Once upon a time there was real controversy in college football. Not the kind surrounding instant replay or referees, but the kind focused around which team was ranked number one and which was ranked number two. During this time college football fanatics and experts alike would anxiously wait for the Associated Press or USA Today to release their polls, providing them fresh topics to discuss and debate throughout the week. But today this age of banter and eagerly waiting is gone – not for good, but for a while.
For the first time in the last 10 to 15 years, it appears that there won’t be a colossal battle at the end of the year between two spectacular teams. Last year’s sensational battle between the consensus number one and two, USC and Texas, will not be repeated this year. This is not because the BCS National Championship Game will not be played, but because this year two spectacular teams don’t exist. Instead of being filled with plenty of evenly matched teams like years past, this year only has one truly great team, the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr. and company have established themselves as hands-down the best team in the nation with convincing wins over distinguished programs like Texas and Penn State. But the Buckeyes don’t have to convince anyone anymore, they are obviously the best team in the nation this season. They are so much better than the rest of the so-called competition that once January rolls around the NCAA shouldn’t even bother having a national championship game.
Coming into this season, like every year, there were a handful of teams that could supposedly contend with the preseason number one Ohio State Buckeyes. However, one by one these teams have dropped out of serious contention and the number two spot seems to be handed out to whoever looks the best.
Texas, the defending national champions, tried to persuade everyone around college football that the loss of Heisman runner-up Vince Young wouldn’t plague them this season. Well, that is a blatant lie. His replacement, Colt McCoy, has guided the Longhorns to a less-than-stellar 62nd ranking in total passing yards, which is certainly not what the Longhorns expected. The Horns may be holding down a top-10 ranking at number seven, but the Buckeyes already counted them out of the national championship picture when they walked all over them just two weeks ago.
Just like Texas and Notre Dame had national championship aspirations. It might seem like decades ago, but remember the "national championship or bust" rants before the season? Hate to break it to you, Notre Dame, but by your standards this season is a bust. Michigan handed it to the Irish with a 47-21 shellacking, thereby knocking the team out of national championship contention and pretty-boy quarterback Brady Quinn out of the Heisman race. Also, unlike years past, Notre Dame will not slip into a BCS game simply because they are Notre Dame. The Trojans should take care of that when they play later this season, notching a second loss on the Irish record.
The Irish and Longhorns may have been the early season favorite to unseat the Buckeyes as the best team in the nation, but after suffering a loss each a couple other schools may stand in the Buckeyes’ way.
Looking at the top 10, Michigan appears to be the strongest of the rest, beating Notre Dame by a substantial margin and looking like a formidable, well-rounded team against Wisconsin. The Wolverines are also the only contending team left on the Ohio State schedule, so if any team, however unlikely it is, plans on making some waves it will be them.
There are a couple of teams that are ranked extremely high solely because of reputation, including West Virginia, USC, Auburn, Georgia and Florida. Possibly two of these teams, West Virginia and Auburn, will finish undefeated due to their lack of challenging upcoming opponents. Look for USC to drop out of the top five and national championship discussion with a loss to Oregon or California later this season, especially since All-American wideout Dwayne Jarrett will miss 2-4 weeks with a shoulder sprain.
Like usual, at season’s end there will be two undefeated teams meeting for the national championship. But, unlike every other national championship game in recent memory, this one won’t be a nail-biter. Every sensible college football fan in the nation has to realize that there are too many ifs and buts with the supposed contenders. The Buckeyes know, just like everyone else does that the Smith to Ginn connection, Antonio Pittman running the rock, and James Laurinaitis and his tough defensive comrades are the only sure bet. The rest of these teams are simply filling the spots in the polls behind them.
This is a rare occurrence in college football, but it is the truth. The days of parity and close title games are over, at least until the end of the season. The Buckeyes are the only great team in a nation full of good teams. They will win the remainder of their regular season games, appear in the BCS National Championship Game in Phoenix and walk away national champions. It is that simple, no controversy needed.