Thu Jan 08 05:50pm EST
The Doc, Holly Anderson and Doug Gillett go back and forth on tonight's mythical championship game. Yes, the woman in the picture is wearing a "Beat Texas" shirt. At the championship game. In Miami. Against Florida. College football continues to be awesome.
Doc. Wait a minute, there's another game to go? What day is this?
Holly. Never fly cross-country the day of the GMAC Bowl. The extra bafflement will not help you adjust to your new timezone.
Doc. What about the bafflement of a "championship game" that is not necessarily The Championship Game? Out of principle, I've always said the BCS title game is just another big bowl game with "national championship" painted on the field, but this is the first time since 2003 and 2004 (i.e., since I've been writing consistently about the system) that I've actually thought a split championship was justice. Is there even a sliver of a chance tonight Fox pays lip service to Utah, USC and Texas?
Holly. To Utah, absolutely. But I wonder if their going undefeated might just save us from having to hear any more about USC (though it didn't seem to save us from Mack Brown's politicking during the trophy presentation the other night).
Doc. Mack was stopping at nothing for his boys (not that Urban Meyer can blame him). I agree we'll hear a lot more about the Utes than USC, especially since Fox won't have to show any ABCSPN highlights from the Rose Bowl, but I expect the Utah love to be of the "Aren't they cute, folks?" variety rather than "The system we paid billions of dollars to air has massively failed again." Whatever the final score, I expect the Florida-Oklahoma will "leave no doubt" as to its claim on No. 1 by the end.
Doug. I don't know. Maybe Fox is bummed at losing the BCS contract to ESPN, so they "trash the place on the way out" and spend the entire evening talking about what a mess this year's national-championship discussion is.
I think the converse of your question, though, is more interesting: What if the notoriously USC-friendly ESPN/ABC juggernaut pumps the Trojans as deserving of some more MNC love in order to throw a monkeywrench into what's still (for the next couple seasons, at least) a Fox franchise?
Holly. Now there's a thought that's gonna fester. Though this is the corporate family that cancelled "Pushing Daisies."
Doc. Where does the Illuminati come into this?
Speaking of pushing daisies, remember when Florida buried Troy Smith two years ago? As good as Oklahoma is on offense, I was watching Brian Orakpo blow by Phil Loadholt earlier, and started thinking: Florida has another pair of velociraptor edge rushers, and everybody thought Ohio State's offense and its Heisman quarterback was the bomb in 2006, too, and ... feel free to stop me anytime ...
Doug. Well, if the past few weeks have taught us anything, it's that Big 12 defenses really might have been as bad as we thought they were. Texas Tech and Oklahoma State both got blown up by lesser-ranked teams; Texas let Beanie Wells and Terrelle Pryor run all over them. So it's entirely possible that Oklahoma really hasn't seen anything like the defense that the Gators are gonna throw their way. The difference is that Oklahoma has some genuine offensive balance, while Ohio State just runs, runs, runs and practically needs an act of Congress to attempt a pass.
I think that the Sooners are going to put up some points in the way that the Buckeyes haven't been able to the past couple years, but they're not going to be racing out to blink-of-an-eye multiple-TD leads like they did against, say, Nebraska or Texas Tech. It'll be interesting to see how they react when they come across another team that can actually keep up with them on the scoreboard.
Holly. Of the painfully few things I have to be relieved about as a Tennessee alum after this season, playing Florida before they got really good hovers near the top of the list. They've had so many weeks to fine-tune their war machine, I can't see them being easy to stop on either side of the line.
Doc. I sense a consensus forming, if only because we can plausibly foresee a way Florida slows down Oklahoma, but not vice versa. You're both SEC homers whose teams were scarred by the Gators, though. Remember OU's defense turned inevitable shootouts against Texas Tech and Missouri late in the year into completely one-sided massacres. Florida's defense has been more consistent, but for one game, what's to say the Sooners don't show up again?
Holly. My secondary allegiance to Texas, for one thing.
Doc. I see where this is going, and if you say "45-35," it's going to get ugly around here.
Going in a different direction, what about this idea that tonight's game "proves" certain memes, like Tebow vs. Bradford, SEC vs. Big 12, Bob Stoops' big game chops vs. Urban Meyer's? I have a hard time thinking any game by itself proves anything beyond what happens from whistle to whistle in that specific context (tonight is only 1/14th of each team's season, after all, and you want it to answer questions about entire conferences?), but maybe that's just me. Well, OK, I know it's just me -- the inevitable barrage of articles barking that Bradford/Tebow or SEC/Big 12 or Stoops/Meyer proved their superiority once and for all is going to drive me crazy.
