We are getting geared up for yet another sensational season of hard-hitting drama, explosiveness, debate, and pageantry that is a staple of college football. Although the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) format is much maligned – the computer and human algorithm has somehow found ways to work itself out through play on the field to present a string of clear-cut champions.
Our goal today is to analyze the path to the 2009 BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The game will be played on January 7, 2010 and aired upon the FOX network.
We will present the top contenders that are positioned to claim the National Championship and finish by working our way through the 2009 college football season to foreshadow the likely outcomes. This article proves that the regular season doubles as a playoff in college football.
Still, numerous question marks will always linger, especially considering the fact that President Barack Obama has already called for a sudden-death format.
2009 College Football Season Preview: BCS Rose Bowl National Championship Contender (Florida Gators)
The University of Florida Gators tower above the pack as they enter the 2009 college football season. All is well at Gainesville and expectations are sky high, not only for the National Championship, but to prove that the 2009 Gators are the Greatest College Football Team Ever assembled.
Of course, All-Everything Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer will lead the charge. Beyond these two leaders, the Gators go two-deep at nearly every position from last year’s title squad. Wide Receiver is the only issue after losing the services of Louis Murphy and game breaker Percy Harvin to the Minnesota Vikings.
2009 College Football Season Preview: BCS Rose Bowl National Championship Contender (Teams that Can Beat Florida)
USC, SEC West (Alabama, LSU, Mississippi), Big 12 South (Texas, Oklahoma): The football factory schools must play the perfect game at the SEC Championship or BCS National Championship matchup to defeat Florida. Meanwhile, Florida must beat itself, or come up short due to some freak injury, unlucky bounce, or horrid officiating to lose.
USC is compelled to answer the lingering questions at quarterback and run the table in the PAC 10 to show up at the Big Game. Whereas, The SEC West cannot afford to destroy its own self. LSU, Alabama, and Mississippi each have the opportunity to emerge as the “perfect” one-loss team that rises to the top of the heap to match up versus Florida in the SEC Championship Game and gain entry into the BCS National Championship with a victory.
Meanwhile, the Big 12 contingent will be settled by Texas and Oklahoma. The Longhorns and Sooners must steamroll every other opponent, particularly late into the season and at the Big 12 Championship Game to impress voters. Oklahoma especially, must play perfect football to earn high marks. OU is definitely old news after getting shellacked repeatedly in the BCS.
2009 College Football Season Preview: BCS Rose Bowl National Championship Contender (Paper Champions. You are Joking, Right?)
Virginia Tech, The Big Ten (Penn State and Ohio State): Don’t look now, but the Big 10 is in pole position to send an entrant to Pasadena. Ohio State will be hosting USC on September 12th at the Horseshoe and will arrive at the party poised to take advantage of whichever green quarterback Pete Carroll chooses to throw into the fire. Ohio State will do well by itself and the Big 10 simply by competing, or actually winning the game (gasp).
Of course, Penn State’s schedule is a total joke, and the Nittany Lions could very well defeat the Bucks at Happy Valley on November 7th en route to going undefeated. Remember, Ohio State and PSU return Terrelle Pryor, Daryll Clark, and Evan Royster into the fold.
Virginia Tech is another Dark Horse candidate to get spanked by Florida in the BCS National Championship Game. The Hokies may very well slide past a shaky ‘Bama club early in the season and win ugly with Beamer Ball in the ACC to stake a claim at the top of the BCS computer rankings.
Although Ohio State shocked the world by defeating a stacked Miami club for the 2002 BCS National Championship, I doubt that any 2009 Big 10 or Virginia Tech program has any chance to short circuit the Florida Gators via defense and conservative play.
A game managing quarterback and head coach in Ken Dorsey and Larry Coker sabotaged the 2002 Hurricanes. Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer will never be mistaken for caretakers of any sort.
2009 College Football Season Preview – Key Games and Dates to Determine the BCS National Championship:
September 5: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Virginia Tech Hokies @ 8 p.m. EST
September 12: USC Trojans at Ohio State Buckeyes @ 8 p.m.
October 10: Florida Gators at LSU Tigers @ 8 p.m.
October 10: Alabama Crimson Tide at Mississippi Rebels TBA
October 17: Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners @ 12 p.m.
