Monday, December 05, 2005

Bowl Championship Series Matchups, part I

The BCS (or as I call it: the Barely Credible System) announced its selections for the 4 big college football bowls. It only took 6 years, but believe it or not, they finally got the big one right. On my blog, I am intending to run a mini series on the major bowls, so bear with me non-sports fans. Let's take a look at the big matchup:

Rose Bowl
Pasedena, Calif.
Jan. 4, 8 p.m. (ABC)
USC (12-0) vs. Texas (12-0)

The BCS seriously lucked out by having 2, and only 2, undefeated teams, which made the national championship picks a no brainer. This is about the only scenario where the BCS actually works. Had Texas or USC lost last weekend, there would have been chaos as to whom got the second invite, but luckily that was avoided.

USC is the 2 time defending champion, whose season victories of note include: Notre Dame (in a squeaker), Oregon (10-1), and UCLA (9-2).
Pro's: USC has had Lady Luck on their side for some time, and that is nothing to sneeze at. Offensively, they are just as good if not better than Texas with some proven leaders.
Con's: Defensive play is weaker than last year's championship season. Pac-10 is a fairly weak conference this year, so it is hard to judge just how good USC really is.

Texas is the Big XII champ, winner of last year's Rose Bowl against Michigan, whose season victories of note include: um...well, Ohio State (in a squeaker), a marginal top 20 team in Texas Tech, and finally beat a disappointing Oklahoma (7-4).
Pro's: Texas appears to finally have it all together this season. Offense is impressive, scoring at least 50 points 7 times, and 60 points or more 4 times, one of which was in the Big XII title game. Defense is ranked much higher than USC's in virtually every category.
Con's: Other than Ohio State, Texas had an incredibly weak schedule, so the offensive and defensive numbers are likely somewhat inflated. Aside from the Big East, the Big XII is probably the weakest major conference this year.

The Archer's read:
Schedule: USC has a marginal advantage in strength of schedule. However, Pac-10 v Big XII this year is not saying much on either side. (Advantage: USC)

Offensive Production: Both offenses are incredible point producing machines with a lot of potential play makers. I saw some concerns in the Texas/Texas A&M game that could be problems for Texas. A&M (nearly last in all defensive categories in the NCAA) was a hand full for Texas and were running some plays that Pete Carroll of USC could easily adapt his offense to do. Likewise, Notre Dame was running some defensive schemes on USC that Mack Brown at Texas could easily utilize. Texas is No. 1 in pass efficiency at 168.6, although Leinart at USC is 7th with 158.3. USC does lead with all purpose running yards with 217.6 a game.
USC did beat two of the top 5 teams in total offense (Oregon, 329.3 yards/game and Notre Dame, 341.4 yards/game), and Texas beat Texas Tech, who was number one in yardage/game with 378.8.
(Advantage: Even)

Defensive Production: From just the stats, Texas has a better defense on paper, ranked 6th or 7th nationally in many categories. As stated about, however, I think these stats are deceptive as Texas has played one team with a potent offense. Texas Tech has scored some points in some games and lead the NCAA in avg. passing yards, but not against anyone of note. Ohio State is a defensive power. Texas has more blue chip talent on defense, I think. USC has a more bend, don't break style this year. (Advantage: Texas)

Overall talent and play making ability: This one is hard to judge. All things being equal, Texas usually has the best overall talent come recruiting time, but has for some years. And yet during that time, USC has the rings. Offense talent is about even, Defense goes to Texas. (Overall advantage in talent: Slight Texas)

Special Teams: As a former special teams coach, I take special interest in this category. USC is ranked second in points scored off the kicking game with 108 (10 field goals 78 extra points.) Texas is third with 104 (12 field goals, 68 extra points). USC has two returnmen who have busted 38+ yard kickoff returns 6 different times in the season. Texas has busted 1 kickoff return for 29 yards and 1 return for 30. Texas has busted 3 punt returns for an average of 22 yards, while USC has not returned any punts of consequence. USC breaks the top fifty in punting yardage with 30 punts average 41.7 yards, Texas has only had 2 punts for 42 yards all year.
(Advantage: USC)

Intangibles: USC has 2 championships, so they know what it takes to win. They know they can. USC has had Lady Luck this season, and sometimes it better to be lucky that good. Texas has the talent, but they think they can win, they don't know for sure. It still remains to be seen if Mack Brown at USC can finally get the monkey off his back and win the big one. They have the talent, but they still have to prove they are a champ and not this year's version of 2004-05's Oklahoma.
(Advantage: USC)

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