Posted by Walter
Walter: Is there even a question? Well, I would imagine some people would argue Boise State for number 1 as the only undefeated team in America, but come on! Florida's shocking performance in the National Championship game leaves no doubt in my mind who the best team is. Florida played a brutally difficult schedule (more difficult than the rest of the SEC thanks to non conference games against bowl winners Southern Mississippi and Florida State), manhandled everyone's number one team, and made the runaway Heisman trophy winner look pedestrian. When push came to shove Florida showed that they were the best in the two areas that win championships: coaching and defense (in that order). As great as Urban Meyer may be, the brilliance of his gameplan against OSU was in its simplicity: put my QB, O-Line, and next best 5 offensive players on the field and let them go. You saw the results.
Frazier - Well, that was surprising. Apparently Florida was in fact capable of putting together a complete effort. I didn't think I would ever see the day, so I didn't take them very seriously. They use an innovative offense, utilized speed in their skill players, got solid blocking, and a clean, efficient effort from Leak. They also proved that there really is a speed difference between the Big Ten and the SEC. Namely, the Big Ten looks like its' running in molasses. Frankly, it was disturbing. Meyer deserves a world of credit, especially for balancing his quarterbacks all season, and for thoroughly out-coaching Tressel, who has been an excellent big game coach. Really, it was the speed of the defense that was the difference. The ends ran around the o-line like it was a turnstile, and the secondary completely blanketed Buckeye receivers. Watching their speed and athleticism made me realize that Leon Hall is going to be a very, very bad pick for someone. Basically, speed kills, and the Buckeyes got killed.
Walter: What could have been for LSU. If not for a Jamarcus Russell fumble on the Florida one yard line, we may be talking about the Tigers systematic destruction of the Buckeye's and not the Gators. By year's end I think it was apparent to everyone that LSU was probably the most talented team in America. Between Jamarcus Russell (I told you so!), Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis, Glen Dorsey, etc. they were just way too much for a mediocre Notre Dame team (I told you so again!). I mean LSU -8 was the most beautiful spread I've ever seen in my life. Les Miles has really done a great job in Baton Rouge, as his team hasn't missed a step since Nick Saban's departure, despite not having a true built in recruiting base. With the talent remaining on LSU (especially in the backfield) they should be a player once again in 2007.
Frazier - LSU sprinted out to a lead, and then got confused for a little while. Not that I was exactly sweating the bet on this one. Everyone and their mother knew that the Tigers were going to completely and utterly dominate Notre Dame. Unless, of course, you were some pathetic bandwagon-hopping Golden Domer. Get a life. LSU may have been the best team in the nation by year's end. They had a defense with almost as much speed as Florida's and they had skill position players who were even better than the Gators, not to mention the mismatch at quarterback. The Tigers are kicking themselves right now, but if they'd been allowed in desert, they would have been kicking the Buckeyes up and down the field. We'll forgive them two excrutiatingly road losses, and vault them to the #2 spot. A play against Auburn, and a couple against Florida and their champs. Oh, and I will never forgive them for throwing short of the goal line as time expired against Auburn. That was terrible, and they clearly paid the price for it.
#3 Ohio State
Walter: Oh Jim, Jim, Jim. Just when we thought you were ready to make the leap to a Tier One coach you go ahead a muck it all up. Don't get me wrong, I think Jim Tressel is a great coach, but Tier One coaches don't get outcoached that badly in the biggest game of the season. Maybe his sweater vest was a little too tight but Tressel made bad call after bad call against Florida and really lost his team the game. First of all his gameplan was nonexistent. He knew that his team didn't have the speed on defense to keep up with the Gators should they spread them out (an obvious tactic), yet he left three linebackers on the field all night. I still cannot comprehend this. It's not even as if Florida had its normal personnel in the game. Each time Ingram, Cornelius and Harvin came into the game, so too should three more defensive backs for Ohio State. Instead we got Jame Laurinaitis and his 4.6 speed trying to keep up with Percy Havin and his 4.3 time. And don't even get me started on going for it on 4th down from your own 29. Jim, I have to be honest. I don't look at you the same way I did a week ago.
Frazier - I am willing to concede that Tressel got completely out-coached. Unfortunately, he got complete out-talented as well. Against the calcifying Big Ten his defense looked sleek and fast, and against a piddling Texas bunch they looked fierce. Well, the defense that everyone was worried about, that it had lost too much talent and speed, finally reared its' ugly head against the Gators. Michigan showed that this bunch could be blown past, and Florida was a hell of a lot faster than the Wolverines. This team did not respond well to pressure. First, Pittman needed more carries. He averaged six yards every time he toted the ball, and yet Troy Smith kept finding himself running for his life. That should never have happened. Also, there was no adjustment when it became clear that simply dropping Smith back was a recipe for disaster. (However, Smith showed an uncanny ability to roll towards the pressure. His line was terrible, but he didn't do it any favors by refusing to simply step up and let the rush blow past him.) This defense was totally exposed, and Troy Smith had a beyond terrible outing. Ohio St. tried to show a fast and explosive offense against a team that was simply faster all over than they were. Maybe the Buckeyes should have stayed grounded a little more, although the Gators did stop them cold then they needed a yard. Basically, the Buckeyes played a terrible, terrible, terrible game, and it really throws their whole season into question. How good was this team, exactly? We may never know.
