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Top 25 should promise more

Last year, The BG News sports page ran a headline for the men’s basketball team. “Drive to the Top 25,” it said. Orange-clad basketball fans everywhere were holding their breath to see if one more victory would allow the Falcons to crack the Top 25 in either national poll. Of course, they shortly thereafter lost to Akron, which effectively ended their chances.

This fall, by contrast, the BG football team showed a disdain for building suspense that would make a movie director cringe. They didn’t so much crack the Top 25 as invade it like Normandy.

Posting an astronomical 248 points in five games, the Falcons walked into the national polls, sat down and put their feet on the table. As long as they keep winning, they aren’t going anywhere but up. And at the rate teams like Florida are dropping, the Top 25 might look like a shaken snow globe in a month.

All of which bodes well for BG. This week’s home contest with Western Michigan notwithstanding, the Falcons shouldn’t face a significant threat to their undefeated record until they play Northern Illinois and South Florida in consecutive road games next month.

Unless they get lax and lose in a sleepwalk, which should be unacceptable for any MAC team trying to stay ranked.

Trite as is my sound, the sky is the limit for a team that scores like BG scores. This team is a family-budget version of the 2001 Rams: The Greatest Show on (cornfield) Turf.

Let’s be hypothetical, though. Say BG gets through the regular season undefeated. Say they keep up their current scoring pace and tally 595 points this year, and lead the nation in scoring. Say they break into the teens in the national rankings. Where does that get this team? The MAC Western Division title? A possible MAC championship? A berth in the Motor City Bowl and a national telecast on ESPN2? Fine. OK. What else?

Unfortunately, not much the way things are set up now.

The Falcons might be capable of making a run at a national championship. Or maybe they are just beating up on lesser teams in the MAC and some Big XII armpits. We will never know. There’s no playoff system. There are over a dozen Division I conferences, but only six are BCS conferences with teams eligible to play in a BCS bowl, ergo, play for the National Championship. In other words, Division I doesn’t mean a level playing field. Mid-major schools are held to a standard below the Ohio States and Michigans of the world. A standard that means that no matter how good you get, a conference title and a bowl game prior to New Year’s Day is the best you can do. A mid-major team never gest a chance to measure itself against the best unless it defies all odds and reaches the Top 5 in the rankings.

A playoff system might mean odd seedings and some first-round blowouts. But it also allows the chance for the miracle upset, something that has become the calling card of March Madness in basketball.

A playoff system is the only way to see exactly how good BG can be. Bowl game committees select teams on the basis of ticket draw and television ratings. That is how a 7-4 Big 10 team gets into a New Year’s Day game. That is not championship competition. It is exhibition football. New Year’s Day might as well be August in the NFL.

It is an archaic system that needs to be replaced with actual competition, a system that has walled out the best of the rest for too long.

If the NCAA won’t change their football postseason practices, maybe they should create a new division for BG and their football peers. Division 1.5: The Chevy Chase Division — not ready for prime time.

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