So Much For a BCS Rematch…

This column was supposed to be about why Michigan fans could whine all they wanted, but still didn't deserve to play Ohio State for the national championship in this year's Fiesta Bowl. It was supposed to about strength of schedule, rewarding preseason ambition, etc.

I'm telling you, I was almost finished making an eloquent argument for Pete Carroll's Trojans and their right to play in a third straight national championship game. Then, against a middling UCLA team and on national television, the Trojans made an eloquent argument for their right to return to Pasadena in three weeks and face-off against the Wolverines in the Also-Ran Bowl.

Yep, it was a disaster for about a day and a half. That is, until Florida was inexplicably selected for the big game. Columnist manna from the heavens. How the Gators, who are admittedly a good team with a strong resume, were selected over the Wolverines, whose lone loss was a three-pointer in Columbus, should be the stuff of an hour-long Unsolved Mysteries special.

In today's NCAA, however, it's no mystery at all. Coaches unwilling to endorse a double-jeopardy rematch between Michigan and Ohio State took Florida's 38-28 victory over Dec. 2 as the perfect excuse to drop the Wolverines in the polls (some as low as fifth) and give the Gators a chance at their first national championship since 1996. And what was Michigan doing while all this was going on, you ask? Sitting at home and watching Florida leap from fourth place to second in the polls after beating an Arkansas team that USC housed by 36 points in Fayetteville earlier this year.

There are a couple of things that strike me as interesting about the Florida-Michigan situation, but before I get to those, I want to take a short break and address the chants of "BCS SUCKS" that seem to be ringing from coast to coast these days.

Since its inception, the Bowl Championship Series has caught nothing but flack from media, coaches and players. As far as I can tell, there are two reasons for this. One, in our sound-byte news culture, nobody ever sits down to think about the enormity of the task the BCS (or any other college football championship system) is asked to perform. Second, our standards for the BCS are irrational and ridiculous.

"I think the national championship should be decided on the field, not by computers." It might be the most chic cliché in the sports world at the moment, but I'm pretty sure none of the people saying it actually knows what it means. The average college football team plays either 12 or 13 games in the course of a season. Why is this significant? Because it means that there will always be a cluster of teams with identical records. This is why the NFL (which has the same problem with a 16-game season) uses tie-breaking procedures to decide playoff seeding.

In the absence of two clearly superior and undefeated teams, the task of the BCS or any other system will be to make (often arbitrary) decisions about whose one-loss record is better than the others. In the nightmare scenario that three teams go undefeated, the BCS is then faced with eliminating a zero-loss team from championship contention (sorry, Auburn fans).

The bottom line is this: somebody's going to be disappointed no matter what. Even the fabled playoff system will have teams on the bubble clamoring for respect. Look at the NCAA's basketball tournaments, which include 64 teams each season. Which of those selection processes has been free of controversy? Exactly.

Second, those who love to bash the BCS love to do so by comparing it to a playoff system. This is like calling your girlfriend worthless because she doesn't look like Heidi Klum and cook like Wolfgang Puck. A playoff system isn't in the cards (at least not in the next few years), and it's not the fault of the BCS as a system.

What we should really be comparing are the BCS and the previous system — what was it, again? Oh yeah, a bunch of teams randomly assigned to bowl games based on arbitrary conference affiliations. After the nation's two or three best teams finished winning their games, coaches and sports writers got to huddle and decide what it all meant. It wasn't a championship — it was an election.

As long as schools across the country stand to rake in almost $100 million under the current bowl system, don't expect a playoff any time soon. And in the meantime, BCS critics, try to remember that a championship game guaranteed to feature two of the country's three best teams is nothing to take for granted.

Four hundred words later, back to the Gators, Wolverines and three weeks of non-stop bitching from Skip Bayless.

The most interesting thing about these late-season debates is the way they reveal an underlying value system that voters may or may not be willing to acknowledge.

Tenet No. 1: Voters will value the last thing they saw.

