National rankings under dispute

Oscar Areliz

The college football regular season is close to the end, with bowl games coming in the approaching weeks. Last year, we had the treat of seeing the undisputed No. 1 team in the nation, USC, play the No. 2, Texas. There was no controversy, since it was the rankings that everyone agreed on, and the BCS actually got it right. Will it be right again? People seem to think so, with Ohio State waiting to take on USC (assuming the Trojans beat UCLA at the Rose Bowl this weekend). USC is a good team, and deserves the hype they are getting, but Michigan deserves as much hype as they do, if not more.

Most polls, including the BCS, have the Trojans ranked second in the nation, and I find that hard to believe, considering Michigan has one loss as well. Michigan’s overall opponent’s record is nearly identical to that of USC’s opponents. The Trojans’ 44-24 home victory over Notre Dame put them over Michigan into the No. 2 slot. The Wolverines beat the Irish as well, but they beat them in South Bend 47-21. The Wolverines also had another key road victory at Penn State.

The Trojans’ only loss came to an 8-4 Oregon State team on the road, with the Beavers winning 33-31. I saw that same Oregon State team lose to UCLA in the Rose Bowl two weeks ago (UCLA is 6-5). Michigan’s only loss came to the best team in the nation, Ohio State. They lost on the road by only three points, 42-39.

So why are the Wolverines being punished for barely losing to the best team in the nation? Why is USC ranked second after losing to the Oregon State Beavers? A loss is a loss, but losing to the Beavers on the road is A LOT different than losing to the Buckeyes on the road. Losing to Oregon State should kill any hopes the Trojans had of playing in the national championship. A loss like that should have USC looking forward to playing the Rose Bowl, not in the Fiesta Bowl, which is the national title game this year.

Assuming USC beats UCLA, there is a chance for the Trojans to defeat the Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl. It should be a great game, and if USC comes out as the winner, good for them, but if Michigan wins their bowl game, then it is only fitting that they receive a share of the title. If USC were to beat Ohio State, it does not necessarily make them better than Michigan. The Wolverines hung in there with the Buckeyes at Ohio, a tough environment for any team to play in. USC is playing Ohio State in a neutral stadium, so they would not have to deal with the tough Buckeyes crowd.

Don’t get me wrong here. Pete Carroll has done a great job with his team. The Trojans have had a good season and deserve to be in a BCS bowl game. They just do not deserve it more than Michigan. USC was not punished enough in the rankings for losing to Oregon State, and Michigan was punished too much for losing to the best team in the nation. There is still one more week of football left. Much more can happen and USC still has to beat UCLA to get to the national title game.