Sunday, December 07, 2008
Well, before the bowls, anyway.
Barring any sort of BCS calamity or complete disregard by the human polls, Florida and Oklahoma will meet in the BCS Championship Game, and everyone and their mother will be picking the Gators, likely with good reason.
Florida had to find another way to win against Alabama, who looked like they were ready to take over in the third quarter by running the ball and controlling the clock. But Florida pulled off an interesting trick in the 4th quarter. Most of the time, Urban Meyer's offense is perceived as one designed to put points on the board quickly, and it's usually really good at that. But after Florida took a 24-20 lead in the 4th and stopped the Tide up, Tim Tebow led a drive that killed 5 of the 6:30 or so left, and added another touchdown on top of it. They played like a different team that what was expected, and that ability to produce long drives and score quickly led to the 31-20 victory. The Crimson Tide, although disappointed, should see this season as a major improvement. What they might be able to do next year is in question: they will lose QB John Parker Wilson, although this may be addition by subtraction -- he threw backbreaking picks sometimes.
Now, the Gators will likely face a team that refuses to take its foot off the gas. Oklahoma now owns the NCAA single-season points record after zooming out to a 38-7 lead over hapless Mizzou, and finishing with a 41-point beatdown. We're not sure if there's a defense that can stop the Sooners; much of the Big 12 has now tried and failed, save Texas (which is still nursing the wounds of the conference's tiebreaker.) The Sooners will hope that DeMarco Murray's knee will be better in a month, because they'll need all the weapons they have available in order to tangle with Florida.
Despite Rick Neuheisel's big talk, the football monopoly in Los Angeles remains. USC fumbled early in the first, leading to a trickeration touchdown on a pitch to a receiver, who hurled it to RB Kahlil Bell. USC then scored 28 unanswered points, and that was all, as UCLA continued to struggle with a young O-line and a mediocrity in Kevin Craft at quarterback. Mark Sanchez kept battling, throwing for 2 TDs and getting back up after some rather regular late hits by the Bruins' defense. If UCLA fans are to take solace in anything, it's that they will be better next year -- if they can avoid the bad injury luck. This sends USC back to the Rose Bowl with Penn State coming to Pasadena.
If given a back-up or mediocre quarterback, Virginia Tech can be counted on to be VT and eat him alive. This is what happened to Dominique Davis, who was under center for an injured Chris Crane once again as the Hokies battled the Boston College Eagles in a near-empty Raymond James Stadium in Tampa for the ACC Championship. VT QB Tyrod Taylor did enough to get the Hokies back to the Orange Bowl, running for two TDs.
It's a weird thing to think that after seven turnovers, Tulsa would be in any sort of form to win the Conference USA championship. Such is college football, though, and it took a late drive by East Carolina's Patrick Pinckney and a field goal with 1:40 left to ice a good season for Skip Holtz, even after ECU's status as giant killers early on (beating VT and West Virginia) died soon after at the hands of N.C. State.
West Virginia's season seems to be one of a squandered senior season -- namely that of Pat White. The QB led the Mountaineers to a 13-7 win over South Florida, but even the 'Eers 8-4 record and bowl bid can't mask that coach Bill Stewart was a mistake of a hire, with the WVU administration falling in love with the rebound after the ex left him for a better looking woman.
Cincinnati already locked up its Orange Bowl bid as Big East champion, and had to struggle a little in a road trip to Hawaii against the Warriors, coming back in a frantic fourth quarter to get their 11th win, 24-20. However, it's probably safe to say that it's a miracle that the Bearcats are even in the Orange Bowl, weak as their conference is -- could any of us expect a team that has gone through five quarterbacks this season, including one who played with a broken non-throwing arm, to win its conference and make a BCS bowl game?
The young men of the University of Washington have suffered their final indignity after being walked on by Cal RB Jahvid Best for 300+ yards and 4 TDs. Now, USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian gets to walk in and clean up a mess of a team that finished without a victory, and honestly, Week 2 against BYU was the closest they ever got, and if Ty Willingham's name and reputation as a head coach at the college level has not been totally destroyed, it would be a shock. The Sonics are stolen by Land Thieves, the Mariners sink to the cellar of the American League, the Seahawks have lost their 12th Man and their mojo, and U-Dub has found the bottom of the barrel. Seattle sports fans, you deserve something positive, but if U-Dub admins were serious about really being good, they would have money-whipped Mike Leach instead of leaving the work to a man entering the head coaching ranks for the first time.
More on the BCS and the bowl match-ups later today after the final standings and the selections have been made. Oh and Frank Beamer can take a heck of a punch....
Frank Beamer Takes A Punch Like Don Flamenco (SbB)