The Michigan/Florida situation is a case-in-point, and it's the reason that the Wolverines' coaching staff is already reconsidering its long-standing policy of finishing its schedule early and giving its players the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend off. The fact that Michigan sat idle while Florida posted a solid win over Arkansas was, if not a valid reason for moving the Gators ahead in the polls, certainly a convenient excuse.

It's also human nature. Take the case of USC, which was a lock for the Fiesta Bowl until its loss to UCLA. The Trojans sat in third place in nearly every ranking system heading into Michigan's meeting with Ohio State. Despite being a one-loss team trailing a pair of undefeateds, USC was virtually assured of moving past whoever came up short in Columbus.

Why? Certainly there was a notion that USC's schedule made its one-loss record better than that of either Michigan or Ohio State. Then again, there was a sense that a losing team "must" drop in the rankings, even if it's only a three-point road loss to the best team in the country. It was the same logic (only in reverse) that may have compelled some voters to boost Florida past losing USC and idle Michigan last Saturday, head-to-head evaluations be damned.

Tenet No. 2: Conference runners-up can't play for a national championship.

Once again, this is simply a product of laziness and conference politics, but it was enough to keep Michigan out of a national championship. The national championship is for elite teams, not really good teams. If your conference champ isn't elite, they don't get to go. Period.

I know the folks in the Southeastern Conference are so used to hearing that they're the country's strongest football conference that a spot in the Fiesta Bowl for their conference champ seems like some sort of a birthright. But here's the thing. SEC teams just aren't that special. Don't get me wrong — the fifth-best SEC team is probably better than the fifth-best team in any other conference, and the depth of talent in the SEC is probably the country's best.

But here's a project for somebody with a lot of time on his hands: find a dominant SEC team. The Gators are softer than bread pudding and produced a total of zero impressive wins. Come to think of it, can you find any truly dominating performances for Urban Meyer's crew? No, because the Gators don't dominate (except for you, Central Florida). Florida's signature wins were a one-point squeaker over a solid-not-great Tennessee team, a 13-point win over LSU (at home), and the SEC championship win over Arkansas.

In the meantime, the Gators managed to make it interesting against a brutal Georgia team (if you almost lose to Colorado at home, you're brutal), and they escaped from what should have been statement games against South Carolina (at home) and at Florida State. Watching Florida on a weekly basis, was there not a sense that they could lose to almost anybody at any time in any stadium? 'Nuff said.

Tenet No. 3: Championship contenders shouldn't have to play a team they've already beaten during the regular season.

Sadly, this is the average Florida voter's strongest argument. Should Ohio State play Michigan for the national championship and lose, wouldn't something deep in your soul rebel against the Buckeyes' loss, given that the season series would be tied, 1-1? It does seem a bit unfair that Ohio State's earlier victory would count for virtually nothing if this scenario were to unfold in January.

At the same time, however, it's important to remember what the national championship game is all about. It's the nation's two best teams playing each other. End of story. Over the course of the regular season, two teams separate themselves from the rest of the pack (even if it involves those very two teams battling to a standstill) and then meet at a neutral site for a final, deciding game.

Does a loss to the best team in the country (by three points on the road, no less) disqualify Michigan from being the second-best team in the country? Hardly. In fact, it's exactly the outcome one might expect if we posited ahead of time that two identical teams were to play at one team's home field with a tremendous home advantage: a three-point win for the home team, complete with plenty of fireworks for both sides.

For those who feel a 1-1 tie in the season series shouldn't result in one team's receiving a national championship and the other heading home empty-handed, remember that the first game was played at Ohio State, while the second would be in Tempe, Arizona. If Michigan were to win the second game, on the biggest stage in the sport and with no home-field advantage, perhaps that win should count for a little more.

In the end, all of this is immaterial, because the voters decided last week that they knew what was "best" and "right" for college football and its national championship.

Ohio State vs. Florida. Quite frankly, it tells us a lot more about those voting in the polls than it does about the players playing in the game.

