With nine days to go before we find out who the Final Four are in big-time college football, a few things have been cleared up. In no particular order, let's look at some of the contenders, and some of the pretenders that finally got exposed.
Though Florida State again escaped the jaws of defeat with a narrow victory over Florida, they remain the only undefeated team. As reigning national champs, how they fell from #1 when everybody else has already been beaten is a good question. The answer might lie in the alleged off-the field antics of Heisman holding QB Jameis Winston. Nevertheless, it's likely safe to say that most folks outside the Tallahassee area would dearly love to see the 'Noles get knocked off. America's team they are most definitely not. But unless they get upset next week by Georgia Tech, not likely, no way can they be denied a spot in the 4-team national playoffs.
Not long ago, both Mississippi and Miss St. were both ranked in the top 4. Miss St. was even #1 for a few weeks. But c'mon, didn't it always feel like they were pretenders? Ole Miss was the first to start sliding back. Respectable close losses to LSU and Auburn are one thing. But suffering a 30-0 beatdown at the hands of Arkansas totally dropped them off the radar.
Miss St. lost a close one at Alabama. No shame there. They still hovered around the #4 spot, but they just got trashed by the above mentioned Ole Miss. That won't work. See ya.
Bama themselves won a 14-13 squeaker at unranked Arkansas, and guess who beat them? Yep, Ole Miss. But that was a couple months ago, and you just knew that somehow, some way, Alabama would wind up in the Final Four. All they need to do is beat #17 Missouri next week in the SEC championship game at a neutral site.
[Along those lines, something hugely ironic almost happened. At home, Bama was getting their brains beat out by cross-state rival Auburn -- in the first half. The Crimson Tide would rally late to win the game 55-44, but had they lost -- NO team in the long mighty SEC would have qualified for the Final Four. Who would have foreseen even the possibility of that happening?]
Oregon will be ranked in top 2 after today. The Ducks are a shoo-in for the Big Dance. Or are they? Their only loss this year came at home, at the hands of then unranked Arizona, and guess who they have to play again (now #11) in the Pac 10 championship game next week at a neutral site? Interesting.
Pretenders? Even after a close loss @ Oregon early in the year, Michigan St. was hanging around the edges of contention. Until they got ran out of their own stadium by Ohio State. That won't work either, especially in a conference (Big 10) that is perceived to be weak. To boot, the Big 10 has long lacked the "sex appeal" factor on the national stage. Kiss the Sparties good-bye.
The Buckeyes themselves only have one loss on their record, and also early in the season. But that was a 14 point loss, at home, to unranked Virginia Tech. Since then, they've run the table. Next week they face Wisconsin in the Big 10 conference championship game. The Badgers are really good. If OSU wins that game -- they could conceivably sneak into the Final Four. They're not really pretenders, but they have a major problem. Everybody thought their season was lost when former starting QB Braxton Miller went out with a season-ending injury. But some kid named J.T. Barrett stepped up and proved to be even better. Sadly, Barrett suffered a broken ankle late in the regular season finale against lowly Michigan. He gone. So even if they advance, who can they beat with a third string quarterback that hasn't even played a full game yet? Especially when it comes to elite teams?
Notre Dame started out the year in fine fashion, winning their first 6, then suffering a close loss @ Florida State. They were in the hunt. Alas, their last 4 games have all been losses, capped off with a 49-14 thrashing at the hands of USC. This sort of Irish swoon might prompt the leprechauns in South Bend to quit with the Lucky Charms and switch to Wheaties. Besides, as has been mentioned here before, they can't even get their name right. Fighting Irish? The real Notre Dame is a cathedral in Paris. Shouldn't they call themselves the Fighting French? At any rate, they're history. Again.
TCU currently sits at #5. They just did a major two step on once proud Texas to the tune of over a 5 touchdown differential. If Wolverines think it's bad getting beat by Buckeyes, how do you think Longhorns feel getting hog-tied and branded by a bunch of Horned Frogs?
And Baylor lurks at #6 as well. They handed those Texas Christians their only loss.
Depending on what happens next week with other teams, either could land in the Final Four.
There's at least 6 teams with a shot at the national championship. But only four will get invited.
Bottom line? The usual. I don't have a clue how it's going to play out. But given a choice of who to root for....
Hmm. A crimson tide, ducks, seminoles, bears, and buckeyes?
A crimson tide reminds me of blood filled waters. Something really bad must have happened.
Ducks poop in my backyard.
Never met a real Seminole before, but that dude on their helmets looks like his loin cloth is on fire.
Ain't no bears in Texas. They're in the woods, or play at Soldier Field. Straighten up Waco.
Don't know about buckeyes, and don't want to. Some kind of tree or nut. Got plenty of trees around here, and between Planters and the local watering hole, I won't be running out of nuts any time soon.
Nah, count me all in for horned frogs. Probably not too many of them hopping around their downtown home of Fort Worth either, but I woke up next to one of their giant ancestors once during my younger, much wilder days. I could have sworn she was beautiful at closing time.
And good or bad, memories have to count for something -- right?