Truly a Mythical National Championship

Most people think the BCS got this season’s two best teams into the National Championship Game. Of course, the computers solidly disagreed with this sentiment, and it doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny of comparative non-conference schedules.

But more than anything, we’ve already seen the game. The pundits told me it was the Game of the Century, so it couldn’t happen again, could it?

Alabama had their shot. On their own field. And they couldn’t get it done.

There’s no questions LSU is the top-rated team in the country. Their resume is impressive, and if they win tonight, they will have to be considered amongst the best teams all time.

But Alabama’s isn’t that impressive. Their best win is over a good, but not great, Arkansas team. Their victory over Penn State doesn’t look that awe inspiring in retrospect, and their other non-conference games were against Kent State, North Texas, and Georgia Southern.

Frankly, I’d rather see LSU play Oklahoma State or Stanford. Given the outcome of the Fiesta Bowl, OSU is the obvious choice, but we didn’t know that when the bowls were picked.

Either of them would have been better.

Many people say that LSU would destroy either team. Maybe. But that’s why they play the game. I can’t count how many times the “best” team couldn’t back it up on the field. (2005 Rose Bowl, anyone?)

But, Alabama versus LSU is what the inbred BCS has given us. I’m very torn on who to pull for.

Truth and justice makes me want LSU to win. Then, we’d have a clear national champion (sort of). Plus, routing against Alabama just feels good.

On the other hand, a win by Alabama and the obvious injustice it would represent (and the potential for a split championship), might do damage to a BCS system that needs to just die already.

I don’t really know. I guess what I’m hoping for is an interesting game. A repeat field goal fest wouldn’t be that.

A Great Time to be a Longhorn Fan

BCS National Championship - Alabama v Texas

Going into the BCS championship game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Texas Longhorns, if you had told me that with four minutes left in the game, we would be down by three points and have the ball, I would have said I liked our chances. If you had told me that we would get there with our true freshman quarterback, I would have told you that you were nuts.

After a very ugly first half, most of America thought the Longhorns would be blown off the field in the second half. I’ll admit that I was worried it was going to get ugly.

Instead, the Longhorns dug deep and were playing for the win late in the game. And while the final score differential as seventeen (thanks for showing your ass, Coach Saban), Texas proved their strength of heart and depth of talent on that field.

It wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but I couldn’t be prouder of this team. Colt, Sergio, Jordan and the rest of the seniors will be missed. As will Earl Thomas, who has announced he will leave early for the NFL.

After watching the adjustments in the second half, I’m much more confident that Garrett Gilbert will be able to settle into his role as starting quarterback quickly. That kid has a cannon. I thought next year would be one for rebuilding, but another conference championship seems quite possible.

On the basis of their no quit attitude, Texas finished second in both polls. They join the most recent baseball and women’s volleyball teams in finishing as the second best team in the country.

And today, after a loss by the University of Kansas to Tennessee, the men’s basketball team will achieve its first ever top ranking in that sport. The depth of this team is astounding, and while there certainly are weaknesses, they are positioning themselves for a very deep run in the tourney.

Top to bottom, the University of Texas’ athletic program is as strong as it’s ever been. And I couldn’t be happier to be a Longhorn fan.

Thoughts on BCS Match Ups

I’ll certainly have more thoughts (and predictions) on the games later, but here’s what comes to mind right off.

Rose Bowl
Ohio State vs. Oregon
January 1st, Pasadena, California

No surprise here. If the Rose Bowl has the option of taking the Pac 10 and Big 10 conference winners, they almost always will do so.

Sugar Bowl
Florida vs. Cincinnati
January 1st, New Orleans, Louisiana

We’ll certainly get to find out if Cincinnati is really any good. This should be Florida’s to lose, and they should be breathing a sigh of relief that they didn’t draw TCU.

Fiesta Bowl
TCU vs. Boise St.
January 4th, Glendale, Arizona

TCU has a legitimate gripe. They did enough to warrant drawing one of the BCS conference teams. I really would have liked to have seen them play Florida. Boise St. should be glad to be there, given the schedule they’ve played.

Orange Bowl
Iowa vs. Georgia Tech
January 5th, Miami, Florida

At least it’s not Cincinnati versus Georgia Tech, but this one is likely to be ratings-challenged.

BCS National Championship Game
Alabama vs. Texas
January 7th, Pasadena, California

Get ready for a month of talk about how Alabama is the perfect team, how they defeated the Chosen One, and how Texas doesn’t even belong in the game. Such talk sits well with me.

