Well, it doesn’t pay to be ranked No. 1 this year in college football. No. 1 lost again today. This time it was the Buckeyes of Ohio State losing to the up-and-coming Fighting Illini of Illinois in a classic football game. Juice Williams is as exciting a young multi-talented QB as there is in the game and he’s only a sophomore. And who says Ron Zook is not a good coach? Florida didn’t think so but this guy can recruit and he can build a program out of nothing. A few years ago this was one of the worst programs in all of college football.
One of the worst now is, and I do not want to beat a proverbial dead horse, clearly Notre Dame. This is the first ND team to ever lose nine games and they still have two more to play. And it is the first time since 1944 that they have lost to two service academy teams in the same year. Things are pretty dreary in South Bend and I am not talking about the weather. (I promise to say nothing else the rest of the season about ND or Charlie Weis. The record speaks for itself. There is not much to say.)
I thought Alabama had enough to rally from a heart-breaking last minute loss to LSU last Saturday but Mississippi State came to play today. Sylvester Croom, the MSU coach, is a Bear Bryant man and a fine Christian gentleman who grew up in Tuscaloosa and coached for the Bear as well. One of Alabama’s biggest mistakes was not to hire Croom as head coach five years ago when they took Mike Shula instead. Hindsight is always 20-20 I know but many Bama fans saw this one coming. And Auburn lost to Georgia, also coached by one of the finest Christians in the sport, Mark Richt. So the Alabama and Auburn game will be mostly for pride since neither of them is going to anything but a minor bowl game this season. And Tommy Tuberville may actually be on his way out of Auburn. The rumors are that he will go to Texas A & M and thus Dennis Franchione will be gone by season’s end. What a twist that would be. Franchione walks out on Alabama in the middle of the night, telling his boys to hang in and play through probation, and now he is about to lose his job to the coach who gave Auburn an undefeated team in 2004 and the coach who has won five straight against Alabama. But why would Tuberville leave Auburn? My guess is that he knows he can do more at A & M and that the road ahead, competing with Saban head-to-head for talent in the state of Alabama, makes his job less desirable over the long haul. We shall see.
Meanwhile Oregon is in a great place to place into the championship game against LSU. I do not see LSU losing again and I think Oregon will not lose so they are likely to meet for the final game. I can remember, not that many years ago, when Oregon was a football joke. It would be a great match-up from every appearance. Frankly, I never felt Ohio State was that good and today they proved it. I still would not be surprised at all if Michigan still beats OSU next week.
It has been a great season and no team is that much better than another, at least in the top twenty. Think about it. Alabama came so close to beating LSU last week that fans like me thought they could pull it off, and Auburn all but did beat LSU, in Baton Rouge no less, until the last ten seconds. But LSU is a great team and could finish No. 1. It is often the battle hardened teams in the great conferences like the SEC and the Pac-10 that are the best at the end. OSU has not played great teams all year. The same is true for Kansas, who will not go undefeated.