The University of Florida won its third national championship on Thursday night by beating Oklahoma 24-14 in Miami. With the win, they claimed the BCS title and were also voted champions by the AP the following day, but still the debate remains: Are they the best team in the country.
A few teams had gripes about UF's coronation- namely Utah, USC and Texas.
Texas was left out of the Big 12 and BCS title games in favor of Oklahoma, who both they and UF beat. They each beat OU on a neutral field by 10 points. Texas' lone loss came at Texas Tech on a last second TD.
You don't win your division or your conference, and you cannot be in the conversation. Find a Georgia fan and commiserate with him.
Were they wronged? A case can certainly be made, but in my opinion, OU was still a better team than Texas. They were not better on that particular day in Dallas, but they were at the end of the season. UT fans may scream foul, but I also feel that the Longhorns were a better team than Texas Tech, even though they lost to them in Lubbock.
How does that make sense?
I will tell you a little secret that makes college football really exciting: Sometimes the best team doesn't win. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Occasionally, there are upsets (like the one OSU almost pulled on you in Glendale).
OU was a better team who got upset by an inferior Texas squad. The voters agreed. Deal with it, Longhorns. You'll have your shot next year.
So what about USC?
They began the year as they always do: unbeatable, and applying to become the 5th member of the AFC West. They were already making plans for the title game in Florida. They beat down an outclassed OSU team, and were basicly crowned Greatest Team of All Time by every sportswriter in America.
But then a funny thing happened on the way to Miami.... they got shredded by Oregon State and Jaquizz Rodgers in Corvallis. This is the same Oregon State team that were later beaten by Utah.
Of course, USC fans will point out that they lost their game on the road, while UF lost at home to Ole Miss, but who would you rather play- the Ole Miss Team that smoked Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl, or the Oregon State team that eeked out a 3-0 win against Pitt?
USC's resume for games that it DID win is also far inferior to UF. USC beat #5 OSU*, #23 Oregon, #21 Cal, and #8 PSU. 4 ranked teams, 1 top 5 team. A good season, but not as good as UF.
The Gators beat #4 LSU, #6 UGA, #25 South Carolina, #20 FSU, #1 Alabama, #1 Oklahoma. 6 ranked teams, 3 top 5, and beat #1 two games in a row.
I think the resumes speak for themselves.
*I used the rankings at the time of the game because it is reflective of how good that team was deemed at the given time. Whether a team was dubbed "overrated" can sometimes be attributed to the fact that they got housed by a really good team and later lost their confidence... ala South Carolina and LSU.
Utah has the strongest case out of anyone. They went undefeated. They beat the team that beat USC (Oregon St), and also beat Alabama. Rick Reilly likes them.
They had a great season, no doubt about it- but their case can be dismissed quite simply:
If Florida played their schedule, UF would also be undefeated. I don't think that there is a person on earth who could argue with that.
Now flip the tables- Do you really think that Utah would be undefeated if they played UF's schedule?
Not a chance.
Yes, they beat an unmotivated Alabama team who was without their best player. Don't get me wrong.... they beat them soundly, but anyone who watched that game saw how lethargic the Tide were. That was not the same team that UF slugged it out with in Atlanta in December.
Let's be realistic: OU would smoke Utah. So would FSU, LSU, UGA, and probably Miami. It is easy to get up for one game and slug it out with the big boys, but it is another thing to do it week after week for a whole year. The MWC is a good up and coming conference, but don't pretend that it is the gauntlet that is the SEC.
I would love to see a plus-one system that could put an end to some of this speculation. I would LOVE to see UF line up against one of these squads next week to prove their mettle, but that is not the system we play under. Everyone agreed to the rules before a single game was played, and UF came out on top.
Now quit yer whining, and start building momentum for next year. The Gators will be waiting for you in Pasadena :)