While the BCS probably got it right, and placed the two most deserving teams into the Championship Game, having five undefeated teams shows yet again why we need a playoff system in college football.

Make no mistake, Alabama is a very good team, and they finally found their offense against Florida. But all this talk about how bad Texas has been the last two games will only serve to fuel Texas’ anger, and an angry Texas is a scary thing to face.

Thoughts on the National Championship Game

FedEx BCS National Championship Game - Oklahoma v Florida

The Oklahoma Sooners proved that they didn’t belong in the national championship picture last night, as the Florida Gators allows only two touchdowns, winning 24-14.

Some thoughts, in no particular order…

The FedEx spokesman right before the game had a proto-mullet. Between him and the Longhorn Mullet Man in the Fiesta Bowl, I’m starting to think it’s making a comeback. Business in the front, party in the back!

Sam Bradford has an amazing arm, but is slow. I think I could catch him. On a day when my knees hurt even.

I was going to refer to my 98 year old grandmother, but with her walker, she’s faster than both of us.

While the Fox Sports broadcast wasn’t as bad as it was in the Fiesta Bowl, it was still fairly amateurish. It seems the announcers didn’t really understand the rules. But at least they tended to show the plays.

FedEx BCS National Championship Game - Oklahoma v Florida

And, they couldn’t tell the difference between various downs either. It was 3rd and goal, idiots, not 4th and goal.

The clock counting up during OU plays was stupid. Has Fox never seen a hurry-up offense before?

While I’ve got some issues with ESPN’s broadcasting, they are bound to do a better job with the BCS than Fox did.

Bradford is the most accurate quarterback in the NCAA? Didn’t Colt McCoy just set a record for that on Monday?

While I don’t think Tebow is as great a quarterback as the media makes him out to be (he’s got some consistency problems on his throws), he’s a hell of a competitor and leader. And a lot of fun to watch.

Nic Harris’s play on Percy Harvin towards the end of the game was dirty. The tackle itself was clean, but to pull on the legs of a guy who was having leg problems is unbelievable. There are sideline reports of the following conversation.

FedEx BCS National Championship Game - Oklahoma v Florida

[on the sidelines right before the play]
Bob Stoops: Sweep the leg.
[Nic stares at him in shock]
Bob Stoops: Do you have a problem with that?
Nic Harris: No, Sensei.
Bob Stoops: No mercy.

Of course, that makes Urban Meyer out to be Mr. Miyagi, which is hard to swallow.

Note: Above conversation may be a figment of my imagination.

So, what next for the Land Thieves?

I expect an announcement that Bradford is going pro in the next few days. He’d be foolish not to. Nothing he can do can possibly help his draft status right now. He can only go down.

If Stoops is ever going to bolt for the NFL, now would be the time. There are quite a few openings, and OU is losing a lot this year. If he doesn’t take the pro job now, I’m not sure he ever will.

My NCAA Football Top Five

1st – Florida Gators
They looked great tonight and their defense was amazing, holding a potent OU offense to fourteen points. Yes, their loss was worse than ours, but they’ve certainly gotten it done since then.

2nd – Texas Longhorns
No, they didn’t exactly dominate the Fiesta Bowl, but Ohio State played their best game of the season against us. Besides, it’s my list and I’m still pissed about our not being in the National Championship Game. You’re lucky I didn’t put them first.

3rd – Utah Utes
They had an undefeated season, although in a weak conference, and handled Alabama easily in their bowl game. I might have put them ahead of Texas, except that they backed out of a game against us this season. That, and close wins against powerhouses New Mexico and Michigan get you a third place vote.

4th – USC Trojans
Yes, they finished the season strong against Penn State, but that ugly loss to Oregon State can’t be forgotten, no matter how great your defense is.

5th – Oklahoma Sooners
They’re my highest ranked two loss team, so they should be happy with this ranking, right? If not, too bad. You lost yet another bowl game.

BCS Bowl Games Predictions

My Christmas wish of a playoff in Division 1A football did not come true this year, and the new year approaches, so it’s time to start thinking about the BCS games starting next week.

Note: All times listed are for the Eastern Time Zone.

