With the interesting results from tonight's ballgames, I couldn't wait til Sunday to communicate my thoughts on the results.
My first reaction to the Oregon comeback was that it was not positive for Mizzou, as my thought was that a blowout by Stanford would drop Oregon fall in the polls, allowing the Tigers to pass them, and that a close loss by Oregon would keep both the Ducks and Cardinal ahead of us. However, as I thought about it more, I think the end result ended up being positive for us for those of us who are still thinking National Championship.
First, I think most of the human pollsters who watched the game know it wasn't truly close, so I still think they're likely to drop Oregon pretty far, despite the close final margin. However, even if we do not pass Oregon this week, I think a 12-1 Mizzou team that's beaten Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Alabama or Auburn in its last three games is likely to pass an 11-1 Oregon team that didn't even win its division.
Second, the fact Stanford nearly fell apart in the last 10 minutes I think might take a bit of the luster off their win, which is at least a marginally good thing for us. My gut feeling is that we'll still need Stanford to lose, at some point.
So, all in all, a positive result in that game.
As far as Baylor - Oklahoma goes, I do think that the margin will further elevate Baylor in human pollsters' eyes, even though their previous schedule has been weak. I do not think a 12-1 Mizzou team passes a 12-0 Baylor team, but it could be interesting.
So where does that leave Mizzou?
In a sense, Missouri moved up a spot tonight, from 8th to 7th -- even if that doesn't occur immediately in the standings this week. I think if we go 12-1, we pass Oregon and also pass Clemson, so that actually takes us to a virtual 6th. By beating Alabama in the SEC Championship we'd be 5th, or even if we play Auburn (who would have thus beaten Alabama), we would also be 5th.
I think, at that point, we need help. Even though a 12-1 Mizzou team with such a track record would certainly have a case against Ohio State, Florida State, Baylor and Stanford, I think we are not assured of passing any of those teams. Let's assume we don't, for a moment, and look at how we'd need help:
Florida State clearly has the easiest path and if they continue to win with huge margins, they are going to end up being #1 in both polls, assuming an Alabama loss. I think they go 13-0 and that's that.
Ohio State has had an easy path but closes at rival Michigan and then will likely have a date with Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship. I think they could lose either, but think Michigan State could truly make it interesting, and even a close margin I think could cause the Buckeyes to sink in the eyes of the human voters.
Stanford plays at an improving and very talented USC squad next week in a game that will be quite interesting, in my mind. They then play Cal (rivalry game, but I think Stanford wins easily) and Notre Dame, before playing in the Pac 12 Title game against Arizona State. That's not the easiest road ever.
Baylor has Texas Tech, at Oklahoma state, at TCU and Texas. I do think Baylor will sweep that schedule, but I think the OK state and Texas games are particularly interesting. What happens, though, with a 12-0 Baylor vs. a 12-1 Mizzou? Who gets the spot in that debate?
The moral of this story is -- there is a long way to go and we're still in it if we continue to do what we need to do. I tend to think we need at least a little help, but it's fun to think about ...
2007 all over again?