College Football Analysis: Can Houston Beat the Best?

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I can hear the BCS’s black helicopters now. Jim Delany is in the cockpit sporting an expression that might suggest he hasn’t shit in a week.

How can anybody suggest the Houston Cougars are the best team in the country? Doesn’t everybody know what Alabama has done this year? And for eff’s sake, what about the undefeated LSU Tigers?

The suggestion that Houston is, or even could be, the best team in the country is met with dumbfounded looks from the college football community. And it’s no surprise. In the current BCS system, there’s no way Houston deserves the top ranking, or even the second ranking. Or the third or fourth. They just don’t have the resume. And the BCS loves resumes.

But the truth is we don’t know that Houston isn’t the best team in the country.

They’ve run the table against some mid-tier and bottom-tier teams, but they haven’t shown they can beat the so-called big boys. That simple fact is enough to convince a lot of people that Houston would fall flat against an Alabama or LSU.

Whether their fault or not for failing to schedule marquee opponents, we don’t know how they’d fare if they did. At the beginning of the season, shouldn’t every team have the same opportunity to win it all?

If the Cougars were pitted against the Alabama Crimson Tide defense, would Heisman candidate Case Keenum add another 450 yards and five touchdown passes to his NCAA records? Or would he barely squeak out 150 yards with a touchdown and two picks?

We can talk all we want about body of work and we can analyze every facet of Houston’s game and suggest ways in which a team like Alabama might exploit their weaknesses, but without any hard data definitively showing that Houston wouldn’t fare well against a top-tier team, the argument loses merit.

By the same token, we don’t know how the Cougars would game plan against Alabama, or how they’d play a team like LSU.

And yet, we can argue all we want as to whether an undefeated Houston should play in the BCS National Championship Game this year, but in the current system they should not. The resume isn’t there.

When human perception and computer formulas determine who plays for the national title, there will always be confusion and controversy. No team deserves that.

The perpetual end-of-year BCS debate might fill airtime on 24-hour sports networks, and it might give us a few articles to write every November, but it really isn’t doing college football any favors. It’s not doing Houston any favors, nor is it doing LSU, Alabama, or any team that earns the title ‘BCS National Champions’ any favors.