Comments and Conversation

December 11, 2006

Big10 Bias:

Florida belongs. Michigan does not. I also drank the ESPN Koolaid and believed Ohio State and Michigan were so far better than all other teams that they deserved a rematch. Then I, like many others, started looking into the schedules of all the top teams and realized Florida played a brutal schedule and Michigan played a cupcake schedule (Sagarin is an idiot). I still feel mislead by Herbstreit and his failure to disclose the billion dollar (TV contract) conflict-of-interest between ESPN and the Big-10.

December 11, 2006

Jack Minton:

Do you really think that Michigan could play Florida’s schedule and come out better??? Get a life!!!!

December 11, 2006

JT Bridges:

First of all, you spend one season covering SEC games and you will find without a doubt we do have the best talent in the country, second of all if you think Florida is soft as bread pudding you must be smelling leftovers in your asshole cuz your head is in your ass, and third of all we didn’t have a 10 point win over Auburn. That is the game we lost because of a controversial call. You must be about the dumbest yankee I know.

December 11, 2006

Chad:

Michigan already lost to Ohio. They had their chance and blew it. Sure, the score makes it look like it was close - but it wasn’t. They were behind the whole game and had a useless rally at the end which you see all the time in “garbage time.”

Florida had a much tougher schedule and equal record. They deserved the chance and they got it.

December 12, 2006

Jal:

You have an error in Tenet No. 2. Florida actually lost to Auburn by 10 pts.

Having said that…why no similar analysis of Michigan’s schedule? They almost lost to Ball State. BALL STATE! At home!

December 12, 2006

Ryan:

Dude…do your research before you write an article. This is pathetic.

December 12, 2006

Mike:

Michigan does not deserve to play in the national title because they couldn’t even win their conference title. How can you play for the national title, when you are not the best in your own conference. Its not about a rematch, The Big 10’s representitive in the national title is OSU. The SEC is by far way, way , way, way better than the Big 10. Florida is the SEC Champion, they deserve a shot more than Michigan. End of Story.

December 12, 2006

southknoxvillian:

After the Auburn incident and the LSU thing the BCS needed a chance to right some wrongs done to the strongest conference in the country. Florida is going to have their hands full with tOSU. I think they have just as good a chance as Michigan did though. It’s the SEC’s turn.

December 14, 2006

Jal:

The author of this article corrected a mistake in Tenet No. 2 without informing his readers. Ah, the joy of internet publishing…no fingerprints (except for my earlier post).

Such behavior lacks intellectual honesty. Of course, an intellectually honest person would have included a summary of ranked opponents played by both Florida and Michigan, strength of schedule, and oh yes, BALL STATE!

This guy is just a homer for Michigan and need not be paid attention to. Mr. Zach Jones…writing for Sports Illustrated is not in your future.

December 14, 2006

Marc James:

Jal,

Actually, I (the editor) corrected the mistake. We always try to correct mistakes ASAP, but will make an effort in the future to make notes of corrections and changes.

December 15, 2006

Ryan Ferguson:

The Gators Can and Will Beat Ohio State, by Ryan Ferguson

Ohio State fans are pretty sure of themselves these days. My esteemed Fanhouse colleague, JD Arney for Ohio State, wrote a little ditty after Florida was selected to appear in the title game. It was called: “Ohio State Wins 2006 National Championship.” In JD’s mind, Florida’s BCS selection was nothing more a formality. JD, and plenty of other Ohio State fans, it seems, consider the Gators to be nothing more than cannon fodder. Apparently, by their reckoning, Urban Meyer’s 12-1 SEC Champion Gators are destined to be crushed by the Sweatervest Juggernaut on January 8th.

“The ratings for this game will be a flop,” commented one OSU fan. “It’ll be over by halftime,” says another. The giddy scarlet-and-grey crowd even predicted scores along the lines of 65-3. They’re probably lining up to buy their championship gear already.

For reasons too numerous to get into here, that sort of cocky self-assuredness is a recipe for disaster if you root for the Bucks.

Not that the Gators need much help, but that serves as nothing more than m-o-t-i-v-a-t-i-o-n. Added incentive to give Ohio State the game of their lives.