USC v UCLA

Rose Bowl
January 1st, 4:30pm, Pasadena, California
#6 Penn State (11-1) vs. #5 USC (11-1)
Television: ABC

Matchup: Take the top two teams in a pair of down conferences and what do you get? The Rose Bowl. Penn State was shown the blueprint for beating USC in the Oregon State game, which I expect they have memorized by now. But knowing how to do something, and actually doing it are two different things, especially against USC’s athletes.

Who I want to win: I have a great deal of respect for Joe Pa, and few things give me more pleasure than watching the University of Spoiled Children lose, so I’ll be rooting for the Nittany Lions.

Who I think will win: Even a team that travels as poorly as USC is able to drive across town, so the Trojans will have a significant home field advantage. Add to that a solid defense (albeit not as strong as ESPN would like us to believe) and a good offense (albeit weak for USC standards), and we’re looking at a three touchdown beat down.

Rose Bowl Prediction: USC 30, Penn State 9

Syracuse Orange v Cincinnati Bearcats

Orange Bowl
January 1st, 8:30pm, Miami, Florida
#21 Virginia Tech (9-4) vs. #12 Cincinnati (11-2)
Television: Fox

Matchup: If anyone tells you that there’s not something fundamentally wrong with the BCS, simply point them at this year’s four loss participant in one of the “top” bowl games.

Who I want to win: I’m not sure I want either to win. I can only hope to not see such match-ups in the future.

Who I think will win: These two are fairly evenly matched in their mediocrity, but I think Cincinnati’s ten seniors on defense lead them to a victory.

Orange Bowl Prediction: Cincinnati 21, Virginia Tech 17

BYU v Utah

Sugar Bowl
January 2nd, 8:00pm, New Orleans, Louisiana
#6 Utah (12-0) vs. #4 Alabama (12-1)
Television: Fox

Matchup: This year’s BCS buster is Utah, who ran the table, but has only played one decent team (TCU). They certainly haven’t faced anything like Alabama, a very strong team that simply drew Florida at the wrong time.

Who I want to win: It’s hard not to pull for plucky little non-BCS teams, and Nick Saban makes it easy to root against the Crimson Tide, whom I generally like. Add to this the problems an undefeated Utah would cause the BCS, and I’ll be yelling for the Utes to pull off the upset.

Who I think will win: By any logical measure, Alabama is the better team, and should roll Utah. I wouldn’t be surprised if they won by more than two touchdowns. However, something tells me this could be the big upset of the year. Perhaps it’s the heart overriding the head, but then, no one thought Boise State had a chance against Oklahoma either.

Sugar Bowl Prediction: Utah 28, Alabama 24

Texas A&M Aggies v Texas Longhorns

Fiesta Bowl
January 5th, 8:00pm, Glendale, Arizona
#3 Texas (11-1) vs. #10 Ohio State (10-2)
Television: Fox

Matchup: They’ve played twice and each have a victory. They meet in Glendale for the tie-breaker in a game that Ohio State got into on reputation, not achievement.

Who I want to win: Hmmm… This is a hard call given my lifelong devotion to the Longhorns. Oh wait, Hook’em Horns!

Who I think will win: This is the Longhorns game to lose, and if they come in flat, that might in fact be the result. I think the Horns will use the series of snubs they’ve received over the last few weeks to drive them to a dominating win.

Fiesta Bowl Prediction, Texas 42, Ohio State 17

SEC Football Championship - Florida v Alabama

BCS Championship
January 8th, 8pm, Miami, Florida
#1 Oklahoma (12-1) vs. #2 Florida (12-1)
Television: Fox

Matchup: Oklahoma got into the championship game because the Big 12 Conference doesn’t know how to create a proper tie-breaking system. Florida made it into the game even after they lost to an unranked team. At home.

Who I want to win: All things stupid and evil come from Oklahoma, who shouldn’t be in this game in the first place, so go Gators!

Who I think will win: Between the Heisman Curse and the fact that Oklahoma will be playing with refs who actually believe in the holding call for the first time since September, the extremely powerful, but overrated offense of the Sooners will falter on occasion. On the other side of the ball, I don’t see the incompetent Oklahoma defense slowing down an angry Tim Tebow very often. Look for lots of offense, but an easy win by the Gators.

BCS Championship Prediction: Florida 45, Oklahoma 21

Texas to the Fiesta Bowl versus Ohio State

The writing has been on the wall for weeks now, and today it came true: the Texas Longhorns were passed over for the National Championship Game, even though they beat one of the teams going to Miami. Texas’ only loss came on the last second against a top ten team, while Oklahoma lost to Texas on a neutral field by 45-35, and Florida lost to unranked Ole Miss at home by 31-30 (four loss Ole Miss was 25th in the final BCS ranking).

