Sunday, November 26, 2006

This Week's BCS Musings

I have to admit, I was more relieved that Florida beat FSU than thrilled. It wasn't because I'm getting caught up in the hopes of a national championship for the Gators, it's just because it was so obvious that Florida was a much better team, yet the game almost got away. The Seminole defense really rallied at halftime and the team played with a lot of emotion. That was scary. Having two drives deep into FSU territory that resulted in zero points in the first half was scary. Picking off FSU three times in the third quarter and getting nothing from it was even scarier. Losing Deshawn Wynn and Percy Harvin (Harvin's injury particularly scary) was even scarier. So it was a relief to watch Chris Leak being allowed to just drop back and throw the ball down the field and put up a go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter. Coach Meyer let Leak do what he does best, and Leak responded with a huge day overall and a clutch performance in the fourth quarter.

Once the feeling of relief was over then it became a thrill to have beaten FSU three years in a row. Then it was time to start thinking about the BCS. The big game was Notre Dame at USC, of course. The "smart" thinking is that USC needed to knock off Notre Dame and then lost to UCLA if Florida was to have a chance of going to the BCS title game. Well USC took care of Notre Dame. Yay.

There were a lot of other BCS storylines this weekend though. First, LSU knocking off Arkansas was probably a bad thing for Florida. It means that beating Arkansas next week (big assumption there by the way) will not boost Florida's BCS standing as much as it would have if Arkansas had beaten LSU. Of course it shouldn't matter if Team A beats Team B, as long as Team C beats them both, right?

Still the LSU win was part of several wins that show just how tough Florida's schedule has been. LSU, a team Florida beat, is a top ten team and they beat another top ten team. South Carolina, another team Florida beat, defeated a top 25 team in Clemson. Georgia, another victim of Florida, beat another top 25 team, Georgia Tech. Tennessee, a team Florida beat on the road, beat a seven-win team in Kentucky. Altogether, teams that lost to Florida earlier in the season knocked off four teams with a combined record of 33-10. Interestingly, 33-10 is also the combined record of LSU, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia if you leave out their losses to Florida.

So what was I saying about not getting caught up in the BCS madness? I'm really not. Numbers are just interesting to me. Florida has very little chance of playing Ohio State. I will be happy if they just beat Arkansas next week. Arkansas's McFadden is the scariest player the Gators have faced this year, and that's saying a lot. Hopefully the Gators can force Arkansas into passing, because that's obviously a weakness for them. If so, it will be Florida's first SEC championship since Spurrier left, and that's a big deal.

I really think that Florida's offense is two (no, not one) years away from being the explosive offense that Meyer can produce. Chris Leak is a great quarterback, but he is a bad fit for Meyer. I think that Meyer has done a poor job of making use of Leak, Dallas Baker, and Andre Caldwell. They aren't his kind of players (Caldwell can fit into his offense, but it's not a great fit) and he hasn't done a good job of adjusting to them. Next year he will have Tim Tebow in there, but I really think it will be 2008, with Tebow as a junior, that the offense will put up huge numbers.

The defense is championship caliber this year, though. People love offense though, hence all the talk of "style points" and Florida's lack of them. Could Florida run the tables in a playoff? It's hard to say. The defense has been great, but in all fairness, they haven't played any really elite offenses. Tennessee is the best offense they've played, and they were very good against them. LSU is also a good offense. They will be tested next week against Arkansas, but it's hard to say if they could shutdown an elite offense like Ohio State, Michigan, USC, or Notre Dame. Maybe we'll get to find out in the Sugar Bowl...

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