Walter: Where to put USC was a subject of much debate here at the323. When they are on (as they were against Michigan), nobody in the country can even hope to slow them down. When they are not on, they are slowed by the likes of Washington State and Arizona, and stopped by the likes of Oregon State and UCLA. True that if the teams played in the championship game USC would probably have beaten OSU, but I still can't ignore USC's inconsitency all season. They would have had a chance to play OSU if not for them laying an egg against UCLA (just unforgivable). They need to be punished for that.
Frazier - USC dropped to fourth for the simple reason that failing to show up, not caring, and being lazy gets your ass punished around here. Based on talent, and ability when they bother playing, they are virtually unstoppable. If they'd played Ohio St. with actual motivation, they would have dominated in that game. Basically, if they had bothered to play at all against UCLA they would be national champs. But they didn't. They coasted, as they so often have this year. Even in the Rose Bowl the offense didn't wake up until the second half. Of course when they did, they were pure electricity. Having seen this team in person, I am completely in awe of what they CAN do. Unfortunately, what they DID do was blow a pair of games and generally play mediocre football for long stretches. Their defense is ferocious, and their offense has some serious playmakers. While the Trojans still haven't found a running game, they still were incredible in Pasadena. Oh, and Dwayne Jarrett is the best big-game college receiver in history. Unbelievable.
#5 Boise State
Walter: Boise has a sad plight. They should be higher but never will. We all knew they had no shot to win the national title, but they took home a pretty good consolation prize. Notable, the most memorable win I have ever seen. Forget the polls, forget the allegiances, if you weren't a Broncos fan that night you just don't have a heart. The day after the game one of my best friends (not a college football fan) emailed me to tell me that he had seen the game. He wrote:
"I know you’ve been talking about BSC for some time and I gotta ask you are all there games that exciting and creative cause if so I’m so on the bandwagon. I never watch college football and I turned on the game last night with 430 left and I was loosing my mind. One of the best sporting events I’ve seen in some time. Just awesome stuff."
Congratulations Chris Petersen and Boise State, converting nonbelievers is the best compliment you will ever recieve.
Frazier - I am tempted to make Boise St. the #5 team AND the 323 team. Frankly, I'm tempted to make them #1A. I love the Broncos, I really do. But this is the end of the line. They have no chance to win a title, not even from the 323, and that's just a shame. I love their heart. I love their crazy plays. I love their coaching. I love their tenacity. I love the fact that their defense and offensive line was way better than everyone would have expected. I love Ian Johnson. I love him even more for proposing after the biggest game of his life. There isn't anything that I don't love about the Broncos. Except for the fact that they never got their shot...
Walter: Raise your hand if you think the season might have ended a little differently had Wisconsin had Ohio State on the schedule this year. Well count me as one. Wisconsin proved their meddle to me by pounding out a win against a very strong Arkansas team. Wisconsin is a classic big 10 team, 5 yards and a cloud of dust. But they are big, mean, and physical on offense and they just wear you out. On defense, they are big and physical up front, but they have a ton of speed and skill in the secondary. If Tyler Donovan can do his best John Stocco impression next year, we may be looking at the best of what is shaping up to be a very strong Big 10 in 2007.
Frazier - This is a team I really wish we could have seen more from. They played nice and consistent in a relatively weak Big Ten, lost a tough game at Michigan (where Michigan's incredible run defense was a huge factor) and then beat a tough Arkansas team that seems to have peaked too early. The Hogs had an absolutely brutal schedule at the end, playing 3 top 5 programs. Still, the Badgers really impressed me. They stuck to their guns, played physical, and had a special season. It's really a shame they didn't get a shot at Ohio St. because that game would have told us a lot. Still, this team deserves a ton of credit. You can really go places if you play consistent, avoid mistakes, pound the ball, and play stout defense. They were like an advanced Wake Forest this year, and that's a hell of a compliment.
Walter: A very impressive win over a tough and rugged Wake Forest team. Outside of Jamarcus Russell I don't know if there is a player in America I would choose to start my team with over Brian Brohm. He is just outstanding, and his game is even more suited for the NFL than college. If he comes back next season, their matchup at West Virginia has to be the odds on favorite to be the regular season game of the year. Losing Bobby Petrino hurts, but I love what they did in bringing Steve Kragthorpe aboard almost immediately. Kragthorpe may not be as polished a coach as Petrino, but Louisville is clearly a program on the rise and Kragthorpe is a dynamic offensive mind who will step right in.