Take a deep breath, Buckeye fans, and get ready to come to grips with the following statement:

The Buckeyes have no idea what they’re about to tangle with when they face #2 BCS Florida in the national spotlight in Glendale, Arizona, on January 8th. And I mean that sincerely.

Why? Because Ohio State and its Heisman candidate quarterback would never have survived the SEC with a 12-1 record. They’ve yet to face a good, let alone great SEC defense. And they’re not ready to keep up with the speed and athleticism of the Florida Gators.

How can I support this heresy? The old-fashioned way.

With facts.

Before we go any further, let me warn you: this is not a quick read. If you need a bathroom break, or a Diet Pepsi (my favorite beverage!), take care of those needs now. In fact, here’s an outline for what lies ahead: we will review Ohio State, its schedule and its opponents first, followed by Florida. Then we’ll compare. More after the jump.

Ready? Good.

Let’s start by taking a look at OSU’s schedule.

Date / Opponents / Result

September 2 Northern Illinois W 35-12
September 9 at No. 2 Texas W 24-7
September 16 Cincinnati W 37-7
September 23 No. 24 Penn State W 28-6
September 30 at No. 13 Iowa W 38-17
October 7 Bowling Green W 35-7
October 14 at Michigan State W 38-7
October 21 Indiana W 44-3
October 28 Minnesota W 44-0
November 4 at Illinois W 17-10
November 11 at Northwestern W 54-10
November 18 No. 2 Michigan W 42-39

Out of the twelve games they’ve played this season, Ohio State has matched up with two Top 5 opponents, one Top 15 opponent, and one (barely) Top 25 opponent.

Now, let’s look more closely at those ranked opponents and play “Where Are They Now?”

Team / Rank at time of game / USA Today rank at end of regular season / Record / Drop/Climb

Texas No. 2 -> No. 16 (9-3) Dropped 14 places
Penn State No. 24 -> Unranked (8-4) Dropped out
Iowa No. 13 -> Unranked (6-6) Dropped out
Michigan No. 2 -> No. 3 (11-1) Dropped 1 place

Out of OSU’s four ranked opponents, only two were arguably any good. Let’s justify that with a quick look at Iowa and Penn State.

Iowa bowed to football powerhouse Indiana, lost five of their last six games, and finished unranked at 6-6. They never beat a ranked opponent, despite a winnable game against #16 Wisconsin. Kirk Ferentz’s popularity bulb dimmed pretty quickly after a decent 2005 season.

And Penn State? They, too, failed to beat a single ranked opponent. Their wins include Akron, Youngstown State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois, and Temple. Their best win was probably over Purdue. The win-loss record of the other teams they beat is far from impressive. (Northwestern only won 2 conference games; Michigan State and Illinois only won 1. The name “Temple” says it all for that team. And Youngstown State and Akron — well, we won’t go there.)

And let’s not forget defense. Who is Ohio State putting up the numbers against? Only Texas, Penn State and Michigan have offered OSU a Top 25 defense:

* Michigan is ranked #6 in Total Defense, but suffers from the recurring weak point of the Big 10: a bevy of weak opponents. (See below.)
* Penn State: ranked #16 against the same terrible batch of teams.
* Texas is ranked #22 in Total Defense.

(source: NCAA)

So: like I said, only two were any good. Any disagreement on that assessment so far? Any questions? No? Good. Let’s zoom the microscope in just a little closer. Texas and Michigan remain.

How about Texas? They started the year ranked #2 and were seemingly blown out by the Bucks, 24-7. It cranked Troy Smith’s Heisman hype up to overdrive and gave OSU plenty of momentum to run the table. But hold the phone, Dookie. Remember that Texas was starting a freshman QB by the name of Colt McCoy? He was outmatched in this game by Troy Smith. And the score seems to suggest a statistical shutdown of Texas.

But not so fast, my friends!

