The Wrapup

By Adam Caparell - December 03, 2006


Just when we think the BCS is all in order, USC has to go and lose and throw one big curveball.

To say the Trojans loss to UCLA Saturday had a ripple effect across the national landscape doesn’t do justice to how jumbled the BCS picture has become.

We’re back at square one, coming down to one subjective debate as to who deserves the right to play Ohio State for the national title.

And the answer is…Florida, for one simple reason.

Florida is a conference champion. Michigan is not.

Florida, for all its complaining and bickering and politicking, needs to be rewarded for winning it’s conference’s championship. Taking a second place Big Ten team over the SEC Champion would be wrong.

But I almost hope it happens just to prove to ignorance and ridiculousness of the BCS. There's going to be a lot sweating over who gets that nod when the rankings are released Sunday evening. It’ll be interesting to see the reaction of whoever gets the short end of the stick and what sort of railing and complaining come out of it.

Chances are Florida will be No. 2, but it really all depends on how compelled the voters feel about the Gators. Of course it wouldn’t be any sort of surprise if Michigan is No. 2.

But the voters should bump up the Gators to No. 2 if they watched the SEC Championship. Florida put up 38 points against a good Arkansas team – at Top 10 team and the SEC West champs. They showed their talent, showed they are capable of playing on a similar level of the best team in the nation and they’re more than worthy of leapfrogging Michigan for the BCS Championship bid.

12-1 in the SEC. Wins over some of the best defenses in the country. Their lone loss coming all the way back in October, narrowly to a pretty good Auburn team. SEC champs vs. Big Ten champ. Florida deserves to be playing in that game Jan. 8 in Glendale..

Besides, do we really want to see rematch?

Quickhits

- Have to give Arkansas credit for fighting back and even taking the lead in the SEC Championship against Florida. But too many mistakes and the talent difference showed. I figured it would be over early when Florida jumped out to a 17-0 lead and Arkansas wasn’t moving the ball too well and faced a few 3rd and longs. It also didn’t help that Darren McFadden wasn’t at 100 percent. I’d like to see him at full speed, and with a viable quarterback taking some of the pressure off of him, against the Gators.

One thing's for sure, the SEC Championship was one of the wildest games I can remember in some time. It seemed like everytime you looked up, some big play was developing or someone was making some crucial mistake or Gary Dainelson was blatantly schilling for the SEC

- I was surprised Pat White didn’t play in West Virginia’s against Rutgers. He must have been pretty banged up not to have wanted to ruin Rutgers’ BCS chances all by himself, something he’s capable of almost more than anyone in the nation. But his teammates got the job done and played the role of spoiler perfectly.

If only some of Mike Teel’s receivers could have hung onto a few more balls in regulation then Rutgers very well could have been headed to the Orange Bowl and not the Texas Bowl as the Scarlet Knights have almost certainly been relegated to. At least Greg Schiano didn’t play it overly conservative at the end of regulation. He actually threw the ball His playmakers let down the team down. Jeremy Ito couldn’t knock a 52-yard field in the cold for the win.

The real winner from the action in Morgantown: Louisville. The Cardinals win the Big East and are off to the BCS and, almost assuredly, the Orange Bowl.

- Paul Thompson looked poised and let his receivers make some big plays as Oklahoma won another Big 12 Championship under Bob Stoops. Malcolm Kelly had a big, big game for the Sooners, breaking Big 12 title game records in the process. Yes, the Sooners really won this game through the air, rather than on the ground as Oklahoma has been more apt to do this year.

In Nebraska’s case, three interceptions by your quarterback and five turnovers all together are never going to get it done. The much maligned Oklahoma defense is a thing of the past. It did a great job forcing Zac Taylor to throw nearly as many interceptions as he had all season entering the game (four). Good season by Nebraska, but they’re still not in the upper echelon of the Big 12 yet.

- The race for Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award is full of worthy candidate after worthy candidate. But the winner should be Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe. Wake Forest was picked to finish last - last - in the ACC’s Atlantic Division before the season began and now the Demon Deacons are in the Orange Bowl.

It doesn’t get more improbable than that. The man is coaching at a school that has one of the lowest number of undergrads in the country, has no real discernable history in football and has been forced to deal with injuries to his starting quarterback, running back and other key players throughout the season. His defense was one of the best in the nation at creating turnovers and became the only team in ACC history to go 6-0 on the road.

This year, there are more worthy candidates to win Coach of the Year honors than any other in recent memory, but none deserve it more than Jim Grobe in my eyes. Wake Forest shouldn't be the ACC Champion, shouldn't be in the Orange Bowl. Its season was supposed to be over last week.

Biggest Win: Wake Forest. For all the reasons I just laid out above. Seriously, what were the odds of Wake winning the ACC’s Atlantic Division, let alone the conference, and make it to the Orange Bowl.

This is a once in a generation kind of season we’re probably seeing out of the Demon Deacons. This one could be remembered in similar fashion to Northwestern’s run to the Rose Bowl 10 years ago.

Worst Loss: USC. Trojans were basically earmarked for their third straight national title game appearance and would have set up a great matchup against Ohio State. Now we’ll have to wait and see what transpires with the BCS standings, but we know they're out of the title picture.

There’s no doubt penalties hurt the Trojans and it looked like USC had trouble finding some sort of continuity on offense against their crosstown rivals. They lacked any rhythm and putting up only 9 points is plenty of proof. John David Booty did not have a good game and couldn’t find his biggest weapon – Dwayne Jarrett – when he needed to make a big play.

The Trojans had their NCAA-record scoring streak of 63 games in of putting up 20 or more points per game snapped, lost for the first time in eight games to the Bruins and suffered their first defeat in November under Pete Carroll.

As funny as it sounds to say, the Trojans are settling for the Rose Bowl. Michigan – hopefully – is going to be in the same boat. You could do a lot worse than “settle” for the Rose Bowl.

Took A Step Forward: UCLA, Louisville

Took A Step Back: Fresno State, Georgia Tech

Quoteworthy:
"They get to come back and play here again. I hope they like it." - UCLA punter Aaron Perez, referring to USC, of course.

AC Top 10
1. Ohio State
2. Florida
3. Michigan
4. LSU
5. Louisville
6. Oklahoma
7. USC
8. Wisconsin
9. Wake Forest
10. Boise State

Posted by Adam Caparell at 02:36 AM on December 03, 2006
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