Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sunday 11/02 (Very) Quickie: Guns Up

Wow. Wow. Wow. I'm still blown away by the way Texas Tech put away Texas last night.

The Red Raiders dominated Texas for all but the final quarter. But just when the game seemed to get away from them -- literally in the final minute, when you could see a "Texas being Texas" moment of triumph -- they dominated Texas with one of the awesomest last-minute, game-winning drives you'll ever see (particularly given that it came against a consensus No. 1 team).

BTW: Have you ever seen a two-play turnaround like the one at the end of last night's game? Texas HAD THE GAME WON WITH THAT INT -- which they dropped. Then, Harrell (my new Heisman leader?) hit Crabtree (um, perhaps my newer Heisman leader?) with that sicksicksick TD pass. Matt Hinton summed up that Texas two-step nicely.

Speaking of No. 1, I have no idea -- ZERO -- how ANYONE could possibly NOT put Texas Tech at No. 1 in the polls this week. They are unbeaten, from the nation's best conference, and thoroughly outplayed the consensus No. 1 team in the country. That they would "vault" from 7 to 1 (some of us had them at No. 4 this week...) is hardly a radical thought, given the way they beat the team formerly considered No. 1.

But, really, you are an intellectually bankrupt poll voter if you gave your No. 1 vote to Texas last week, then don't turn around and give it to Texas Tech.

Here's the other dynamic that I find intriguing: Yesterday was the first moment we had a "state your case" game from a non-unbeaten, 1-loss team. Given the way that Florida destroyed another team in the Top 10, I'd argue that Florida is better right now than both Alabama and Penn State, despite that one loss. (In what other match-up this season of two teams both in the Top 10 did one team so thoroughly overwhelm the other?) Then again, plenty of would-be champions had to settle for the "playing better than anyone else right now" label... while still sitting outside the Top 2.

But, really, let me be revisionist: Just how impressive is Alabama's win at Georgia -- outlasting, rather than beating -- now that Florida just obliterated the Bulldogs on a neutral field? And Penn State's status as both unbeaten -- on the strength of a very good win over a good but not great Ohio State team -- and king of the Big Ten (umm...is that supposed to be impressive?) is one step up from Ball State: "We're undefeated, thus we're deserving!" Another year, another looks like another unbeaten Big Ten champ will ride a fluffy schedule to a beat-down in the national title game.

This isn't just about Florida; I'm seriously considering ranking Texas at No. 2, behind Texas Tech. Just as Oklahoma's close loss to Texas allowed them to hug tight behind the Big Three, Texas' close loss to Texas Tech doesn't mean they aren't the 2nd-best team in the country. If Texas played either Alabama or Penn State, I think they would work them over. I feel the same way about Florida.

Does that mean I should rank Texas No. 2 and Florida No. 3, ahead of Alabama and Penn State? At what point does "ranking by resume" turn into "resume, plus enough to know what those wins mean in context of everyone else." I also have been known to favor "how a team is playing at that moment," given that I named Georgia my national champ last season.

I don't want poll-jockeying to take away from that thrilling game last night. I didn't think anything would diminish or impact the high I was riding after the Florida win, but the way Texas Tech dismantled Texas did just that. It's not even that I'm anti-Texas; it's just that how can you not love a scrappy perennial second-tier rival, playing in (and delivering) the greatest game of the program's history, at home in front of an INSANE crowd (kudos to them for that, btw), just giving it to the team everyone presumed would roll through the regular season unbeaten.

The mainstream pundits have now been incredibly wrong twice in the past month or so: (1) USC was unbeatable; (2) Texas was unbeatable. Frankly, it's hard for me to put any stock in what they say anymore.

Here's what we know:

(1) Texas Tech earned itself the week at No. 1 -- with Oklahoma State coming next week, there's no guarantee that holds, but TT deserves to be in the pole/poll position. But given Tech's history, the chances of them running the table are not in their favor. (Personally, I find the Big 12 defense's more suspect than ever, particularly after watching Florida's defense opportunistically suck the life out of a Georgia offense considered one of the nation's best.)

(2) The polls may allow Bama and Penn State to back into 1-2 this week.

(3) I think Bama may have trouble at LSU next week, but they will certainly have trouble with Florida if the Gators and Tide both make the SEC title game and Bama comes in unbeaten.