Frazier - Sorry to see Petrino go, but you knew it was bound to happen. They have a very nice win over a scrappy Wake Forest team. These guys are absolutely kicking themselves about that Rutgers game. After seeing the Buckeyes implode, I'm beginning to wonder how Louisville would have fared in the championship tilt. They may have had a fighting chance. Instead they have to be satisfied with a very nice year, and a lot of "what ifs". I like the new hire, and it showed that this is a program that knows what it wants to do. Brohm will be an excellent pro quarterback, and Bush has already declared. Hopefully they will continue to build, and with good administration and a good new coach, they seem to be heading in the right direction.
Walter: Problem #1 with the BCS system: we were fractions of a point away from having Michigan and Ohio State play for the national title. Had the teams played we would have annointed the winner (most likely OSU) the end all be all best team in the land. Unbeknownst to us, the real best team resided hundreds of miles south in Gainesville. Knowing what we know now (namely that neither OSU nor Michigan was very good), how can we possibly say that the BCS works. Sure the system got the champion right this year, but wow did we come close to having two underserving teams play for the title.
Frazier - The Rose Bowl really has to call Michigan's entire season into question, especially given the collapse of Ohio St. in the title game. If Wisconsin had lost their bowl game, then Michigan would probably be out of the top ten all together. As it is, I almost have a problem placing them here. Their vaunted front four did absolutely nothing against USC. They provided no push, and Booty tore them apart. Sure, they stuffed the run as they had all season, but at halftime the Trojans decided to simply stop running. That was a good idea. Leon Hall was dominated by Jarrett and company, and the rest of the secondary was even worse. Wisconsin could not have matched up worse against Michigan, since their aerial attack wasn't particularly scary, and the Wolverine defense could stop the rush. Still, this team really needed more from their offense, and their offensive line in particular. Hart had nowhere to run, and Henne had nowhere to hide. Why they didn't use Manningham to stretch the field is astonishing. Michigan looked resigned to playing close to the vest, and praying. Well, the prayers weren't answered, and the Wolverines have a ton of questions heading into next year. Their offense may be back, but they need to loose the reins a little bit. Their defense this year was geared to doing well in the plodding Big Ten, but it couldn't stop any kind of passing game. That will need to change if they are going anywhere.
#9 West Virginia
Walter: This team will be scary next year. If only they can overcome that little hiccup they seem to have every season when big things are expected of them, this team can definitely run the table. Two big obstacles though: (1) they have quite a bit to replace on the offensive line, including Dan Mozes who was the backbone of the entire offense, and (2) Louisville. The Mountaineers get the Cardinals at home next year, which should help, but that will no doubt be a matchup of top 5 teams (and I wouldn't be shocked if it was a #1 vs. #2-assuming Brohm returns). Still this WVU team will be loaded. Early prediction: Pat White wins the 2007 Heisman by a landslide! Remember, you heard it here first.
Frazier - West Virginia was able to tear up a capable Georgia Tech defense without the incredible Slaton. Of course, they have the equally incredibly Pat White running the show. I love White. If he can even get to adequate with his accuracy, he is going to absolutely torch teams next year. He has a pretty strong arm, and is an incredible runner. He really has the ability to turn heads out there, and I love the way he makes decisions in the spread offensive. Rodriguez is returning a hell of a team, and they should be poised for the shot at a huge season. Losses at the offensive line and on the defense will hurt, but the Big East is still not a murderer's row, and this team has arguably the two best players in the conference. Of course they'll probably choke it all away, again, but there's always a chance that they could pull through...
Walter: Well what can you say? They beat Nebraska as they should have, although they did it unimpressively. Once again Tommy Tubberville's team choked when the pressure was on. They had the players and the preaseason ranking to make a title run and what do they do? They lose two games at home to teams they have no business losing to (Arkansas and Georgia). Tommy needs to stop whining about how his team and the SEC can never win a title. First of all Florida just did it, and second of all if your team would win its home games in seasons when they start the season in the top 5 you'd be all set. This team will probably start 2007 outside the top 15 so you know what that means.....yup, probably another season where they exceed expectations and get everyone excited for 2008 when they blow it yet again.
Frazier - Obviously, the big man is furious that his pre-season selection shat the bed. I don't care that much. They had a tough schedule, weren't a poised team, had a shaky quarterback, and didn't pull it all together. So of course they lost some games. That was obvious. But they also beat the champs, even if the champs beat themselves in that one, and so they get the nod. Not a fantastic season, but a solid effort. Of course, it could have been different if their coach didn't start bitching and moaning about the BCS when his team was still undefeated. Hey, Tommy, focus on the game ahead!