TJ Carpenter: Would Razorbacks Running Up The Score Against Vanderbilt Impress The BCS?

by TJ Carpenter  on Monday, Oct. 24, 2011 12:14 pm  

Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino reacts to a bad play against Ole Miss. Petrino's team fell behind 17-0 before rallying for a 29-24 victory. (Photo by Mark Wagner)

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The BCS has long established its goal is to provide a legitimate system of determining a National Champion while preserving the integrity and tradition of college football. That may be the mission statement, but the message is very different, and also very clear: Run up the score.

Arkansas got off to a slow start against Ole Miss, but easily could have run up the score late. They chose to instead run out the clock.

While margin of victory is not an official component of the computer rankings, it sure seems like the slim victory against the Rebels led to Arkansas is getting jobbed, badly, in the current BCS standings. Arkansas went from being the highest ranked one-loss team in the country to being third in that category, dropping a spot in the BCS standings from 9th to 10th. Why?

That’s a good question. Did a poor performance against Ole Miss really hurt Arkansas that much? Arkansas trailed 17-0 nearing the end of the second quarter when Dennis Johnson broke off a 52-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 10. From there on out, it was Arkansas’ game.

Is that worse than losing to a 30-point underdog at home? Because that is exactly what Oklahoma did. Texas Tech is a good football team, but I doubt if Oklahoma were the national title contending caliber team everyone thought they were, an off night would have resulted in a loss.

Alabama played flat at home against a Tennessee team without its starting quarterback. It didn’t result in a loss. Arkansas has been tepid in the first half of games, their only loss was to the Crimson Tide, arguably the best team in the country. Arkansas has wins over Texas A&M and Auburn. Oklahoma has beaten absolutely zero teams of note. Florida State has three losses on the year, Missouri currently has a losing record and Texas has two losses.

So Arkansas is ranked behind a team with zero signature wins, but because they were ranked higher, it means the Sooners get the benefit of the doubt. Oklahoma gets ranked  No. 1 in the preseason more than any other team in the country, but seldom do the Sooners stay there.

Oregon’s single loss came at the hands of LSU. It was a bad loss, one just as rough as Arkansas had against Alabama. So why such a big difference between where Arkansas and Oregon are ranked? Their schedules are comparable, although I give an edge to the Razorbacks. Does it have to do with offensive and defensive impressiveness? Oregon is 65th in total defense. Where are the struggling Razorbacks ranked? 64th. Oregon’s offense is certainly potent; Oregon is 7th nationally in yards per game average. Arkansas is 22nd, but has also had to play significantly tougher defensive opposition.

It will be interesting to see how amazing a turnaround the defense will have now that Arkansas has found a running game and doesn’t have to be on the field for 22 minutes in a half.

Kansas State is undefeated. The Wildcats have been the surprise team of the season along with Clemson. Their key win of the season was over Baylor, ranked 15th at the time. Robert Griffen III is a cult Heisman favorite and had an amazing first half of the season. But that team now has two losses on the season, and has dropped out of the Top 25 entirely.

Many could make the argument the system will eventually work itself out. But in the meantime, why should we not try to get it right? Arkansas is at the very least the 7th best team in the nation. As far as Arkansas has come as a program, the harsh reality of poor research, regional bias, and largely political coach/SID and Harris polls is the world Arkansas lives in. The Razorbacks must go above and beyond to prove they really are a football team worth being considered the best in the nation.

It may not be sportsmanlike to say, but anything less than an absolute decimation of Vanderbilt on Saturday won’t be enough to impress a system seemingly hell-bent on not making sense.


TJ Carpenter is host of The TJ Carpenter Show on The Hog Sports Radio Network from 1-4pm (listen live at TJ Carpenter contributes to and



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