In fact, the numbers were quite even:

Total yards OSU: 348 / UT: 326
Passing yards OSU: 269 / UT: 154
Compt-att OSU: 17-26 / UT: 19-32
Rushing OSU: 79 / UT: 172
Yards per rush OSU: 2.7 UT 5.5
Turnovers OSU: 0 / UT: 2
Time of Poss. OSU: 29:34 / UT: 30:26

There are several interesting deductions here. First, the total yardage was almost identical (348 vs. 326.) Second, the two quarterbacks — Smith a senior, McCoy a freshman — were fairly even in pass completions (65% for Smith, 59% for McCoy) with an obvious advantage going to Smith for his 269 passing yards. But here’s the nut we really want to crack: how does Ohio State give up 172 yards rushing and still win? The answer is simple: turnovers, and a freshman quarterback’s inexperience. An interception by McCoy and a costly fumble gave the Bucks the opportunity to score three TDs and a field goal on Texas.

But the fact remains that Texas ran wild on OSU, and their freshman QB was able to complete a lot of passes against the Bucks’ vaunted defense. Defense? Big 10? Who needs it?

So what you have here is a match which is far more competitive than it ever should have been for Ohio State, especially when you consider the QB mismatch. 24-7 looks good on paper, but it doesn’t reflect the reality, which is that OSU’s defense is average at best, and their offense… well, we’ll get to that in a minute.

But Texas? The defending national champions? After handing Oklahoma their only true loss of the season, which was by far their best win — and lucking out in a 22-20 victory over then #17 Nebraska, in which a last-second brain fart by the Huskers gave the ball back to the Longhorns — they lost to Kansas State (!) and Texas A&M, both unranked teams. Yeah, I hear you now — Colt McCoy was injured. But last time I checked, McCoy didn’t play both ways, and the UT defense gave up 45 points to Kansas State. And against unranked Texas A&M, they could only put up a single TD.

What we’re getting at here, and we think most objective fans will agree, is that Texas ain’t all that great this season. They’re a 3 loss team that should have lost four, and other than Nebraska, who almost doesn’t count at #22, only had one victory over an opponent who finished in the Top 25.

Was Texas a quality W for Ohio State? It was at the time, or so the media told us. But if we’re assigning OSU championship points, hindsight indicates they get precious few for that victory.

Finally: Michigan.

Let’s start by giving Michigan credit. In the games we’ve seen them play this year, they look like a big, tough, physical team. A prototypical Big 10 warrior: not the fastest group of kids around, but athletic and disciplined. They act the part of a Top 5 team, although they have yet to play a team with speed.

Despite that, the Wolverines have precisely one strong win. In fact, they’ve only played one ranked team other than Ohio State — Notre Dame, which from any imaginable perspective has to be one of the most overrated teams of the 2006 season. The Irish are a two-loss team who only by the grace of God, John L. Smith and Karl Dorrell avoided two additional losses at the hands of 4-8 Michigan State (who finished 1-8 in conference play) and UCLA, who finished with a 7-5 overall record (5-4 Pac-10), avoiding a six-loss regular season thanks to their miraculous victory over cross-town rival USC.

Anyone who watched the Irish against Michigan State knows that John L. Smith’s coaching career was over after his staff guided the Spartans to a come-from-behind loss, snatching defeat from the mighty jaws of victory in a fashion which history has seldom seen.

And UCLA? Hey, the Gator Nation is a big fan of the Bruins. We’re deliriously happy that, in Hugh Johnson style, UCLA brought down the whammy on the Trojans. But let’s face the facts; for the Irish, beating the unranked Bruins with a last-second miracle pass is not an impressive victory.

So, you have that. Yes, Notre Dame was ranked, and yes, Michigan trounced them. But Notre Dame has been a pretender all year long; in fact, since the arrival of Charlie Weis, they have yet to beat a team which finished their season in the Top 25. Not one. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

Who else has Michigan beaten this year?

Here we go: Central Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the aforementioned Spartans, Penn State, Iowa, Northwestern, Ball State, Indiana, and… Vanderbilt.

