Last year Bret Bielema, the coach of the Wisconsin Badgers football team, raised a few eyebrows when his team put up 83 points on Indiana and 70 on Northwestern. More than a few people thought that perhaps Bielema was running up the score.
Turns out that Bielema was ahead of the curve. If you looked at the results of the scores for teams rated in the Top 10 in the football polls, there was a lot of that sort of thing going on yesterday:
#1 LSU 41, Florida 11
#2 Alabama 34, Vanderbilt 0
#3 Oklahoma 55, Texas 17
#5 Boise State 57, Fresno State 7
#6 Oklahoma State 70, Kansas 28
#7 Stanford 48, Colorado 7
#8 Clemson 36, Boston College 14
#9 Oregon 43, California 15
#10 Arkansas 38, Auburn 15
The Badgers are the #4 team and they had a bye week. This coming week they will play Indiana, the team they hung 83 on last time. If anything, the Badgers are better this year and Indiana is worse. It could be really ugly in Madison on Saturday.
So what is happening here? Is it that the elite teams have far surpassed their rivals? Or do they have an incentive to run up the score? The answer to these questions is the same thing: the current college system rewards butt-kicking and running up the score. Much of the input that drives the BCS rankings comes from computers and margin of victory is a huge component. There's no incentive to call off your dogs when that is the case.
Does this sort of thing lead to a better brand of football? I doubt it. It's no fun to be on the business end of these sorts of scores, as the Gophers are finding out regularly this season. And while some of these Top 10 teams will play one another as the season goes on, there's little reason to believe that the overall results will change. Let's just say this -- I don't like it much.