Correct me if I’m wrong, but the National Championship should feature the two best teams in college football playing against each other.
And after yesterday afternoon’s 43-39 Ohio State victory, everyone should’ve come to the same conclusion — Ohio State and Michigan are the two best teams in the nation.
In 103 years since “The Game” as been played, there has not been a more hyped game that has lived up to expectations. More than 900 yards of offense and a spirited second half rally from Michigan showed you that they belong in the title game because they are the second best team in the country.
Michigan showed incredible poise and heart, rallying from a two-touchdown deficit, on top of kicking to Ohio State to start the second half. A final charge down the field, a gutsy two-point conversion, and the Buckeyes were rattled enough before a failed onside kick effectively ended the game.
This Buckeye team is the real deal. Quarterback Troy Smith secured his Heisman yesterday with a 316-yard day and tailback Antonio Pittman rumbled for 139 yards against a Michigan front line which could have as many as three-first round draft picks, and had given up just 29 yards per game coming into Saturday.
All this, and Michigan was arguably one non-call away from stealing one at Ohio State. With seven minutes to go and Ohio State facing a third and long, Smith fired incomplete from the Michigan 38, seemingly setting up a punt, and giving the Wolverines hope that they could drive down to the field to erase a 35-31 deficit.
But Smith was given a reprieve when Michigan linebacker Shawn Crable was called for a personal foul. It extended the drive, and Smith connected on a touchdown with 5:38 left, and put the Buckeyes up 42-31.
It’s purely academic to think what would’ve happened next, but you’d have to think that Michigan would’ve scored considering how quickly they moved down the field on their ensuing possession. Either way, this was championship-caliber football. If this was the national championship, it would’ve gone down as one of the most memorable in history.
So, why not make this the national championship? Why not pit these two teams against each other in January?
Who cares if the Big 10 doesn’t have a conference championship game? The SEC and ACC have a championship game. The Big 10 doesn’t. In the end, that doesn’t factor into the computers. The NCAA doesn’t have anything to do with who appears in the national championship. They just collect the check at the end.
Of course, it’s not fair to Ohio State to have to face a team it’s already beat once, but that’s the way the BCS standings work. Even with the loss, the AP poll and the BCS still have Michigan and No. 2, slightly edging USC. Most likely, a USC win this upcoming weekend would put the Trojans at No. 2 and bump Michigan out of the picture, but is USC really the second best team?
USC and Michigan are both one-loss teams. But while Michigan’s loss was a near upset of No. 1 Ohio State at the Horseshoe, Southern California’s loss came at the hands of — gasp — Oregon State.
And, as for the team the Trojans will play next weekend – Notre Dame – there should be no doubt that the Irish have no business thinking about playing in Glendale, Ariz for the title.
After all, Notre Dame? The same Fighting Irish team that got whooped by Michigan 47-21? Or perhaps you didn’t see Brady Quinn struggle against the mighty, tough and impenetrable defenses of powerhouses Michigan State and UCLA.
And Florida? Whose idea was it to schedule the Gators to play West Carolina while Michigan and OSU were slugging it out? The Gators already have a loss to two-loss Auburn (one of those losses at the hands of Georgia). The SEC could legitimately send the Arkansas Razorbacks to the title game, but Arkansas lost to Southern California opening weekend.
In the end, college football’s championship is decided by the computers, because that’s the system that’s been agreed upon. Right now, even after a loss, Michigan is still No. 2. Michigan is the second-best team in the nation, and the No. 2 ranked team plays in the national championship at the conclusion of the season, whether the two teams played each other earlier in the year, or not.