What we learned over the weekend:
1. There CAN be an Alabama-Florida rematch for the national championship. Last week I said that if Alabama and Florida were undefeated, ranked 1-2 and played a close SEC championship game, there would not be a rematch for the BCS title. That statement was based on the logical position that the human voters, who make up two-thirds of the BCS formula, would not watch one of those teams lose on Dec. 5 and less than 24 hours later vote them in to the BCS championship game.
But after seeing the first set of BCS standings on Sunday, I think it is now possible if No. 3 Texas loses at some point. That’s because there is a huge gap in the BCS average between No. 2 Alabama (.9526) and No. 4 Boise State (.8083) and No. 5 Cincinnati (.7870). Boise State’s computer ratings are only going to go down as the season progresses while Cincinnati’s will go up.
Secondly, I can’t remember when we’ve had this much of a competitive gap between the top two teams in the standings and the rest of the Top 10. Example: If you’re a voter in one of the polls, do you put a 12-0 Iowa into the big game over a 12-1 SEC team that just lost a close game to the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the nation?
2. Georgia Tech needs to pull for Clemson—hard. While it is possible that the ACC’s Coastal Division could end in a three-way tie among Miami, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech, all of the tiebreakers are falling towards the Hurricanes because they won the head-to-head matchup with the Yellow Jackets.
If those three teams tie at 7-1, then the spot in the ACC championship game goes to the team with the highest BCS ranking on Nov. 29. Miami is 10, Georgia Tech is 12, and Virginia Tech is 14. So that favors Miami. If the top two teams in the BCS standings are within five spots of each other, the winner of the head to head competition gets the spot. That also favors Miami.
The point is that Georgia Tech could run the table, which would include a win over Georgia, and finish ahead of Miami in the BCS standings. But if Miami is within five spots of Georgia Tech, then the Hurricanes go because of the head-to-head results. So Georgia Tech’s best chance of getting to the ACC championship game is win out and hope that Miami stumbles somewhere. The Hurricanes have five conference games left against Clemson, Wake Forest, Virginia, North Carolina, and Duke.
3. Georgia really needs a week off. I got criticized last week for even suggesting that Georgia’s schedule was a contributing factor to the Bulldogs’ poor play at Tennessee on Oct. 10. The fact is that you will not find a team in the country whose first six games were stronger than Oklahoma State (5-1), South Carolina (5-2, with a loss to No. 2 Alabama), Arkansas (3-3, with losses to No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama), Arizona State (4-2), LSU (5-1 with a loss to No. 1 Florida), and Tennessee (3-3, with a loss to No. 1 Florida). There were no breathers in that bunch and teams get physically and emotional fatigued. You just can’t get up to play every week. You have to be able to win when you’re tired and don’t play well.
For those of you keeping score at home, Georgia last had a week off before the Florida game in 1997 and 2007. The Bulldogs won both games.
4. This Alabama team is much better than the one that started 12-0 last season. The Crimson Tide of 2008, which rose to No. 1, could really only beat you one way on offense. They would get behind that that huge offensive line and just grind you into submission. And that worked until Alabama played Florida in the SEC championship game. This Alabama team is much more diversified on offense, and showed it against South Carolina as running back Mark Ingram ran for 246 yards, with a lot of it coming out of the Wildcat formation. This team can do more things in the passing game with QB Greg McElroy (even though he has struggled for two straight games) and WR Julio Jones and TE Colin Peek. Defensively, despite the loss of LB Dont’a Hightower, the Crimson Tide can just beat you up. I believe all of this is by design because Alabama has been tweaking its team in anticipation of a rematch with Florida in the SEC championship game on Dec. 5.
5. Florida had no business beating Arkansas on Saturday. The Gators turned the ball over four times. Arkansas and QB Ryan Mallett were moving the ball with great consistency. The Arkansas defense had a great scheme to slow down the Florida running game. The game was looking like a carbon copy of Florida’s 31-30 loss to Ole Miss last year in the Swamp. But Florida did not lose because of No. 15, Tim Tebow. If he has any lingering effects from his concussion it did not show as Tebow carried the ball 27 times. When Arkansas missed a field goal that would have given them the Hogs the lead, was there any doubt No. 15 was going to take the Gators down the field and put them in a position to win? Tebow is the difference maker of all difference makers. That’s why the Gators will be undefeated when they play in the SEC championship game on Dec. 5.
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