Monday, November 26, 2007

BCS Looniness - ILLINOIS Rose Bowl?

Don't laugh, in the year of the upset, this could happen too. It's been a crazy season - no shocker there. #2 has gone down 6 times this season, counting Saturday's Kansas demise at the hands of Missouri. #1 hasn't been immume either (USC, Ohio State, and LSU - twice). Seems like nobody wants to or is capable of holding onto the top BCS positions. So why not ILLINOIS in the BCS? And why not the Rose Bowl? Is there a hotter team in the country right now - or two weeks ago? Don't talk to me about the 'big-boys' being down this year or how great their talent pools are when compared to the 'lesser' schools like KU, MIZZOU, WV, and ILLINOIS. Recruiting classes don't win championships, programs do. And the Zooker & Company are building a great one at ILLINOIS. Worthy? Come on - we've been there four times in the past and have three victories (latest being 1984), 10th all-time. Let the debate rage, the arguments be made public, and the computers sort it out once and for all come next weekend, with a little bowl-game politicing in the backrooms of the BCS.

To start making the case for an ILLNI appearance in Pasadena come January 2008, one has to look back to last year. While it's true that the team was competitive in several losses; it's also true that we only amassed two victories against ten defeats. It's been said that you can't frame a house while the foundation is still wet (last season). If that's the case, the carpenters, plumbers, electricians, landscapers, and painters have all been busy in Champaign this year. The ILLINI turnaround in 2007 is one of the greatest in recent CFB history, by a long shot. Name another 2-10 / 9-3 team in recent memory? Great job by Coach Zook and his staff in getting the players to 'buy-in' this campaign in Champaign. They're on the MARK this year as a major surprise. With nine (9) wins and a top-18 ranking in the BCS (currently #15) we qualify as the rules exist today. Don't blame ILLINOIS - we didn't create the monster. But it is our current POR (process of record).

Then there are the wins and losses. Name another team with two top-5 BCS victories (#5 Wisconsin and #1 Ohio State - in Columbus). En route to nine victories, the CHIEF also dismantled Penn State, Northwestern, and a strong Ball-State club - who gave Nebraska all it could handle and then some. The three defeats weren't that bad either (to Michigan, at Iowa, and at #1 Missouri back in late August). Name a team other than Oklahoma who played the TIGERS better for 60 minutes, and almost won? You may have an argument in Kansas. No matter how you slice it, the SOS is there to lend credibility to the nine wins. In fact, this week Sagarin has our schedule strength at #36 in the land, ahead of other BCS prospects like Ohio State (#56), Kansas (#90), Oklahoma (#67), VT (#45), BC (#41), and Hawaii (#142).

Looking back a few weeks, I had no idea what the Oregon and Oklahoma losses meant at the time. Now it looks like both have opened the door somewhat for a BCS appearance by the Chief. Many scenarios remain and things have to go just right down the stretch. As been said, still a lot more football to be played next weekend with Championship games and classic rivalry showdowns, including the CIVIL WAR. Anything can and will likely happen in one or more of these upcoming match-ups. Until the final whistles blow, the CHIEF will be cheering loudly for teams like Oklahoma, Arizona, LSU, UW, and Virginia Tech to all win their big games this weekend. It's a great game.

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