The prophecy is fulfilled: In a mere 7 weeks (less than that, if you only count conference games), the SEC has managed to cannibalize its chances at competing for the national title.
As a Gators fan, what kills me most about Florida's loss is that, more than anything, they beat themselves: Safety in the end zone off an offensive penalty; misplayed punt that resulted in a TD; and, most soul-crushing, Chris Leak's controversial fumble (after many replays, I have no problem with the call) and his inexcusable interception late in the fourth quarter.
But the beauty – and brutality – of college football is that, among the title contenders, there is no room for explanations: With a loss, a team is simply eliminated from title competition (barring a single unbeaten with many one-loss teams... or zero unbeatens and many one-loss teams, but that looks unlikely this season).
It is harsh. It is, no matter what the BCS critics might say, as effective and efficient as system for determining a champion as exists in sports. One loss and you're out? Try taking the NCAA Tournament – survive and advance -- and making that your sport's regular season.
No other sport – no matter how much you hate the BCS – is so punishing as to essentially eliminate title contenders after a single loss.
So what are we left with, as the first official BCS ranking is set to be revealed later today? I think there's a very clear picture of who will be playing for the national title:
The winner of Ohio State-Michigan versus the winner of West Virginia-Louisville. Because those two teams will be the only unbeaten teams left in college football.
(The lone potential party-crasher, USC, which will likely be both No. 2 in every major poll and No. 2 in this initial BCS ranking, will never survive the rest of their season with the way they're playing. Either
And that's what we're down to, a mere 7 games into the season: Four teams playing two virtual national semifinal games next month. For now, it seems incredibly clean. (And, if I had to make a prediction, it will be Ohio St vs. West Virginia. And WVA would give them a game; if OSU had trouble handling Vince Young a year ago, WVA QB Pat White poses similar problems.)
Meanwhile, I can already predict the huge controversy: What happens when we're left with only two unbeaten teams – the two I described above – and the WVA/L'ville winner ISN'T in the top 2 of the BCS, even though they're one of only two unbeaten teams remaining?
But that's for six weeks from now. For now, I just marvel at the cruel efficiency of the college football "regular-season playoff" system.
Meanwhile, here's my first crack at a new Top 25 for this week:
8. Notre Dame
16. Georgia Tech