Saturday, December 1, 2007

What a wild, juicy ending


Caution: The following sentence contains several colorful adjectives, one made up.

This has been the most crazy, nutty, delirious, exciting, stupefying, unpredictable, exceptional, incredulous, rollercoaster-riding college football season.

Ever. Period. I feel confidant saying this, despite the fact that I wasn't on this earth for the first, oh, 100 years of college football.

This year tops them all. I guarantee it.

And now the politicking begins. After No. 1 Missouri and No. 2 West Virginia became the final top teams to have their hearts broken Saturday, we are left with the following.

Barring an uprising by voters, No. 3 Ohio State will be in the national title game for the second consecutive year. People said the Buckeyes didn't have a chance after losing to Illinois three Saturdays ago. I just laughed. There remained plenty of football to be played. The best thing happened to OSU the following week after its win over Michigan. Its season ended.

The longer teams played, the more pitfalls they faced. Last season, the Big Ten's Michigan paid for finishing its season early, as Florida continued to impress for two additional weeks and leaped the Wolverines. This year, the Wolverines' hated rival got a pinch of BCS revenge for the Big Ten.

After Ohio State, the volcano explodes. I can make a legitimate case for — let me check — six teams. OK, here goes:

No. 4 Georgia (10-2) — The biggest knock against the Bulldogs is they didn't play in the SEC title game. They were an overthrown pass by Kentucky's Andre' Woodson against Tennessee last week from playing LSU this week in that title game. But, alas, that's how this season's progressed. Georgia can point to six wins to close the season — isn't that the way things work? Whoever is playing best at the end of the year gets the benefit of the voters? — including impressive victories over Florida, Auburn and Kentucky.

No. 5 Kansas (11-1) — Here's what you say if you're a Jayhawks fan: "We played a Big 12 schedule, and we lost only one game. You think our non-conference schedule (Central Michigan, Southeast Louisiana, Toledo, Florida International) is weak? Well, compare it to Ohio State's (Youngstown State, Akron, Washington, Kent State). At least Central Michigan won its conference — the MAC — and is headed to a bowl. None of the Buckeyes' non-conference opponents are going bowling, and only one has a winning record, and that's Football Championship Subdivision YSU." I doubt anyone outside of Kansas believe the Jayhawks are better than the Buckeyes — or LSU, for that matter — but they have just one loss. OSU and Hawaii are the only other teams with less than two L's.

No. 6 Virginia Tech (11-2) — Hey, why not us? The Hokies entered Saturday No. 6 in the BCS, and they beat No. 11 Boston College. Shouldn't that mean anything? Shouldn't three wins over ranked opponents mean something? Plus, after the tragedy that happened last April, how appropriate would it be for the Hokies to play in the national title game, showing the nation what they're made of?

No. 7 LSU (11-2) — The Tigers have the best case to face the Buckeyes. Their two losses both occurred in triple overtime — about as close as you can come to winning ... without winning. Also, they finished the season with a win — not to mention, a win over a ranked team (No. 14 Tennessee). They played in the toughest conference and played six ranked teams, including drubbing Virginia Tech way back in September — when the college football season was still on its axis. Everyone has said since Stanford stunned USC in October that LSU is the best team in the country. So why not now?

No. 8 USC (10-2) — So what if the Trojans beat just two teams that currently have winning records? So what if they lost to 4-8 Stanford ... at home? These are the mighty Trojans, and they come in on roll, having won three straight games — two against ranked teams. Plus, in a season like this, isn't it appropriate that the team which began the season No. 1, end the season No. 1?

No. 9 Oklahoma (11-2) — The Sooners have the second strongest case. They won their conference championship game in dominant fashion, smoking No. 1 Missouri Saturday night — their second win over the Tigers. They also beat Texas when the Longhorns were No. 19. Their losses were a 27-24 meltdown at Colorado and a 34-27 defeat at Texas Tech minus — for most of thee game — their stud freshman quarterback, Sam Bradford. Above everything else, the Sooners were the most impressive team on the final Saturday of the season. Isn't that what's supposed to determine the national champion (see: Florida, last season)?

Stream of consciousness: Um, oh, I think I'm forgetting a team. That's right! The team playing right now. The lone undefeated team — as of this moment — in Division I. The Hawaii Rainbow. They're currently down at halftime to Washington, but if they can come back to finish 12-0, they're hard to ignore. They beat a good — and ranked — Boise State team. They defeated 8-4 Fresno State, which lost by just two points to the Big 12's Texas A&M, which beat Texas...

And so the debates go on late into the night. As for the coaches of the above teams, I'm sure they're preparing their speeches to make for their teams in the hours leading up to Sunday night's announcement. Last season, Florida's Urban Meyer showed off his political side after his Gators won the SEC title game. The voters listened, pushing Florida ahead of Michigan.

So with the presidential election still 11 months away, the candidates' parties may want to listen to the coaches' pitches in the hours to come. Some of them could be positive additions to a candidate's campaign.

No, folks, the BCS system is very flawed. Something needs to be done, that can't be denied. But that shouldn't have kept you from enjoying this college football season. From witnessing Appalachian State's stunner in the Big House first hand, to sprinting back and forth between the kitchen and the TV at the hotel I work at to witness Pittsburgh's stunner of West Virginia, this has been an unforgettable autumn of college football.

A wild 14-week playoff, if you will.


Sportsattitude said...

So true...the best thing that happened to Ohio State is that their season ended. That would have been West Virginia's ideal role had they not choked - and I mean choked - against Pitt. I have to reach far, far back in memory to find a situation where a team had so much on the line, would have beaten their opponent 9 of 10 times if they played that often, and still found a way to lose with so much at stake. I know teams have been coughing up expected victories right and left this year, but the Pitt-WVU game, even in a season as wild as this, should be remembered as one of the great upsets in recent history...regardless of the fact West Virginia really didn't merit being mentioned as one of the very best teams in the nation.

Jake Lloyd said...

How about UCLA over USC last year? That was almost as big.