Tag Archives: Texas Longhorns

The Final Weekend

I might as well just get it out of the way; I’m tired of seeing the SEC. I’m tired of seeing them in that pedestal, both figuratively and literally. I’m tired of the talk about how seven or eight teams in the conference are better than the best team from any other. That’s how I feel, and now that it’s out in the open, how I feel doesn’t make me unable to formulate a rational opinion about things, even amidst the personal discontent.
Before I get into that, I want to back up. Friday night, the Mid-American Conference took center stage, and Northern Illinois had one more pit stop on the way to another BCS game, the Fiesta Bowl, aka the game that would be “stuck” with them. With household ties to the MAC school in DeKalb, and a close proximity to University of Phoenix Stadium, the prospect of seeing the Huskies in Glendale was intriguing in a personal level, to say the least. Bowling Green showed up, and while I don’t want to say hat Northern Illinois did not, I’ll just state, Bowling Green was certainly the better team on Friday in Detroit.
NIU was handed it’s first lost, so now the Fiesta Bowl is just “stuck” with Central Florida. Must it always be a directional school?
Central Florida is in, because the committee didn’t know what to do with the birth of the American Athletic Conference, aka The American, so the hodge-podge of Conference USA and orphaned Big East programs were kind of grandfathered into the Big East. Once upon a time, the Big East did include Miami and Virginia Tech, who did play for BCS titles. The Knights of UCF knew they have this one shot at an automatic bid, and once they clipped Louisville, it became a very likely thing.
They’re not a bad team, just three points vs South Carolina from being unbeaten, but no one cares. They had to survive at Temple a few weeks ago, and nothing was impressive today at a very empty venue at Southern Methodist on Saturday. It wouldn’t have mattered; they’ve been slated for the Sugar Bowl for months, and fell to the Fiesta Bowl on Friday night, thanks to Northern Illinois or should I say Bowling Green? Coincidentally, it was UCF’s inability to be ranked above NIU, and Fresno State, prior to them screwing their own pooch in the Mountain West, that allowed the mid-majors to be a real part if the conversation.
There are ten teams in the Big XII, so they just play a nine game slate in lieu of a conference championship, but they had two games that affected the league’s automatic bid on this final Saturday of the season. Oklahoma State had the clearest path back to the Fiesta Bowl, win and they were in. When Oklahoma pulled the upset in Stillwater, it made the Texas-Baylor game into a de facto conference championship game. It was a good story, Texas being in the hunt at the end, considering their poor start and speculation of a coaching change on the horizon, but Baylor rebounded from from their follies in the house that T. Boone built and the Sooners did them a favor at Bedlam. Art Briles and Bryce Petty deserve this chance, and you can’t help but notice how far that program has come on recent years.
The main event offered no promises to its winner. Brando sold it from the CBS remote studio at the Georgia Dome. Gary and Verne sold it in the intro. Nick Saban even went to Indianapolis in December, just to tell ESPN that his league ought not be left out. Buyer beware; undefeated meant more in reality than a single loss of the highest quality to 1 of the nation’s 14 finest teams, God’s gift to football, if you ask anyone south of the Ohio River. Auburn and Missouri scored a boatload of points, but it was Auburn rooting for Michigan State or possibly Duke with their SEC trophy on Saturday evening.
Duke was a fun story, but a 38-point loss to Florida State and Florida State’s presumed berth in the National Championship weren’t exactly unexpected results. Next weekend, Jameis Winston will be awarded the Heisman Trophy, and the Seminoles will a ttempt to end the SEC’s run on January 6th in Pasadena. The ACC has an automatic tie to the Orange Bowl, so the Miami game will get the first chance to fill the void left by Florida State qualifying for the big game.
Ohio State is supposed to be that team, because Ohio State fans ooze cash when they travel. They find themselves in Florida, not California, thanks to Michigan State’s effort in Indianapolis on Saturday. Michigan State is that 1-loss team that gets no respect. Ohio State becomes that 1-loss team that no one wants to care about, but everyone will talk about them, me for no good reason. Thanks to Auburn, Ohio State had a chance to officially end the SEC streak in early December, but they did Auburn the biggest favor of the season with the dude they offered on Championship Saturday.
Is that what Ohio State is? Are they one-dimensional on offense and a sieve on defense, when matched up with balanced run/pass teams or dual-threat quarterbacks? How can you defend the perception on Sunday morning? It may be incorrect, but there won’t be many, if any, accepted rebuttal to Ohio State being fraudulent. They haven’t played anyone in two years, and they lost to the first team that was ever worth a damn. If I were an Ohio State fan, I wouldn’t give a damn or seek the approval from Mark May, Matt Hayes, or Clay Travis. I assume the majority do not.
On the other hand, Michigan State is in the Rose Bowl. I have often seen them close to achieving the feat, but this is actual. One loss is one loss, but because the Spartans wear that Big Ten patch in the jersey, their one loss makes them so easily forgettable, whereas in a certain conference whose geography is south and east of Columbus, Ohio, that one loss is never mentioned and quickly dismissed from relevance. Michigan State will represent the Midwest well against the PAC-12 champion.
As Oregon and Stanford both stumbled to the finish line, an unlikely venue ended up playing host to the PAC-12 Championship, but it worked out for me to take in the action live from Tempe on Saturday night. Stanford was just in the Rose Bowl last year, but they’ve been a fixture in the BCS of late. Arizona State has never participated in a BCS bowl, and their last Rose Bowl was in 1997, two years before the commencement of the Bowl Championship Series. It’s hard to show too much respect for a team that lost to Utah, but they were as dominant against the Sun Devils on December 7th as they were on as September 21st. They play big boy football, and their January 1st tilt with Sparty (by the way, I’m told Michigan State people despise being referred to by the name if their mascot) should be a treat, if you’re a fan if 3 yards and a cloud of dust.
So, all those Spartan-fans-for-a-day got exactly what they wanted. They got the SEC into the title game; I’m not sure it ever mattered which one it was, since all 14 are elite. Florida State stands in the way, Ohio State does not. Alabama won’t have a say either, but Auburn vs Florida State is the right pairing for the title game. I don’t think even the most shrewd gardener could plant that seed of doubt right now, even though someone should speak up for Michigan State…you know, just to mention them.
Our undercard games in Miami and New Orleans will involve Ohio State and Alabama, so those games will have the curb appeal that comes with putting either program on a stadium marquee. You may it like the Fiesta Bowl, but three out of four consolation games promise story-lines and the Championship game is top-notch, if only for the simple fact that an undefeated team has a chance to cure folks like me, those suffering from the worst cases of SEC fatigue.
May the best team win. They all won this weekend, when it counted the most.

CFB Roundtable #3: Poking the Pokes

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This week Jeff and Damien go 1:1. They talk about all the games from this weekend with a special focus on Texas, USC, and Alabama. They preview this week’s upcoming games and talk Oklahoma State allegations.
Damien Bowman (@damiEnbowman) – Managing Editor; More Than a Fan
Jeff Rich (@JRichTCF) – College football analyst; More than a Fan, Writer – The Cleveland Fan