October 31: Texas Longhorns at Oklahoma State Cowboys
November 7: Ohio State Buckeyes at Penn State Nittany Lions TBA
November 7: LSU Tigers at Alabama Crimson Tide TBA
November 21: LSU Tigers at Mississippi Rebels TBA
November 28: Oklahoma State Cowboys at Oklahoma Sooners TBA
December 5: Big 12 Championship Game – Arlington, TX
December 5: SEC Championship Game – Atlanta, GA
2009 College Football Season Preview – Best Case Mock Scenario:
Hopefully, Alabama and USC will jump quickly out of the gate and destroy Virginia Tech and Ohio State simply to bury the ACC and Big 10 far away from the National Championship picture. Alabama and USC must clarify the title race and set the tone for the season. More importantly, the Crimson Tide should enter brutal SEC West play by proving that the offense is actually capable of moving the chains.
USC’s schedule features road dates against an emotionally charged Washington group, California, and Oregon. The Trojans cannot afford to lose one game against some PAC 10 cupcake and still lay claim to the BCS National Championship Game. However, any loss will not exactly torment the college football community. USC is supposed to be rebuilding, remember?
Florida seeks to venture into Death Valley on October 8th and emerge unscathed with a victory. Still, a loss at LSU will not doom the Gators’ title hopes. Florida will dominate the SEC East and should earn a ticket to Pasadena by winning the SEC Championship. Certainly, slaphappy Southerners will scoff that the SEC Championship actually is the National Title.
The cream must rise to the top in the SEC West. LSU, Alabama, or Mississippi will emerge as the frontrunner to confront Florida in the SEC Championship Game, and lose. Mississippi hosts Alabama and LSU in Oxford and has the best chance to show up in Atlanta as the SEC’s perfect sacrificial lamb.
Meanwhile, Texas and Oklahoma will be airing it out in Big 12 country. The winner of the Red River shootout must completely obliterate all Big 12 opponents to get to the Rose Bowl. Defense remains the question, and the Longhorns and Sooners must demonstrate the ability to stop somebody and complement the precision passing of Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford.
Penn State remains the lone outlier. Joe Paterno, Bless his Heart, should find a way to lose to Ohio State, or fall short somewhere on the road in Big Ten country to gracefully bow out of the National Championship picture.
College football fans will be happy to see Florida versus USC, Texas, or Oklahoma, to at least make a game out of this whole “Greatest College Football Team / Player” ever debate.
2009 College Football Season Preview – Worst Case Mock Scenario:
This wouldn’t be the BCS without making the case for total disaster, would it?
Let’s assume that Virginia Tech and Ohio State or Penn State win out. I do feel that the Big 10 entries would trump Va. Tech per the computer rankings.
Ohio State could very well defeat a “rebuilding” USC club in Columbus. Certainly, the Trojans will regroup to run rough shod over the PAC 10 and Notre Dame to go 10-2 or 11-1 in front of National television. The Bucks would remain firmly in the mix with a clutch victory against the white out crowd in November en route to a perfect season.
What if Penn State were to beat Ohio State in Happy Valley and go undefeated this season?
Penn State enters the fray with Akron, Syracuse, Temple, and Eastern Illinois lightweights on tap. Besides Ohio State, where graduation and the NFL have ransacked the cupboard, the October 3 date at Illinois marks the only serious challenge against a 12-0 record for the Happy Valley Faithful.
The Big 10 is positioned to crash the 2009 BCS National Championship party via weak scheduling, yet again.
Per the Big 12, Oklahoma State is poised to do damage by stealing a win versus Oklahoma or Texas in the Big 12 South. Any Cowboy victory over these powers would crystallize a Big 12 matrix that mirrors the Texas / Oklahoma / Texas Tech rock-paper-scissors confusion of last season.
The brutal SEC always beats itself up and the computer rankings will never be clear-cut with a Florida loss at LSU, coupled with LSU, Alabama, and Mississippi trading blows and losses in the SEC West. ‘Ole Miss will surprise nobody this season and may fall prey to the eerie mathematics of late season surge last season + high expectations into this season + overrated roster = mid-season collapse.
What if the Florida Gators actually lost in the SEC Championship Game?
What if some mid-major went undefeated?
Yes, these are the reasons why we actually play the games.
Yes, these are the reasons why we may need a real playoff.
2009 College Football Season Preview: BCS – Rose Bowl National Championship Contenders, Sources:
Florida Gators Football, http://www.gatorzone.com/football/
ESPN, College Football, http://espn.go.com/college-football/
The Bowl Championship Series, http://www.bcsfootball.org/bcsfootball