Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When Georgia Loses, Rip on the Media's Love for the Gators

I'll admit to only keeping a half an eye on the Florida-LSU game on Saturday night at Taco Mac because it was in the same time slot as the Michigan game. Every time I turned my glance from the TV in front of me to the TV to my left (G-d, I love modern civilization!), it seemed like Florida had the ball and was slowly bludgeoning their way down the field with running plays. At a certain point, I started to wonder "has LSU seen the ball all game?" By the time the game ended, LSU had three points and 162 yards. Florida prevented the #4 team in the country on its home field from getting into triple digits in either rushing or passing. Florida's offense was no great shake, but its two-headed tailback did put up 122 yards on 28 carries against a stout run defense, thus compensating for a passing game that only generated 134 yards.

So, in the aftermath of a big game that Florida won because of a suffocating defense and a steady running game, what's the story? TEBOW!!! It's clear that, short of throwing five interceptions and Florida losing, it didn't matter what actually happened on Saturday night because the Gator quarterback was going to get the credit. In an annoying illustration of how big sports media works, ESPN and CBS decided that Tim Tebow is the star that they are going to market, so they were going to do so regardless of actual events. It must be nice to get to rest on one's laurels for, you know, an entire season.

And speaking of that topic, I heartily co-sign on Matt Hinton's criticism of the national championship pecking order, especially this paragraph regarding the gumbo of potential one-loss SEC Champions:

Setting aside the distant possibility that a one-loss South Carolina or Auburn might fill that role, the automatic assumption that one-loss LSU, with a marquee non-conference win over Washington, nothing to hang its hat on statistically (the 5-1 Tigers are currently being outgained by 27 yards per game on average) and a series of squeakers over mediocre teams, would be more deserving than any of a dozen other contenders at the year requires a little more critical comparison than "they're in the SEC." For that matter, the prospective resumé of a one-loss Florida (the Gators may finish the regular season with a single win over a ranked team, give or take South Carolina) doesn't deserve to be shielded from a thorough critique by the conference umbrella, either.

Florida has won three national titles. On each occasion, the Gators had a regular season loss and ascended to the title game over other one-loss teams on the basis of having played a very difficult schedule. However, what was true in 1996, 2006, and 2008 will not be true in 2009. Outside of Florida, the SEC East is as weak as it has ever been. Florida State is fielding its worst outfit since the 70s. The rest of Florida's non-conference schedule is a joke. Thus, this Florida team almost certainly needs to go unbeaten to play for the national title, or at least that would be the case if pundits weren't already making assumptions on behalf of the Gators, confusing them with previous teams wearing the same uniform. Virginia Tech has played the #2 ranked schedule in the country. USC has played the #13 ranked schedule. Florida's schedule is ranked #49. Moreover, both the Hokies and Trojans have remaining road dates against opponents who are better than anyone on Florida's regular season slate: Georgia Tech and Oregon. I'd take Florida on a neutral field against either the Trojans or Hokies by a touchdown, but Florida needs to prove that they belong rather than Gainesville Gary giving them a preemptive mulligan.

1 comment:

thirdfalcon said...

I think one loss Florida team would be safe unless that loss comes in the SEC championship game to. They would have wins over 2 top 5(at least at the time) teams. And also it's very possible that Georgia, Tennessee, and Arkansas are all ranked by the end of the year.