It seemed obvious in my previous post how the college football Final Four standings would shake out. #1 Clemson would remain so. #2 Alabama wasn't going anywhere. #3 Oklahoma was idle, but that hardly constituted a reason for them to fall. And #5 Mich St. had defeated #4 Iowa by the thinnest of margins. MSU would move to #4 while Iowa dropped out. As Mr. Spock would have said, "Logical. Perfectly logical".
What could possibly go wrong with that? But ah, the mighty, if questionably competent, Selection Committee just had to get in a last lick. Incredibly, they leap-frogged Mich St. over Oklahoma.
Now instead of Mich St. facing Clemson and Bama facing the Sooners in the semis, the deck has been reshuffled. The Spartans will face the Tide, while the Okies square off against the Clemson Tigers.
Leave it to Condi, the general, a reporter, and a few other college bureaucrats to throw one last wrench in the works. We should have known they'd come up with something off the wall.
Which team of the Final Four will ultimately prevail and become national champions is anybody's guess. They're all really good, though perhaps in different ways. Of the four, Mich St. would seem to be the weakest link and they'll definitely have their hands full with the beasts from Tuscaloosa. Early "expert" predictions say Bama has a 68% chance of winning the game. And they very well might roll the Spartans. Then again, minus their starting QB Connor Cook, the Spartans were supposed to get blasted in Columbus by Ohio State a few weeks back. We know how that turned out.
Already forgotten is the miracle the Spartans caught at Michigan on the last play to turn a certain loss into the most improbable of victories. If Michigan didn't totally botch a routine punt play, MSU wouldn't be in the playoffs at all. But sometimes that's just the way the breaks fall.
It really matters little whether MSU faces Clemson, Bama, or Okla in the semis. It just turned out to be Alabama thanks to the Committee and their last second infinite wisdom.
Nevertheless, no matter how one wants to slice it or dice it -- in the words of the immortal Gregg Popovich -- it's big boy time. If Mich St. wants to finally shed its Rodney Dangerfield reputation on the national stage, they'll never have a better chance than this year. Connor Cook will be gone to the NFL after this season so the odds MSU gets back in this position next year are likely slim.
But as they say, if you want to be considered the best, you have to beat the best. Getting by Alabama and then whoever comes out of the Clemson/Okla showdown is quite the formidable gauntlet.
Can the Spartans pull it off? Maybe. First they'll have to overcome the 2-1 odds mentioned above to defeat the Tide. It's certainly possible if they play their best and catch a break or two.
Even given that, the Spartans would likely be the underdogs against either Clemson or Okla in the title game. Long odds indeed to win the two games necessary to be crowned champs.
But you never know. As yours truly suggested in a post a while back (see "College football playoffs madness" -- stage right under November posts), the Michigan State Spartans just might have been the best of the bunch all along.
We shall see. Would I bet on them to win the next two games? Hell no. But they've got a shot.
That's all they can ask for......