Yesterday, the USC Trojans lost a heart breaker to the Washington Huskies, 16-13. Bad news for the Trojans' title hopes-- right? Maybe. Maybe not.
There's an old adage in college football-- if you're going to lose 1 game, lose it early.
College football is the only sport where 1 loss weighs differently, depending at which point in the season it happened. In other words, a late season loss is much more devastating than an early season loss. Early season losses get diluted as teams go on and put together winning streaks. Teams that are unbeaten late in the season and then suffer their first loss-- those losses are much more devastating.
So if the Trojans (2-1) are destined to go 11-1-- this early loss to Washington may be a blessing in disguise. This means they'll finish the season with a 9 game winning streak and if any of the unbeaten teams stumble late in the season-- you can be sure USC will leapfrog them in the rankings.
Just ask the Texas Longhorns--
Last season, Texas was 8-0 before suffering their first loss to Texas Tech. They went on to an 11-1 regular season. The Oklahoma Sooners , on the other hand, were 5-0 when they suffered their first loss to Texas. So when 8-0 Texas lost their first game, 7-1 Oklahoma, by winning their game, leapfrogged Texas in the rankings . At the end of the day, they were both 8-1, but Oklahoma had suffered it's only loss, 3 weeks earlier. It weighed much less than Texas' recent loss, so poor Texas ended up getting hosed.
To add salt to the wound, Oklahoma wound up edging Texas for a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game and eventually in the BCS National Title game.
The cry in Texas was--"Why? We beat Oklahoma!"
And the folks in Texas were 100% right. The only reason why Texas got the short end of the stick was because Oklahoma suffered it's only loss before they did. Once again, early losses get diluted and late losses weigh a ton.
If all this sounds confusing--well, it is. The BCS formula is a mess.
So if the Trojans are destined to have an 11-1 season-- the best thing that happened to them was suffering their 1 loss now at (2-0) rather than later, at, lets say (8-0). With an 11-1 record, I can bet they'll be in the Top 3, at the end of the season .
The only way they'll be out of the national title game is if, there's a 1 loss team in the SEC and a 1 loss team in the Big 12. So all Trojans' fans need is for their team to run the table and they should be in the national title picture at season's end.
By then, this one loss won't weigh an ounce.
Photos courtesy of flickr.com