— Florida and Georgia will stage the latest renewal their classic rivalry on Saturday. Usually it’s much more than “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” but this time around as both teams meet in Jacksonville unranked, that’s the best part.
Just two years ago, it was the game of the day. The Gators were ranked No. 5 and the Bulldogs were No. 8.
Things change. Sometimes just not enough.
Times have been better in Gainesville and Athens. The same can be said of Austin. And those in Tuscaloosa, Columbus and Norman have had better Octobers.
But why are so many people -- we’re mostly talking about fan perception, not poll voters and media folks -- unwilling to accept the fact that universities situated in Boise, Fort Worth and Salt Lake City are fielding darn good football this season ... if not the best?
Teams from Eugene, Auburn, East Lansing and Columbia don’t have those kinds of problems with recognition. We’ve got no problem with that.
The part that’s not right is that what separates Boise State, TCU and Utah from Oregon, Auburn, Michigan State and Missouri are the labels attached to each undefeated squad.
Beginning next season, the Utes get a fancy Pac-12 patch to put on their jerseys and Boise State will experience a bit of an upgrade in that department, sliding over from the WAC to the MWC. Still, we shouldn’t have to talk so much about all of this stuff.
It's about winning and your performance. That should supersede all of these silly debates over conference pedigrees, especially at this point in the year.
With the majority of the regular season now in the rearview mirror, we’ve seen enough football to give credit where credit is due.
A win is a win ... and they’re all hard to get.
When I forecast upsets in the weekly “Predictions 101” feature on this website, people frequently reach out and have a common question. It goes something like: “How in the (fill in the blank) can you make that pick?”
The answer is always the same: “Because it is hard to win games.”
The results aren’t always the same. Last week Navy and Missouri made us look good, while North Carolina and Washington made us feel foolish beyond belief.
But you would be wise to anticipate these things happening. They always do. Games aren’t played on paper. Wins aren’t handed out by the oddsmakers. And the services that rank recruiting classes don’t have a thing to do with the games themselves.
When looking at two teams matched against one another, you use as many known factors as you can, mix in a gut feeling and settle upon a decision.
The umbrella over all of that is the largest known factor, which is that it’s always hard to get those victories ... and not just for Tennessee and Ole Miss. It’s hard for everybody.
Along with those who support the aforementioned Gators, Bulldogs and Longhorns, fans of traditional powers like Penn State, USC, Texas A&M, Clemson and BYU will agree to that. Except for the Trojans, all those teams have already lost at least three games this season. And USC plays Oregon on Saturday, so they’re well on their way.
Pedigrees don’t win games. Well-known logos don’t help either. Only one thing wins games. That’s scoring more points than the opposition.
The act of doing that and putting another notch in the win column needs to be receive more respect these days.
Don't get caught up in the belief that a collection five-star recruits shouldn’t lose to a bunch of one-stars. It’s kids playing kids. That’s why anybody can win on any given day.
We need to get used to this and quit trying to tear the yearly collection of climbers down.
A question that’s always used to chip away at the resumes of potential “BCS busters” is: “Would they be undefeated if they played in the SEC?”
Maybe Boise State would. Maybe TCU would. Maybe Utah would. We’ll never really know.
What we do know is that Utah beat Alabama in the 2008 Sugar Bowl, 31-17. Say what you want about the circumstances of that game, but the bottom line is that the Tide didn’t want to lose that game, but they did.
Furthermore, winning in the dominating manner Boise State, TCU and Utah do each week is downright tough. Just like every other highly ranked team, the Broncos, Horned Frogs and Utes get everybody’s best shot. And they repel each attempt in consistently impressive style.
Maybe we also should be asking: “Would Alabama resoundingly blow out every opponent if it played Boise’s schedule?”
The Tide probably would, but the Broncos are actually doing it. In addition to beating Virginia Tech and Oregon State, Boise State has pummeled the rest of its slate to the tune of 215-20.
And what’s with the response TCU has gotten from its mastery of the schedule?
Gary Patterson’s team was ranked at No. 6 in the Associated Press Top 25 preseason poll and then moved up to No. 4 after a 30-21 victory over Oregon State in the opener. But the only movement since was a temporary two-week dip down to No. 5 after road wins at SMU (41-24) and Colorado State (27-0) in the fourth and fifth weeks of the season. Other than that, TCU has been stuck at No. 4 even with all of the turmoil happening within the upper echelon of the poll. All this while outscoring its last four opponents, 141-10.
Do you think that sort of pattern would occur if the Frogs had a different conference label on their backs as jumped all over their foes?
It’s as if people have room to consider only one “BCS buster” per season. That makes no sense. Every team has a right to be considered on its own merits no matter where they’re from.
We’re not saying that conference affiliation isn’t an important factor, but people make entirely too much of it. The players on each team can only play the teams that are put in front of them. If they take care of their business, give them their due.