The first edition of the BCS standings for the 2012 college football season are out.
And if nothing else, it's certainly hard to argue with the team that ended up at No. 1.
As expected, the Alabama Crimson Tide topped the inaugural BCS rankings for the season, with a total score of .9761. Nobody else is even close.
The surprising Florida Gators were ranked second, with a score of .9092, and the Oregon Ducks were third with a .8993. Rounding out the Top 10 were Kansas State, Notre Dame, LSU, South Carolina, Oregon State, Oklahoma and USC. West Virginia, which saw its national title hopes take a major hit with a weekend loss at Texas Tech, fell all the way to No. 13.
Overall, there was little of note to these first rankings. Yes, Florida seems to be ranked a tad too high, but the computers love the Gators, ranking them No. 1, ahead of even Nebraska. I have no issue with Notre Dame in the Top 10, nor do I mind LSU coming in the Top 10; while it is true that the Tigers have played some uninspired ball this year, their weekend win over a very good Carolina team cannot be overlooked.
We can certainly expect some bellyaching from different corners of the country; such rankings always create controversy, after all.
But let us all remember that there is still plenty of football to be played. And I have no doubt that the rankings that we'll see at the end of the year will look a great deal different than what we're seeing today.
Now, on with the rest of my Sunday Morning Observations for this week.
♦ I had the pleasure of making the trip down to Baton Rouge this week for LSU's huge, season-defining game against Steve Spurrier's South Carolina. And save the season is precisely what the Tigers did here, battling back after some early struggles to knock off the Gamecocks, 23-21. It, is many ways, a vintage LSU win. The Tigers didn't blow Carolina out the water, and truth be told, this team probably won't be blowing anybody out of the water; their struggles against such lightweights as Towson and Auburn speaks to that. But at its core, Les Miles' players are a gritty, athletic, determined bunch--a team that is used to winning, and winning ugly if necessary. That's what they did here. In an old-fashioned SEC slugfest, it was ultimately the Tigers' defense, and their running game, that helped them secure the win. Tailback Jeremy Hill was the star of the night, rushing for 124 yards and two touchdowns to get LSU exactly what they needed: A win to feel good about. With this victory, the Tigers are right back on track.
♦ Speaking of LSU, Saturday night represented by first ever trip to the Death Valley, and I would be remiss, I think, if I did not offer my thoughts on one of college football's most vaunted and storied venues. I'll start with this: Yes, Death Valley is loud. It's deafeningly loud. So loud, in fact, that the first quarter hadn't even expired when I proclaimed it to be, hands down, the loudest, most intimidating stadium I've ever been in. There were times, to be honest, when I could not imagine how the South Carolina offense was managing to communicate out there. The sound, pouring down from those grandstands, was just immense. It enveloped the place. So, hey, well done, Tigers fans: You lived up to your lofty reputation. Until further notice, I consider Tiger Stadium to be the greatest environment in college football.
♦ So I've taken some heat--and justifiably so--for my decision to not rank West Virginia at all in my preseason Top 25. Clearly, I was wrong about that; by no measure could this team be considered anything less than a solid Top 20 bunch--possibly even a solid Top 12 bunch. But I feel vindicated, at least somewhat, by what the 'Eers did (or, more accurately, didn't do) this past week in Lubbock. My decision to not rank this team didn't really have anything to do with its talent. Rather, I just didn't see how West Virginia could navigate its first season in the Big 12 (which, without question, is a great deal more athletic and physical than the Big East) without suffering at least two or three stumbles. Against Texas Tech, stumble is precisely what the 'Eers did. Geno Smith was limited to just 275 yards passing in this one, and West Virginia's one glaring weakness--it's downright pitiful defense--was ultimately its undoing. The unit allowed Tech to rack up 676 total yards, including 508 through the air, as the Red Raiders raced to an all-too-easy 49-14 win. It a telling performance--one that affirmed the long-standing football cliche that it's defense, not offense, that wins championships. Until West Virginia gets that defense fixed, then, they can expect more such meltdowns. Time to hit the recruiting trail, Dana Holgorsen.