College Football- Bowl and Season Roundup

The college football season as come to and end (sniff, sniff) and I think I speak for every fan when I say that I couldn’t be any more surprised about its ultimate outcome than I am as I write this.

The Florida Gators put together a nearly perfect game and simply trounced the seemingly invicible undefeated Buckeyes of Ohio State, and in doing so helped become the only University to ever win a national basketball and football championship in the same season. I have the utmost respect for Jim Tressell, and was flabberghasted by how badly outcoached he was by Urban Meyer in this one. Florida cut right through Ohio State’s stingy defense by throwing short passes underneath the secondary, and gained more yardage after the receptions were made than they did on passes alone. For some reason, the Buckeyes were never able to make the necessary adjustments to stop this offensive onslaught, and in the meantime the Gators ran all over the field like they were covered in butter.

As impressive as the offense was, the Florida defense was arguably even better. Aside from the opening kickoff return touchdown by Ted Ginn, a play that the Gators stubbornly refused to allow to set the early tone of momentum, the Florida defense gave up only one touchdown and only 82 total yards. Heisman trophy winner Troy Smith joined a long list of those who have been labeled the best player in the country and then fallen short in the national championship. The constant pressure from the Florida defensive line and the suffocating blitzes made it impossible for Smith to ever find any rhythm, and the early deficit prevented Ohio State from ever getting into its offense. When Smith fumbled deep in is own territory late in the second quarter, it was curtains for the Buckeyes, who couldn’t muster a single point in the second half.

At first, I felt sick over this loss for Ohio State, who seemed to clearly be the best team in the country throughout the entire season. Losing star wide out Ted Ginn early in the game and having the play after a 51 day layoff couldn’t have helped, but they didn’t make the difference in this one. Florida was the better team, plain and simple, and after accepting that fact, no one can deny that they are the rightful champions of 2006. Remember, their only loss at Auburn was draped in controversy, and Ohio State’s credentials may have been inflated by a schedule that now appears vastly inferior to that of the Gators. Both of their “big” wins, at Texas and at home against Michigan, both look much less impressive now than originally perceived.

Still, I am utterly shocked. But it is what it is. More than anything, I love the fact that I was right beyond a doubt that Florida deserved to be in this game and Michigan did not. If any of you Michigan fans still can’t accept this blatant fact, please do everyone around you a favor and check yourself into the nearest mental institution. The best team won it all, the system worked, and therefore, this college football fan is happy. And for Chris Leak, who had been scrutinized so much by the Gator faithful over the course of his previosuly shaky career, it is a storybook ending indeed.

Other notes from the Bowl season included:

  • Boise State won what was probably the best game of the season in a Fiesta Bowl that seemed beforehand as though it was going to be unwatchable. After leading for most of the game, Boise State watched Oklahoma tie it up with under two minutes to go, and then appeared to have its dreams of an undefeated season end on an interception that was returned for a touchdown. But on the ensuing drive, the Broncos turned the game into a playground battle, pulling out every play in the book and tying the game again on an obscene hook and lateral on 4th down and 18. Then, after tying the game in overtime on its first possession, Boise State opted to go for the two point conversion and the win. I didn’t know what the Statue of Liberty play was until I saw this game, but it might be the most hilarious ending to a college football game I have ever seen. And only one word really applies here: BALLS. What a huge win this was for Boise State and for mid-majors everywhere. Oh, and superstar running back Ian Johnson proposing to his cheerleader girlfriend at the game’s conclusion was the icing on the cake.
  • Biggest New Year’s Day surprise? For me, it was certainly the Big Ten putting away two SEC teams that seemed far superior to me, as Penn State and Wisconsin won hard fought games over Tennessee and Arkansas respectively. After that happened, it sure seemed like a forgone conclusion that Ohio State would wipe the floor with Florida, didn’t it? Then Michigan got walloped by a schizophrenic USC team and LSU looked like men against boys in the Sugar Bowl vs. Notre Dame, which certainly changed that reasoning. This is why I don’t bet too much on these games; it seems to be an unsolvable puzzle.
  • Going for the two point conversion with everything on the line became a lovable and courageous theme this bowl season. Oregon State trailed Missouri 38-24 in the Sun Bowl, but scored two quick touchdowns and was in position to tie the game as time expired. Instead, those pesky Beavers decided to forfeit their chances at overtime and went for the win. And they got it. Amazing stuff.
  • The most comedic moment of the bowl season clearly belonged to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who blew a 38-7 lead in the Insight Bowl and set a new standard for choking. Doesn’t someone decide to start running the ball into the ground when you accumulate that kind of a lead, especially against an offense as prolific as Texas Tech? Don’t you just stop running plays all together and instead concentrate on running clock? Apparently not, although after Texas Tech pulled off an unthinkable 42-41 win, the largest comeback in bowl history, the Minnesota athletic department had similar questions. Head coach Glen Mason was fired the next morning. Comical stuff.
  • Another exciting comeback was Georgia’s shocking second half rally in the Peach Bowl against Virginia Tech. (Chick Fil-A can give it all the money they want, it will always be the Peach Bowl to me).

And so ends another great season. I don’t really believe in end of the year polls, as my feeling is that all that is relevant is who is #1. Congratulations to the 2006 National Champs, the Florida Gators.

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