The BCS Guru continues his examination of the 10 years of the Bowl Championship Series with a look at the 2003 season, the most catastrophic finish yet for the system supposedly designed to bring you, the fan, the best possible matchups in the postseason. Who is the BCS fooling?
After five years, you think the bugs would have been worked out of the BCS. Far from it. It all came crashing down in 2003 with split national champions.
Entering the final weekend of the season, three teams were vying for two spots in the Sugar Bowl. USC had one loss — in triple overtime at California, 34-31 — as did Louisiana State — at home to Florida, 19-7. No. 1 Oklahoma was undefeated entering the Big 12 title game against Kansas State.
USC defeated Oregon State, 52-28, and LSU beat Georgia, 34-13, in the Southeastern Conference title game. Oklahoma was routed by Kansas State, 35-7, in the Big 12 title game.
So who played in the Sugar Bowl? LSU and Oklahoma, of course. USC's anger was directed not only at the Sooners, but the Tigers as well. The Trojans' nonconference games were at Auburn and Notre Dame and home games against Hawaii and Brigham Young. LSU steamrolled Louisiana Monroe, Louisiana Tech and I-AA Western Illinois at home and Arizona on the road. As the Guru writes, "Just how LSU's schedule could be considered to be among the top 30 in the country showed the flaw in the [strength of schedule] ratings.
LSU, of course, beat Oklahoma, 21-14, in the Sugar Bowl. USC defeated Michigan, 28-14, in the Rose Bowl. LSU was named the BCS champion and USC was crowned the Associated Press champion.
Ted Waitt of Gateway Computers offered $31 million for LSU and USC to settle it on the field. LSU fans were upset with USC followers for claiming a piece of the title pie and eventually raised funds to put up a billboard across the street from the L.A. Coliseum.
Great system we have here. Great system.