Let’s go back and summarize:
Strength of Schedule
The good: Florida, Georgia, LSU
The above-average: Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Missouri, Southern California
The mediocre: Ohio State, Oklahoma
The below-average: Kansas
Wins and Losses
The good: Ohio State, Georgia, Virginia Tech, LSU, Oklahoma
The mediocre: Missouri, Florida, West Virginia
The sub-par: Kansas, Southern California
Best of the bunch: West Virginia, Kansas, Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio State
Second tier: LSU
Third level: Missouri, Virginia Tech, Southern California
Last place: Georgia
Let’s start with process of elimination. The worst resumes on the list belong to Southern California, Missouri (the only schools not to register in the top group of any of the categories) , West Virginia and Kansas (two lower and lowest tier rankings combined with a good showing in statistics that is offset to some degree by their poor SOS). Florida shows out well, but not perfect; with the Gators being the only three loss team on the list, it’s hard to see where there’s enough in their numbers to overcome that.
That brings us to five. To my eye, the best of the remaining bunch is LSU. The Tigers do have two losses, but are in the top groups for quality wins and losses and strength of schedule and are in the second grouping for stats, and that, again, should be partially filtered through their SOS. LSU isn’t a perfect team by any means, but it shows out better than any other school here.
That leaves Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech. The weakest of these four is Virginia Tech, with only one top tier showing. Also, the Hokies’ statistical showing isn’t in the strongest group and neither is VT’s strength of schedule.
Now we’re down to three. Out of those, I’d lean towards taking Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ SOS is somewhat suspect (although it’s better than Oklahoma’s), but, on the other hand, they only lost one game. OSU is even with Oklahoma in the groupings, but it’s the Sooners that fall short with two losses.
Georgia? It’s a close call. The Dawgs are a top tier team in SOS and quality wins/losses (but so is LSU). And it’s not that their statistical showing is bad (remember, Georgia didn’t show up near the bottom of any statistical categories) – it’s just that it doesn’t show out as strongly as the other schools do. Particularly OSU’s. And that, plus one more loss means Georgia comes up just a little short in my book.
Let me make a few final points here. Even though I give a slight nod to a LSU-OSU matchup as being the most justified, I really wouldn’t have a problem with any pairing from the final group of five I listed (LSU, OSU, Georgia, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech), with one exception. It would be wrong to let Virginia Tech play for the MNC while keeping LSU out, based on the above analysis and LSU’s dominance of VT earlier in the season.
If Georgia doesn’t get to play in the finals, I’ll be disappointed, but I won’t feel cheated. Just like every other school here, Georgia had the chance to take care of business and didn’t. I thought at the time, and still do now, that Stafford missing Moreno on that wheel route in the South Carolina game would come back to haunt this team. If Georgia had beaten the Gamecocks, we wouldn’t be going through this exercise right now…