play in the SEC Championship (a point I will expound upon further in the next section), but playing the nation’s top-ranked team certainly presents the ideal scenario and given current circumstances the only way that could happen would be if Alabama won out. That being said, taking on LSU would also be beneficial to the Bulldogs – again, assuming they win.
The obvious factor at play here is that Georgia isn’t sitting in third place behind LSU and Alabama in the polls just needing to upsetone of those teams in the SEC Championship Game to claim a National Title Game spot. Georgia is sitting 6th in the polls trailing Alabama (1) and LSU (5) but also behind Kansas State (2), Notre Dame (3) and Oregon (4).
I’m not mentioning the teams behind the Bulldogs because there is no way they can catch up if the Bulldogs continue to win. Florida won’t pass the Dawgs with identical records and a loss to Coach Mark Richt and company. South Carolina has more losses and may have a few more coming without Marcus Lattimore. Florida State has one loss in a weaker conference and can’t win out if Florida also does (and I think the Gators might). Louisville plays in the Big East. Accordingly, there is no need to discuss teams directly below Georgia to any further extent because it would take a loss by Georgia for them to catch up and a loss makes all of this discussion moot.
The most obvious pending change in rankings is the one that will follow this weekend’s matchup between LSU and Alabama. I guarantee at least one of those teams will change in ranking. The most obvious solution that would help the Dawgs the short-term is an Alabama win that drops LSU below the Dawgs. That would certainly help but even an LSU win and effective swap (let’s say Alabama drops to fourth or fifth and LSU moves up to two or three) still gives the Bulldogs the opportunity to knock off an elite team in the SEC Championship Game. But the fact remains – there will be a change. And I think it’s a safe bet that winner of this game wins-out during the regular season and stays in an elite spot in the BCS Poll.
I tend to group Notre Dame and Oregon together for the simple reason that they share a common foe, USC. On a talent spectrum USC may be the only team remaining on either team’s schedule with a legitimate chance to pull off an upset. I think Stanford is more physical than Oregon and could possibly challenge them but I think USC has more speed; I don’t think Oregon State can do it. And, Notre Dame isn’t going to lose to Pittsburg, Boston College or Wake Forest.
With that in mind USC could ruin two teams’ BCS dreams by pulling off two upsets. But, I think Georgia would also get some help if USC went 0-2 in those two games. Two more losses by the Trojans, you see, eliminate that from the conversation of “big wins.” And if both teams won out Notre Dame’s biggest wins would be against (at best and assuming no other outside upsets occurred) a two-loss Oklahoma team (currently 12th in the BCS) and a three-loss Stanford team (because Stanford would have lost to Oregon). The Irish’s win over four-loss, non-top-25 USC would mean nothing. Oregon’s two best wins would be three-loss Stanford and two-loss Oregon State (who I expect to lose more). Again, the Ducks’ win over four-loss, non-top-25 USC would mean nothing. And, the Ducks would have another win (presumably over USC) in the Pac-12 Championship that would actually make the Trojans a five loss team.
Georgia’s two signature wins at season’s end would certainly top those. At worst the Bulldogs would have defeated the 6th best team in the nation (Florida) and the third or fourth best team in the nation (LSU assuming the Tigers don’t move up any more by beating Alabama). In that scenario you can’t argue which team has a better top-end résumé; Georgia does.
And if Georgia vaulted Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Notre Dame on such qualifications then Kansas State wouldn’t be a factor – they’d just be the Dawgs’ opponent in the Championship. But what about the Wildcats? I’ve already put them on upset alert this weekend and frankly, they will stay there. They won’t go undefeated, but even if they did they wouldn’t have a win against a single team currently ranked in the BCS top 12, so they wouldn’t have as high of a top-end as Georgia either.
Now, if all three teams won out (or for any who did) the case could certainly be made that their bottom end of the résumé would be better stronger than Georgia’s. After all, the Bulldogs will have a loss. But, none of those teams will claim a victory over the South Carolina team that beat Georgia. And, none of those teams will be able to claim membership in the nation’s best conference. You see, when you play in the conference that currently has five of the nation’s top eight teams and seven of the nation’s top sixteen, it doesn’t really matter who you play on your conference schedule – you get some credit by association. And when you win the conference that has won the last six National Championships people tend to respect you.
Yes, there was a lot of disdain for last year’s rematch, and I don’t expect an All-SEC National Championship this year. But, there isn’t an anti-SEC voting bias. The Coaches’ Poll – like the BCS Poll – has Alabama 1st, LSU 5th and Georgia 6th. The other human poll that goes into the BCS formula – the Harris poll – has Alabama 1st, LSU 5th and Georgia 6th. If ever there was a time to discount Georgia’s performance it has passed. If Georgia was sitting 8th or 9th right now there would be too much ground to make up (and if the South Carolina loss had knocked the Dawgs down further, that’s where they’d be).
I can’t see a National Championship Game without representation from the SEC for all of the reasons in the last paragraph and because of the fact that the SEC is home to the largest, most passionate College Football fan-base in the nation and it would be foolish to tick off a group of that magnitude. Case in point: I’m a huge college football fan (obviously) but I don’t know that I’d care to watch a Kansas State vs. Notre Dame National Championship Game. I think millions of less-interested fans would turn the tube off. Ratings would plummet.
I firmly believe an SEC team will be in the Title game. And if Georgia beat either LSU or Alabama in the Conference Championship they would have direct priority over the losing team for that spot. And I don’t think there is a way (mathematically speaking) for LSU or Alabama to lose this weekend, miss the SEC Championship Game altogether and somehow steal a spot from that game’s winner. In those regards I believe if Georgia wins out they’ll get a shot to play for a Crystal Football.