Non-AQ teams gaining respect, foothold in BCS standings

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    For the first time in Bowl Championship Series history, three non-automatic qualifying teams are ranked in the top five of the BCS poll, but analysts and bloggers are debating moving a lower-ranked powerhouse school above a higher-ranked non-automatic qualifying school.

    Having a top five with three teams from non-automatic qualifying conferences should be a sign that these schools deserve to play in top bowl games. Non- automatic qualifying schools are performing in the computer systems as good as, and in some cases better, than the schools from automatic qualifying conferences.

    It has been the norm for the 13 years that the BCS has existed, that teams in the automatic qualifying conferences play in the championship game, even if they have a worse record than a school from a non-AQ conference.

    The Mountain West Conference, a non-automatic qualifying conference, is the only conference that currently has two teams ranked in the top five. This should be a sign that there are high-performing teams lingering in these non-automatic qualifying conferences.

    There is ongoing debate stirring regarding whether a one-loss team deserves to pass an undefeated non-AQ team. The past few years, non-automatic qualifying schools have proved flaws in the system by defeating a team in an automatic qualifying conference teams in a bowl game. In the 2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Boise State defeated Oklahoma, who was favored by seven points, in overtime, 43-42. In 2008, Utah proved its quality after defeating the University of Alabama 31-17 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

    Time and time again non-automatic qualifying teams have proved that they can compete with power conferences, but these schools still have to prove that they deserve to have a spot in BCS bowl games.

    In the past five games the TCU defense has allowed a total of just 16 points, while the average of the other top five teams during that stretch was 95 points. Yes, those other schools might have faced tougher competition, but how well does a team have to play to prove that they can perform with the automatic qualifying teams?

    If any of the non-automatic qualifying teams remain undefeated then they deserve the same opportunity to fight for the national title as the schools from an AQ conference.

    This weekend, ESPN’s College GameDay will be on scene in Salt Lake City to watch the TCU vs. Utah rivalry unfold firsthand. Having GameDay in attendance not only means that the game is expected to be heated, but it also means national exposure will be given to two teams that are very commonly out of the national spot light.

    Each week, millions of faces watch Lee Corso as he tops his head with his pick for the game and that exposure can only help strengthen the case for the non-AQ schools getting in over a one loss AQ school.

    GameDay this weekend is more important than in past weekends because national exposure is being given to teams that rarely find themselves on national television.

    Hopefully, the show helps lead to more discussion of why non-AQ teams deserve to play for the national title.

    Both teams have worked hard to prove they have earned a place in the BCS. The national exposure this weekend’s game brings will continue to let analysts and bloggers know that the winner of this weekends game deserves a chance to play for the national championship.

    ESPN’s College GameDay airs at 8 a.m. CT on ESPNU and from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. CT on ESPN

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