Sunday, November 25, 2012

11/25 (Notre Dame) Quickie

Here is the reality: Back in August, if you told me that Florida would finish the season playing in the Sugar Bowl with the chance to finish No. 2 in the country, I would have gladly accepted the terms.

Here is more reality: College football is infinitely better with a nationally competitive Notre Dame.

Here is even more reality: Notre Dame SEEMS good, but it is hard to tell -- their schedule is better than the haters like to admit but not nearly as good as its fans like to think.

Here is one more reality: Under the parameters of the current system, it is entirely fair that Notre Dame plays for the national title (even at the expense of my Gators, with an arguably better resume).

Here is one final reality: Folks like to say that Notre Dame is constructed like a championship SEC team -- we will see just how far that facsimile is from reality on January 7 in Miami.

I think the best five teams in the country are -- in some order or another -- Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Texas A&M.

I think the default of putting the unbeaten team at No. 1 is kind of absurd, although the SEC has gotten pretty good at exposing that every January.

I don't think ND is better than any of the four SEC teams I listed above. But they have earned the chance to test that thesis against the most reasonable thing we have to a "best of the SEC."

(For what it's worth, I think Ohio State is the worst example of "But if they're unbeaten, they HAVE to be good!" This is a team that probably couldn't beat any team in the Top 10, let alone Top 2.)

For this week's ranking, I'm going to go with (1) Texas A&M, (2) Alabama, (3) Florida, (4) Georgia, (5) Notre Dame, (6) Stanford, (7) Oregon, (8) South Carolina, (9) Kansas State, (10) Ohio State.

Here's where it gets awkward: A&M is playing better than anyone right now, with the single-best win of the season. But Florida beat A&M head-to-head (at A&M!) and has the best resume of big wins in the country. But Alabama just seems better than Florida, and Georgia beat Florida head-to-head (if carrying very little margin for error). ND is unbeaten but built on a bunch of mediocre "bowl-eligible" teams (except for Stanford, in a game that ND coulda/shoulda/woulda lost).

In the end, Notre Dame gets its shot. Alabama and Georgia get their shot. A&M had its shot and couldn't take down either Florida or LSU -- it only would have taken one. Florida had its shot and couldn't take down Georgia (and needed to rely on flaky Lane Kiffin to fix things).

If Notre Dame can beat the SEC's best, they will have truly earned the title. If they fall short, it's nothing that seemingly strong teams for the past 6 seasons haven't equally failed to do.

In the end, the season may included a 7th straight SEC national title, but the season revolved/revolves around the revival of Notre Dame.

You can feel begrudgingly about it, but you must still acknowledge it.

-- D.S.

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