>Wednesday Lunch: COLLEGE! 2009-10 NCAAF Season in Review

Posted: February 17, 2010 in college football
Tags: , ,

>   Hello everyone, I’m Dylan and I will be writing every week about the only sport that really matters: college football. You may be wondering if I’m qualified to discuss college football on the internet. Besides the fact that any Joe Schmoe with an internet connection and a rudimentary knowledge of how a keyboard works can post his thoughts on college football, here are a few tidbits about how far my obsession goes:

1)   I watch at least 50% percent of the bowl games every year (that includes the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl) which is more impressive once you realize that there are now 34 bowls. 34 Bowls!
2)   I have seen over 500 college football games on TV and in person and as my convoluted bio paragraph tells, I watch at least three games every Saturday and I haven’t missed a Thursday night game of the week in over 3 years.
3)   Probably the best, or most depressing, fact of my college football fanitude is the weeks and months I spent reading every single word of the 1,626-page college football encyclopedia.

   Although I am a Pittsburgh Steelers football fan, my college allegiances lie with West Virginia University (which has produced some wonderful and thoughtful young men) and Penn State University. If you are wondering why I root for the two main rivals of Pittsburgh University then I have two words for you, shut the hell up. Now that we’ve established my college football watching and loving pedigree, let’s delve into the true reason for this column: recapping and analyzing the last year in college football and figuring out how we ended up where we are now.

   Before the 2009-10 season started, most of the hype surrounded the Florida Gators and their Heisman winning, senior quarterback Tim Tebow. The defense brought back all 11 starters and every one of the backups from a defense that had given up less than 290 total yards and 13 points per game. Tebow was on the precipice of cementing his legacy as the greatest quarterback, or possibly player at any position, of all time in the college game. They were expected to roll through a less than stellar schedule that included non-conference “games” against Charleston Southern, Troy, and Florida International. CSU is a 1AA team (I refuse to say FBS and FCS because they are confusing and even the anchors on SportsCenter get confused which one is which) and FIU had three wins. As you can see, the loaded roster, stellar defense, and Sprinkles level cupcakes on the schedule added up to preseason talk of being possibly the greatest team ever. As we now know this did not quite materialize, but we’ll get there.

   Ever since Utah “busted” the BCS, every preseason pundit has attempted to figure out which team would run the table and receive a birth in a BCS game. At the beginning of the year, many teams were thought to have the talent level and schedule to pull off the feat. As the season passed its first few weeks, three teams stood out from the rest as the non-automatic qualifying teams to beat: Texas Christian, Boise State and Brigham Young. BYU quickly raced near the top of the polls with a first week shocker over Oklahoma but quickly fell back to earth with a blowout loss at home to Florida State a few weeks later. Boise State also started with a big win over a big school when they romped over Oregon in a game marred by LeGarrette Blount’s “punch heard round the world”. Although TCU didn’t beat a huge team, they had a solid schedule and gained national respect with a smothering defense and a surprisingly explosive offense. Both teams ended the season undefeated and for the first time in history two teams from outside the big six conferences made the BCS. While they weren’t given a chance to prove themselves against teams from bigger conferences (this will delved into further in a future post, and by delved into I mean ripped to shreds), the fact that both made it was a huge step forward.

   Any college football fan worth their salt has an opinion on the Heisman trophy and every major sports website has an updated list every week on who should win the best-quarterback-or-running-back-for-a-top-10-team-award. Before this year started, there were three clear-cut favorites: Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford. As you can see, all three are quarterbacks for teams that were ranked in the top five of most preseason polls. As with the national title race, the Heisman finalists had some of the favorites at the end, but some surprising and impressive newcomers topped the list. Toby Gerhart, Mark Ingram, and Ndamukong Suh were the three finalists at the end of the year that most people thought deserved to win. As my name for the Heisman could have forecasted, Suh, a defensive tackle, was talked about as the best player in the country but had no shot at winning the trophy, finishing a distant third.

   Although the other parts of college football are fun and add to the pageantry and overall awesomeness, the national title race is the only thing that really matters at the end of the day. Florida was the obvious choice at the start of the season but people soon saw that they had a few major flaws. They had no explosive weapons in the passing game. Tim Tebow obviously missed having NFL offensive rookie of the year (Percy Harvin) catching his passes. The defense was great, but it started a little more slowly than people expected and suddenly the race was wide open. Conference foe Alabama was a favorite from week 1 with a dominant performance over a quality Virginia Tech team. Out west, USC was duping the country into thinking they had a good team after they beat Jim Tressel “led” Ohio State on the road. Oklahoma dropped out after losing Bradford with a separated shoulder and losing a few early games. Texas had similar problems as Florida but they kept plugging ahead by the end of the year they were in the Big 12 championship against heavy underdog Nebraska. Earlier on that same day Florida and Alabama had met in a clash of the top two teams in a de facto national semifinal. In a stunning display of execution and outright dominance, Alabama flattened Florida on both sides of the ball to take the conference crown and one side of the title game picture. Later that night Texas had to use a last second field goal to outlast Nebraska who had one of the worst offensive showings I have ever seen. With that, the hype machine was fired up for the championship game between two of the most storied programs of all time.

   The game was expected to be close, so of course Alabama raced out to a big lead by halftime. Texas lost McCoy early and it was expected that Alabama would walk away with the game in the second half. However, Texas backup Garrett Gilbert brought Texas almost all the way back before falling valiantly with a few minutes left. Although it didn’t have as much star power or as close a final score as Texas’ last Rose Bowl trip against USC, the game was thoroughly entertaining and was made infinitely better by the presence of Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea during the national anthem.

   That’s all the time we have for today’s lunch, but tune in next Wednesday for an article on the controversies surrounding college coaching and the BCS.

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