Only Florida survived Shakedown Day, and only by a fingernail.
Seems every underdog in America was inspired by Rutgers’s scintillating upset of then No.3 Louisville Thursday night in what was, from this seat in the press box, the best college football game this season. Two days later, Georgia, Kansas State and Arizona thumped – to borrow a word from our lame-duck prez – a trio of national title wannbes on perhaps the most exciting Saturday of the year.
No. 4 Texas, No. 5 Auburn and No. 8 Cal (as a Stanford alum, the Bears loss truly broke my heart) were eliminated from all national-title chatter after being stunned by the aforementioned troika/ Only the outstretched finger of No. 6 Florida’s Jarvis Moss, a 6-6 defensive end, saved the Gators from joining the losers’ fraternity. Moss soared and blocked a last-second field goal attempt to prevent ACC-rival South Carolina from eliminating the Gators’s title hopes. Florida survived 17-16.
So what does it do to the rankings? Here’s the Pass the Word Now Ten!:
1. Ohio State
3. Florida (shakily, at best)
4. Arkansas (Big ups to my friend E. Lynn, a Hog-head to his core)
5. USC (see No. 3)
6. Rutgers (No. 1 defense in nation and, like it or not, undefeated is undefeated)
7. Notre Dame (Has C. Weiss stopped whining?)
8. West Virginia (Rutgers spoilers-in-waiting)
9. LSU (They just keep winning)
10. Boise State (see No. 6)
Are there “better” teams that would likely beat teams like Rutgers on most given Saturdays?
Yes. But no matter. The rankings are based on win or go home, not on paper matchups.
Should Rutgers run the table and both Florida (tough upcoming games against Florida State and the SEC championship) and USC (Cal, Notre Dame and UCLA still on the docket) lose, do they deserve to play in the title game?
Absolutely. I don’t buy the argument that Rutgers’s sorry history should affect this team. Past successes or failures have no true bearing on rankings or national title qualifications. They only seem to matter to humans who allow their biases against the uniform to impact their feelings about how a team should be ranked. That Rutgers may have been the worse program in the nation five years ago has no bearing on what they are now. If anything, that they’ve come so far should have a positive net effect on how/where they should be rated.
Bottom line: They’ll not likely run the table. But if they do and Florida and USC lose, how can they not be given a chance to achieve the impossible dream?
RSJ Note: The newest BCS rankings came out tonight and your blogmeister wasn’t far off. The BCS also has Rutgers ranked at No. 6. But its 4-5-6 is USC, Florida and Notre Dame. This is shaping up as oneof the most intruguing college football seasons in recent memory. Too bad the lack of a playoff is really making the sport look so dumb.