None of those teams were ranked at the time they played Michigan. (Wisconsin ended up in the Top 15 after an 11-1 year, beating mostly the same group of terrible Big 10 teams and some big names like SDSU, Bowling Green, and Western Illinois. Following a familiar theme, the Badgers did not beat a single ranked opponent.) The one fly in the ointment is Vanderbilt, the perennial doormat of the SEC, who appeared to suffer mightily at the hands of the powerful Wolverines in their season opener in Ann Arbor, losing 27-7. But a closer look at the box score reveals that the game was close until late in the 3rd quarter; Michigan led by only six points — 13-7 — with 2:29 left in that period before scoring the game-busting TD. Vanderbilt held Michigan from scoring again until the meaningless final moments of the game, when, with 2:11, Mario Manningham caught a lob from Chad Henne to put an exclamation point on the final score.

Vanderbilt was never ranked and finished 1-7 in the SEC and 4-8 overall.

Since Michigan and Florida played the same team, the comparison is inevitable; but we’ll get to that in the next section, when we talk about Florida’s schedule.

One of those victories by Michigan deserves special attention: their 34-26 “win” over the dreaded Ball State Cardinals.

Let’s make something clear. Ball State is bad. Really bad. Some would argue that they belong in the I-AA category. The Cardinals lost to Indiana, Purdue, ND State (I’ve never even heard of ND State!), Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, and Western Michigan.

Ball State outscored Michigan in the first and fourth quarters, and tied them in the third. Michigan could only outscore the Cards in the second quarter of play, by 14 points. In the first quarter, Ball State not only ran a Chad Henne interception back for six, they forced a safety! Ball State also outpassed Michigan — 250 yards vs. 155 — but simply couldn’t run the ball at all, which ended up being their undoing.

That leaves a loss. It was Michigan’s most impressive performance, so they say; their loss to the Buckeyes on November 18th.

A game in which they achieved 397 yards — 267 in the air and 130 on the ground — and 39 points, thanks in large part to OSU’s -3 turnover margin.

Impressive? Maybe if you’re a Big 10 fan.

Let’s sum up Ohio State:

* 12 wins, zero losses…
* … but only 2 wins of any significance whatsoever.
* Both of those wins came over teams (Texas and Michigan) who beat a combined total of 3 ranked opponents in 2006.
* One of those teams (Texas) lost to two unranked teams, Kansas State and Texas A&M.
* The other, Michigan, beat only a single ranked opponent — overranked and overrated Notre Dame.
* The remaining victims of Ohio State were: Northern Illinois (MAC), Cincinnati (Big East), Penn State, Iowa, Bowling Green (MAC), Michigan State, Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, and Northwestern, none of which have seen the inside of the Top 25 this season.
* Speaking of the Zooker: Ohio State Struggled against 2-10 (1-7 Big 10) Illinois, winning 17-10 while putting up fewer total yards (224) than Illinois (234) and passing for only 108 yards vs. the Illini’s 134. Illinois also earned 4.5 yards per carry on the ground vs. OSU’s 2.5, and was nearly even in rushing yards (99 to OSU’s 116.)

This is the team which will put 60+ points on the helpless, unworthy Gators?

Let’s find out. It’s time to talk Florida.

Date / Opponents / Result

September 2 Southern Miss W 34-7
September 9 UCF W 42-0
September 16 @ No. 13 Tennessee W 21-20
September 23 Kentucky W 26-7
September 30 Alabama W 28-13
October 7 No. 9 LSU W 23-10
October 14 @ No. 11 Auburn L 27-17
October 28 @ Georgia W 21-14
November 4 @ Vanderbilt W 25-19
November 11 South Carolina W 17-16
November 18 Western Carolina W 62-0
November 25 @ Florida State W 21-14
December 2 No. 8 Arkansas W 38-28

Out of the thirteen games they’ve played this season, Florida has matched up with two Top 10 opponents (Arkansas, LSU) and two Top 15 opponents (Auburn, Tennessee). Unlike Ohio State’s schedule, each and every one of these opponents put a quality product on the field. That’s not even Including some of the unranked teams Florida beat — teams who must face the upper crust of the SEC every year. I’m talking about teams like South Carolina (who came within a snaggletooth of beating Auburn and Florida, and were competitive in most of their games) and Georgia, who, despite quarterback and offensive woes throughout the season, always fielded tough defenses and eventually righted their ship with big victories over No. 5 Auburn and No. 16 Georgia Tech. Even Kentucky, bowl-bound at 7-5 for the year, was no slouch; they’d have eaten the Big 10’s lower half alive, and given the Top 5 a real run for their money.

