Swamp Thing: Will Muschamp and Florida Football
As Iron Sharpens Iron: Alabama vs. Auburn
The Buck Stops Here: The Misperception of Ohio State
The 2001 Miami Hurricanes
By Levi Dunagan
1st Down: Will Muschamp and Florida Football
The Florida Gators lost to Georgia Southern on Saturday, which means that for the first time since the 1980’s, the Gators will not be going to a bowl game. The Gators have endured injuries on both sides of the ball, playing three different quarterbacks this season and lacked continuity in most aspects of the game.
The Gator offense is horrifying to watch. A team with so many (supposedly) top talents at quarterback, running back, and receiver can’t seem to things together. Who are Florida’s best offensive players?
Is it Jeff Driskel, who is starting to remind people a lot more of John Brantley than Tim Tebow?
Perhaps it is Kelvin Taylor, Quinton Dunbar, or Trey Burton?
Do any of these names strike fear in the heart of a defensive coordinator?
Florida’s biggest obstacle has been converting their heralded recruits into actual playmakers. The stars next to a player’s name mean very little once they arrive on campus and Florida has had difficulty turning those stars into viable options on the offensive side of the ball.
So where does that leave Will Muschamp?
Muschamp is a fiery competitor and is in all likelihood a good coach who is a little over his head right now. Muschamp deals very little with the offense so it would be unfair to hold him directly responsible for the shortcomings on that side of the ball.
Muschamp will be forced to fire current O.C. Brent Pease after this season. It could be that perhaps many of the problems Florida had were simply circumstantial due to philosophy changes and a volatile locker room inherited from the Urban Meyer regime. Meyer allowed players like Janoris Jenkins, Percy Harvin, and Brandon Spikes to lead his team both on the field and off it.
I feel that Jeremy Foley will ultimately understand the difficulties that Muschamp endured this season and give him at least one more year to lead the team. Muschamp led the Gators to the Sugar Bowl and an 11-2 record last season.
2nd Down: Alabama vs. Auburn
The biggest game of the upcoming weekend will be in Auburn, Alabama, when the Tide and Tigers play for the right to represent the SEC West in the conference championship game. Alabama is the much easier team to predict, which is why I am not going to focus much as much on the Crimson Tide.
I believe that Alabama will be able to move the ball on Auburn and put points on the board. Alabama will need to avoid turnovers and try to eliminate the crowd noise by jumping out to a lead.
Auburn, on the other hand, finds itself in position to win the SEC West with a win against its hated rival. The Tigers were a mere 3-9 last season, so I find it remarkable (and frankly shocking) that the team is 10-1 in only Gus Malzahn’s first season.
This game will be dissected a hundred different ways in the next week, so I’ll go ahead and let you know what is gong to decide the outcome of the game.
Can Auburn throw the ball well enough to challenge Alabama?
If Auburn finds itself unable to put the ball in the air and gain yardage, then Alabama will be able to sink more and more players into the box to stop the run. This could make Auburn ineffective on the offensive side of the ball and place too much pressure on their inconsistent defense.
However, if Auburn can throw the ball on Alabama and set up it’s potent running game then things could get very interesting. Auburn’s chances to win the game increase dramatically if the score is more like 45-41 rather than 17-13.
Alabama hasn’t played a close game this season, essentially backing into the Texas A&M victory by getting beat 21-7 in the 4th quarter, so it would be an unfamiliar position for the Tide this season. The Tigers success hinges on their passing game having success, otherwise, I think Alabama would win fairly comfortably and continue its trail to the SEC Championship game.
3rd Down: The Misperception of Ohio State
Ohio State struggled in losses to the Florida Gators and LSU Tigers in BCS title games in the 2000s. They defeated Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, a game which has now been forfeited, in 2010. They play in a weak conference.
They also haven’t lost a game in nearly two seasons, and losses to SEC teams years ago really have no bearing on what would happen in a given game this season.
Lest we forget, last season is not this season.
(Looking at you Auburn Tigers, Missouri Tigers, Arizona State Sun Devils, etc.)
Let me attack the notion that a team from a weak conference can’t be the best team. SEC fans are quick to point out that Ohio State plays in a weak conference, which means that we can’t take them as seriously as other title contenders.
Well SEC fans, the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team has done pretty well for themselves playing in a remarkably mediocre conference. Are they less of a contender because the only ranked team they will play in conference play will be Florida? Should we knock their seeding down a few notches because they get to rough up on Alabama, Texas A&M, and Georgia?
“But basketball is different than football Levi, you have to play a tough schedule in football to prove you are the best.”
Okay, in 2001 the Miami Hurricanes unleashed the greatest college football team ever (if you want to debate feel free to comment) and didn’t play a team ranked higher than #12 in the regular season. They were in the Big East. They played one of their biggest games of the year against #14 Syracuse.
So no, I do not think that the best team always plays in the best conference. It may happen sometimes, but playing in the best conference is not a necessity for your team to be the best.
As far as the argument that Ohio State can’t win against an SEC champion in the BCS Title game goes, can we remember that this years team has an entirely different coaching staff, different players, and this season is different than those seasons?
Can we seriously predict an outcome of a hypothetical game this season because of what happened in 2006 when the players on this year’s team were in middle school? Have things changed since 2006?
Yes! Absolutely! Indeed! Certainly!
Urban Meyer, who won two BCS National Championships, is now the coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Meyer knows what it takes to win a title and prepare against SEC teams in such games. Braxton Miller couldn’t even drive a car in 2006!
So, if you truly don’t believe Ohio State could stay on the field with Alabama or Florida State that is more than okay. I will respect your opinion. But, you can’t simply state that they play in a bad conference so they can’t be the best. You can’t bring up a game that happened years ago. You can’t use a margin of victory over a team they beat.
4th Down: The 2001 Miami Hurricanes
I’m calling an audible on the original choice for this down. So, I am certain many of you are looking back on the great teams of yesteryear to shut me up about the greatness of these Hurricanes.
You won’t be able to do that. However, I will give you a tip.
Pick a team that didn’t rely too much on things like heart or tenaciousness. If you are talking about a team who didn’t have a lineman bigger than one of today’s safeties, then you need to consider reselecting.
The Hurricanes averaged 42.7 points per game offensively and gave up 9.75 points per game defensively.
I wont’ list an entire depth chart but here are a few names you might recognize: Ken Dorsey (AJ McCarron without the tattoos), Najeh Davenport, Clinton Portis, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow Jr., Andre Johnson, Willis McGahee, Antrel Rolle, Mike Rumph, D.J. Williams, Ed Reed, Vince Wilfork, William Joseph, Jerome McDougle, Sean Taylor, Kelly Jennings, Bryant McKinnie. I could go on, but I think you are beginning to get the idea.