Texas A&M Aggies v Texas Longhorns

While Texas ended up only 0.018 behind Florida in the BCS, Texas did not go to the national championship for two simple reasons:

  1. Blake Gideon let a game-winning interception slip through his fingers in the final drive against Texas Tech.
  2. The quality of non-conference opposition matters, and ours weren’t very good.

The former will be corrected through coaching. The latter is with us for at least the next two seasons, perhaps much longer.

But, as I’ve heard Mack Brown say on occasion, it is what it is.

So, Texas is off to Glendale, Arizona on January 5th for the Fiesta Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes.

By any traditional measure, Ohio State should be grossly overmatched in this game. Ohio State limped to second place in the Big Ten in an extremely weak year for the conference. Frankly, the Big Ten does not deserve two BCS bids this year, and Ohio State got in on reputation from previous years, not what they did on the field this year.

On the other hand, Jim Tressel is a fine coach, and he’ll have his Buckeyes ready to play Texas for the third time in five years. Each team has won once head-to-head, with the Fiesta Bowl serving as a tie-breaker.

The real challenge Texas faces is emotional. After a heck of a season, where they played lights out for all but the first half of the Texas Tech game, not making the national championship game is quite the bitter pill. It’s certainly possible that the Longhorns could come into the game with their heads hanging, and get pummeled.

If that happens, it will prove everyone who voted the Longhorns down correct. Everyone who said that Texas doesn’t belong in the national championship game will be vindicated. Barry Switzer will have been right.

Texas cannot allow this.

Fortunately, other than the 2003 Holiday Bowl against Washington State, Mack Brown simply has not let this sort of thing happen. Whenever something has slugged his Longhorns in the mouth, he has rallied them and kept them focused on the task at hand.

I expect him to do the same in the Fiesta Bowl, and to show everyone just how wrong they were.

Top 7 BCS Screw Jobs

After the Bowl Championship Series screwed Texas this Sunday, I spent some time thinking about the long, proud history the BCS has in producing bad results. Here are what I consider to be the top seven most egregious calls.

7. Kansas State Wildcats, 1999
The Wildcats get a repeat screw job (see below), when lower ranked Michigan and Tennessee receive BCS bids, but not Kansas State.

6. Kansas State Wildcats, 1998
Ohio State and Florida receive BCS bids over higher ranked Kansas State, who was sent to the Alamo Bowl. Kansas State’s only loss was in a double-overtime heartbreaker to Texas A&M in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Texas A&M Aggies v Texas Longhorns

5. Oregon Ducks, 2001
Fourth ranked Nebraska reaches the national championship game over second ranked Oregon, even after Nebraska lost 62-36 to a two-loss Colorado team.

4. Texas Longhorns, 2008
Bet you expected this to be number one, huh? I’m a homer, but not that much of one. The Longhorns played the toughest schedule in arguably the toughest conference, and made it through with only one loss, which happened a in a road game, on an amazing play, by the best receiver in the country, in the last second of the game. An Oklahoma team which Texas beat by double digits, jumps them in the BCS rankings, heads to the conference championship game, and has the inside track for the national championship game.

I’ll happily pull Texas from the list, should Mizzou pull off the miracle on Saturday.

3. Miami Hurricanes, 2000
Miami beats Florida State head-to-head, but Florida State is sent to the national championship game. Does that sound familiar? As a bonus, Virginia Tech is passed over for a BCS birth by lower ranked Notre Dame and Oregon State.

2. USC Trojans, 2003
A three way tie of one-loss teams sends LSU and OU to the national championship game, even after Oklahoma lost 35-7 in the Big 12 Championship Game. A split national championship is awarded, which is part of what the BCS was supposed to prevent.

This split, which allowed USC to claim part of a title without even playing LSU, keeps them out of the top, which goes to:

1. Auburn Tigers, 2004
An undefeated Auburn runs the table in a very good year for the SEC. USC and OU go to the national championship, where the Sooners are exposed. The Associated Press pulls out of the BCS formula.

With no realistic chance of the BCS being replaced by something fair, such as a playoff, this list of screw jobs is just going to grow and grow.