Holly. It proves that on January 8, 2009, Team X beat Team Y on a field where football is played, and there were many tinsel guns present to bear witness.
What Utah does or does not deserve is another maddening, endless conversation loop altogether, but a convincing victory for either side, considering the teams both have put away this season ... I don't want to say anything like "you ought to earn your respect/love/accolades" here, because it's called the championship game and there will be flashy lights and soft-focus pieces and whoever comes out ahead won't lack for friends or fans, but it's Something. Quail in the face of my irrefutable logic.
Doc. I reluctantly agree -- I'd love to see the Utes carry the AP, and they'll forever be 2008 co-champions in my heart, but my head says the winner of tonight's game is going to run away with that vote. And the more I think about it, the more I think that team's going to be Florida. I am not going to say, "too much speed" here, but practically everyone who touches the ball for the Gators is a touchdown waiting to happen. And the closer I look at Oklahoma's defense, the less impressed I am. That's about as close as I want to come to a prediction.
Doug. The SEC chauvinist in me wants to say that if the Gators win tonight, it'll be three SEC national-champs in a row, and that means THE SEC IS KING AND YOU ALL COWER BEFORE ITS MIGHTY WILL. But what will that even prove, really? Florida will have won two of those championships, LSU one, and LSU completely crapped their pants down the stretch this year. If Florida wins, it solidifies the dynasty that Meyer and Tebow have built in Gainesville. But if I were a fan of another SEC school -- oh wait! I am -- I'd think long and hard before presuming that I get to take any credit for that simply by virtue of occupying the same conference as the Gators.
Same thing if Oklahoma wins: Great redemption for Stoops after a string of BCS embarrassments, and maybe he's re-energizing a dynasty in Norman, too. But it's not like Texas Tech or Oklahoma State get to share any of the glory for that simply for having served as speed bumps for the Sooners along the way. The whole "my conference can beat up your conference" debate won't be any more solved on January 9 than it was on January 8, no matter how many people might want it to be.
Holly. I'm holding out this completely unfounded and irrational hope that a Florida win would silence the conference chest-thumpers because (stay with me here) the SEC would have nothing to crow about, depth-wise, after bowl losses to the Big 10 and freaking Mountain West. Conversely, SEC haters would have to shut their traps in the face of that shiny crystal football staying in-conference for a third consecutive year. I'm fully aware how ridiculous this notion is, but clinging to it nonetheless, because the conference supremacy hollering is the third most distasteful hallmark of the offseason, trailing only recruiting chatter and the, y'know, actual lack of actual football.
Doug. Silencing the best-conference debate? Bless your heart.
Holly. Let me have this.
Doc. Predict or die: Florida 37, Oklahoma 31. Florida breaks the game open in the third quarter courtesy a turnover or huge play on special teams, then holds off a late Sooner rally. Tebow runs in for the icing touchdown and literally rips his jersey from his body, Hogan-style, in a fit of emotion. There is no Superman logo underneath, although we can never be 100 percent certain.
Holly. Florida 45, Oklahoma 27. At least one Brandon James return for six. The sight of Sam Bradford's pores in HD causes hysterical blindness in thousands of image-conscious Miamians. And Urban Meyer leaves an extra-special parting gift in the form of a field goal with under two minutes to play with his team up by multiple scores.
Doug. We have a consensus, indeed: Florida 44, Oklahoma 33. In the battle of Teams That Unload On You From The Opening Gun, it's the Gators who jump out to an early lead courtesy of James taking one to the house (word, Holly) and at least one TD run of 50 yards or longer from the Demps/Rainey/Harvin trifecta. Then, just as the sportswriters have begun to mentally compose their columns about how Bob Stoops = Marv Levy, Bradford hits a few sweet passes and the Sooners begin clawing their way back. In fact, they pull within one score in the waning minutes of the game, only to watch Tebow will the team down the field to the game-icer that puts the Gators back up by two scores with less than two minutes to play. Brandon Spikes crushes Sam Bradford on fourth down on the Sooners' last-gasp drive, and there's your ballgame.
Sorry, I like to spin a yarn now and then.
Matt. Three-for-three for Florida then. So that means Oklahoma wins by what, 24?
Holly. Yes, and Tim Tebow is nothing but a glorified fullback and Florida's junk offense will never win games. World without end, amen.