It’s been a long journey from the kickoff of the 2008 College football season to this point. To think began this season in 100-plus degree weather, survived a tropical storm, and even had a few flurries during the BCS games here in our Nation’s Capital.
Nonetheless, it was a great ride, and there is no doubt this season will go down as one of the all-time greats in college football history. And what would a historical college football season be without a controversy over who is the real national champion?
Now that you have seen everyone else’s picks, let’s take a look at the final Walker-Sports Poll of the 2008 college football season.
1) Florida Gators
Okay, we get it; if you watched Fox, Tim Tebow is God. Now, I won’t go as far as to anoint him as the second coming, but he is the best college football player I have seen. There is no doubt that he is the best leader in college football. That is why he was able to lead his Florida Gators to a national title.
2) Utah Utes
This was a tough one for me. Utah went the entire season undefeated, and they knocked off some good competition along the way. However, in the end, they did not have to go through the rigorous schedule and hostile environments that Florida went through. If there was ever a need for a split champion, this would be the opportunity. Sadly for Utes fans, there can only be one team in first place, and they are not that team.
Oh and for all those lawmakers complaining about this and wanting a playoff, go do your job and fix the economy. It’s just a game.
3) Texas Longhorns
If the Fiesta Bowl was any indication of what is to come, the Longhorns should be at the front of the pack next fall when it comes to preseason polls and favorites to win a national championship. With the majority of the Oklahoma Sooners going pro, Big 12 will be the Longhorns' conference to lose.
Texas played a great game against a very game Ohio State team, and they pulled through. Colt McCoy will have fun battling Tim Tebow for a Heisman next season.
Another year, and the Trojans beat down another average Big Ten team that had to travel across the country to play in USC’s backyard. I am kind of getting sick of this scenario. That’s not a knock against USC; I also hate watching LSU in the Sugar Bowl for all the same reasons. The USC defense was dominating all year long, but their offense was inconsistent.
5) Oklahoma Sooners
When you blow two opportunities on your opponent’s goal line in the first half, you know the cards are just stacked against you. This was one time I don’t think that Oklahoma choked in the big game; rather, they just played a better team in Florida. Nonetheless, it may be time for Bob Stoops to start looking for other employment. The stigma of losing the big game will become too heavy on his head very soon.
We all know about USC’s vaunted defense, but TCU’s defensive squad was flat-out amazing this season. Even in defeat they controlled the game, and they kept Oklahoma in check better than anyone this season, and that includes Florida. TCU has quietly put together a great football program, and it will be interesting to see if they can take the next step next year.
7) Ohio State Buckeyes
I’m not going to lie: Before the Fiesta Bowl I was ready to drop Ohio State much lower than this in the rankings if they laid another egg in a BCS game. However, the Buckeyes overachieved every expectation I had for them. Terrelle Pryor is the future of Ohio State football, and 'til Rich Rodriguez can find someone capable of running his spread system, Pryor will be the future and only hope for the Big Ten.
8) Penn State
The Nittany Lions were exposed for what they are when they got destroyed by the Trojans. Their hybrid spread offense was on lockdown thanks to the Trojans. While Penn State played well in the Rose Bowl, this is what you can expect when a team from a slightly above average conference takes on one of the true powerhouse teams in college football.
9) Oregon Ducks
Oregon always seems to be the bridesmaid. Injuries ravaged what could have been an amazing season. Once they gained stability at the quarterback position, the Ducks were dangerous. They convincingly knocked off a very good Oklahoma State team in the Holiday Bowl this year. I like what’s in store for the future of the Oregon Ducks.
10) Boise State
The Broncos were almost able to rack up their second undefeated season in three years; however, they had to play the Poinsettia Bowl against TCU. The TCU defense was just amazing, and it was able to slow down the Broncos' spread attack. Nonetheless, another year and another WAC title in Boise State.
11) Georgia Bulldogs
Well, not much went right for the Georgia Bulldogs this season. This was supposed to be the year that UGA got a championship. Obviously they ended up falling well short of that. To add insult to injury, the Bulldogs are losing all their offensive firepower to the NFL next season. This was their once chance, and they missed it.
12) Texas Tech Red Raiders
The Red Raiders offense was unstoppable all season, except for when they played Oklahoma. Apparently Ole Miss got a hold of that game film and took notes, because they too were able to slow down the Red Raiders. However, one has to wonder in what condition Graham Harrell’s hand was in after undergoing surgery in December. 2008 will go down as the watermark year for the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
13) Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowboys fell a little short of their goal of a 10-win season. They did, however, navigate their way through the toughest conference in football, and for the most part they came out on top. The key for Mike Gundy’s crew this offseason will be finding a defense that can keep up with the Big 12 assault.
14) Mississippi Rebels
Ole Miss put the country on notice when they knocked off the high-flying Texas Tech Red Raiders. Houston Nutt put his mark on this program right away. The Rebels will be a fun team to watch in the SEC in the near future.
15) Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech used different quarterbacks during the 2008 season, and they managed to find a balance in their offensive attack. The Hokies knocked off the overmatched Cincinnati Bearcats and once again proved why they are the team to beat in the ACC.
16) Oregon State Beavers
The ugliest bowl game ever. A 3-0 victory over Pitt was the last outing for the Beavers. They won and got out of there with what should be considered a good season. Not to mention they were the only team that beat USC all season.
17) Cincinnati Bearcats
Despite losing in the FedEx Orange Bowl, Brian Kelly has put his Cincinnati Bearcats team on the map. With West Virginia graduating a slew of talented players, the Bearcats have the opportunity to take control of the Big East, and they could be the team to beat for some time.
18) Iowa Hawkeyes
Playing the South Carolina Gamecocks was no match for the Hawkeyes. Once again Iowa had a good season, but managed to get lost in the fray of the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes can hold their head up because they were the lone Big Ten team to win a bowl game.
19) Missouri Tigers
The Tigers played in one of the best bowl games of the season in their overtime win over Northwestern. Chase Daniels finished a great career, and the Tigers had a solid season that they can look back and be proud of.
20) Florida State
The Seminoles destroyed Wisconsin. There is no doubt that for one night at least, Florida State looked like the FSU of old. Today the Seminoles also announced that head coach Bobby Bowden would be back for his 34th season on the sidelines. It will be interesting to see if Florida State can build off of their bowl game success.
21) West Virginia
WVU took North Carolina to the limit in their bowl game. Pat White gave the scouts one last look at what he was capable of by putting on an absolute passing clinic. Unfortunately for West Virginia, the Car Care Bowl may be their farewell to the national spotlight. You cannot lose the talent they have in the last two seasons and hope to maintain such a high level of productivity.
22) Nebraska Cornhuskers
I loved what I saw from Nebraska in the Gator Bowl. They played a gutty game against Clemson, and they came away with the victory. The Cornhuskers are heading in the right direction, and it will not be long before we see the blackshirt defense return.
23) Michigan State
The Spartans had a great season coming out of nowhere and nearly won the Big Ten. Next season they will need to rebuild, as they are losing plenty of talent.
Many of the comments that are directed towards Georgia this offseason can be directed at BYU as well. This was their year to break into a BCS game, but they simply could not do it. However, what separates BYU from Georgia is BYU will return many of their star players for next season, and they will get another shot at it.
25) Georgia Tech
Paul Johnson did an amazing job coaching the Rambling Wreck this season. He did not have his players in, but he worked with what he had and got this triple option running. It will be interesting to see how a true option attack works in major Division I football.