This is the SEC, of course, so let’s talk defense. Of Florida’s opponents, two are in the Top 10 for total defense; two are in the Top 20; and one is in the Top 25, for a total of five Top 25 defenses faced this year:

* #4 BCS LSU is ranked #2 nationally in total defense, allowing only 18 TDs all year;
* Unranked Georgia finished their regular season ranked #9 in total defense, allowing only 25 total TDs:
* Unranked Florida State is #15 in total defense, allowing only 28 TDs;
* Alabama and Auburn round out the list at #18 and #25 respectively.

The biggest difference in these stats vs. Ohio State? The teams these defenses play. SEC defenses are constantly going up against Top 25 teams. Big 10 defenses — well, you already know who they play. The Northern Illinois’ and Ball States of the world.

(source: NCAA)

“Where are they now?” Looking for where the ranked opponents ended up:

Team / Rank at time of game / USA Today rank at end of regular season / Record / Drop/Climb

Tennessee No. 13 -> No. 18 (9-3) Dropped 5 places
LSU No. 9 -> No. 4 (10-2) Moved up 5 places
Auburn No. 11 -> No. 10 (10-2) Moved up 1 place
Arkansas No. 8 -> No. 13 (10-3) Dropped 5 places

Already, the stats are starting to favor the Gators. Florida has played four ranked opponents, and when you consider those teams’ victories…

* Tennessee played three Top 10 opponents and two Top 15 opponents, ending up with a 9-3 record;
* LSU played three Top 5 opponents (#3 Auburn, #5 Florida, #5 Arkansas) and two Top 10 opponents, finishing with a 10-2 record;
* Auburn played (and beat) #2 Florida and #6 LSU, and lost to the then-unranked but ascending Arkansas Razorbacks, the SEC West Champions — final record 10-2;
* Arkansas played two Top 5 teams, two Top 10 teams, and a Top 13 team, finishing with a 10-3 record after losing to Florida in the SEC Championship game.

… it’s clear just what kind of quality Florida brings to the table when they win. In fact, all but one of Florida’s SEC opponents is bowl-bound.

Not one of Florida’s ranked opponents dropped out of the Top 25. Two moved up; two dropped; but none tanked. LSU is a BCS team headed to the Sugar Bowl to bring immeasurable pain to Notre Dame, Auburn’s going to the Cotton Bowl and Arkansas has a Heisman-quality running back in Darren McFadden. Georgia will probably find their way back into the Top 25 if not the Top 20 if they win their bowl game.

Again, I remind you: UF lost a single game to that group of teams. And that loss came largely on the strength of a badly botched official review.

One more data point: not one of Florida’s ranked opponents lost a single game to an unranked opponent. The Big 10 is light years away from being able to say that.

Buckeye fans, do you still doubt the power of the SEC?

(Rhetorical question. Don’t answer it.)

Okay, let’s get this out of the way: “But what about Western Carolina?”

What about them? They were a Division I-AA team that would have been competitive with Ball State. (Difference is, Florida put 62 points on WCU, and did it with their second, third, and fourth strings. Even walk-ons made it onto the field.)

Let’s sum up Florida:

* 12 wins, one loss…
* … against four ranked teams.
* Florida’s ranked opponents beat a combined total of eight ranked opponents, including one Top 5 team, six Top 10 teams, and one Top 15 team!
* One of UF’s wins — Arkansas — came during an extra game which Ohio State didn’t have to play; the conference championship.
* Two additional teams were unranked but fielded Top 15 defenses.
* Florida’s schedule included a total of ten bowl-bound teams.
* Florida’s defense is ranked 10th in the country in Total Defense, 6th in the country in rushing defense, and 6th in scoring defense.