(4) Penn State, god bless 'em, can simply ride out their cushy schedule, which doesn't feature a league title game, and go unbeaten.

Conclusion
: Actually, there is very little BCS mess, contrary to Brent's rabble-rousing. There are 3 teams that should end up with a claim: An unbeaten Penn State, an unbeaten or 1-loss Big 12 champ and an unbeaten or 1-loss SEC champ. Now, deciding between them might be hard (for now), but we're not talking about a particularly messy situation. (Besides, if an SEC or Big 12 team is shut out of the national title game for Penn State, isn't that what the mythical AP championship is for?)

But that's all poll-wonky and looking too far ahead (given last night's Midnight Miracle, obviously). Let's not take away from the truly marvelous game that Texas Tech played -- and its gloriously worthy result.

-- D.S.

5 comments:

sammy said...

Umm... Alabama was up 31 in the first half AT Georgia. How is that less impressive than what Florida did an hour and a half from Gainesville? I realize that you're a Florida homer, but come on. This game did more to expose Georgia as overrated (and this is coming from a Georgia fan) than it did to reveal Florida as anything more than a solid top-10 team with a loss.

That said, if they beat an unbeaten Alabama in Atlanta, you'll have a pretty solid case for jumping them over an undefeated Penn State.

DougOLis said...

We just had a bigger 2 play turnaround last year in the Super Bowl. Asante Samuel should have picked off an Eli Manning pass that would have led to the Pats icing the game and going undefeated but he dropped the pass. On the next play David Tyree caught that miracle ball on Eli's scramble. Quite a bit bigger deal than last night if you ask me.

Luke Bell said...

Florida is playing great. It's a shame that they lost AT HOME to a crappy Mississippi team, or your argument might hold some water. The SEC is pretty top heavy this year - only 3 teams can really be considered top tier (and I don't think Alabama is for real-they will lose to LSU or in the SEC title game).

This is why there needs to be a playoff. You can't argue that every week is a "playoff" and then bitch if your team is stuck on the outside. Do I think Florida would beat Penn State? Maybe. But I can make the case that USC, Texas, and Oklahoma could all beat Penn State (but they all lost). That is where the BCS mess comes in - which 1 loss team would you like vaulted into the title game over an undefeated one? And isn't that the big no-no that Auburn fans were crying about years ago?

Save the "more deserving" schtick for when Penn State gets a loss too. Or, spit the venom at the Gators for having perhaps the best team in the nation and still losing at home to a team they should have waxed. Penn State may have a lighter schedule, but you don't see them losing at home to Indiana. And we all know if they did, you would be pointing out how pathetic and weak they are.

No mention of the mainstream media being wrong about ranking a 2-loss team as the preseason #1? Oh wait, that's an SEC team, so it's ok to gloss over that. Let's only point out the convenient facts.

Max said...

Dan,

Florida still lost to Mississippi St. If you're going to hold USC up for their bad loss to Oregon St, then Florida will also have to face the music.

I agree that Tech should get a boost from last night, but the majority of voters were likely already in bed by the time Crabtree pulled that insane grab.

Love the blog, read it daily.

the bankrupt museum said...

Dan - Why not just drop Penn St from your top 10 and be done with it? While Florida's win was impressive, you continue to be blinded by the reputation of the SEC this year when the evidence just isn't there. I mean, they were even discussing the league's poor non-conference this year during the Tx/TT game.

Please point out any egregious flaws in this SEC vs. Big 10 analogy: Georgia is talented but obviously NOT a top 10 team(=Ohio St), LSU is barely a top 25 team squeaking out wins (=Mich St), Auburn is a joke (=Wisconsin), Vandy overinflated record, middling talent (= Northwestern), Alabama undefeated no PROVE IT win (= Penn St; wins Clemson = Or St, Georgia = OH State)...and Florida basically lost at home to the equivalent of Purdue (who=Mississippi) = unexcusable -- the equivalent of Stanford over USC last year - they have to be out, behind at least four potential 1-loss Big 12 teams.

I think the Big 12 is the ONLY conference that has a legit gripe about their teams cannibalizing each other...but the only 1-loss team that will have any case is the one that wins the Big 12 championship game.