Longhorns on the Outside Looking In

As expected, the Oklahoma Sooners jumped my Texas Longhorns in today’s BCS rankings. As a result, Oklahoma is off to Kansas City next weekend to play the collapsing Missouri Tigers for the Big Twelve Championship. Win there, and the Sooners are most likely off to Miami to play in the national championship against the winner of the SEC Championship between Florida and Alabama.

In no way do I want to belittle Oklahoma. Ok, I want to belittle Oklahoma just about every chance I’m given, but not this time. I have to admit that they’re playing great ball and did just enough to get the nod over Texas, given the inane rules in place.

Texas A&M Aggies v Texas Longhorns

However, defenders of the perversion that is the BCS have always told us that the regular season was our playoff. What we have here is a case where the head-to-head winner in our “playoff” was left behind.

I’d like to believe that this would be the straw that breaks the BCS camel’s back. Unfortunately, it’s just another in a long line of travesties. Some adjustments will be made to attempt to prevent such problems in the future, and the farce will continue.

So what happens now?

In theory, if Missouri beats Oklahoma, Texas could still make it to the national championship game. That’s not going to happen, however. Oklahoma will pound Missouri. Meanwhile, Florida is going to expose Alabama for the overrated team it is.

Florida and Oklahoma will meet in Miami, where Bob Stoops will prove yet again that he doesn’t know how to coach in a BCS game. Florida wins by four touchdowns.

Barring a win by Missouri, Texas will be off to Glendale, Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl. I really can’t complain too much about that.

Until yesterday, it looked like USC would be headed to the Fiesta as well. But Oregon State laid an egg, giving the Pac 10 to the Trojans. Therefore, USC will be headed to the Rose Bowl to play Penn State.

At this point, it looks like either Ohio State or Utah will be headed to the Fiesta to play Texas. Utah would be one of those horrible match ups with very little upside. Beat Utah and everyone says all you did was the expected. And God forbid you should lose.

Fortunately, it looks like Ohio State is the more likely opponent. I like that match up for Texas.

Texas-Texas A&M Predictions

Mongol General: Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women.
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.
— “Conan the Barbarian”

Terry: All right. Now I have complied with your every request, would you agree?
Rusty: I would.
Terry: Good, ’cause now I have one of my own. Run and hide, asshole. Run and hide. If you should be picked up next week buying a hundred-thousand dollar sports car in Newport Beach, I am going to be supremely disappointed. Because I want my people to find you, and when they do, rest assured we are not going to hand you over to the police. So my advice to you again is this: run and hide. That is all that I ask.
— “Ocean’s Eleven”

Missouri v Texas

These two movie quotes succinctly express my feelings about Thursday’s game between Texas and Texas A&M. I don’t just want to beat them. I want to destroy them. Annihilate them. Pummel them.

If the game is within fifty points, I am going to be supremely disappointed.

Add to this the beauty pageant that is the Bowl Championship Series. With Oklahoma nipping at Texas’ heels, we need a huge win to hopefully hold them off when the struggle against OSU.

Unfortunately, Mack Brown is the consummate gentlemen, and will call the dogs off before it gets that out of hand. All we can hope for is repeat of the 2005 Kansas game, where Texas was up 52-0 at the half. One can hope.

“But wait”, you say, “aren’t you getting ahead of yourself? The Aggies have won the last two years. Clearly, Mack Brown doesn’t get the importance of the Texas A&M game.”

Mule muffins!

Let’s look at the games against A&M under Mack Brown:

1998: Won 26-24
1999: Lost 16-20
2000: Won 43-17
2001: Won 21-7
2002: Won 50-20
2003: Won 46-15
2004: Won 26-13
2005: Won 40-29
2006: Lost 12-7
2007: Lost 38-30

So, Mack Brown had a bit of a rough start against the Aggies, but then they still had RC and didn’t completely suck at that point. Then, Mack had a six year stretch of domination, where A&M never even kept it to single digits.

Then we have the last two years…

George HW Bush at 2007 Texas-Texas A&M game
George HW Bush at 2007 Texas-Texas A&M game

I was at both those games, and they weren’t much fun. The highlight of the second game was watching a former President of the United States walk by so close I could have reached out and touched him. (I expect I would still be breathing out of a tube if I had, however…)

In any case, those two teams were missing something important. And, I don’t just mean Vince Young. I mean the leadership that Vince brought. The 2006 and 2007 Longhorns did not have that, and when adversity came calling, they weren’t up to the challenge.

The 2007 Longhorns are different. Colt McCoy will not allow them to fall Thursday night.

It’s only a question of how high we soar.