Saturday, December 6, 2008

On Dominant Teams, Sunshine, and How There's No Easy Way to Save Texas

Sometimes playoffs take care of themselves. Alabama-Florida, like Ohio State-Michigan two years ago, is and deserves to be a national semifinal. If only Oklahoma and Texas were in different halves of the Big 12, we'd have our other one.

This season is interesting in that my favored playoff system—the top four conference champions go—fails this year for the first time since I started keeping track of it. I leave out top four teams all the time, but usually they already lost a "quarterfinal," meaning they lost directly to a conference opponent ahead of them. This is the first time the system would have left out a team who won a quarterfinal. Poor Texas.

For what it's worth, this year this system would invite the Florida/Alabama winner, Oklahoma, USC and Utah. If Oklahoma and/or USC lose today, Penn State would be first in line and probably Boise State second for their spots. The unhappiest person in the country would probably be that Texas DB who dropped the game-sealing INT on Texas Tech's final drive. Actually, that might be true under any system.

#1 Alabama vs. #4 Florida. Alabama is the only major conference unbeaten, the near-unanimous number one team in the country, and are coming off a statement rivalry game where they shut out Auburn, 36-0. They are also double digit underdogs.

The scary thing is, that's completely fair. Remember when 2005 USC was getting all that best-team-ever press until they lost to Texas? Well, even that team played three relatively close games against the good teams on their schedule. Yes, Florida has a loss, but they are much better than that USC team, and not just because they have a returning Heisman QB too.

Except Mississippi, Florida has beaten everyone on their schedule by over 20 points. They have allowed anyone within four touchdowns since September. Throwing out The Citadel, they have won seven straight games, against the SEC and at Florida State, by an average score of 49-11. This season, even with a loss, is almost as dominant as Meyer's 2004 Utes, only against arguably the best conference in college football. Florida is awesome. In my opinion, Alabama doesn't stand a chance. And neither will Oklahoma.

#2 Oklahoma vs. #20 Missouri. Kerry Meier, who my old roommate and I call "Sunshine" due to his resemblance to the Remember the Titans character, was one of the best QB recruits in Kansas history. Despite his talent, he lost his job last year to headier and more accurate Todd Reesing. So he moved to wide receiver, and he's done a great job. At Arrowhead last week against Mizzou, he had the game of his life, catching 14 passes, including the game-winner with 27 seconds remaining. It was great.

My point is this. I like Sunshine, but he's still a converted QB who went to Kansas to play football. If Missouri can't cover him, can they really expect to get any stops against Oklahoma, a team with 58, 62, 66, 65 and 61 points in their last five games? Of course not.

#17 Boston College vs. #25 Virginia Tech. It's just like last year's ACC Championship Game, only without Matt Ryan or VT's 8 NFL draft picks. Like last year, BC won the regular season version, but Tech has improved more in the meantime.

Picks: Florida (74/26), Oklahoma (84/16), Virginia Tech (50/50)

LW: No picks

LLW: 31-44

Overall Adj. WPct: 951-547, .635