I know what you’re thinking.

“Ohio State can move the ball, Ferg. They put up a lot of yards. Florida can’t do that.”

Is that so? Let’s see what the NCAA stats say:

Ohio State total offense average: 409.75 yards
Florida total offense average: 398.08 yards.

“Quarterbacks,” you’re thinking. “Troy Smith is better.”

Ohio State passing efficiency: 66.56%, 165.93
Florida passing efficiency: 63.26%, 151.90 rating

“Rushing,” you say.

Ohio State rushing offense average: 180.08 yards per game
Florida rushing offense average: 160.31 yards per game

What makes those numbers truly remarkable is that while they’re essentially pretty even, Florida does it against the nation’s toughest defenses, while Ohio State does it against teams like Northern Illinois, Cincinatti, Indiana and Bowling Green.

The Bottom Line…

Florida not only can and will win, an objective review of the stats indicate that they should be favored to win. But let’s not tell the world just yet. I want that 8.5 point Vegas line to keep growing. It all just adds up to more m-o-t-i-v-a-t-i-o-n. Now if we can just get some bulletin board material from the Bucks’ players, so we can tack on some “style points… “

January 5, 2007

Marlon:

Thanks to Ryan for writing an essay and killing the dialogue

January 9, 2007

everett baker:

So now that we have one undefeated team, why is there no clamor for them to be number one. Why is everyone silent about the teams that are cut out of contention by the BCS? Is it because they arent in a major conference that is making the big money from the BCS? Boise St. has as much right to claim the national championship as USC did when they weren’t Champs but ESPN decided they deserved the title.

January 12, 2007

bascombe:

The controversy is about fairness. Fairness and money. The BCS hosts the four major bowl games in the country. It guarantees six slots to their six pet favorite conferences champions. The other two slots, (that is if Notre Dame doesn’t take one) have to be fought over by other teams in the BCS conferences, and all the other teams in the non BCS conferences.

Now let’s follow the money… The revenues from the bowl games goes to the conferences that play there. The money is divided up among all the teams of that specific conference. I don’t know if the winning team gets a larger portion or not. They should. The four BCS bowls generate probably as much or more money than all the other bowl games put together.

What this means is those six BCS conferences are guaranteed to get most of the Bowl money every season which means they can add that money to their programs and keep them strong while the people from the other conferences like the Mid-America or the WAC, or the Mountain West don’t have access to that money to build their programs. Hence the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In other words the BCS system is designed to keep the pet conferences strong.

Where is the NCAA in all of this? Why do they not represent the interests of ALL their member schools? Why are these six conferences given this preferential treatment? You might say it’s because they are traditional powers. If they’re so good, they don’t need the guaranteed bowl money from the BCS. If they are that good then they should win it all anyway without the preferential treatment.

Why is the NCAA holding the hands of these six conferences, making sure they get the lion’s share of the bowl monies? And why is the NCAA snubbing the other conferences in Division I?

Suppose the other conferences decided the NCAA was no longer meeting their needs and they decided to withdraw and form a rival association called the ACAA?

Can you imagine March Madness with one half of the NCAA defecting to the ACAA? It would be more like March Kinda Crazy, But Not Really.

There is alot more than just football money pouring through the hands of the NCAA. There is basketball money too. Imagine being the chairman of the NCAA that had to preside over the defection of half the schools in the NCAA. Half the money just walked out the door, and why? because the other schools decided the NCAA didn’t represent them anymore.

It’s time the NCAA did something to guarantee fairness to all their schools, not just the ones they like.

Otherwise it’s ACAA here we come

December 7, 2007

Lucia Elden:

Is this written by the Zach Jones from Clare? Zach—I just read a student paper that quoted you and I looked up this article to see if it was you…

Lucia

Leave a Comment

Marketplace

Partners