Friday Quickie is here (or below). Meanwhile...
Who else is more than a bit sad that this is the last Saturday of non-bowl college football?
Regular readers know that I have argued for a long time that college football's regular season is just one long de facto double-elimination playoff -- and that one loss usually does the trick.
I think it's pretty amazing that over the course of the season, a contenders' pool of 119 teams has been whittled down to, at most, 4 teams (with 2 of the 4 still with a chance to stumble).
One of those teams (
That's it. Over 15 weeks, 119 teams is down to either 4, 3 or 2 teams, depending on tomorrow's results and your CFB worldview.
In every other sport with a traditional playoff, teams can lose – not just once or twice, but lots of times – yet still get a shot at the title. It produces a decisive champion but devalues the regular season.
Only college football is so exclusively brutal that even a single off week can kill a team's title chances -- and two off-weeks end the season.
It's what makes college football's regular season the best in sports by a ridiculously wide margin – because it's the only one where every game -- every week -- is meaningful.
We can agree that college football should have some sort of playoff system (though I have yet to hear of any system -- from a 4-team playoff to an 8-team playoff to a "Plus-One" after the bowls are over -- that doesn't create as many problems as it solves.)
But we can also agree that the sports world gets a little less intense now that every Saturday, week-in and week-out, won't be its own quasi-playoff elimination round.
Meanwhile, here's where we stand for tomorrow's games:
If USC beats UCLA, they're in the national title game. (And they will beat UCLA. But wouldn't it be deviously fun if they didn't?)
Presuming USC wins, if
(And again: The worst-case scenario is that both Florida and USC lose, with Michigan backing into the national title game and a rematch that no real fan could possibly think is good for the sport. Actually, no: The worst-case scenario is that USC loses, Florida wins and somehow, Michigan still ends up in a rematch with Ohio State, with Florida shut out. I don't write that as a Florida fan; I write that as a college football fan.)
To sum up:
USC win/Florida loss: Current system works!
USC win/Florida win: Argument for playoff!
USC loss/Florida loss: Sucks for everyone!
USC loss/Florida win: The sport is ruined!*
(* - Presuming UF still can't jump Michigan.)
Plus: There are two conference title games – one official, one unofficial – that are worth watching, because they represent college football's two biggest Cinderella stories of the season:
In the ACC, how can you NOT be rooting for
And in the Big East, if Rutgers wins at
And, in the ultimate rivalry game, you can't beat Army-Navy.
Be sure to drop by the blog all day Saturday for our final College Football Live-Comment Tailgate of the 2006 regular season.