Sunday, December 03, 2006

WHY FLORIDA SHOULD GO TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP


It's almost decision time for the BCS.

And if there is any justice in this world, Florida will beat out Michigan for the chance to play Ohio State.

This is not just conference pride. And it's certainly not personal preference -- Michigan is my third favorite team. Florida is a team I pull for from time to time -- and only when there's no chance for South Carolina to win the East. Such chances will probably be fewer and farther between beginning next season.

Yes, it would vindicate my putting the Gators at second in the preseason poll. But I don't think I'll ever live down buying into the Notre Dame hype and putting them at No. 1. So that's a small reward.

Ultimately, who you put at No. 2 comes down to whether you've decided to vote based on the wins or based on the loss.

Let's go to the schedules.

First, Florida:

Sept. 2 -- Southern Miss, W 34-7
Sept. 9 -- Central Florida, W 42-0
Sept. 16 -- at Tennessee, W 21-20
Sept. 23 -- Kentucky, W 26-7
Sept. 30 -- Alabama, W 28-13
Oct. 7 -- LSU, W 23-10
Oct. 14 -- at Auburn, L 27-17
Oct. 28 -- at Georgia, W 21-14
Nov. 4 -- at Vanderbilt, W 25-19
Nov. 11 -- South Carolina, W 17-16
Nov. 18 -- Western Carolina, W 62-0
Nov. 25 -- at Florida State, 21-14
Dec. 2 -- vs. Arkansas (Atlanta), W 38-28

Now, Michigan:

Sept. 2 -- Vanderbilt, W 27-7
Sept. 9 -- Central Michigan, W 41-17
Sept. 16 -- at Notre Dame, W 47-21
Sept. 23 -- Wisconsin, W 27-13
Sept. 30 -- at Minnesota, W 28-14
Oct. 7 -- Michigan State, W 31-13
Oct. 14 -- at Penn State, W 17-10
Oct. 21 -- Iowa, W 20-6
Oct. 28 -- Northwestern, W 17-3
Nov. 4 -- Ball State, W 34-26
Nov. 11 -- at Indiana, W 34-3
Nov. 18 -- at Ohio State, L 42-39

According to the AP Poll, which I chose blind without knowing which teams were ranked higher or lower, Florida in the course of the season defeated No. 4 LSU, No. 12 Arkansas, No. 17 Tennessee and lost to No. 10 Auburn. (If you want to go below the rankings, Florida also beat No. 26 Georgia and No. 34 South Carolina.)

Michigan, on the other hand, defeated No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 11 Notre Dame, and...and...and that's it. They lost to No. 1 Ohio State. (Going below the rankings, Michigan also beat No. 30 Penn State.)

So Florida defeated three ranked teams, two unranked but vote-gathering teams, and lost to the No. 10 team. Michigan beat two ranked teams, one vote-gathering team, and lost to the No. 1 team.

Whose loss is more impressive? Michigan, no doubt. But whose wins are more impressive?

Don't look at margin of victory. Why? Because how, exactly does one compare the bottom half of the leagues? How does Kentucky (7-5) compare to Indiana (5-7)? I would say favorably. But how does Alabama (6-6) compare to Minnesota (6-6)? Who knows? Did you watch all 12 Bama games? All 12 Minnesota games? I thought not.


Who could watch 12 games called by this man?

However, look at a key term: Bowl-eligible. How many bowl-eligible teams did Michigan beat? Seven, including two 6-6 teams and Central Michigan. Now, how many bowl-eligible teams did Florida beat? Ten, including two 6-6 teams and Southern Miss.

In other words, ten of the twelve times Florida took the field and "unimpressively" beat the opponent, they were playing a team that would end the season .500 or better. Seven of those times, it was against a BCS-conference team that would end up with a winning record.


No wonder he was always nervous.

One more myth I want to bust: Moving Florida ahead of Michigan would be punishing the Wolverines for not playing this week. Nonsense. It's impossible to judge a team that has not finished its season. Michigan did so two weeks ago. Now, Florida has finished its season. Now, we can compare the totality of the record. And I believe the overall records, which was arguably not more impressive than Michigan's until last night, now unquestionably is.

All this worrying might be for naught. The Los Angeles Times -- of all newspapers -- is reporting that a BCS source told them Florida was in the Big Game. He then reportedly went to feast on more American ideals. (HT: WATB)

For more on why Florida should go to the game, head over to Orange and Blue Hue and We Are the Boys.

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