By Tony George
The much anticipated Rose and Sugar Bowls and the new Final 4 format has passed, and in my opinion the best 2 teams in America are squaring off in Jerry World for the top prize in college football on Monday January 12th. Oregon is installed in Las Vegas as a 7 point favorite, and oddsmakers are expecting a shootout with a total of 73.5 in the national title game. I think oddsmakers are right on that take.
The mighty SEC is eating crow after the bowls, along with ESPN who force fed the SEC and Alabama to America all year long. Here is a news flash - The Big 10 can play some football, just ask Auburn and Alabama and also Ole Miss and Miss State (who lost to ACC's Georgia Tech who beat both Georgia and Miss St from the SEC) , all teams hyped to win the national title went down big time in embarrassing fashion in more than one case. The SEC West looked pedestrian in the big bowls and SEC East Champ Mizzou was the only bright spot on the New Years Eve and New Years day bowl games with a win over middle of the pack Minnesota from the Big 10.
All that said, Oregon just absolutely took an over rated all year long Florida State team behind the woodshed for a huge butt kicking they will not soon forget. I think after that performance where Oregon was given 5 turnovers and cashed in on every one of them, that the Ducks are the best team left standing and deserves to be a favorite against Ohio State. Ohio State outplayed and out coached mighty Alabama who was a 9 point favorite in that game, and Urban Meyer proved his pedigree big time, especially doing it against Alabama in the heart of Dixie with a 3rd string QB.
It would have been interesting to see TCU, who made a huge statement against SEC perceived powerhouse Ol Miss in another woodshed beating, play Oregon. TCU is a very complete and well coached team with speed and star power all over the place, along with a very underrated defense that shut down Bo Wallace and company and made the Rebels look like a division II team in way over their head. TCU getting bumped was pure politics and they would have been a deserving Final 4 team, but there is always going to be that argument no matter how many teams you have in a playoff.
One perspective you have to keep in mind is that Florida St was in the Final 4 by politics only. They were not impressive all year, struggled against mediocre teams and Winston, while a damn good QB in college football, had way to many distractions and self inflicted wounds along the way this year. The Seminoles are no doubt a top 10 team, but Oregon exposed them and quite frankly Oregon may have looked a lot better than they really are, because Florida State played horrific in that game, and managed to win ugly in an average ACC conference this season with a patsy non conference schedule to open up the season, but they were returning national champs with a Heisman Trophy winning QB and they did go undefeated as ugly as it was.
Ohio State is a vastly better coached opponent for the Ducks in the national title game, and they do not have a habit of giving games to other teams on a silver platter. There is no doubt also that in big games, you need a complete team with a big time QB as your triggerman and Oregon surely fits that bill and has a huge advantage at QB in this match up. Could this be the year the high flying Quack Attack finally gets it done? I think they can pull it off, but bear in mind Urban Meyer has a very talented team that shredded the much hyped Alabama defense from opening bell to final bell and the Buckeyes will not go quietly in the night.